What Should I Do?

Making Fresh Raw Yogurt at Home

Thursday, December 15, 2011, 4:01 PM

Making your own yogurt at home requires no fancy equipment and is quite simple. Starting with fresh, raw goat or cow milk gives you the very best quality and nutritional value, thanks to the live food enzymes and active beneficial bacteria (probiotics) preserved in the final raw yogurt. Consuming probiotics on a regular basis is one of the best things we can do for our health and immune system.

The benefits of making your own yogurt are many. It is extremely economical, it reuses glass containers instead of buying plastic over and over again from the store, and you have control over the final product. (And if you want to consume a raw milk yogurt, this is probably the only way). The end result is all-natural, super fresh, incredibly healthy, and delicious!

Equipment and Ingredients

  • ½ gal fresh raw goat or cow milk (store-bought pasteurized milk can also be used, but it will need to be pasteurized again prior to adding the yogurt culture)
  • yogurt culture or yogurt made from pasteurized milk (store-bought yogurt is fine, but make sure to purchase organic, plain whole milk yogurt with live cultures)
  • measuring spoons
  • sauce pan
  • jar
  • thermometer
  • incubator (there are many ways to incubate your yogurt; we will discuss later)
Method

Step 1. Clean & Sterilize

The first and extremely important step is to clean and sterilize. It is imperative that everything that will come into contact with the milk (saucepan, mason jar and lid, measuring spoons, stirring spoons, thermometer, etc.) is scrupulously clean.

We prefer the steam sterilization method because it is easy, effective, and is not dependent on any outside chemical sterilizers (bleach is one example). Simply place a couple of inches of water in the bottom of a stockpot, then put in your measuring spoons, stirring spoons, and thermometer probe. Cover your stockpot, and steam sterilize for about 8 – 10 minutes. To sterilize our mason jars and lids we run them through a hot cycle in the dishwasher.

Alternatively, you can sterilize with bleach or a commercial sterilizer used for dairy equipment or beer making. 

Step 2. Heat the milk

Gently heat the milk in a sterilized saucepan or double boiler. If you would like to keep the final product raw, heat the milk to 108° – 112° (live enzymes die at 118°). We aim for 110° and then move on to Step 3. If you are lucky enough to have your own goats or cows for milk, you can also use fresh milk from the morning or evening milking, just after being filtered and before it gets refrigerated.

If you are using pasteurized store-bought milk or would like to pasteurize your own milk, heat the milk up to 180° - 200° and hold it at that temperature for about 10 minutes, and then allow it to cool to 112° - 115° before adding your culture. 

Step 3. Add your culture

Put your culture into your sterilized jar. If using store-bought yogurt (or yogurt made from a previous pasteurized batch), use about 2 heaping tablespoons. We use a culture available from Dairy Connection, which requires 1/16 tsp per 1/2 gal of milk. Most natural food stores also carry a yogurt culture. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for amount to use.

Pour a small amount of your gently heated milk into your jar with you culture, put on the lid and shake well. Add the remainder of your warm milk, and shake well again to mix thoroughly. 

Step 4. Incubate

There are many ways to incubate your yogurt, with the main goal of being to maintain a temperate of 110° for 8-12 hours, or until the yogurt has set up and thickened. 

  1. Cooler method

Fill a cooler (large enough to hold your jar) with warm water, and place your jar within the cooler. Put the lid on, and wrap the cooler with towels. Keep in a warm place for 8-12 hours.

  1. Oven method

Place your jar into an oven with the oven light on. 

  1. Use a commercial yogurt maker.
  2. Food Dehydrator

This is the method we use. We have an Excalibur Dehydrator and it works great for incubating yogurt. Simply place your jar within your dehydrator and set the temperature to 110°

Check your yogurt after 8 – 12 hours. Tilt the jar slightly to see if the yogurt has thickened. Keep in mind that it will thicken even more after being refrigerated, but raw milk yogurt will not be as thick as commercial store-bought yogurt. If you prefer a thicker final product, the yogurt can be strained through a cheesecloth-lined colander. We enjoy it just as it is! 

Resources

Yogurt cultures from The Dairy Connection - http://dairyconnection.com/commerce/catalog.jsp?catId=11

Yogurt cultures from Cultures for Health - http://www.culturesforhealth.com/starter-cultures/yogurt-starter.html

Excalibur Dehydrator - Special Offer at PrepareDirect

The benefits of good gut bacteria - http://www.medpagetoday.com/InfectiousDisease/GeneralInfectiousDisease/11343 

Where to find raw milk, plus information regarding raw milk - http://www.realmilk.com/where2.html



Local food resource - http://www.localharvest.org/




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10 Comments

chrisd's picture
chrisd
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 12 2009
Posts: 2
Why the extra step?

There's nothing quite like raw milk yogurt. Wonderful!

I'm curious, though. Why the extra pasteurization step for pasteurized milk?

Thanks,

Chris

plato1965's picture
plato1965
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 18 2009
Posts: 615
multiple generations

Can you reuse the yogurt to culture the next batch ?

