Homemade yoghurt

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Allow me to take you further down the rabbit hole of homemade goodies. I’ve recently gotten back into making homemade yoghurt! It’s ridiculously easy to make, actually. I recently noticed that our usual brand of yoghurt had new packaging, containing 10% less yoghurt, with no corresponding reduction in price! But even more concerning was the list of ingredients. Yoghurt has exactly two necessary ingredients: milk and live culture. Every brand of yoghurt I could find in the store included skimmed milk powder and fruit pectin (both unnecessary, in my opinion), as well as the dreaded E-numbers (what the heck are “stabilizers” anyway?). So, we’re adding yoghurt to the list of household staples that I will now make myself… We eat a lot of yoghurt in our house, so I have been making two litres at a go, which usually lasts us a good week.

Ingredients: 
2 litres of milk
6 tablespoons of live yoghurt as a starter (most any brand of yoghurt you’ll find in the store will have live active ingredients – we used Bio brand, because it’s what we had in our fridge!)

– Heat the milk over low heat in a saucepan to 46*C / 115*F. I use a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature, but you only need to heat the milk until it’s just warm to the touch.

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– Pour the warm milk into a large thermos container. I prefer the ones with a wide mouth. I have two huge 1.75 litre ones, that way I can have a veritable yoghurt factory!

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– Stir the live yoghurt into the warm milk. Cover the thermos, and store it in your pantry overnight. Check your flask the following day – if it seems thickened and set, pour it into an airtight container and store it in your fridge.

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The yoghurt will continue to thicken over time, even in the fridge. But if you love extra-thick yoghurt, you can also strain it through a muslin-lined sieve over a bowl in the fridge for a few hours.

There are so many things you can do with homemade plain yoghurt. We love to eat it plain, or with honey or jam stirred in. Our kids especially love it in homemade yoghurt pops, and we all love to eat it for breakfast with granola. I also love to use plain yoghurt as a substitute for sour cream for fajitas, in soups, and in dips.

Enjoy! 🙂

(Edited to note that most any brand of yoghurt you’ll find in the store will have live, active cultures in it, so use whatever brand you’ve got! Just be sure it’s plain, natural yoghurt – not the flavored kind!)

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33 Responses to Homemade yoghurt

  1. Maggie says:

    Hi, this sounds delicious and so simple. Which live yoghurt did you use as a starter?

    • Mama Mgeni says:

      I used Bio yoghurt, but you can use most any brand you’ll find in the store! I think all yoghurt for commercial sale in Kenya has live, active cultures in it! I edited the post above to highlight this, since I’ve gotten lots of questions about it. Thanks for bringing it up! 🙂

  2. Bibi2Be says:

    This is so simple. I must try it out. How long is it good for?

    • Mama Mgeni says:

      That’s a great question! Ours is usually gobbled up within a week, but it should last for 2-3 weeks, or longer! It depends on the shelf life of the milk you used, really. As with milk, you’ll KNOW if it’s gone bad because you’ll smell the difference when you open the container! 🙂

  3. amelie says:

    Hi,
    same question as above! and which kind of airtight container to store in teh fridge? I guess glass container is preferred?
    thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Jkay says:

    Where did you get the live yoghurt?

    • Mama Mgeni says:

      We had a bit of leftover Bio brand plain yoghurt in our fridge, so that’s what we used for our first batch! Now we just use a few tablespoons of our own homemade yoghurt to start the next batch! 🙂 You can use pretty much any brand, as long as it’s PLAIN yoghurt, not flavored.

  5. Lilys says:

    Hello
    At what point do I add sugar? Or if I want banana flavor how do I go about it?
    Lastly if I don’t have a fridge, can I still make good yoghurt by placing it on a cold floor?

    • Mama Mgeni says:

      If I’m going to add sweetener, I usually do it just when serving the yoghurt. You can stir in honey, agave syrup, fruit jam, fresh fruit – whatever you like! You can stir in regular sugar, but I find it stays grainy and the sugar doesn’t dissolve. If you don’t have a fridge, I’m not sure how long you would be able to store the yoghurt. I would eat it same-day, I think! (You don’t need a fridge for making the yoghurt – you actually want it a bit WARM for the cultures to work. You just need a fridge to store it safely after it’s made!)

  6. molly nderi says:

    So question is how do I make it tasty like say vanilla, strawberry etc? From the look of it this is plain youghurt right? Kindly clarify and advise

    • Mama Mgeni says:

      For strawberry, you can just mix in a bit of strawberry jam when you’re serving (I like St. Dalfour, because it’s sugar-free). I’ve never made vanilla yoghurt, but the Internet tells me that you can add 1/3 cup of sugar and 1/2 Tbsp of vanilla extract to the warm milk when you’re preparing the milk for the thermos… If you try it, let me know how it goes! 🙂

      • molly nderi says:

        Oh ok…so can my starter youghurt be of another flavor or it strictly has to be plain?

