I started making my own yogurt — and saving money, too!

This is not a normal writing topic for me, but I feel compelled to share this story since I’ve become a yogurt-making evangelist.

See, my household eats yogurt with fruit every single day for breakfast — other than coffee, it’s pretty much the only ritual food or beverage in my life. And because of that, I’d usually spend about 30 USD a month on buying the stuff. It’s not astronomically expensive, but it’s basically two Netflix subscriptions a month for a good gut microbiome, so I was open to change.

One evening in February, a microbiologist friend in Boston mentioned over Zoom that he makes his own yogurt. Intrigued, I asked what that entailed. He went on to explain a ridiculously simple process that made me wonder why I’d been buying so much of the stuff at Sprouts. I figured I’d spread the good news for any yogurt lovers out there who are still spending bucks on quarts— here’s how you make your own yogurt:

You’ll need:

  • Milk
  • 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt (for a starter culture)
  • A pan

Step 1: Pour one-fourth of a gallon of milk into a covered pan, and then bring the milk to a boil.

Step 2: Once it has started to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cool to about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (if you don’t have a thermometer, you’ll know it’s the right temperature when you can stick your finger in the warm milk and leave it there for more than a second).

Step 3: Take the yogurt you have on hand and scoop two-to-three tablespoons into the milk.

Step 4: You’re done. Leave the mixture sitting out for at least 6 hours or overnight at room temperature. The fermentation will do the rest of the work for you. Once it's ready, transfer the yogurt to containers and let it sit in the refrigerator to cool before consuming.

A couple of additional notes: the longer you let the mixture sit, the thicker the yogurt will become. You can smooth the texture with a whisk and add additional ingredients for taste (I like dragonfruit or strawberry purée); although, if you’re adding flavoring to the yogurt I’d recommend keeping a bit of the original mixture reserved (more on that in a bit).

If you’re like me and enjoy Greek yogurt, then you can also easily make this at home. Once your mixture has set, take a colander and place it over a bowl. Line the colander with a cheesecloth or some other loose-woven cloth and pour the yogurt inside. The liquids from the yogurt will begin to drain into the bowl, so you can observe the consistency and make it as thick as you prefer.

See, isn’t that so easy? And here’s the best part: once you’ve made your first batch of yogurt, you never have to buy another quart again! When it comes time to make more yogurt, simply save two-to-three tablespoon’s worth of your old batch for the new starter culture.

We’ve been making our own yogurt for over a month now and immediately noticed the drop in our grocery bill after adopting the process. Hope you’re convinced to give this a try, too!

San Diego-based writer. Interested in urban planning, languages, cultures, travel, history, and fiction.

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