Making your own food is a great way to chill out, relax after a busy day, and have healthier options available at home. And more than that: making your preparations at home is much cheaper than buying ready-made. This goes for everything, including yogurt.
If you've never thought about making yogurt at home, think again: it's easier than it looks. All you need is bacteria (known as a starter culture) and milk. And no, you don't need any specific equipment – although a yogurt maker might help. Just follow some basic tips.
Next, let's see a step-by-step guide on how to make yogurt at home.
Homemade yogurt: a step-by-step guide
There are 5 steps to make your yogurt at home and guarantee a much healthier and cheaper option to start your day.
1. Choose the starter culture and the milk
Bacteria culture is what will turn regular milk into yogurt. It means that, without it, there is no way to do it. The point is that there are different types of starter cultures that you can use – including another yogurt. And like any other product, you will find options with different levels of quality.
There are single-use cultures, i.e., you can only make one batch of yogurt with it. Others can be reused. In other words, you can make homemade yogurt once and reuse some of it to make more.
The other half of this equation is the milk. The type and quality of the milk will affect the texture and thickness of the yogurt.
It is worth noting that, to turn milk into yogurt, the bacteria need to consume the sugar in the milk (also called lactose). Therefore, the ideal situation is to use cow's milk. Sure, there are starter cultures for other kinds of milk, like goat's milk and plant-based milk, but they're different; so, pay attention to that.
2. Prepare the milk
After choosing the starter culture and milk that you are going to use to make yogurt at home, it is time to prepare it. The first step is to heat the milk to 160-180°F and wait for it to become lukewarm. When it reaches a temperature of around 100-115°F, the starter culture can be added.
3. Put the right amount
For the homemade yogurt recipe to work, the ratio of milk and culture must be accurate. If you use too few bacteria, they may not be able to turn all the milk into yogurt. If you use too much, it can affect the taste and texture.
Each manufacturer has its own specifications. That happens because each company works with different species of bacteria, which require different treatments. Therefore, follow the instructions for use on the packaging.
Stir well to spread the culture throughout the milk, and place the mixture in a jar with a lid.
4. Let the bacteria act
Did you use good-quality milk? Check. Is the starter culture appropriate for the type of yogurt you want to make? Double check. Is the proportion following packaging guidelines? Check again.
If you've done everything right so far, the next step is to let the bacteria do their job. So, it is important to leave the milk in a place where you can keep the temperature as constant as possible.
The ideal temperature will vary depending on the type of yogurt you want to make and the culture you used. Again, read the packaging and follow the manufacturer's guidelines.
But how long should I let the yogurt culture?
The time needed to make yogurt at home will also depend on the type you want to make and the culture you used.
Generally speaking, time is directly proportional to texture and flavor. That means, the longer you let the bacteria act (at the correct temperature, of course), the thicker and more flavorful your yogurt will be.
And, again: read the packaging and follow the guidelines for the product you have chosen. But, in general, it usually takes 7-9 hours for bacteria to turn the milk into yogurt.
Why was there a separation in my yogurt?
Something that can often happen when making yogurt at home is the separation between solids (curds) and liquids (whey). This is normal and frequently occurs due to too fast action of the bacteria or too long culturing.
This causes the yogurt components to separate. It's not a problem with the quality of the yogurt: you can remove the liquid part (if you want a thicker yogurt, like a Greek-style yogurt) or just mix everything again.
Important: when the separation happens, it is likely that the bacteria are starting to die. Therefore, follow the culturing process precisely.
5. Cool the yogurt down
Once your yogurt has reached the right texture, you need to chill it for a few hours. The amount of time will depend on the type of yogurt, but never refrigerate it for less than 2 hours.
Cooling is necessary to stop the fermentation process on the part of bacteria. And don't worry: once it stops, it doesn't start over – as long as you keep your homemade yogurt in the fridge!
Easy, isn't it? In 5 steps and just a few hours, you'll have yogurt made at home, healthy and free of additives, stabilizers, thickeners, sweeteners, coloring, and other chemicals used in the industry.
In addition to being healthier, you will see that homemade yogurt tastes better. And let's be honest: you might find the taste weird at first. And that doesn't mean that is something wrong with your yogurt. It's just a matter of getting used to it, as we are used to yogurts full of sugar and other chemicals.
And don't limit yogurt consumption to breakfast. Use your fresh, unsweetened homemade yogurt to make salad dressings, parfait desserts, or make a creamy smoothie, for example.
The secret of a good homemade yogurt is to follow the steps indicated by the manufacturers and to pay attention to the essential aspects of production — milk, probiotics, warmth, and time. And always use quality products. Top Therm offers starter cultures and a natural yogurt maker to help you make the creamiest, tastiest homemade yogurt. Explore our products!