Love and Olive Oil

Spring Kitchen Challenge: Homemade Yogurt


Ok ok cats have nothing to do with yogurt, but I needed more in here than just my blathering. Besides, you guys did ask for more cat pictures, remember? I’m just giving you what you want.

You also asked for more Kitchen Challenges. Despite the fact that I sometimes feel like I’m completely alone in challenging myself, I’ve gotten so many positive comments about them in our reader survey, so I figured after a 2 month break it was time to do another. So what if Kitchen Challenges have officially become seasonal. Does that make me a slacker? I went from monthly, to biomonthly, and now quarterly.

Kitchen Challenge Spring 2015: Homemade YogurtAnyway.

It seems most of our past challenges fall into one of 3 categories:
1. Yeast
2. Sugar
3. Dairy

This time we’re diving into the later, and making our own homemade yogurt, which seems to fall somewhere between ricotta and mozzarella in terms of easiness.

All the recipes I found are *basically* the same. Take milk, heat it to a specific temperature. Add a bit of yogurt. Let sit in a warm spot overnight. Could it really be that easy? We shall see. The thought of leaving milk out overnight kind of makes me shudder, but I guess it needs warmer temperatures in order to ferment. Nobody go dying on me now, ok?

The Challenges:
  • Temperature. The temperature to which you bring your milk seems like the key factor in producing homemade yogurt. Might I recommend making sure your thermometer is properly calibrated before you begin? The temperature at which the milk ferments is also important. Most recipes just call for “a warm place” but some have more precise instructions. Especially this time of year when your home is probably anything but warm, it might be tricky to find a spot that fits the requirements.
  • Culture. Cultures are what make yogurt, well, yogurt… but where do you get them? Turns out there’s an easy answer: go buy some yogurt. Any yogurt with active cultures listed in the ingredients will work for this experiment, just match it to whatever dairy you are using (whole, skim, soy, etc).
  • Dairy. You really want to use high-quality dairy here, as it’ll make all the difference. Same for your yogurt, splurge on the good stuff. Apparently this will work with any dairy, whether it be whole milk, skim milk, or even soy milk. Just make sure whatever yogurt you buy for your starter matches your dairy.
  • Flavor. Once you’ve made your basic yogurt, the only question then is, what will you add to it? Fruit? Honey? Nuts? Chocolate? Eat it straight up or use it as part of a grander scheme? This is where our creativity comes in!
Resources & Recipes:
  • Yes, It’s Worth It To Make Your Own Yogurt. We shall see!
  • My go to, America’s Test Kitchen, has a very thorough step-by-step method for making homemade yogurt. Their warm spot is your oven, heat off with light on. This is my go-to method for proofing bread in colder months, so I guess it’d work just as well for this too! (Note recipe requires login to view, although it is free).
  • A basic homemade yogurt recipe from Bon Appetit.
  • Alton Brown’s recipe is a bit different in that it calls for powdered milk (for thickening I assume?) as well as a heating pad for a very precise fermentation temperature.
  • If you’re a fan of Greek yogurt, here’s a recipe from Serious Eats. The main difference is the yogurt is strained after fermenting to give it a nice, thick texture. The technique here is also slightly different, letting the yogurt ferment in a cooler of warm water instead of at room temperature, resulting in a quicker fermentation.
  • Last fall I was introduced to Vietnamese yogurt, made with sweetened condensed milk. And it was amazing. Todd & Diane have a recipe on their site and I can’t WAIT to try making it myself.

Join me!

Accept the challenge, make some yogurt (or yoghurt, whatever), and submit it by Wednesday, April 1st (no joke!) I’ll post about my own experience the following week along with a roundup of everyone who tackled this challenge with me.

Submit Your Results »

What is the Kitchen Challenge?

The Kitchen Challenge series is simply about getting in the kitchen and challenging yourself to make something new; you aren’t required to have a blog to participate, nor are you required to post about it if you do. However, if you do have a blog and post about the challenge, you are more than welcome to use the above graphic.

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  1. Sooo I was totally suckered in by the cat photo! So cute. I was happy to discover the recipe as well.

  2. Amazing! I’ve never tried to make yogurt but I’m pretty intrigued at the challenge. I can’t believe there is a crockpot version! xx L

  3. Fun! I am going to see what I can come up with. One note: you should try to avoid using ultra-pasteurized” milk to make yogurt. They heat it so high that the whey proteins break down and the yogurt is just a runny mess. 

    • Thanks for the tip! I remember the same was true when we made mozzarella. Luckily I’ve got a source for some amazing local milk and will most definitely be using that for my yogurt. :)

  4. You’re right that the temperature is so important when making homemade yogurt! I love my yogurt maker and swear by it for keeping the temperature right and not having any problems with thickness and texture.