Maybe add some of the finished yogurt to a small separate jar used to seed the next batch, rather than just saving the last few spoonfuls when it's nearly finished.... to avoid contamination.

(similar to reusing yeast in brewing..  , or sourdough baking)

capesurvivor's picture
capesurvivor
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 12 2008
Posts: 956
Greek-style

Thanks for the vid, Jason. I've made yogurt numerous times at home, albeit using simpler, well-insulated, but non-temperature controlled containers. Even using commercial cultures, I haven't been able to duplicate the firmness or quite tangy taste of commercial Greek-style yogurt.

Do you have any thoughtsor suggestions?

CS

jasonw's picture
jasonw
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 1015
Extra step is for preventing separation...

chrisd - From my reading and experience, if pasteurized milk is not reheated, the whey will separate out of the final product.  By reheating, the whey protein is denatured, and will not separate out.  This is not a concern with raw milk.

jasonw's picture
jasonw
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 1015
Mother Culture

capesurvivor wrote:

Thanks for the vid, Jason. I've made yogurt numerous times at home, albeit using simpler, well-insulated, but non-temperature controlled containers. Even using commercial cultures, I haven't been able to duplicate the firmness or quite tangy taste of commercial Greek-style yogurt.

Do you have any thoughtsor suggestions?

CS

Yes, you can make a "mother culture" batch of yogurt.  Raw milk has live enzymes which will eventually compete with the live bacteria culture used to make yogurt.  For this reason, you must make a small batch of yogurt with pasteurized milk and use this as your mother culture, in order to preserve the viability of the culture.  This can then be used to make larger batches of either raw or pasteurized milk yogurt.  The mother culture will have to be refreshed on a regular basis (we have done this before and strive for every 5 to 7 days).

maceves's picture
maceves
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2010
Posts: 281
thicker yogurt

Great  post, Jason.  Yogurt is easy to make and good for you too.

I add nonfat milk solids to my warm nonfat milk and get a thicker yogurt.  The storebought yougurt you buy for a starter does matter--it has to have live cultures.  I use Danon natural nonfat yogurt, which is what I would have gotten anyway.   I have a cute little yougurt maker that I got before I bought the Excalibur--I suppose I could get rid of it but I like using the little plastic cups.

guardia's picture
guardia
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 26 2009
Posts: 592
Caspian Sea yogurt's the best

Thanks for posting on this topic Jason! Personally, I really enjoy making almost everyday my "kaspi yogurt" as they refer to it here in Japan. The procedure is dumbfounding simple:

  1. Boil enough water
  2. Pour boiling water into a clean container (preferably heat resistant glass) along with a (preferably metal) tablespoon
  3. Wait a minute or two, and empty the container
  4. Using the spoon, transfer some yogurt culture from the previous day into the new container
  5. Pour fresh milk, right from the fridge, into the container
  6. Mix, mix, and mix some more for a minute or so (good for oxygenation)
  7. Put a lid on the container, and leave it at room temperature for half a day or so, before storing in fridge

The amount of culture required, and the time we need to leave it out, greatly depends on the ambient temperature, but the kaspi culture is very very accommodating. I've had the same culture for more than two years, with temperatures varying from 10 to 40 degrees Celsius and varying quality of milk (probably including radioactive one), and it keeps kicking butt!

(BTW, I started making my own yogurt here in Japan because they don't sell anything like Lactaid here, and being mildly lactose intolerant, I still wanted to have something to eat my cereal with in the morning... besides, yogurt's better for health anyway.)

Another funny thing is, kaspi yogurt actually cost more than normal yogurt in supermarket. I suppose normal yogurt is easier to do in batch, but kaspi is easier when homemade?

Well, anyway, something to check out for all you yogurt lovers out there! Caspian Sea yogurt

EDIT: I wonder how well the kaspi culture competes against natural enzymes in raw milk... ?

Samuel

JRB's picture
JRB
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: May 17 2009
Posts: 149
Greek style

My wife makes yogurt at least once a week, usually twice.  She adds dry milk to 1% store bought milk.  After culturing the yogurt, she strains some of the batch for about 2 hours with a strainer lined with a cloth.  I think she use a old clean men's hanky.  Compares well to store bought Greek style.

Jim

capesurvivor's picture
capesurvivor
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 12 2008
Posts: 956
Greek

Sounds like a plan. I'm going to go through the basement for my ancient Salton yogurt maker. We'll see if all of the containers are still there. My other, more recent method, is a quart GE (I think) yogurt maker, also no longer made. 

My theory is that, sooner or later, everything you want shows up at a yard sale or thrift store.

CS

devvie's picture
devvie
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 12 2012
Posts: 8
I just remembered that my

I just remembered that my grandmother used to make yogurt like that but she never boiled anything or used the stove. She just used the probiotic and let the milk become yogurt in a matter of a day or too. I should ask her for the recipe, I used to love that yogurt. I love yogurt, I am even considering getting one of those frozen yogurt machines so that I can have this at my house. Has anyone done it before?

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