The Most Essential of All Essentials – Yogurt Tutorial

In the French Women Don’t Get Fat book, she focuses a lot about the benefits of plain yogurt. I could go on and on about those benefits and how much I love yogurt! I started making my own yogurt back when I read the book the first time over 6 years ago. I attribute plain yogurt to my success at losing weight back before getting pregnant with my now 5-year-old, and then again before getting pregnant with my 2-year-old. I eat it daily now and I know that is part of why I have been able to lose so much weight this time and keep it up. And I still love to make my own!
It is surprisingly simple. All you need is some good quality milk, preferably whole. You will also need some plain, unflavored, unsweetened yogurt that is full of live, active bacteria to use as your starter. When I need a new starter I usually get Fage brand, yum! I’m going to give instructions for using a yogurt maker because that’s what I do. I love this one right here:

 If you don’t have one, don’t despair! This is another great tutorial if you don’t have a yogurt maker. The way I make yogurt is a combination of that tutorial and the French Woman’s way of making it.
First, take enough milk to fill your yogurt maker and put it a pan on the stove over medium high heat. Stir frequently and allow to cook just until it gets steamy and gets those little bubbles around the sides. Be careful, it doesn’t take long to go from perfectly steamy to boiling over! (Yes, that was the voice of experience talking right there.)
Take it off the heat and allow to cool. You want this still a little bit warm, but not hot. You are soon going to be introducing lots of good, yogurt-making bacteria into this milk. Warming the milk prepares the protein in it to be responsive to the bacteria, but if you put in the starter right away, the heat will kill the bacteria.
Once your milk is cooled to just warm, add in about 1/4 cup of  your yogurt starter and mix well. Then transfer the milk to your yogurt maker.
The yogurt maker keeps the milk at the perfect warm temperature for those bacteria to grow and turn that milk into yogurt. The time in the yogurt maker is going to vary. I usually leave mine in for about 10 hours, but it could be anywhere from 4 to 12. You want to make sure the yogurt is nice and thick. At that point, throw it in the fridge for a few hours to overnight.
(By the way, this isn’t a fast recipe. It usually takes about a full day before your yogurt is ready.)
At this point you have plain yogurt. Feel free to dive in and enjoy! I, however, have learned to like mine Greek. The only difference between Greek and regular yogurt is that you strain off the whey.
I have a fine mesh strainer that I use to do this, but you could use a regular strainer lined with cheesecloth or coffee filters.
Let it strain for about an hour. (I like to save the whey to use as the liquid in smoothies. Waste not! )
I like to then whisk the yogurt to make it smooth.
Now, most people really don’t like the taste of plain yogurt. The good part is that this is a blank slate, you can dress it up however you like! Marquis likes to add some homemade jam. It is also easy to add honey or real maple syrup to sweeten things up, and some vanilla for flavor. I love to add fresh fruit and granola to mine.
Have you ever tried to make your own yogurt? What are your favorite toppings?
Edit: If you want to make sure you are heating and cooling your milk to the right temperatures, use a candy thermometer and heat the milk to 175-180 degrees Fahrenheit, and then allow it to cool to around 115 degrees. Also, make sure to save enough of the plain yogurt to make your next batch.


The Most Essential of All Essentials - Yogurt Tutorial
  • Whole milk, preferably from grass-fed cows
  • ¼ cup high quality plain yogurt with lots of live bacteria cultures listed on label
  1. Take enough milk to fill your yogurt maker and put it in a pan on the stove over medium high heat.
  2. Stir frequently and allow to cook just until it gets steamy and gets bubbles around the sides (about 180 degrees on a candy thermometer)
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool until you can keep a finger in the milk for about 20 seconds without burning (about 115 degrees).
  4. Add yogurt starter and mix gently.
  5. Pour milk mixture in yogurt maker, turn it on, and allow to sit for about 12 hours, or according to yogurt maker instructions. The yogurt should be thick.
  6. Move yogurt to fridge.
  7. If you prefer Greek yogurt, put refrigerated yogurt in a strainer and allow to strain for about an hour. The whey can be used in smoothies or as the liquid in making bread.
  8. Flavor your yogurt any way you like, with honey, real maple syrup, fruit, granola, or anything you would like.

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