About 5 years ago, I tried plain yogurt for the first time in my life, and I did not like it at all! When my friend Megan gave me some kefir grains 4 years ago, I started culturing my own kefir (which tastes similar to plain yogurt) and disguising it in smoothies and pancakes and stuff like that. ;)
I've acquired a taste for my homemade kefir AND plain yogurt over the years, and I'm actually drinking a glass of plain milk kefir right now -- without any maple syrup added, even! Although maple syrup is a great addition to kefir, it is also too expensive for me to consume as often as I'd like! ;)
Then, Joshua got an ice cream maker. He's been doing lots of experimentation, including making homemade frozen yogurts. (Look for his recipes in the next few months! If you're not already a subscriber, subscribe for free and you won't miss a thing!)
So with all my culturing experience (haha), I decided it was time to start making homemade yogurt as well. After all, so many people extoll the ease and yumminess -- not to mention the frugality! -- of making homemade yogurt, it's ridiculous that I waited so long to try!
Homemade yogurt seems to follow these simple rules:
1. Heat milk to ~180 degrees.
2. Allow milk to cool to ~110 degrees (but never above 120).
3. To the warm milk, whisk in some plain yogurt (this functions as a starter) from the store (2-4 tablespoons per quart).
4. Keep the milk/yogurt mixture warm (in jars) for 4-24 hours (in a warm crock pot, in a cooler with warm water, in a yogurt maker, in a dehydrator, etc.)
And voila! Homemade yogurt!
Except I still haven't been able to make a homemade yogurt we actually like very well.
I've gotten thin yogurt (runnier than my kefir has ever been!). I've gotten thick lumpy yogurt. I've gotten yogurt that had an aftertaste like vomit. (I know, nasty! We didn't eat that batch.) Even the best yogurt I made failed the blind taste test I gave to the children: yogurt on one spoon, kefir on the other spoon, and they all 3 said they liked the kefir a lot better!
And all that, ummm, yogurt? It took a lot of babysitting with the thermometer. I seriously invested hours and hours into trying to make yogurt!
Well, except for the batch that I made in the crock pot using a timer instead of a thermometer. The timer went but my milk was still 140 degrees when I added my yogurt starter! FYI, 140 degree milk doesn't turn into yogurt. I tried the recipe again, used a thermometer when the timer went off, and discovered what went wrong the last time!
If you love making yogurt, know that I am very happy for you. :) I will probably even want to eat some when I come over to your house! ;)
If you've been thinking about making homemade yogurt, here are some tutorials to get you started:
The Frugal Girl's homemade yogurt (Kristen has a photo tutorial, recipe, and lots of comments!)
Alicia from Alicia's Homemaking regularly makes yogurt in her crock pot! Alicia's post is the one that convinced me to finally try making homemade yogurt! :)
Frugal Granola's Homemade Yogurt (Michele makes it seem so easy!)
Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has a lot of information about how she makes her homemade yogurt. She has also experimented with culturing times and amounts of starter, so be sure to check out her site if you need to troubleshoot! :)
Lynn's Kitchen Adventures shares her secret for making homemade yogurt that her family will enjoy! Lynn uses a yogurt maker for her yogurt.
Finding Joy in My Kitchen also prefers to use a yogurt maker for her homemade yogurt.
Have you written a tutorial or recipe for homemade yogurt? Leave a link in the comments so I can consider adding it to this list! :)
Some people just love, love, LOVE their homemade yogurt, but I think I'm sticking to making kefir.
Kefir grains, ready for fresh milk
Why I LOVE making kefir (and not yogurt!):
1. Kefir suits my clutter-free attempt at life. Kefir doesn't require a thermometer. It doesn't require a cooler, a crock pot, or any other appliance. A jar, lid, and some milk is all you need and ALL that you will have sitting on your counter! And who doesn't love more counter space in the kitchen?!
2. Kefir doesn't require babysitting. At all. You only have to think about it once a day or every other day. "Making" kefir takes about 5 minutes or less. If you want to take a break from kefir, you can take 2 weeks off by simply putting the milk and kefir grains in the fridge. Or just make as little as 1/2 cup of kefir per day.
3. Kefir is packed with probiotics! From what I've read, it beats out yogurt by 4-5 times the amount of beneficial bacterias. Maybe that's why a quart of kefir is over $4 in the store?!
4. Anyone can make kefir. It is THAT easy. And in fact, once you start making kefir and your grains are growing, you can give them to others to try and enjoy!
A few weeks ago, I took a video of some of my thick, creamy homemade kefir. My kefir seems to go through varying stages. Sometimes it is more "stringy" or "ropey", like in this video. Other times, it is just a thick, yogurt-like consistency.
The grains themselves don't always look the same. It's fascinating! Some day I will take close up photos of my kefir grains, and maybe pop a few open and show you what's inside!
Sorry for the abrupt ending of the video... my camera battery died! I should get a second battery because it is constantly flashing red while I'm trying to get food pics before the sun hides again or the food gets cold!! :)
When it comes to my homemade kefir, I can't stop raving! It's just that good, that nutritious, and that simple! What else takes just 2 minutes of prep and is a quick HEALTHY on-the-go snack or hold-me-over?!
My kefir video tutorial (it's quick and painless!)
Info, recipes, and Q&A about kefir from Cultures For Health
I recently discovered that Cultures For Health has a You Tube channel with some great videos about their cultures and starters. They have yogurt that cultures at room temperature (like kefir, only yogurt) and I think that might be more my style. ;)
And you can check out more of their videos on You Tube! :)
By the way, I'm super excited that Cultures For Health will be offering a giveaway to readers here next week! Stay tuned for your chance to win and start culturing something... like kefir, sourdough, or yogurt! :)
Full Disclosure: I get many requests for kefir grains, and had been directing you to a friend who sold live milk kefir grains. Unfortunately, she is no longer selling kefir grains. I decided to try to find another reputable source for kefir grains (NOT "starter").
While I think the ideal source of kefir grains is live, fresh grains (preferably given as a gift from a friend!), I am an affiliate with Cultures For Health and I feel confident directing you to them.
I wish kefir grains weren't so expensive to get started -- but remember, once you have them they will grow, and you can bless your friends and family by giving away your extras. :)