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Yogurt--Better Than Store-Bought

Dec 17, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose

My old friend from India, Madhu Trehan, told me many years ago that she would never buy yogurt as home-made is so easy and so much better. She added that all one has to do is save a little from the present batch to start the next batch.

I've long been intending to try making my own yogurt but somehow never got around to it until inspired by my new bread proofer! I wanted to be sure that it would work so I purchased some freeze-dried yogurt culture from Integral Yoga--a store in the West Village in New York. Yogurt culture is also available on line.

In the space of one afternoon I produced 4 half pint jars of deliciously creamy and flavorful yogurt--ever so much better than anything I have ever tasted that was store-bought. I received some excellent guidance from Michael Taylor, producer of the bread proofer. He also gave me moral support when, after about 3-1/2 hours I could detect no thickening. But sure enough, after about 4 hours I could see it was beginning to 'take.'

Michael said he uses commercial yogurt as a starter and to check on the container to make sure it says live culture. He uses 1/4 cup per gallon of milk. (I scaled it down to 1 tablespoon for 1 quart of milk. Now I wish I had made more but it's a simple matter to make a new batch.)

Michael's basic technique is as follows:

Pre-heat the proofer to 115˚F/46˚C with four empty quart Mason
jars inside to get them warm. (This keeps from cooling down the milk when poured into the jars). After heating the milk to 180˚F/82˚C and cooling to 120˚F/49˚C, remove 1 cup of milk, add 1/4 cup of fresh organic yogurt, then stir it back in. Immediately pour the milk/yogurt starter into the jars. The temperature drops to about 112˚F/44˚C. Put all the jars (covered) back in the proofer at 115˚F/46˚C for an hour, then turn down to 110˚F/43˚C. (As the temperature didn't drop after pouring the mixture into the jars--and was 115˚F/46˚C I used 110˚F/43˚C for the entire time.) The total time once the mixture is in the jars and in the proofer is about 4-1/2 hours but if you want more tang leave it in longer.

Michael writes: Incredible! Creamy and luscious with the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. I entirely agree!

I may stop buying crème fraîche as well now that I have the perfect place to incubate it! All you need is 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of buttermilk. Ultra-pasteurized cream will take as long as 36 hours but plain pasteurized cream at 90˚F/32˚C usually takes 12 to 14 hours. I'm going to try 110˚F/43˚C. No need to heat the cream and buttermilk mixture before placing it in the jar(s).


Nowadays I always make yogurt with baked milk. It's very popular in
Russia, they called it ryazhenka. It takes a little doing but it's
really worth it, it tastes very creamy and a little rummy. Try it :).

Here's how I make it.

1. Pour some milk into a thick-bottomed pan. The narrower the pan,
the better. Use the jar you are intending to make your yogurt in to
measure out how much milk it can hold, and then add a little more
(maybe 10% more).

2. Bring the milk to a boil on medium-low heat. Watch it so it
doesn't boil over.

3. Once the milk is boiling, preheat the oven to about 260°F.

4. Place the pan (without a lid) in the oven. Take a look at it every
once in a while. If the milk starts to boil over, reduce the heat a
bit; if it's not simmering, increase the heat.

5. Bake the milk for about 1.5-2 hours. After a while (in about 1
hour) you will notice that the milk starts turning beige and smelling
creamy. That's what you want! It will also boil down some.

6. Take the pan out of the oven, cover with a lid and place it in some
cool water to cool the milk down to about 110-115°F. If you don't
have a thermometer (like me), that's when the milk feels slightly warm
when you stick your finger in.

7. Pour the baked milk into the container you used to measure it. Add
a few tablespoons of yogurt (I add about a tablespoon per quart) and
stir thoroughly.

8. Place the container in your proofer or whatever else you use to
keep the milk warm (see the note below on how to do this without any


* After about half-hour of baking, you will see a brownish crust
forming on top of milk. It's totally fine, many people actually
like topping yogurt with it. But if your pan is too wide, this
crust will turn very dark and might even start burning. In this
case try partially covering the pot with a lid while it is in the
oven. Don't cover it completely so that some moisture can still
evaporate, this will make yogurt thicker and creamier.

* You can also just drink the baked milk, it's really good :).

* If you don't have a yogurt maker or bread proofer, it's very easy to
do without. Just fill up a large pan with hot water out of the tap
(I guess it's 140-150°F), cover it with a lid, place it on a wooden
cutting board next to the jar with the milk-yogurt mixture, and wrap
both well with a few towels. In about 8 hours your yogurt is ready.
I usually do this in the evening and have my yogurt by morning.


Thanks Rose and Michael -Yoghurt with a bit of buttermilk. That will add a nice tang to the yoghurt. I find buttermilk such a wonderful ingredient that does wonder to most anything. Can't get it here so bought a bag of powdered buttermilk last time I was back in the US. Living in the tropics, I am used to having to improvise. Home made yoghurt is so much more nutritious than commercially produced yoghurt, so I have it made at home. I used a pro-biotic capsule to kick off my first batch to ensure a good quality of healthy bacteria and it worked. I also discovered that goat milk gives a richer and creamier outcome than cow milk. A friend of mine told me that she puts the yoghurt mixture into a wide-mouth thermos flask once it has cooled to the correct temperature. You can also use one of those hot plates at a low temperature and some sort of cover over the jars.


