How to Make Yogurt

Making yogurt for your family is fun and easy. The procedure for making yogurt will be nearly the same regardless of the milk and starter used. Basically add bacteria to milk and let it work. However, there are some steps particular to each type of culture and milk. 

Choosing a Starter Culture

When choosing a yogurt starter, consider how each type works, and choose the one that best fits your lifestyle.

  • direct-set starter is a powder that is added to a quantity of milk to produce a single batch of yogurt. 
    • With some care, a direct-set starter can be re-cultured two or three times by saving some of the yogurt and adding it to another batch of milk to produce a new batch of yogurt. Eventually, however, a new direct-set starter must be used.  
    • Direct-set starters are useful to those who are not able to or do not wish to culture yogurt at least once per week.
    • Examples of direct-set starters are the Traditional FlavorMild FlavorKosher Traditional FlavorKosher Mild Flavor, and Vegan Yogurt Starters
  • Reusable cultures can be propagated indefinitely. 
    • With each batch, some of the yogurt is saved to add to a new batch of milk to make more yogurt. 
    • Yogurt should be re-propagated at least every seven days to maintain the vigor of the bacteria. 
    • Examples of resuable yogurt cultures include mesophilic or countertop cultures such as ViiliFilmjölkMatsoni, and Piimä; and thermophilic or heat loving cultures such as Greek and Bulgarian.
       

Choosing Equipment for Making Yogurt

Yogurt making does not require any special equipment. When heating milk, use a stainless steel or glass pot. Always use wooden, plastic, or stainless steel utensils for stirring. Avoid other metals, as they may react with the cultures and give the yogurt an unpleasant flavor.

A basic handheld thermometer is useful when making yogurt. 

For more information on choosing supplies for making yogurt, click here.


Preparing the Milk for Making Yogurt

Whether using whole or low-fat milk, the procedure for culturing a batch of pasteurized mesophilic yogurt does not require any heat. Simply measure the milk into the container used for culturing. The milk can be cold from the refrigerator. 

To make a batch of pasteurized thermophilic yogurt, heat the milk to 160ºF, then cool to culturing temperature, 110ºF, before adding the starter culture.

To make raw milk yogurt, with any type of culture, there are special considerations, and an extra step may be required.


Inoculating the Milk 

Using the correct proportion of culture to milk is important. Too much culture in the milk will result in a thin, weak yogurt, because the cultures compete for food in the milk mixture. If there are too many cultures, they consume the food before the yogurt is completely set. Using too little culture can also result in a thin, weak yogurt, because there is not enough bacteria to do the job of culturing the milk. The required amount of culture will provide a nutritious environment for the bacteria, so they can do their work and coagulate the milk proteins properly. Follow the instructions included with your starter, for best results.

 

 

Culturing the Milk

The temperature of the culturing yogurt should remain fairly constant, and the yogurt should not be disturbed as it cultures. Maintain 105-112ºF for thermophilic yogurt or 70-77ºF for mesophilic yogurt. 

For tips on keeping your yogurt cultures warm, click here

For tips on making yogurt without a yogurt maker, click here.


Culturing time is important to making good yogurt. Once the initial activation batch is made, dairy milk mesophilic yogurt will set up in 12-18 hours; thermophilic yogurt in 5-8 hours. Begin checking the yogurt at the earliest end of the range, and check it again every half hour or so.


The amount of time the yogurt cultures depends on taste and texture preference. In general, the longer yogurt cultures, the more tart it will be, and the more thick. Toward the limit of culturing time, the yogurt may begin to separate into solid (curds) and liquid (whey). The whey is quite nutritious and can be strained off to use in cooking or culturing, or it can be stirred back in to the yogurt.

Separation is usually the result of yogurt's culturing either too long or too fast. Once yogurt begins to separate, it is not long before the bacteria will begin to die off, since the separation can be a sign that the lactose has been used up and is not available to feed the bacteria. Experiment with times and temperatures to find the ideal conditions for the yogurt to set up.

There is a 2-hour cooling-off period for thermophilic yogurt, to help ease the transition between culturing temperature and refrigerator temperature. Finished yogurt should be refrigerated for at least 6 hours to halt the culturing process.

Once the fermentation has been stopped, it will not restart even if the milk is brought back to room temperature.

