Making Yogurt: A Great First Project for Homesteaders

Reader Contribution by Claire E.
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Making your own yogurt is much easier than you might think, easier than many of the projects I have written about before, and certainly easier than driving to the store to buy some.

I have heard this from others, but I’d never made yogurt before, so I decided to try something new and make our next batch.

This is how I found myself pouring milk into a pot a few afternoons ago.

I turned on the heat, and went to the pantry to wrangle out the powdered milk, which did not come quietly. When the milk began to steam, I opened the powdered milk and was struck by its smell: like it had been in the pantry for years. I knew from yogurt my mother had made that the finished product would not smell or taste old, and in fact powdered milk thickens yogurt, but as I sprinkled a few tablespoonfuls into the pot, I decided that I didn’t like powdered milk.

Turning the heat down, I went to the refrigerator and pulled out a cup of store-bought plain yogurt. (Ready-made yogurt is necessary when making yogurt because of its probiotics. Homemade yogurt may be reused as starter, but generally becomes too weak to use by its fourth reuse.)

I slid my pot off the heat, thinned the yogurt with a splash of milk to ensure that it would combine smoothly with the rest of my brew, blended it into the milk in the pot, and stirred while it cooled. After about six minutes, I decided it was cool enough and poured it into the jars in the yogurt maker.

According to my directions, I needed to set the yogurt maker for about ten hours, after which I would need to put the yogurt in the fridge to prevent mold. This would not have been a problem if I’d planned properly; however, it was four-thirty, meaning that I would need to wake up at two-thirty in the morning.

I turned the dial on the yogurt maker to 10 hours and left to set my alarm.

All too soon my alarm screeched in my ear—you can see from the pictures that I was not happy to be awake. In the kitchen, I flipped the light on and the yogurt maker off, put the jars in the fridge, and we were off to bed again.

If I had made the yogurt in the morning, I needn’t have woken at two-thirty to put it away. No harm was done, however, and now I have five jars of yogurt in the fridge, waiting to be eaten.

Basic Yogurt

This is the recipe I used, but yogurt-making is more an art than a science, and you may tweak it however you feel necessary.


1 quart pastured milk

6 ounces organic yogurt

2 to 3 tbsp powdered milk

Make sure the heat on your stove is low. Pour the milk into a large pot.

Stir in the powdered milk.

Dump the yogurt into a bowl (a spatula is useful here).

Scoop several spoonfuls of milk out of your pot and combine them with the yogurt in the bowl.

Stir the yogurt into the pot.

Remove from heat and let cool, stirring. This should take about 6 minutes.

Pour into jars and set in yogurt maker or dehydrator. The less starter culture you use, the longer the yogurt should ferment. Note: You may add a layer of jam or something similar to the jars first for homemade fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt — my strawberry preserves would work nicely here.