What can I say?
I was unimpressed.
While it was (once I worked out a few kinks in the process) surprisingly easy to make, I didn’t find the flavor of my homemade yogurt to be anything extraordinary, nor was it life changing or revelatory like some claim it to be. If anything it tasted a bit off to me compared to store-bought. Everyone seems to rave about the superior flavor of homemade yogurt, but I didn’t have that same experience.
However, I still think it’s worthwhile to try making yourself, at least once in your life, because it is pretty amazing how a bowl of lukewarm liquid milk can become a thick and creamy yogurt after only a few hours in a warm oven.
My first attempt (pictured above) definitely tasted like yogurt, but it had an odd ricotta-like consistency that was less than pleasing. I think this was caused by the fact that I stirred the yogurt before it was entirely done, poking and prodding it after 4 or 5 hours to see how it was coming along.
Lesson learned? Set it and let it be.
My next two batches were noticeably better once I left them alone, with little to no separation and a texture that, while definitely smoother, was not quite as luxuriously creamy that what you’re probably used to when buying yogurt at the store.
I left some of my yogurt as is, and strained the rest for about 2-3 hours for a thicker, more Greek-like consistency. The Greek version was thicker, obviously, but I also found it smoother and tangier than the unstrained one. You can sort of see the differences in texture between the unstrained (left) and the strained (right) versions above. The unstrained also has a noticeable ‘cream top’ caused by using non-homogenized milk, which I didn’t love (luckily it’s easy to scrape off).
That said, the texture of yogurt has never been something I’ve loved. Even the super smooth store-bought stuff. So the slightly grainy texture of my homemade yogurt was slightly off-putting to me, even my second and third attempts which were noticeably smoother.
Needless to say, I can’t eat yogurt without stirring in a significant amount of stuff, be it granola, fruit, honey, nuts, or all above. The crunchy has to outnumber the creamy.
Helpful tip – make an instant ice bath by placing a large 4-cup measuring cup in an 8 or 9-inch square cake pan. Fill with ice water. This will help the milk cool more quickly, in about 15-20 minutes as opposed to 40 or 50.
I used my oven as a ‘proofing’ room; with the light on, the oven held a steady 100 degrees, which is just about right for making yogurt. No fancy contraptions, coolers, or heating pads required.
I let this batch sit for about 10 hours, though I think 7 or 8 would have been plenty. It’s done when you can tip the jar and the yogurt stays put. There may be some whey on the top and that’s normal, just pour it off.
Since I used non-homogenized milk, my yogurt separated much in the way the milk itself would if let to sit. The ‘cream’ layer on top is actually kind of nice, super rich and creamy. If you use homogenized milk this separation will not occur.
A big kudos goes to Dana of Afternoons and Coffeespoons, whose yogurt looks a heck of a lot creamier than mine does. You guys seemed so excited about this challenge when I announced it, but I guess I wasn’t the only one left underwhelmed, since Dana was the only one who actually submitted a final result. Was it something I said? Or (more likely) are we all just too busy dealing with taxes and spring cleaning and the like to take 30 minutes out of our day to make something from scratch?
Ah, well, maybe next time.
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup good-quality plain whole milk yogurt (with live active cultures)
- Slowly heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches 175-180 degrees F. At this point the milk should be steaming, but not bubbling. Stir occasionally so the milk does not form a skin. Reduce heat slightly and hold milk around 180 degrees for 15 minutes. While this step is optional it will result in a thicker, more stable yogurt.
- Remove from heat and pour milk into a bowl set in an ice water bath. Let cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming, until milk has cooled to a temperature of 110 degrees F.
- Place yogurt in a small bowl. Spoon a cup or so of lukewarm milk into the yogurt and whisk until smooth. Pour into bowl with milk and stir until incorporated.
- Pour yogurt base into glass jars or containers. Place on a baking sheet or tray and lightly cover with plastic wrap, poking a few holes above the jar openings to let the yogurt breathe. Place in your (cool) oven with the light on. The light alone should be enough to keep the oven temperature around 100-110 degrees F.
- Let yogurt ferment without being disturbed for 7 to 10 hours (don’t stir, jiggle, or mess with it or it may separate). After 6 or 7 hours you can begin checking for doneness, by tipping the jars slightly. If the yogurt stays put, it’s done. If it’s still loose and flowing, let it ferment a while longer.
- Screw on jar lids and place yogurt in the refrigerator to firm up even more. If you prefer thicker, Greek-style yogurt, strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with a coffee filter or cheese cloth for 2-3 hours.
