Making Yogurt without a machine

Today I decided to make yogurt from scratch – without a machine.

I  used equipment that I already have at home:

  • heavy sauce pan
  • quart sized mason jar with lid
  • 2 quart sized jars with lids
  • towel (optional)
  • cooking thermometer
  • cooler


  1. 1 quart whole or 2% milk
  2. 1/4 cup plain yogurt as starter (Make sure it has active cultures)
  3. 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder (optional)


Step One:  Sterilize your equipment

  1. Make sure everything you are going to use to make yogurt is extremely clean!
  2. The easiest way to do this is to run everything through the dish washer with the heated drying cycle
  3. Alternatively, wash everything in warm soapy water and let air dry
  4. Fill the containers with boiling water and let them sit until you are ready to fill them with yogurt.

Step Two:  Heating your milk

Even if you use pasteurized milk, it will require sterilization due to the bacteria it contains.

  1. Heat the milk & powdered milk over medium low heat until it reaches 180 F.     Do not let the milk boil.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool until the milk is 105-110 F.  Cover so a  skin will not form.  You can simply let the milk cool, or you can place it in the sink with cold water to speed up the process.

Step Three:  Add the Culture

  1. Place the starter in a small bowl and allow to come to room temperature
  2. Add about 1/2 cup of the milk.  Stir until well blended
  3.  Add this back into the pot of sterilized milk
  4. Cover the cultured milk.  I poured it into a quart mason jar

Step Four:  Incubate the Bacteria

Incubating the beneficial bacteria in your yogurt is the trickiest part of the whole procedure. If the temperature of the milk mixture is too low, the bacteria won’t grow enough to produce yogurt. If the temperature is too high, however, it will kill the bacteria. There are a few methods you can use to regulate the temperature of your milk mixture as it turns to yogurt.  I chose to use a cooler.  Here’s how it worked:

  1. I filled 2 quart jars with hot water: 140-150 degrees F
  2. I placed these 2 jars in a cooler, along the outside edges
  3. I placed my jar of cultured yogurt in the middle of the cooler
  4. I closed the lid and did not disturb for 6 hours.

Step Five:  When the Yogurt is Done

  1. After the incubation time is up, check the milk to see if it has turned into yogurt.  The longer the yogurt remains warm and still, the thicker and more tart it will become.  It will continue to thicken as it cools.
  2. Place the yogurt into sterilized storage containers.
  3. Cover each container with a tight-fitting lid or plastic wrap.
  4. Store in the fridge for up to 10 days.
  5. I take out 1/2 to reserve as culture for my next batch.  I am going to put this in the freezer until I am ready to make yogurt again.
  6. Add any flavoring, sweeteners and fruit you wish.
  7. Have fun!

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