Homemade yogurt – Easy, healthy and delicious

homemade yogurtAnd frugal, too!

I’m so lucky because my husband LOVES making homemade yogurt.

Several years ago, I bought him a yogurt maker for Christmas. He told me once that he used to make his own yogurt when he was in college, so I thought he would enjoy trying it again.

He sure did!¬† ūüėÄ

Homemade yogurt has become a staple in our diet, and it is so superior to store-bought brands, I can’t even¬†describe it. You need to eat some to understand.

Anyone who loves yogurt should try making it at home. It’s easy to do with either an inexpensive yogurt maker or a crock pot. Fat-free, low-fat or whole milk can be used, depending on your preference. A small container of inexpensive plain yogurt makes a great starter.

Yogurt can be made in large batches, which is a lot cheaper than buying individual serving containers at the store. The better quality Greek-style yogurts can be surprisingly expensive! $$$

Cheaper brand yogurts are filled with thickening agents and sweeteners. Read the labels next time you’re out shopping.

Homemade yogurt only has one ingredient: milk. (Oh, and the culture, of course!)

Health benefits of homemade yogurt

There are many benefits to adding plain, low-fat yogurt to your daily diet. To name a few:

  • Protein. Yogurt is a great source of protein, supplying roughly 12 grams of protein per 1 cup serving.
  • Calcium. As I’ve posted about before, it’s better to get calcium through the foods we eat rather than rely on supplements. 1 cup of yogurt gives a whopping 450 mg of this mineral!
  • Vitamin D. If your homemade yogurt is made from vitamin D fortified, milk, you get the added bonus of this vitamin, which increases absorption of calcium. Most store brand yogurts do not have added vitamin D.
  • Potassium. Another useful mineral is potassium. Usually bananas are recommended as the best source, but 1 cup of yogurt provides about 575 mg.
  • Digestion. In general, yogurt is great for your digestion. Because the milk sugar, lactose, is eaten by the bacteria during the fermentation process, yogurt is a good source of dairy for the lactose intolerant. The probiotic bacteria in yogurt work to¬†help maintain a healthy¬†balance of intestinal bacteria, which can prevent both constipation and diarrhea.

The nutritional values here are just an estimate. The numbers will vary depending on the milk you use. Reading the label on the milk carton should give you a pretty good estimate of the nutritional value of your homemade yogurt.

Yogurt makers

As I said at the top of the post, you can make yogurt in a yogurt maker or a crock pot (slow cooker). There are also recipes online for using just a saucepan on the stove top, but because the milk and culture needs to be kept at a low heat for several hours, I think it’s easiest to use one of the other two methods.

The yogurt maker I bought for my husband years ago is still working great, even though we use it several times a week. HOWEVER, for some reason that yogurt maker now costs an insane $135 on Amazon rather than $25. I have no idea why.

At the bottom of the page, I’ve included an Amazon link to a yogurt maker that is very similar to the one we use, and it is reasonably priced.

If you prefer the consistency of Greek yogurt, which is thicker, it’s¬†easy to get. Simply strain the yogurt with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth over a bowl. Excess whey will drain out (we throw it away, but some people drink it or use it elsewhere).

The longer you strain, the thicker the yogurt will become. Sometimes we leave it to drain overnight and then have a product very much like cream cheese. It’s great on a toasted bagel, and much lower in fat.

You don’t need a special strainer to make Greek yogurt, but I’ve included a link to one of these, as well, so you can see what they’re like.

Several yogurt makers use small individual-serving cups rather than one large quart-sized container. I don’t like these because it’s more fussy and requires more clean up. Enough said.

Crock pot yogurt recipe

Yogurt makers will come with instructions and recipes.

For the yogurt starter, buy a good quality, single-serving¬†plain yogurt. Make sure the label says “Contains active live cultures.”¬†My husband likes¬†Fage plain Greek yogurt.

A few months ago, he introduced his brother and sister-in-law to the deliciousness of homemade yogurt. Since then, my sister-in-law has become a yogurt-making virtuoso! She makes several quarts at a time in her crock pot, and shares it with friends and neighbors.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon milk
  • 1/2 cup starter yogurt

Directions:

  • Pour the milk into the crock pot, cover, and heat on low for approximately 3 hours. The milk needs to reach 180¬įF. Use a digital thermometer to check periodically.
  • Once the milk reaches the desired temperature, turn off the crock pot, unplug it, and allow the milk to cool for another 3 hours. The milk needs to cool to about 110¬įF, so use the thermometer again to check periodically.
  • Remove 1 cup of the cooled milk and add the starter yogurt. Mix well.
  • Pour the mixture back into the crock pot and stir to mix.
  • Cover and wrap the crock pot in a thick towel. The towel provides insulation so the crock pot stays consistently warm while the culture does its thing.
  • Let sit for 8-12 hours (overnight).
  • In the morning, transfer the yogurt to containers and refrigerate. Strain for a thicker yogurt.
  • Put aside 1/2 cup of yogurt to be used as a starter in your next batch.

It’s a time-consuming process, which is why it’s such a good idea to make large batches. Also, different sizes and brands of crock pots will heat and cool down at different speeds. A little bit of trial and error is necessary the first time or two,¬†but homemade yogurt is definitely worth¬†it! Just write down the heating, cooling and cooking times that work best for your crock pot.

I’d love to hear from anyone who makes their own yogurt. What method do you use? What tips/tricks can you share? What other recipes do you use with the yogurt?

Sl√°inte,

Frugal Nurse

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About Frugal Nurse

I'm frugal in all aspects of my life, not just healthcare. But I'm thankful that my 30+ years of experience as a nurse in our crazy-expensive healthcare system has given me the tools I need to make the most cost-effective healthcare choices I can for my family,

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