I source my fresh milk directly from a local farmer and friend. If you are using fresh milk, you will obviously want to obtain it from a certified organic farm or a farmer who practices organic crop production and animal husbandry. You can make yogurt with pasteurized milk if you prefer, but I’ve never tried it.

Laws regarding the sale and purchase of raw milk vary from state to state so it’s important to do your research. It can be purchased legally in over half the states. Some only allow buying direct from farmers, while others allow sales in grocery stores. 

It is equally important to be confident in the practices of the supplier. (I certainly would not consume unpasteurized milk from just any dairy.)  The Weston A. Price Foundation is a good resource for information on raw milk and for locating local suppliers.

Yogurt Recipe

  1. Make sure all your equipment is clean. The only microorganisms you want to add to your milk are the ones you use as a culture.
  2. Very slowly and gently heat your milk to 180°. This will kill any organisms that might interfere with the culture. Some folks claim that you can produce yogurt at lower temperatures, but I have never tried it. I’m sure you could find more information about that online if you’re interested.
  3. Allow the milk to cool down to 110°. Time will vary, depending on the season. I speed up the process by setting the pot on the cool basement floor or out on my porch in the winter.
  4. Once the milk has cooled, it’s time to introduce your culture. There are some commercially available varieties, but I prefer to use some yogurt from a previous batch or that I have purchased. (My backup brand here in the Midwest is Seven Stars from Pennsylvania. For people on the East Coast, Butterworks or Hawthorne Valley would be good options, as well. Maple Hill is also pretty widely available.) I use approximately 1 tablespoon of culture per gallon of milk. Experts say more is not necessarily better.
  5. Mix the culture in a cup of the cooled milk and gently stir to break up the yogurt as much as possible. I use a slotted spoon.
  6. Stir your cup of starter culture into the pot of milk using a back-and-forth (not circular) motion.
  7. