So you want to know how to make yogurt at home. Great decision!
Making yogurt is easy and your home-made yogurt will be twice as nutritious as any you buy. Yogurt contains the highest number of live probiotic bacteria when it is fresh. They gradually die and although the reputable makers ensure there is still the legal amount left by the end of the yogurt's shelf life - why settle for that. A study on the viability of Bifidobacteria in commercial yogurt products during storage found that only 76% of the yogurts contained live bacteria.1
When you learn how to make yogurt you can tailor it to contain the exact blend of probiotic bacteria you require. Use several different starters to get a unique blend. They're an easy going lot - they shouldn't fight to the death within your yogurt maker!
You can flavor it however you want. I always make plain yogurt (or Greek Honey which makes a fantastic base for desert ideas) and flavor it to my own taste. My favorite is simply to stir a spoonful of homemade blackberry jam into it.
You can choose the fat content - full fat, low fat or no fat.
You can chose what type of sweetener you use and how much of it you use. The commercial yogurts are usually over sweetened but by making yogurt you have control over all of that.
You can choose the milk, both variety and source. Yogurt can be made from sheep's milk, goat's milk, buffalo's milk, mare's milk, soy milk, almond milk, and probably a zillion more types of milk. Milk can be organic or not, ranch grazed or not.
Have I convinced you? Once you know how to make yogurt the choices are endless.
Take a look at this page if you're interested in bulgarian yogurt.
Not unless you go out of your way to complicate things.
I use an EasiYo yogurt maker - it takes about 2 minutes to mix the starter bacteria and powdered milk with water. And although you're using a powder, it is only milk that has had the liquid removed. It doesn't come more natural.
You can, of course, use other types of starter or yogurt as a starter and still make it in a yogurt maker. Or, you can use one of the electric yogurt makers. Or, you can hover over a bowl of yogurt all day shifting it from one warm spot to the next as the sun moves round your house!
The choice is yours. The process is as easy or as complicated as you want it to be.
Many people have sucess making yogurt in a crockpot.
This review is from Amazon and is from a customer using the VitaClay VM7900-6 Smart 6-Cup Programmable Multi-Cooker.
I recently had a wonderful experience with making yogurt and cheese using this multi-cooker. Using the thermometer I heated the milk, using the reheat cycle to 180F, turned it off and let the milk cool to 115F (thermometer similar to this one, it will beep once the desired temperature is reached Polder THM-360 Dual Probe Cooking Thermometer, Black), than just added some plain yogurt as starter, I used greek yogurt, replaced the clay lid, placed a terry cloth on top of it and locked the top cover of the multi-cooker. It was turned off but kept the temperature beautifully for long enough to let the yogurt cultures work the milk into a great, thick yogurt.
You can see that the reviewer simply followed the standard methods for yogurt making that I mention below and has had excellent results.
Your starter will contain Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus and probably other probiotic bacteria too, but those two are your "classic" starter combo.
So - let's roll our sleeves up - we're finally at the how to make yogurt part. Make it in small batches until you perfect your technique.
Don't panic if you have a failure or two to start with. Almost everyone does. I know I did! Feed them to the dog. He'll love it! Yogurt is one of those things where even your failures are still nutritious!
The most common problem with newbie yogurt makers is that the yogurt simply isn't firm enough. Increase the amount of yogurt you use as a starter or increase the amount of time you leave it fermenting. If that doesn't sort the problem, try DECREASING the amount of starter yogurt used. The bacteria can sulk if they're too crowded. It's a trial and error process.
Homemade Yogurt Recipe
Put your pot of milk in a bigger pot of cold water to cool the milk back down to 120°F (or until you can keep your finger in it for a ten count. NOTE: this is actually an awful thing to be doing with something that we want only the right sort of bacteria in, but, I confess, it is what I do and I never seem to "contaminate" my brew.)
Add the yogurt to the boiled and cooled milk and mix well. Fill your containers, put on lids, and "snuggle" them up in blankets or your kid's sleeping bag or something, to keep warm for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight. This is where your crock pot comes in handy.
Put in the fridge to cool (warm yoghurt is not nice) eat and enjoy.
1. Ibrahim SA, Carr JP. Viability of bifidobacterium in commercial yogurt products in North Carolina during refrigerated storage. International Journal of Dairy Technology vol 59, issue 4 pp272-277 Nov 2006