Have you ever had the Greek yogurt flips? They are so delicious, and I’ve recently fallen in love with them, as a quick breakfast or anytime snack or treat. But…
- They can do some damage to your budget, at about $4 per 4-pack
- They cause a lot of plastic waste with their cute individual serving size square plastic covered to-go-ness
- They contain a pretty big dose of sugar
In my first Weekly Eating post, I promised that I would try to find a more frugal alternative. Turns out, making your own yogurt at home is quite easy, if tons of bloggers are to be believed! Special thanks to Mrs. Picky Pincher, whose blog finally convinced me to give it a go.
There are so many ways to do so, from fancy temperature-controlled and timer-activated yogurt making machines to crock pots to stovetop.
But who has time for that?
Not me! I’m all about the easiest, most frugal solution that satisfies a need. Therefore when I read that making yogurt in a mason jar was a thing, my eyes lit up! Conveniently, I read this on my go-to-the-store day, so I picked up a half gallon of milk to experiment with. Even if it went horribly wrong, I would only be out $1.18.
Turns out, it truly is SO SIMPLE!
I turned on a show on Netflix after dinner, and while hubby and I enjoyed bonding time the yogurt was doing its thing. We even left it overnight to do the incubation part, and I woke up to 2 fresh quarts of delicious, additive and sugar free homemade yogurt! Talk about feeling like a badass homesteader.
This recipe makes 2 quarts of yogurt from one half gallon of milk.
You can easily scale it up for a whole gallon and make 4 quarts, or even down to make as small as one pint of yogurt. Now that I know how well this works and how easy it is, I will probably make at least one gallon each week.
For starter culture, just pick a plain yogurt that you enjoy the taste of, and use about 2 tbsp per half gallon. It can be plain or Greek yogurt, organic or not, you decide. That’s the beauty of making your own homemade staples! You can also find freeze dried or powdered yogurt starter cultures online.
You will need:
- 1/2 gallon whole or 2% milk
- 2 large quart mason jars & lids
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt to start the culture
- A big pot to boil water
- Optional but helpful: A thermometer, a crock pot
Step 1: Make sure your jars are washed and clean. If you really are paranoid about germs (silly, since you’re about to purposefully grow jars of bacteria, but whatever…) you can boil them or run them through a dishwasher cycle first.
Fill the 2 jars with milk, leaving 1-2 inches of space at the top. Place them in a pot of water that covers them at least 2/3 of the way. I added extra jars around them so they do not tip over or rattle as the water boils. Bring the water to a gentle simmer.
Step 2: Go do something else while you wait for the milk to reach about 180 degrees. If you have a thermometer, great, you can check it every half hour or so. They took about an hour to reach 180 for me. If you don’t have a thermometer, the milk will be ready when a thick “skin” forms on top of the milk. Throw this skin away, and remove the jars from the water.
Step 3: Preheat a slow cooker on high, this will be your incubator later*. You can be lazy like me and just leave the hot jars on a surface to cool, this will take about an hour also. Or you can put them in a pot of lukewarm to cold water, to cool them faster. I didn’t want to chance breaking the jars, so I just put them on the stovetop and we went for a walk.
You want the jar to reach 110-120 degrees before adding the starter culture. If you don’t have a thermometer, just go by feel. When the jars are cool enough that you can wrap your hand around it and hold on for a minute or so, they are ready. You want it cool enough that the good bacteria you are about to add don’t get immediately scorched, but to grow they like a nice cozy temp.
Step 4: Take about 2 tbsp of plain yogurt, pour 1/2 cup of the warm milk into it, and mix well. Then pour half of this mix back into each jar. Give it a nice stir to distribute the good guys all around the milk, but not too violent. Unplug your slow cooker, put the jars in the warm crock, cover, and wrap in a few towels.
That’s it! Let your jars sit, undisturbed, for at least 8 hours up to overnight. You can start this in the morning and let it go all day, or start it at night and let it cook while you sleep. This is a great hands-off activity that leaves you feeling so accomplished!
*If you do not have a crock pot, you can also use a small cooler for the incubation period. Just take a small, waterproof container and fill it with warm to hot water. Put your mason jars with starter culture in there, cover well, and wrap it in some towels. Let it sit for at least 8 hours up to overnight.
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10 thoughts on “How to: Make Homemade Yogurt in Mason Jars”
So much yaaaas to this! Homemade yogurt is a game-changer. I used to spend $20/mo on yogurt and now I spend… maybe $10? And that’s for the organic stuff, too.
I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get with the program! It is insanely delicious and creamy, can’t ever go back to store bought now. I’ve edited the post to give you the credit as my ‘final straw’ of inspiration, so thanks! 🙂
When you preheat the Crock Pot, do you put water in it? How long did you leave it on high before unplugging. Tnx
Hi, thanks for stopping by! Yes, I preheat the crock pot filled about 1/3 with water on “high” for about 60 minutes. It should be hot, just too hot to stick you hand in. You don’t want the crock pot to be boiling when you put the inoculated jars in or you risk killing the good bacteria you just added. Then I unplug it, take the crock out of the machine and add the jars, and wrap it all in towels.
Just embarking on my yoghurt making journey and thought there must be a way to make it directly into jars when I found your information. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Glad you found it Fiona! Good luck!
Thanks so much for this method. I’ve been using my yogurt whey as my starter in my yogurt maker. I’m getting ready to use whey for this crock pot method.
That’s a smart use of whey! Let us know how that works out.
7/10 – so how long does the yogurt last in the jars? Does it need to be refrigerated or can it be stored on the shelf? Please help.