If a thicker yogurt is preferred, draining whey from the finished yogurt is another option. Draining whey produces thick, Greek-style yogurt.

Making Yogurt with Direct-Set Cultures


Direct-set cultures are thermophilic (heat-loving) and require a yogurt maker or other appliance to keep the milk warm during culturing. For tips on making yogurt without a yogurt maker, click here.

Any type of dairy milk will make yogurt: cow, goat, sheep, even buffalo. The milk can be raw, pasteurized, or vat pasteurized. Avoid ultra-pasteurized or UHT milk. For more information and tips on choosing milk to make yogurt, click here. When making yogurt using raw milk, there are special considerations. Please click here to learn more about making raw milk yogurt.

Direct-set cultures may be used to make yogurt with alternative (non-dairy) milks, as well: soy milk, rice milk, nut milk, etc. A dairy-based direct-set culture or a special non-dairy culture made specifically for non-dairy milks, the Vegan Yogurt Starter, may also be used. Non-dairy milks usually require the addition of some type of thickener to make a spoonable yogurt. 


INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING YOGURT USING A DIRECT-SET CULTURE:

  1. Slowly heat 1-2 quarts milk to 180°F. 
  2. Cool to 115°F.
  3. Pour into a glass or plastic container. 
  4. Add 1 packet yogurt starter; mix thoroughly.
  5. Cover and culture at 105º-110ºF for approximately 7-8 hours in a yogurt maker or similar appliance.
  6. Once it has set, place a tight lid on the container and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
To make larger batches, use 2 packets to culture 1-4 gallons milk.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR RE-CULTURING YOGURT:

To re-culture a new batch of yogurt, or to make yogurt using store-bought yogurt as starter, follow these steps:

  1. Heat 1 quart milk to 180°F. 
  2. Cool to 115°F.
  3. Pour into a glass or plastic container. 
  4. Add ¼ cup yogurt from a previous batch to the heated milk. To make larger batches, use 1 tablespoon starter yogurt per cup of heated milk.
  5. Cover and culture at 105º-110ºF for approximately 7-8 hours in a yogurt maker or similar appliance.
  6. Once it has set, place a tight lid on the container and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Making Yogurt with Reusable (Heirloom) Cultures


Reusable or Heirloom yogurt starters may culture on the countertop at room temperature or may require a yogurt maker or other appliance. Any type of dairy milk will make yogurt: cow, goat, sheep, even buffalo. The milk can be raw or pasteurized. Avoid ultra-pasteurized or UHT milk. For more information and tips on choosing milk to make yogurt, click here. When making yogurt using raw milk, there are special considerations. Please click here to learn more about making raw milk yogurt.

  • Mesophilic or medium-loving cultures work at room temperature, 70-77ºF. 
  • Thermophilic or heat-loving cultures require a yogurt maker or other appliance to keep the milk warm during culturing. 


INSTRUCTIONS FOR ACTIVATING A MESOPHILIC REUSABLE YOGURT CULTURE:

  1.  Put 1-2 cups pasteurized milk into a glass or plastic container.
  2.  Add 1 packet yogurt starter; mix thoroughly.
  3.  Cover with a towel or coffee filter, secured with a rubber band, or put a lid on the container.
  4. Place in a warm spot, 70º-77ºF, to culture.
  5. Check after 12 hours to see if it has set. If it has not set, leave up to 48 hours, checking every few hours.
  6. Once it has set, or at the end of 48 hours, cover with a tight lid and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  7. The cultured yogurt can now be eaten. Reserve some for culturing the next batch.

 

  • Even if the activation batch does not set, it is still cultured and can be used to make further batches of yogurt.

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING MESOPHILIC REUSABLE YOGURT

  1. Put 1 cup milk into a glass or plastic container.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon yogurt from the previous batch; mix thoroughly. To make larger batches, use 1 tablespoon yogurt per cup of milk, making up to ½ gallon per container.
  3. Cover with a towel or coffee filter, secured with a rubber band, or put a lid on the container. 
  4. Place in a warm spot, 70º-77ºF, to culture for 12-18 hours. 
  5. Check the yogurt every few hours by tilting the jar gently. If the yogurt moves away from the side of the jar in one mass, instead of running up the side, it is finished culturing.
  6. Once it has set, cover with a tight lid and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  7. The cultured yogurt can now be eaten. Reserve some for culturing the next batch.

