When I first started making homemade vanilla yogurt it was because I wanted to eliminate processed yogurt from our diets without paying the hefty sticker price that comes with organic yogurt.
To be honest I was never quite happy with my original recipe. I didn’t like having to add powdered milk as a thickening agent. As a yogurt hater, I never quite liked the flavor either. I was eating small bits trying to acquire a taste and it was working, but when I began using raw milk, the flavor difference was remarkable and it is so good!! Especially mixed with home canned peach chutney. Oh dear me is it ever amazing!!
But the best part is that while trying to experiment with making yogurt without heating the milk to high temperatures – which you can’t do since the raw milk bacteria wage war with the yogurt culture and win every time- I discovered how to eliminate the powdered milk and yet maintain a wonderfully thick and creamy texture.
Speaking of making raw milk yogurt, I know a lot of folks strive for that in yogurt making, trying to use low heat (100 degrees or less) so they don’t kill the beneficial bacteria in raw milk. I don’t. It is a runnier yogurt which we don’t care for and doesn’t always turn out. Here’s how I see it, when I want the cultures in the raw milk for my gut, I’ll drink a glass. When I want yogurt cultures for my gut, I’ll eat a cup of yogurt. When I make a batch of yogurt, I want it to turn out reliably consistent and that doesn’t happen with raw milk.
Homemade Vanilla Yogurt
- 8 cups whole milk (1/2 gallon)
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons vanilla
- 1 single serving cup of all-natural vanilla yogurt
- I use a Dannon yogurt cup- I've tried other brands including Stoneyfield and Dannon's my favorite. An accidental Greek yogurt made for the best culture- super thick- but it was full of garbage like maltodextrin. If I could find an all natural one, I would definitely use it.
- Digital or Candy Thermometer (I like this self-calibrating one with a 5yr. warranty)
- Whisk (or spoon)
- Fleece blanket (Ever notice how they really hold the heat? This if for insulation during the culturing process.)
- Whisk together the milk, sugar, and vanilla in a stockpot.
- Insert thermometer and heat to 180 degrees (F), stirring frequently.
- Lower the heat and suspend the temperature at 180 for 20 minutes. This is the secret to thick yogurt! Remove the pot from the heat.
- Set your yogurt cup out to allow it to warm up a bit.
- Walk away and allow it to cool down to 110 degrees (F). Any warmer and you'll kill the yogurt cultures, any cooler and they won't activate.
- When you have reached to target temperature, give your yogurt in the cup a good stirring, then whisk it into the milk, stirring vigorously.
- Cover the pot with a lid. Wrap the pot up in the blanket to insulate and set it aside in a place where it won't be disturbed for most of the day.
- Resist the temptation to peek in on your yogurt for at least 6 hours. If you like your yogurt a bit more tangy, let it sit even longer. The longer is sits, the tangier it gets.
- Ladle the finished product into your containers and chill completely prior to serving.
- If the yogurt still isn't thick enough to your liking- perhaps you like Greek yogurt- you could always line a colander with a coffee filter and strain out some whey, but before you decide, remember it will thicken significantly after chilling, so maybe wait until your second batch.