Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Yogurt Making

I have had a couple people ask me lately about how to make yogurt at home. I know not all Paleo people do dairy, but for those that do making your own yogurt is so much better for you than buying it, even the organic options. If you start out with farm fresh milk, from local organically produced milk, you are guaranteed the purest, unprocessed yogurt.
I personally do not do dairy on a daily basis, maybe once a week or so, buy my children do. Several people have asked me why I give them dairy, and my answer is this. While it is very true that one can get all of the needed nutrients from vegetables and meat sources, the fact still remains that children will not always eat them. I offer fresh vegetables at every meal, and my children do well eating them. However, there are times when they do not eat them. Yes I know, ‘They won’t starve’. Neither of them react adversely to quality dairy products, so if I can mix a ton of vegetable in some pure organic yogurt and them eat a ton of it, I’m happy!
In addition, the process of making yogurt produces the byproduct of pure whey protein. I would much rather my husband be consuming pure whey protein from organic, local sources than the powder shakes with added garbage that he used to. The whey makes easy protein rich spinach smoothies for both him and the kids, and I know exactly where it came from. Use it in smoothies, sub it for the liquid in recipes and baked goods.
So with all that said, I will walk you through the steps I take to make yogurt. I make yogurt once a week, one gallon of milk at a time. One gallon makes about 7 Cups of yogurt, and 2 of the glass bottles (pictured below) of whey. You can easily adjust the process to make less, but I would not make more in one batch as it would be difficult to maintain heat consistently throughout the milk.
Pour 1 gallon milk into large Crockpot set to low for 4 hours. (to your specifications, ie Organic, local, raw, goat, etc)The key is to get the milk to 180 degrees but not over. The first couple times you make it be sure to use a thermometer to monitor your milk.  This will give you the thickest yogurt possible.
After 4 hours turn the crockpot off and allow it to cool for 3 hours. Leave it in the insert so it does not cool too fast or too cold. 

After 3 hours stir in ½ Cup of yogurt.  The initial time you will need to buy this, but subsequent times you will be able to use a ½ cup of your homemade yogurt. Make sure the yogurt you start with is a good quality, organic yogurt.
Wrap the crockpot insert (or if your insert does not remove, the whole crockpot) in a large beach towel or blanket. Place in a low draft area for about 8 hours. I place mine inside the oven (OFF) overnight. I find that if I start my yogurt at 1 or 2 in the afternoon, by the time I do the process it is time for bed, and when I wake up my yogurt is complete.
Strain yogurt through cheesecloth or a very clean kitchen towel inside a colander. I have 2 specific 'yogurt towels' that I only use for this process, as I find it works better than cheese cloth, for me. This will remove some of the whey protein and give you a thicker yogurt product. The all natural yogurt making process will never produce a thick yogurt as you would need additives to achieve that. The straining process will give you that thicker product without adding unnecessary junk.
The thickness you want is completely up to you. For us, I know it is the right thickness when it begins to pull away from the towel. The yogurt will literally pull off the towel and roll right into the bowl, if that makes any sense.


  1. That's awesome, Esther. Thank you for sharing. I can't do dairy, but I love soy yogurt! What I don't love is the price. That's a great tip: using ready-made yogurt as a starter. I've never made my own yogurt in the past, because I thought I'd have to special-order the starter. I will definitely give this a shot, using store-bought soy yogurt for a starter, and hopefully have my own homemade soy yogurt as a result :)

    Thank you!

  2. Glad you like it, Faye. I have never tried soy yogurt and I would warn you that Soy is not considered Paleo. I know we all have different degrees of paleo, and different things we allow and do not, but I thought I would mention it in case you hadn't ever heard. I know you had mentioned once that you were somewhat new, and it is definitly a learning process in getting everything straight ;). Here is a great article that talks about the dangers of soy.

    Have you tried another milk, like goat. Many people who are sensitive to cow milk can tolerate goat much better.

    I really appreciate your interaction on my little blog, thanks!!

  3. Thanks Esther! Yes, that's one of the concessions I've had to make. I can't have the casein protein in animal milk.

    Paleo does have a lot of solid arguments, but I have to factor in my own personal Asian ethnicity, too. Some of the longest-lived, healthiest people on the planet are rural Japanese, whose diets are rich in vegetables, rice, seafood, mushrooms, and soy-based foods like miso, tofu, and the beans themselves in the form of edamame. My background is Chinese, but with much of the same basic staples. So, while I can readily cut out things like noodles and pastries, I seem to be doing OK, keeping things like soy in my diet. We'll see how it goes in the long-run :)

  4. I completly understand! Paleo to me is listening to one's body. If you feel and perform at your best while still including Soy then good for you. My husband and my kids can eat dairy (quality dairy that is) and still be fine, whereas it messes me up completly. When I first had my son we thought he was allergic to Milk protein and he was reacting to it being transfered from me through the breastmilk. Come to find out, it is me that is allergic and he was reacting to my body's reaction to it. I had lived for so long with the way I felt I didn't even realize it. I can have limited yogurt, but if I have a large amount of dairy it is just bad. And to think I lived with accepting that feeling for so long, amazing!

  5. Oops...scratch that question I had for you earlier...didn't know you had posted this already. :-)