 

  • Follow the Instructions for Making Mesophilic Yogurt (above) to make a new batch at least once every 7 days to keep your cultures strong. Always use the freshest batch of yogurt as starter.


INSTRUCTIONS FOR ACTIVATING A THERMOPHILIC REUSABLE CULTURE 

  1.  Heat 1 quart pasteurized milk to 160°F. 
  2.  Cool to 110°F. 
  3.  Pour cooled milk into a glass or plastic container. 
  4. Add one packet yogurt starter; mix thoroughly.
  5. Cover and incubate at 110°F in a yogurt maker or similar appliance, for 5-12 hours.
  6. Check after 5 hours to see if it has set. If it has not set, leave up to 12 hours, checking every 30-60 minutes.
  7. Once it has set, or at the end of 12 hours, cover and allow to cool for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  8. The cultured yogurt can now be eaten. Reserve some for culturing the next batch.
  • Even if the activation batch does not set, it is still cultured and can be used to make further batches of yogurt.

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING THERMOPHILIC REUSABLE YOGURT

  1. Heat 1 quart pasteurized milk to 160°F. 
  2. Cool to 110°F.
  3. Pour cooled milk into a glass or plastic container. 
  4. Stir 2-3 tablespoons yogurt into the milk and mix thoroughly.
  5. Cover and incubate at 110°F in a yogurt maker or similar appliance, for 5-8 hours. 
  6. Check frequently by tilting the jar gently. If yogurt moves away from the side of the jar in one mass, instead of running up the side, it is finished culturing.
  7. Once it has set, cool for 2 hours, then cover with a tight lid and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  8. The cultured yogurt can now be eaten. Reserve some for culturing the next batch.

 

  • Follow the Instructions for Making Thermophiic Yogurt (above) to make a new batch at least once every 7 days to keep your cultures strong. Always use the freshest batch of yogurt as starter.

 

                                                
   
Yogurt with Peaches


Related Articles & Recipes:

 

Related Products:

Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Yogurt Starter
Yogurt Maker Yogurt Makers
Cotton Bag for Making Yogurt Cheese Lebneh
Cotton Bag for Making Soft Cheese

 

