We are a yogurt loving family! One of the very few things in the world that we can all agree on all the way from the youngest in the family to the oldest. But then we are also a little “high maintenance” when it comes to our yogurt. Well, I guess high maintenance isn’t the right word but I guess we only prefer the real deal, which is a homemade yogurt.
Before my little monkey was born, we were just so used to buy yogurt from a store. It was easy, it didn’t ask for us to wait and there weren’t any chances that it might not set. Then when the little one was around 9-10 months old we got a nanny to take care of her. A gentle and loving Indian lady who on top of being a very loving caregiver to our child, was also a great cook. Someone like my mom who believed in making things from scratch and didn’t cut corners when it came to food. She cooked for the baby and fed her minutes after the food came off the stove, to keep the food fresh and nutrition intact. Needless to say, my baby got used to all the pampering. So did we. Homemade yogurt was a result of the same pampering. After getting used to the homemade version, we just couldn’t go back to store bought one. And now making my own yogurt has just become a part of our routine. Its no hassle and there’s nothing that tastes like it.
Now, if you are someone who like me always thought about all the hassle and uncertainty of making your own yogurt of home, which basically kept you from trying it. Worry no more! Making yogurt at home is as simple as boiling milk. You just need to keep in mind a few small details which I have figured out after several trials and errors but now they will make your life easier… promise! The method that I have adopted is very basic and the simplest and purest way of making yogurt without any fancy cultures or expensive equipments. This is how my mum makes her yogurt and so did her mom. So shall we learn how to make yogurt at home?
Things you need to make Yogurt:
- Milk – 2 liter milk or 1/2 gallon (I prefer whole milk but you can use 2% too)
- Yogurt Culture – 1/2 cup if store bought and if using homemade yogurt culture then just 2-3 tablespoons should work (If you are making your first batch of yogurt, you will need a small quantity of “active yogurt culture”. Now this can be a small quantity of homemade yogurt you can borrow from a friend or neighbor or you can busy organic store bought yogurt just make sure it has active culture.)
- A kitchen thermometer (Well, my mom never needed one and she tested the temperature of the milk by dipping the back of her finger into the milk. If the milk was hot but not hot enough for you to be able to dip the finger then she said the milk was just the right temperature. Well, I need a thermometer to save myself from the suspense!)
- A medium sized pot to boil the milk.
- Wooden spoon to stir the milk.
- A small container with airtight lid (I prefer glass or stainless steel over plastic)
How to make Homemade Yogurt:
Pour milk into the pot and bring it to a boil.
Occasionally stir the milk with the spatula to keep it from sticking to the bottom.
Once the milk comes to a boil, turn the heat off and let the milk cool down to an optimum temperature.
Somewhere between 120 deg. F to 130 deg. F (49 deg. C to 55 Deg. C) is what’s best for us here. I shoot for somewhere in the middle. And that’s why I use a thermometer mom!
Transfer the milk into the container you are going to set the yogurt in.
Now at this stage when you are adding the culture you can either mix a few tablespoons of warm milk into the yogurt culture, mix it and then stir the mixture into the bigger batch of milk OR you can just stir in the yogurt culture directly. Totally upto you. I do the later.
Stir well with the spoon to mix the culture in.
Cover with the lid.
Set into a warm, dry place. I set my yogurt in the oven with the oven light on. On cooler day I bring my oven to warm setting (approx. 170 deg. F), then turn the oven off and then place the container with the over light on. Do not forget to turn the oven off or you will end up with something that is NOT yogurt!
Let it sit in the oven to set, overnight. Setting time also depends on several factors like the weather, temperature etc. so if you think the yogurt is still not set after leaving it for the night, just let it stay longer. It’ll take longer but the yogurt will set. The bacteria in the yogurt will not the milk go bad. Also make sure you always save a few tablespoons of the homemade yogurt, as a culture for the next batch.
- Once the yogurt is set to your liking, using a whisk you can make the yogurt smooth and then pop into the refrigerator to keep it from souring. Although for recipes like Kadhi Pakora or Dahi Ke Aloo, I just leave my yogurt outside for a few hours to actually make it a little sour. That elevates the flavor of the dishes.
- Top with berries, seeds, granola and/or nuts for breakfast. Blend it into a smoothie or as lassi.
- This is the simplest way to make a very basic yogurt. Since it has no additives you might not be as creamy and thick as the store bought yogurt. If you want prefer your yogurt thicker, add a teaspoon of milk powder into the milk before adding the culture. Use of gelatin also thickens up the yogurt, making it exactly like the ones sold at your local grocery stores.
- For recipes using thick yogurt, more like greek yogurt, just strain the whey from the yogurt by placing it in cheese cloth and hanging for about 30 minutes. The whey will separate and you will get thick and creamy (greek style) yogurt for recipes like dips and spreads.
A few yogurt recipes:
Great. Will try this on weekend – thanks you!
I find that long life milk and lower fat milk both set into a much runnier yogurt.
My oven does not have a light that can be left on so I generally set my yogurt in a kilner jar that I pop into a pot of warm water that I then wrap in a towel and let sit on the counter overnight. Occasionally my yogurt just will not set properly – I usually make paneer from the milk to avoid wasting it.
Great tips Natasha! You know what my mum doesn’t have an oven, does in winters? she closes the lid of her container super tight and ops it into the box in which she stores her aata (wheat flour). No fails ever. She vouches by it.
So well written !!
That’s exactly how I learned to make yogurt. No fancy anything. Thanks for posting! Though I’m becoming less and less of a fan of the whey-filled yogurt that results. Too soft and goopy. Perhaps Greek yogurt has ruined me. Thoughts on how to make a thicker yogurt? (Other than straining it)
You know what Priya, you just inspired me to write a little extra on this post. Will work on a Greek Yogurt recipe someday but today let me add a few tips. Thanks for the idea!