Homemade Yogurt in 7 Simple Steps

Fermented foods are a great way to increase your intake of nutrients and probiotics. You are probably familiar with kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and of course, yogurt. Store-bought yogurt, while convenient to buy ready-made, contains ingredients you want to avoid. These include added sugar and additives that improve texture and stability. Homemade yogurt avoids these problems because you control what goes in and what stays out. You also control the length of time to ferment. A longer fermentation period consumes essentially all the lactose in dairy milk allowing you to make lactose-free yogurt from dairy milks. This is important if you cannot digest lactose and are looking to add lactose-free foods to your diet. So try this home-made yogurt. It is lactose-free packed with probiotics and easy to make!

WHAT YOU GET

  • A tasty & versatile snack
  • Nutrient-rich food (calories, fat, protein, calcium, micronutrients)
  • Thriving population of probiotics
  • Choice of dairy or plant-based milks
  • Lactose-free
  • Zero added sugar
  • Zero additives

Store-bought yogurt is typically fermented for 8 to 12 hours. During this fermentation period, the lactose in dairy milk (or sugars in plant-based milks) provide energy for the microbes to ferment, a natural process that occurs in the absence of oxygen.  These microbes break down the sugars and produce lactic acid as an end-product. The ferment becomes noticeably acidic as the lactic acid by-product builds up. Eventually the acidity changes the physical property of the milk resulting in the yogurt texture we all enjoy.

The length of fermentation is important because dairy yogurt will always have some lactose remaining if the fermentation is stopped early. This is why you should ferment your yogurt for 24 hours. Extending the fermentation time allows the microbes to consume essentially all the lactose in the milk. The sweet lactose is converted to sour lactic acid, producing a more sour-tasting yogurt.

Finally, and most importantly for GI health, homemade yogurt produces a thriving population of probiotics. These homegrown probiotics help build your gut flora, a necessary component for a healthy gut.

7 SIMPLE STEPS

  • Set up
  • Close lid
  • Heat
  • Cool down
  • Add starter
  • Ferment
  • Remove yogurt

INGREDIENTS

  • Whole Organic Milk – choose dairy milk or non-dairy plant based milks such as coconut milk
  • Yogurt Starter – organic store-bought yogurt containing Active Live Culture (read the back label)

EQUIPMENT

  • Yogurt Maker

  • Optional: Kitchen thermometer
  • Optional: Whisk to help mix yogurt into the milK
  • Optional: Strainer to get a thick, creamy yogurt
  • Optional: Glass jars and lids
Yogurt making is a simple process. Yogurt makers make it even simpler!

YOGURT MAKERS

Look for a yogurt maker that stays on for 24 hours. Many of the simpler yogurt makers shut off after 8 or 12 hours. You need one that runs unattended for 24 hours.

My recommendation is to invest in an Instant Pot® because it can run unattended for 24 hours. It also takes care of the heating step at the beginning of the process. So it combines two of the key steps into one easy appliance. An Instant Pot® with a 6 Qt capacity can easily accommodate 2 liters of milk allowing you to make larger batches of yogurt that last a week or two.

Other yogurt makers are available and work just fine. This is a personal preference and based on your budget.

Step 1

Set up Instant Pot®

Set up Instant Pot® in a place that is out of the way and can run uninterrupted for 24 hours.

Make sure the pot is clean on the inside.

Add your favorite milk, between 1/2 liter up to 2 liters. (Tip: 1 to 2 liters will produce plenty of yogurt for one person for one week)

Gently pour the milk into the pot, avoiding too much splashing and air bubbles.

Step 2

Close lid

Plug unit to a power outlet. Close lid. You will hear a sound indicating the lid is closed properly.

Make sure the pressure release valve on the lid is set to the “Sealing” position.

Step 3

Heat

1. Press the “Yogurt” button  (see picture below).

2. Then  press “Adjust” multiple times until you see the word “boil” displayed.

Instant Pot® will start automatically after a few seconds with three beeps.

The milk will be heated to 180° F/83° C.

You will hear three beeps when it is all done, displaying “Yogt”. 

This takes approximately 15-30 minutes depending on how much milk is in the pot.

The heating step pasteurizes the milk by heating it to 180° F/ 83° C.  This serves two purposes:

  • Kills pathogens and harmful bacteria that can grow during the fermentation period.
  • Destroys the structure of the milk proteins. This prevents milk from curdling during fermentation . It also makes the proteins easier to absorb in the gut.

Step 4

Cool down

You can leave the heated milk inside the Instant Pot® uninterrupted for up to an hour, so you don’t have to stand around until the heat step done.

Carefully remove the lid. Moisture may condense inside the lid. This is normal.

Carefully remove the hot inner pot and place it on a towel or hot pad.

Place a lid or similar object over the pot to protect the milk from objects coming into contact with the milk (remember to practice good sterile technique).

THIS IS IMPORTANT – Let the milk cool down to below 115 °F/46 °C. The pot will be mildly warm to the touch. Check with a thermometer if you are unsure. Let it over-cool if you are still unsure.

Cooling will require approximately an hour depending on the amount of milk in the pot. You can speed this up by placing the pot in a cold water bath in a sink or large bowl. (again, practice good sterile technique).

Use a clean fork to remove the skin that is formed on top of the milk. Leaving the skin won’t harm your yogurt, it will just end up in your final product.

Step 5

Add starter

Your starter is an organic store-bought yogurt containing Active Live Culture. You can also use powdered starter mixes. If you are out of starter, you can use the remaining portion of your previous yogurt batch. I recommend using a previous batch just once cycle and then obtaining an original starter for your next batch.

Close lid.

You will hear a sound indicating the lid is closed properly.

Make sure the pressure release valve on the lid is set to the “Sealing” position.

Step 6

Ferment

1. Press the “Yogurt” button (see picture below).

2. Then  press “Adjust” multiple times until you see “2400” displayed.

The fermentation will start automatically after a few seconds. You will hear a few beeps.

The display shows the fermentation progress in hours and minutes.

Step 7

Remove yogurt

When the fermentation is complete, the display will show “Yogt”, Instant Pot® will beep three times and then enter into a standby state.  

Remove the lid (again, there will be condensation inside the lid. This is normal).

Remove the inner pot and unplug the Instant Pot®.

You can now do one of the following:

1. Store the pot in the refrigerator (this maintains the structure of the yogurt as it remains intact)

2. Transfer the yogurt into another container and store it in the refrigerator (this breaks down the smooth structure of the yogurt but has no effect on taste or quality)

3. Strain the yogurt to obtain a ’Greek Style’ yogurt (see Optional Step 8).

Step 8 (optional)

Strain

Final Notes

The steps described here will become routine once you’ve made yogurt a few times. You can then block out just a few minutes each week or two to make this yogurt. In the end, it will be a time-saver and a money-saver compared to buying yogurt from stores. But the real benefit comes from the control you have in the process and in the ingredients that go into the yogurt.

Single Serve Jars

Making single-serve yogurt jars – You can make yogurt directly in single-serve jars. This is a convenient way to pack yogurt for lunch. To do this, pour the cooled milk with added starter into clean, individual jars. Leave a small amount of space at the top to avoid spillage. Stack the jars with no lid inside the Instant Pot® container. Proceed with the fermentation step as before. See the Instant Pot® user manual for further details on this process.

My favorite ways to eat this yogurt are:

  • With honey and cinnamon.
  • Over warm grain-free, sugar-free banana bread, sprinkled with cinnamon and covered by honey.
  • Mixed with chopped cucumber dry crushed mint leaves. You can also add raisins or walnuts.
  • Mixed with chopped and steamed spinach.