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<td><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span> <br />
<p><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Originally a simple fermented dairy product, yogurt now has many variations and personalities. It can be thin and runny, or thick and firm. It can be made from cow milk, goat milk, sheep milk, nut milk, soy milk, rice milk, and from numerous other creamy substances. In some countries the milk of buffalo, horses, yaks, or camels is used.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">For most of this discussion, we&rsquo;ll refer to yogurt in its original form: a fermented dairy milk. This was how yogurt was first developed, and most of the yogurt in the world is made this way.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Essentially yogurt is the product of beneficial bacteria fermenting milk and turning it into a thickened, acidic food that will stay fresh longer than milk itself, and that contains millions of bacteria that are welcomed by the human gut.</span></p>
<h1><br /><strong><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">The History of Yogurt</span></strong></h1>
<p><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">The word yogurt comes from a Turkish word meaning to curdle or to thicken. Today it is spelled yogurt, yoghurt, or yogourt, with yogurt being the most common American spelling.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">It&rsquo;s probable that the earliest yogurt was made by accident in Mesopotamia around 5,000 BC, when milk-producing animals were first domesticated. The milk was likely stored and transported in bags made from the stomachs of these animals, and the digestive juices and bacteria in the stomach linings made the milk coagulate and become acidic. Not only was it a new and interesting food, but the acidity and helped to keep it edible for longer</span> <span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">than if it had just sat out in a bowl or jar.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">There is also some evidence of yogurt being used as a cleaning product and a beauty lotion as early as 2000 BC. The acidity of the yogurt helps clean away dirt and rust, and also helps clear away dead skin and nourish healthy skin cells.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Yogurt was a popular food in the Middle East for thousands of years, and has been a staple of the Eastern European diet. It&rsquo;s now eaten throughout the world, as a main course, a snack, an ingredient in many recipes, and a condiment. It has gained considerable popularity in America in the last forty or fifty years, in keeping with general trends toward organic, cultured, and nutrient-dense foods.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Yogurt can be mildly tart or quite sour, and can be thick enough to stand up on a plate, or thin enough to pour, or anywhere in between. It contains protein and calcium as well as a variety of vitamins. Additionally, the process of yogurt fermentation is very similar to the process of digestion, so it can be easily consumed.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Many people eat yogurt plain, while others prefer to mix it with fruits or vegetables, or to add flavors or sweeteners. It is used in a variety of recipes as a flavor enhancer or leavening, and frequently enjoyed as a refreshing drink.</span></p>
<h1><br /><strong><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Nutritional Content</span></strong></h1>
<p><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Not only does yogurt contain the same amount of protein and fat as the milk from which it is made, it also contains calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. While numerous claims have been made regarding the health benefits and digestibility of yogurt, we don&rsquo;t comment on medical, health, or nutritional qualities of our products. However, a great deal of research on the subject is readily available on the Internet and in dozens of books.</span></p>
<h1><br /><strong><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">How is Yogurt Made?</span></strong></h1>
<p><strong><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span></strong><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">True yogurt is made from animal milk. Theoretically, the milk of any mammal could be used to make yogurt.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">With care, yogurt cultures can also be used to ferment and coagulate non-dairy &ldquo;milks&rdquo; such as the creamy liquid obtained from nuts, rice, soy, or coconut. While these products are technically not really yogurt, they can be used and enjoyed just like dairy yogurt, alone or in recipes.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Put very simply, the process of turning milk into yogurt involves fermentation. Certain types of bacteria act on the lactose (milk sugar) that is in milk, and produce lactic acid. The lactic acid lowers the pH of the milk, and causes the milk protein to coagulate and make a firm mass. The acidified milk is an inhospitable environment for destructive bacteria, so the yogurt stays fresh longer than untreated milk.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">The bacteria that does this is called beneficial bacteria, because it supports digestion and is nourishing, as opposed to pathogenic (harmful) bacteria that causes disease. The beneficial bacteria is called probiotic. It&nbsp; is similar or identical to the type of bacteria that lives in the human gut and which is responsible for the process of food absorption. When you use live cultures, the probiotics stay in the yogurt, and the yogurt can then be used as a starter to make more yogurt.</span></p>
<h1><br /><strong><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Yogurt and Other Fermented Dairy Products</span></strong></h1>
<p><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">There are many different ways that beneficial bacteria can be introduced to milk and make an entirely new food. The main difference between the different fermented dairy products is the bacteria used to make them, resulting in different flavors and consistencies.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;"><em>Yogurt</em> can be cultured with a variety of different bacteria combinations, each of which gives the yogurt a characteristic taste and consistency. There are typically somewhere between the range of two to six different bacteria strains in yogurt, and they are similar to the bacteria found in the intestines.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;"><em>Kefir</em> is a thickened milk made from little clumps of yeast, bacteria, and milk proteins that ferment the milk. There are about thirty different bacteria strains present in kefir grains. It has a slightly sour flavor and sometimes a faint effervescence. Koumiss is a similar product, made from mare&rsquo;s milk.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;"><em>Buttermilk</em> is the name given to the whey that&rsquo;s left over when butter is made, but it more commonly refers to a milk drink made by adding bacteria to low-fat milk, producing a thickened product with a tangy flavor.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;"><em>Sour cream</em> is cream or high-fat milk that&rsquo;s been cultured and thickened. It&rsquo;s very slightly sour, and usually quite thick. It was originally made by letting fresh cream thicken naturally as a result of fermentation from the bacteria present in the cream. When cream is pasteurized and has no natural bacteria present, it must be fermented with added bacteria.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;"><em>Cr&egrave;me fraiche</em> is a European-style sour cream, slightly sweeter than what we are used to in America. It&rsquo;s also made by letting raw cream thicken naturally, or by adding buttermilk cultures to cream. Cr&egrave;me fraiche can be heated without curdling, unlike sour cream.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">In recipes, you can often substitute one cultured milk product for another and get similar results. In fact, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between a thin, tart yogurt and a thick, sour kefir or a creamy buttermilk!</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;"><em>Soft and hard cheeses</em> are also made by culturing milk over a longer period of time. Some cheeses can be easily made by straining the moisture out of yogurt or sour cream, while others require additional fermentation and culturing steps.</span></p>
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<li><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva;"><a title="Yogurt FAQ" href="http://www.culturesforhealth.com/expert-advice/Yogurt-Starter-FAQ.html" target="_blank">Yogurt FAQ</a><br /></span></li>
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