  5. First of all, adorable cat!! Keep those pics coming. Next, I started making yogurt a couple years ago and love it. So easy. I follow the instructions from Annie’s Eats and it has never failed me. I have even heated the milk too high initially yet it still worked. I once even forgot to put the yogurt into the milk after it cooled and did it’s overnight oven stint. Well, I put the yogurt in and popped it back into the oven, and it worked! Very forgiving, this yogurt making business. Now I’m on a lark to explore flavoring my yogurt. If I have success, I’ll have to share for this challenge.

  6. I’m in! I need to find my yogurt maker. Good thing I have till April! ;)

  7. Your cat is so beautiful!

  8. Your cat looks real smart! Keep the pics coming :)
    I’ve been making my own yogurt for a couple of years now. The first time, I used the yogourmet starter ( with excellent results, and since then I’ve just saved a few spoons from each batch to start the next.
    In the cold months I wrap the covered bowl in a clean dry dish towel and leave it in the oven overnight (turned off, of course) to keep it warm.

  9. I grew up with my mom making yogurt at least twice a week at home, and now I do the same. I can honestly say that it is one of the easiest things to make, and its unfortunate that a lot of recipes make it seem so complicated. Our family method does not involve thermometers or any precise measuring.

    1) I first boil milk in the microwave, and you want to it have boiled enough that you have big bubbles on the side of your bowl, and likely a skin on top. 2) let it cool until it is comfortably warm when you dip your finger in it. It should be like warm bathwater.
    You basically want it warm enough to encourage bacterial growth and not so hot it kills the bacteria (think proofing yeast). I also skim the skin off. Sometimes I let it cool too much and then a minute in the microwave does the trick. 3) add a teaspoon or so of yogurt, and whisk it into the milk. 4) cover and keep it in a warm place overnight. I typically use a casserole warmer (see link below). Otherwise you can use your largest pasta pot and put a little bit of warm water in it to help keep it warm.
    If it hasnt set in the morning, just give it more time. I usually add a little bit of warm water to my warming dish to keep its temperature up. I know it looks like a lot of directions, but its really simple and you cant beat the taste. I have an “heirloom” culture that my family has been using to make yogurt for over 50 years and it has never let me down.

  10. I’m gonna do this! It’s added to my calendar and grocery list :)

  11. This definitely proves that cats increase readership, because I clicked on this post immediately! 

  12. I haven’t tried homemade yogurt in YEARS! But I eat and cook with a LOT of yogurt. I might seriously have to take a look at this. I love your darling cat!!!!!

  13. I have been making my own yogurt since the 1970s. Back then I used a 2qt Salton yogurt maker that has 5 large jars with lids which fit into the heating unit. It made the best and easiest yogurt!  I stopped making yogurt for several years and last year decided to start up again. I really wanted my old 1970s Salton back, but alas they did not make it anymore. But I was so happy to find the same unit, new in the box on ebay! It even has the directions, warranty card (without an internet URL) :), measuring spoon/thermometer  and the greek yogurt strainer. It is really difficult to find the 2 qt model but there are many 1 qt models on ebay.
    One other thing I might mention is that since we are almost 100% organic, as well as lactose intolerant at our house, I make my yogurt from organic lactose free milk by organic valley and it is delicious! Just try to find organic lactose free yogurt in any store. I have also found that adding flavoring, fruits, honey etc, is much better after your yogurt is ready to eat. :) Just MHO. 

  14. I’ll have to give this a try, Lindsay! Homemade yogurt is something I’ve been intimidated by for a while now… this challenge may just be the push I need to finally do it. We’ll see!

    And your cat is too cute! :D 

  15. OMG Linds! I used to only make my own yogurt! I worked in a bakery that had incubators and they would let me take them home once a week, and I would make 3 giant tubs! I loved it! I miss that. 

  16. I’ve been wanting to make my own yogurt for a few years but have never gotten around to it. I’m going to do it now! And maybe a couple of recipes. 

    And you can never post too many cat pictures!

  17. It’s been a while since I’ve made yogurt as well. It does go against the grain to intentionally leave dairy products in a warm environment.

    I used a cooler method. Easy and always good results. I never flavored mine as it was made, just added mix-ins as desired.

  18. I haven’t tried my own yogurt yet but my friend makes a bomb recipe. I’d be curious to see how easy a crockpot version is. Regardless, love the kitty picture! Way too cute!

  19. I’ve done the crockpot method before and LOVE it! i haven’t made any in a while, but maybe this will get me back on track of doing it regularly!

  20. I do want to get back into making my own yogurt.  I haven’t made any of my own the last couple of years.  I use my own recipe, similar to Alton Brown’s recipe, without the honey.  I find that adding the powdered milk gives it a better texture–more like Greek yogurt.  I’m going to give making nonfat yogurt a try.  Thanks for the motivation!

  21. mmmmm yogurt, love the ideas and loving the cat!

  22. Yay! I have been wanting to try making my own yogurt too. So glad it’s back and writing in my calendar now so I don’t forget.

  23. I *did* want more cat photos! And I am SO trying that Vietnamese yogurt recipe.

  24. Handsome kitty!

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