I'm a bit surprised that nobody mentioned my way of making yogurt! When I lived in Kslispell MT, I bought waterbeds for myself and my children and did not leave the heat on overnight nor during the day when I was at work and they were in school. I used to make both yogurt and buttermilk by placing a gallon jar of which one I was making in the corner of the waterbed betweed the mattress and the frame - it would be perfectly ready the next morning! In the fridge to chill and ready to consume when we all got home!


Oh, I haven't made any yogurt in the longest time! You are inspiring me to do some again. I have used the automatic yogurt makers that have gentle heat and jars with their own lids, and they work fine. I also have made extra by using large insulated plastic containers such as you would use to carry lemonade or iced tea to a picnic. When the yogurt is the right temperature, just pour it in these and leave them in an out of the way spot where they won't be disturbed or get drafts on them. This works great and doesn't require any special equipment or extra heating.


Amsterdam, I found out that we did send a reply to your email, but we made a mistake in the "reply-to" address and it was never correctly delivered. Please accept our apologies. We have corrected that mistake and replied to you directly. Thanks for your interest in the Brod and Taylor proofer.


Amsterdam, I apologize that your email has been overlooked and am looking into what may have happened. Brod and Taylor does try to answer all emails promptly.

To answer your question, we are developing a version of the proofer that can be sold in Europe, but do not have a unit ready for sale yet.


I wrote brodandtaylor.com an email asking them if the bread proofer can be used in the EU (220 voltage). Never received an answer.
I wonder if this is their "service"?


I incubate yogurt in my oven with the lamp on overnight. My recipe is similar, but I add sugar.

Heat 8 cups whole milk to 180 F. (If using low-fat milk add 1 cup of dry milk powder) Remove pan from heat and place in sink with cold tap water to cool. Add 1 cup fine cane sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stir to dissolve. Add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and any other flavorings. I will often add 2 tablespoons of dark rum. When mixture is cooled to 115 F, stir in plain commercial yogurt, 6-8oz. Stir with whisk to combine. Pour mixture into twelve 8 oz jelly jars. I place the jars in a 9x13 pan. Transfer the pan to a barely warm oven and leave the oven light on. Sometimes a skin will form on the top of the jars; to prevent this you can place a jellyroll pan on the bottom shelf of the oven and pour in 4 cups of scalding water. This will keep the oven humidity high while the yogurt is cultured. After 8-10 hours, remove from the oven, screw on the lids and refrigerate. It will hold fine for 4-6 weeks. On subsequent batches you can use your own yogurt for the inoculum.


Along the same lines, it's also easy to make your own Greek yogurt, you just need some reusable coffee filters and something to set them in. This technique makes it easy to add your own flavorings.



hector, you're better off without that range for proofing bread. for best flavor development the dough must not exceed 85˚F/30˚C


I've just waked barefoot around my fridge, also just shaved my face. Defenitelly, I feel warm on my feet and not on my face as I am tall enough to reach over over the top and back of the fridge.

Yes, stepping or opening the fridge door makes it practical.

My previous KitchenAid range had a setting for bread rise which I think it was 110-120oF, oh I miss it!


Great post, Rose, I know if you say it's exquisite yogurt, it must be true! Can't wait to make some.


thanks charles--i'll fix it. and hector, i'll also change all my directions to store things on the floor in front of the fridge and try not to step in them when opening the fridge door!

seriously, the idea is to find a warm spot wherever that may be that is suitable.


Rose, one thing, I've noticed both of my fridges arent at all any warmer 'over the fridge'. They are warmer on the floor 'in front of the fridge'

Both fridges have no exposed coils on the back, in fact, the coils are on the floor and the exhaust are in front.

I noticed this because I store glass serving plates over the fridge and those remain as cool as room temperature. But when I walk barefeet in front of my fridge, I sense the warm floor!

You may need to update all your recipe instruction from 'over the fridge' to 'on the floor'. I suspect all the energy star rated fridges and all the fridges that don't have spacing between the fridge and the wall are no longer warmer over the fridge.


I think you have a typo:

All you need is 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of milk.

I think you mean "buttermilk".


Rose, I've read somewhere that u can use some of your homemade creme fraiche instead of buttermilk to make creme fraiche.

You should also experiment making your own sour cream.

And wow, that proofer sounds good!


julie, if one doesn't own a proofer, fine a spot in your house that mantains the recommended temperature such as over the fridge. if not as warm it will take much longer.

i would use a vanilla bean to make vanilla yogurt.


Interesting! I haven't been excited by my home yogurt experiments to date. Two questions:

1) What is the second-best method, if one does not own a proofer?

2) What is the best way to make vanilla yogurt? Maybe I had the wrong consistency of the yogurt, but just adding extract made it too watery by the time I got the right flavor. Any ideas?

Thanks for any suggestions you can provide, Rose! I've been hoping for a long time that you might post a nice yogurt recipe.



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