        • Mama Mgeni says:

          The starter yoghurt should be plain – then you have a clean palate, so to speak, for adding flavors later!

  7. kat says:

    Your blog makes my evenings.. im soooo doing this. I bought yoghurt for my kids a few months back and when we poured it out the ‘ strawberry’ part had separated in to a dark pink mess up top while the rest was at the bottom. That was it! I only do plain yoghurt and they sell it for a kill! So doing this

  8. Elisabeth says:

    My recipe is just a tad different, I use 100mls of yoghurt and 900mls of milk and I warm them together with 1 teaspoon of sugar (gives the bacteria more food and you can hardly taste the difference, the yoghurt is still nice and tart), to 43 degrees C, then into the flask.
    I also find it interesting how you can play around with the duration of culturing: after about 8 hours, you get a a yoghurt that is not so homogeneous, partly semi-solid and partly watery. This reminds me of the way yoghurt looked when I was a child. After 12 or 13 hours, you get a very creamy, perfectly smooth and thick yoghurt, just like that one that is now so popular in the food industry. I usually go with 13 hours and I keep the yoghurt in 2 portions in the fridge because I noticed that as I open it and use some of it every morning, the yoghurt slowly starts to become less thick (no idea why), so by having 1 portion that remains closed (until the first portion is finished), I sort of slow down this process and can always eat the thick yoghurt.
    By the way, the milk powder that factories add, is just a quick and easy way to make the yoghurt thicker.

    • Mama Mgeni says:

      I’ve been experimenting with culturing time, too! I mostly just leave it overnight. Good tip about leaving part of the yoghurt sealed, to keep it thick!

  9. Mercy says:

    Great recipe!
    We noticed the same thing/change about our favourite yoghurt-I think its the same one you mention. Gives me more push to try out your recipe. Thanks for sharing.

    Mercy

  10. G says:

    Thank you for the recipe, never thought of doing this, but decided to try it out. It was a great success and everyone loves it and definitely cheaper. You’ve earned a new follower.

  11. Mike McKay says:

    I’ve also been making yogurt in Kenya for awhile. The main difference is that I use EasiYo, because it is so easy…yo! Instead of having to keep track of temperature, you just pour boiling water up to the fill line, then dunk the smaller jar of milk & yogurt inside. 8 hours later (mostly just overnight for me) you put the jar in the fridge. It’s a very clever design. The EasiYo people figured out exactly how much boiling water is required to heat up and then maintain the right temperature for a specific quantity of fridge temperature milk+yogurt. Their product is just some containers that get the proportions right (and hold the temperature). Takes about 2 minutes to make a batch. http://www.amazon.com/EasiYo-120036A-Yogurt-Maker/dp/B0014GU46E (I don’t use the packets – I just do milk, a spoon of milk power and a spoon of yogurt)

    • Mama Mgeni says:

      Sounds easy breezy! I usually just put 2 litres of milk on low heat with a thermometer inside, and get busy with something else in the kitchen while it slowly heats up. My main mistake is leaving the kitchen, and coming back to find the milk 10* too hot! I hate waiting for it to cool again. But if I chop veggies or something right next to the pot and keep an eye on it, it’s as easy as could be… YUM. 🙂

  12. Jo Schultz says:

    Hi, Are you just using regular milk from the supermarket? Fresh, UHT etc. Yoghurt is a huge part of our life but really don’t like the quality or price of what is commercially available here. Tried quite a few methods and have an Easiyo thermos so am pretty sure the problem is with the method. Living in hope. Jo

    • Mama Mgeni says:

      We use full fat UHT milk from Brookside. I like UHT because I always have milk in the cupboard whenever I need to make more yoghurt!

  13. Njoki says:

    Hi, i must say yogurt is the next best thing to milk….i make yogurt and deliver to Nairobi area. No additives whatsoever- just real yogurt with flavors. Information above is so so correct. Easy to make. However, should you encounter difficulties, i can deliver regularly!

    • Paul says:

      I have opened a milk bar in town, I have been trying to make yogurt for my clients without success. I wonder where i could be going wrong?

  14. Catherine says:

    Hey kindly where can I get the yorgut culture’s

  15. Wangari Kieni says:

    Will definitely give this a try! Have been looking to make yogurt at home, was actually looking for a domestic yogurt maker and came across this article. Like has been said commercial yogurt is expensive- i have young children, one of them has completely refused to drink milk so buying yogurt has quickly increased. Question, have you tried boiled, unpasteurised milk (i get my milk from my parents farm) to make your yogurt? Any difference in taste?

    • Mama Mgeni says:

      I haven’t tried it with fresh milk – let me know how it comes out!

      • Daniel Ndoinyo says:

        I’ve always considered making yogurt at home and develop a new venture out of it, while on the process, I came across the most useful article to get started, however, It would be great to learn from somebody’s else how does it go to make yogurt with the fresh milk???

        I would very much appreciate any experience so far.

        All the best and cheers Mama Mgeni
        Dan

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