Non-Fat Plain Yogurt

About 10 years ago I purchased a yogurt incubator and I set about trying to make my own yogurt.  After a year and a half of trial & error and trial & error, followed by error & error & error, I finally gave it up and decided that homemade yogurt was neither simple, economical or healthy.  On all accounts I was wrong!  At a food storage class I attended, I tasted Katie’s yogurt and almost fell off my chair!  It tasted great, was thick and creamy, and her ingredients totaled about $.60 a quart!  Luckily, Katie shared her recipe and technique, and now I will share it with you.

  • 7 ½ cups hot water
  • 2 cups powdered milk, non instant (I use powdered milk from the LDS Cannery)
  • ⅔ cup plain yogurt, with live active cultures
  • OR
  • 5 grams freeze dried culturesWhisk your powdered milk and HOT water together while heating over high heat. It takes effort but if you whisk vigorously you can easily get asmooth product.  Continue to whisk vigorously until liquid begins to boil.Once it begins to boil remove from heat and allow the liquid to cool to 105-110 degrees F.  As it is cooling measure your yogurt starter and set it out next to your hot liquid.  This will allow your starter to warm up to room temperature while your hot liquid is cooling.  Once liquid is cooled add your yogurt starter and give it a good stir to incorporate starter throughout the liquid. Incubate using desired method.If you are using a freeze dried starter, once the liquid is cool mix a small amount of the liquid in a bowl with the freeze dried starter to dissolve completely.  Then stir the small bowl of liquid into the large amount of cooled liquid and give it a good stir.  Incubate using desired method.Incubation can be done several ways.  One is in an incubator.  There are several brands and it generally consists of an internal container and a larger casing that incubates and holds the inner container at a constant 100-110 degrees F.  If using an incubator, pour your cooled mixture into the internal container and place in incubator for 6-8 hours.  To check if it is set press gently on the top with the back of a spoon.  DO NOT SHAKE!  Remove inner container and place in refrigerator.  Refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving.  As it is refrigerated it will become a little firmer.   Serve with honey, fruit, jam or use in recipes plain.Incubation can also be done in a dehydrator.  I used glass quart jars and here in this photo I tripled my recipe allowing me to fill 6 quarts jars and incubate them all together.  I kept my door open to allow me to maintain the desired 100-110 degrees F.  With the door closed my temperature was just too hot!  Just keep an eye on your temperatures!  I incubated here as well for 6-8 hours and then I just placed my jars in the fridge.  I really loved being able to culture so much yogurt at a time!
You can also culture using an oven.  The pilot light can sometimes hold a temperature.  Also just turning it on to warm for 5 minutes every hour or so can keep you with a nice warm 100-110 degree F enviroment.  Just use a thermometer and keep an eye on it until you get a feel for what your oven can do.  If you maintain a 100-110 degree F temperature it should take just 6-8 hours.
Why is this so amazing?  Basically with just water, cannery powdered milk and a starter I can make a healthy lunch, a nice dessert, or have a cheap substitute for sour cream or cottage cheese that is food storageable!  It opens up so many wonderful doors in cooking.  With great-tasting yogurt, I never have to drink another glass of powdered milk again!  Unless I want to.
Note:  I use a cheap generic plain yogurt start on a day-to-day basis.  I store freeze dried and use it occasionally.  Freeze dried cultures tend to produce a little sharper taste in my yogurt, but I still like it.  In a need situation I would use a freeze dried start, and then I would pull out a yogurt start from the batch of yogurt I made with the freeze dried.  If I did this every time I made yogurt, I could have a start on hand for quite a while.  Keep in mind you would want to start with a new start, either freeze dried or yogurt from the store, periodically; simply because each batch you make off your own starts will get sharper and sharper in flavor.

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5 thoughts on “Non-Fat Plain Yogurt

  1. So once you have 6 qts of yogurt how long can you store it in your jars? (I am assuming it stays refrigerated)

    • My own yogurt has lasted, refrigerated, for at least three weeks. I have a hard time keeping it around that long, but I have gone out of town for two and a half weeks and found my yogurt good and fresh tasting when I returned home. It could be frozen to keep it longer. If you don’t think you will eat it that quickly I would make smaller batches to avoid waste. Personally, we eat it everyday. It is my kids favorite at lunch time.

  2. After thinking about this post over and over again, I am getting ready to try making my own yogurt this summer. But I am very nervous and want to make sure I understand the starter, I am thinking I will probably buy plan yogurt rather than freeze dried, but are we really just taking about a getting a little cup of plain yogurt from the dairy section? Will it say it has active live cultures in it?
    Also, can I mix in fruit before it sets if I know my kids will never eat plain unsweetened yogurt?

    • Don’t be nervous. You are asking great questions. Yes, I am talking about plain yogurt from the dairy section. This is what I usually use. I just buy the quart size container and then I take some out of the container. This allows me to have many starts and so I can make many batches. I usually make them just one at a time. It will say active cultures on the container. Most generic brands are fine, I currently use Albertson’s or Mountain High depending on sale prices. Both will work.

      I have also tried flavoring BEFORE culturing and although according to books and readings I have done this is possible, I personally have not found a recipe that tasted good and cultured properly. So I just culture and then AFTER I chill it for 8 hours, I flavor and sweeten the whole batch and store it that way in my fridge. Then it is ready and convenient.

      I am excited to hear about your success. Let me know!

    • I was a little afraid of this, too, but it’s been great! I make mine into vanilla yogurt before culturing by adding about 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. My husband and I eat it this way. For my kids I just keep ziplock bags of Jell-O powder in the cabinet (see Robin’s post on using Jell-O to flavor yogurt). They add 2 teaspoons per 6 ounces of yogurt and can have whatever flavor they want in a flash! Love it!