How to Make Raw Milk Yogurt

I make everything from scratch. Everything. Up until a month ago, the one thing I did not make myself was yogurt. I convinced myself it was too difficult and so I justified buying it from the local co-op. Grass-fed yogurt from the co-op costs $5 per quart. It's also pasteurized. I knew I could make it cheaper, and I could make it from raw milk, which is very important to me. So, I started making yogurt myself, and it turns out it's not that hard!

Ingredients:
1 gallon raw milk
15 TBS. plain yogurt


Divide one gallon of milk between 5 quart jars. There should be a little room at the top to add the yogurt later.


Put the jars in a large pot (I use my canning pot because it's roomy). Fill the pot with water until it reaches the yogurt line. Use a pitcher, if available, to avoid splattering water into the jars of milk.


Turn the stove on medium-low and wait for the water to reach 105° F. Use a thermometer to be exact. It will not take long, so it needs to be baby-sat. As soon as it reaches 105° F, use a jar lifter to carefully remove the jars from the pot. Turn off the stove and leave the water. Stir 3 tablespoons of yogurt into each jar of milk and whisk to ensure it emulsifies.


Tighten lids on the jars and immediately place them in an insulated cooler. Once they are in the cooler, DO NOT move, bump, or otherwise touch it. By this time, the water in the pot on the stove should be between 105° and 110° F. If the water temperature is higher or lower than 105° to 110° F, cool or heat accordingly. Pour the water into the cooler so that it completely covers the jars. Then, shut the cooler and leave for 8 to 24 hours. I find that the longer I leave it in, the thicker the yogurt will be in the end.


When the yogurt has been in the cooler for the desired amount of time, gently take the jars out, dry them off, and set them in the refrigerator. Resist the urge to shake them. The yogurt will still be runny at this time, and that is normal. Leave them in the fridge for 24 hours. After that time you will have five quarts of yogurt!


Homemade yogurt is always a little more runny than store-bought yogurt. If it is runnier than you'd like it, strain it in a cheesecloth over a strainer. Make sure to catch and save the whey, it is valuable! It can be consumed as a probiotic drink, fed to plants and pets, or used in recipes in place of buttermilk. Straining the yogurt results in Greek yogurt.


If you get a good consistency, you can just eat the yogurt as is right out of the jar!


Tip: If you cannot get raw milk, here's how to make yogurt using pasteurized milk. Follow the same steps as above, but heat the water in the pot to 185° F. Remove the pot from heat and cool to 110° F. After it's cooled, add 2 tablespoons of yogurt to each quart of milk. Incubate the milk in the cooler at 110° F for 8 to 24 hours. Then, continue using the same steps as raw milk yogurt.

1 quart of grass-fed, pasteurized yogurt from the co-op cost $5.
1 quart of grass-fed, raw homemade yogurt cost $1.20.
Savings is $3.80 per quart, or 76%!

Printable: How to Make Raw Milk Yogurt

38 comments:

  1. Kelly: Because yogurt is cultured, it keeps pretty well. I've had yogurt in my fridge for 5 weeks. As long as the jar/container is properly sealed it might last a couple of months.

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  2. this. is. AMAZING!
    I have really wanted to make yogurt for awhile but was too intimidated. This is so easy though!

    Thank you for sharing!

    Our Front Porch View: The Story of a Young Family's Pursuit to Fulfill a Simpler Life
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  3. For the yogurt, can i use greek yogurt? I can get pasturized milk, not homoginized. Would I use the directions for not-raw milk to make it then? I really want to try this! Thank you!

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  4. @Amanda,

    Yes, you can use Greek yogurt. And yes, you would use the directions for pasteurized (not raw) milk. Good luck!

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  5. This takes all of 20 minutes! So easy and so yummy! Thanks for the instructions.

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  6. We started here but now we use a big pot and put it on top of the cable box with a heavy towel - keeps it at the perfect temperature. We found we didn't need individual jars - we ate it so fast!

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  7. My method is the same yours except that I use MUCH LESS yogurt for a gallon of whole raw milk: ONLY 2 TABLESPOONS, which I mix into the whole gallon before pouring into jars; and I incubate for at least 24 hrs. (which, by the way, destroys all the lactose, making it usable for those who are lactose intolerant). This yields a wonderfully thick, mild, creamy yogurt. Would love to know how this works for other people.

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    Replies
    1. I haven't found that the final product is weaker; what does weaken it is waiting too long between batches, but if I make a fresh batch every couple weeks, it seems to be fine. I've done it this way for years.

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  8. @Anonymous, They only problem with using so little yogurt starter is that it results in a weaker final product. Therefore, after a few batches you may need to buy new yogurt from the store rather than continuing to use your existing culture as a starter.

