While this is not something we grow and sell on our farm, we include Greek-style yogurt in so many of our recipes that we felt the need to share the simple yogurt-making process on our website. This is a great replacement for sour cream or mayo.
In our variation of this recipe, we like to use whole milk but it works with any percent. We used to warm the milk to 180º and then cool it to 115º to add the starter culture, but if your milk is already pasteurized this is not necessary. We also tried a few different brands of powdered milk the past couple years. Our favorite is a granular type. It seems to make the thickest final product while the fine powder presented a somewhat stringy, runny final product for us. Each of you will have to come up with your own technique that works best for you, but don’t give up if your batch doesn’t turn out. It’s worth it to try again and get it right. I’ve often cut the batch in half when trying something new so as not to waste a whole gallon of milk if something goes wrong.
After you make your first batch, you can use your own yogurt as the starter for the next batch. Also, vanilla flavored starter will work if you can not find plain, but you will have a hint of vanilla flavor. Don’t add any fruit or sugar until you are ready to serve.
We let our yogurt “grow” in quart glass jars that have been washed in HOT water. Your containers should be free of bacteria and mold spores. Plastic will work as well. We reuse canning lids and rings each batch. The glass jars do a good job of holding heat for the growing process. They also self seal and keep out mold while storing them in the fridge for up to a month. If you decide to freeze it, do not use glass jars!
In this recipe, you will use the heat from your oven light to keep the jars warm for a long period of time. We like to keep our cast iron skillets in the oven, so we warm the oven for about five minutes with all the cast iron to the lowest setting on my oven, 170 degrees, before starting the milk warming process. Just what I like to do to help keep a constant temperature.
Homemade Greek Yogurt
- 1 gallon milk
- 3 cups dry milk
- 4-6 oz plain greek yogurt (for starter)
Prepare sterile containers for yogurt. You will need four quarts plus about one pint.
Pour milk into large pot on stovetop at med-high heat. Whisk dry milk into wet milk while still cold. Heat milk to 115 to 120 degrees. Stir often so milk doesn’t scald to bottom of pot. The milk can’t be too hot or it will kill the active cultures in the yogurt. Too cold and the cultures won’t multiply.
In a separate bowl, mix your starter yogurt into about 1 cup of the warmed milk mixture. Then pour into the large pot and combine fully.
Pour your mixture into containers. Place containers into your oven with the heat off but the oven light on. The light provides just enough heat for the cultures to multiply. Allow cultures to grow in the oven for about 8-10 hours. Longer time will create a more sour flavor. Find what you like best by experimenting with different time lengths.