- Fresh yogurt will keep for about a week in the refrigerator. Be sure to set aside a small amount to use in your next batch!
Did you make this recipe?
Let us know what you think!
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I have made yogurt a number of times, and for me it was more about the $ – cheaper to make it yourself – but my sister insists that it’s far superior to store bought. The other reason I like to make it myself is that I can control what goes in it – no aspartame, corn syrup, etc. I do add a bit of vanilla and agave nectar to mine. The first several times I made it, I included some dry milk powder, which was said to give it body/stability. We liked it so much, I didn’t change it. The price increased dramatically a while back, so I’ve been making it without lately and definitely see the difference. I never had to strain it before but do when not using the powdered milk.
Thanks for the mention. I may be the only one who responded to the challenge but it sounds like there are a lot of yogurt makers out there. It took me several attempts, and several years, to come up with a version I was satisfied with. And if it doesn’t work out, there are MANY varieties to fall back on. I also am not a fan of plain yogurt and add granola and fresh fruit. Grape Nuts are good, too. Yeah for yogurt!
I haven’t made much homemade yogurt in a few years, but a few years ago I made it very often, usually half a gallon of milk’s worth, in quart glass jars. I prefer it strained like greek yogurt, or yogurt cheese, which is stained to about the consistency of cream cheese. It’s pretty good spread on waffles and topped with fruit.
Oh my goodness, I totally forgot to try this myself! Time flies :(
I think I’ll give it a go sometime soon… even if the final results aren’t spectacular, the process itself sounds fun. :)
I’m with you too. I’ve tried to make yogurt a few times and have not been overly impressed with the taste so I’ve been sticking with some of my store bought favorites. I do love your photos! I recently started following your blog and am interested in hearing more about the kitchen challenges.
Gad, I am glad it didn’t turn out. I eat a ton of yogurt and I didn’t want to feel guilty because I don’t make it from scratch. Thanx for the honesty—albeit yours looks good
in the photos—
I don’t normally talk about ME, but please make note of the slight name change from Wild Goose Tea. New web design too—whoopee and I am adding some new fun features along the way.
Once again I failed as well to join in this month. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at homemade yogurt and am sad to hear the flavor isn’t impressive but glad you still think it’s worth doing at least once.
oh no! I dropped the ball this month for the challenge. I was so excited to try it. I still will especially now that you said it’s much easier.
Thanks for such an honest post. So many times, bloggers don’t talk about the challenges and when it’s just easier to buy. I have always wanted to make my own yogurt but it’s good to know of the challenges when going in to it. For now, I’ll be sticking to store bought yogurt but great post and thanks for sharing!
Ah! I am so bummed I missed out on the challenge! I meant to try the yogurt and then the month just got away from me. Boo.
Yogurt was one of those things that I felt I had to try at least once, just for the experience and to see if it was all that it was cracked up to be. But like you were, I was disappointed in the texture. I still give it a whirl every now and then to see if things change but overall, it’s just not worth the effort for me. I’d rather buy organic plain and jazz it up with other fun stuff like homemade jam.
I’m with you. Im not sure it’s worth it. I didn’t find the taste any better and I’m not a big Greek yogurt fan, so the cost of making vs buying plain regular yogurt was minimal to me.
Don’t give up on homemade yogurt! I started doing it about a year ago and every time since that I’ve had to eat store bought, the store bought always tastes superficial and overly sweet.
I make it a half gallon or more at a time and use large quart jars. I use a very simple method – usually just letting it rest on the counter in an insulated cooler bag (no oven) for about 10-12 hours. If you want more tang – increase the time.
The cost savings can’t be beat either.
I am still going to do this. Recipes printed out & waiting! Finances were just tough this month and didn’t allow for anything fun.
I make my own yogurt semi-regularly enough that I have a yogurt maker. I find it’s much less fussy for me using that, and it didn’t cost too much. Also, my yogurt got much creamier/smoother when I started using a yogurt culture instead of store-bought yogurt as my starter. I bought a non-heirloom variety starter since I don’t have time these days to make sure that I’m making a batch every 5-7 days. I love it, but I’m a big yogurt fan anyway.
I’ve been making my own yogurt for years, not for any life-changing anything, but because it is cheaper and easy and I can use local milk and avoid plastic tubs.
I think I’m with you on this one where I believe for the time being, I’ll keep buying my yogurt instead of making it. I do love that superb creaminess… with lots and lots and lots of granola. If I do every have the hankering to try and whip it up myself, I know where to look! :)