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  9. I'm a newbie to raw and just tried this recipe. Please assure me that my yogurt will be ok to eat as I am nursing twins and don't want us to get sick. I followed the recipe, however, when I put the jars in the cooler, they had to stand upright (instead of on their sides like your picture) in order for the water level to continue to be at the same level as the milk in the jars. I let it sit closed in the cooler for 24 hrs as I like thick greek yogurt. When I just pulled the jars out of the cooler to place them in the fridge, the water was just room temperature and their is a layer on top, almost like the milk separated again. I put it in the fridge and would just like some reassurance that it will be ok to consume tomorrow. Thank you!!

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  10. Hello,
    Can you give a recommendation for a canning pot?

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  11. After 10 hrs I went and pulled my jars out of the cooler and the water was cool! Is my yogurt going to be okay?! Or even safe to eat?!

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  12. I do a similar recipe but I put the containers (jars or glass bowls) in my oven with the light on during incubation.

    Ive never used raw milk- why do you only heat raw milk to 105 but other milk to 185?

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    Replies
    1. You only heat the raw milk to 105° F to keep it raw and living. Anything hotter than that would kill it. Since pasteurized milk is already dead, it can be heated more.

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  13. If I have raw milk but no starter yogurt, what kind of yogurt do I mix into my first batch of raw milk?

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  14. What about using clay pots? I hear it makes the yogurt thicker.

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  15. Mine turned out very runny and smells more like sourdough starter than yogurt. any suggestions?

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    Replies
    1. Did you use raw milk and plain yogurt? If it smells off, don't use it. I'm sorry I didn't see your comment earlier!

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  16. Instead of using plain yogutr, could u just make the raw mil sour

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    Replies
    1. Raw milk that has soured separates into cream cheese and whey. Still perfectly safe and yummy, but it is not the same as yogurt.

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    2. Okay, but what I mean is, could I use a little soured milk as a yogurt starter instead of using plain yogurt for this recipe.

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    3. No, you need yogurt to start yogurt. Soured milk will just make more soured milk.

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    4. Oh okay yes the joy of cooking also says you need some yogurt, but figured they were assuming it was pastarized milk that cant be soured. But that makes sense.

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  17. An Excaliber dehydrator will run at 105 degrees - seems like you could just put the jars in there and let it run at that temp. ??

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you can. I like the cooler method because it doesn't require using any energy.

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  18. Cristina,
    I assume you don`t live in NYC area where I could not find any raw milk supplier. :-(

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    Replies
    1. I know this is a little late but you can find a raw milk supplier in your area on realmilk.com. Hope this helps.

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  19. this is a great recipe,easy and delicious. Can you use this yogurt to make the next batch and on and on or do you need store bought yogurt for the next batch.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you can continue to use this yogurt to make the next batch. Just make sure you set some aside so you don't eat it all. :)

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  20. I have found that the temperature of the milk not the water needs to be 105. The milk heats more slowly than the water and when I made it using water temp. 105 my jars did not stay warm for 24 hours and the yogurt didn't set. So I now use milk at 105 and wait for the water to cool back down.
    Twice now I have had the bottom drop out of the jar,spilling milk all over the place,thank goodness only one jar in the batch of 3 does it. Have you had this problem? They were both Ball jars.

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  21. A few questions as I've never done this before...
    - Do I use whole milk? Or should/can I skim the cream off first? Will it result in a different consistency of yogurt?
    - Is the goal of the cooler to keep the water warm for many hours? What if it cools considerably? Is the yogurt ruined?
    Thanks! I just discovered your blog and I'm hooked! So many great ideas and recipes.

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    Replies
    1. -Yes, you can skim the cream off although it will be considerably less creamy.
      -The goal is to keep the water warm, which my cheap little cooler does quite well. Even if it cools off a little, it will be fine. You can also put the yogurt in a dehydrator to ensure a constant temperature. I've done this before, although I prefer the cooler method because it uses no energy.

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    2. Thank you!! I have now made my first batch and it turned out perfectly! Is there any advantage to straining it - other than to thicken it up? Or is there any advantage to Greek yogurt over the regular kind? It just takes a long time to strain it (I did it through a coffee filter and it took a few hours to do 1 quart), so I figure if I have several quarts it will take most of the day! Also, will the the fridge shelf life of the yogurt be longer/shorter if it's strained or not? Will the whey last as long after it's separated? So many questions! Thanks again for your help!

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    3. There is no real advantage to straining it other than to thicken it. The yogurt will last about 6 months in the refrigerator whether or not you strain it. Same for the whey.
      Glad the yogurt was a success!

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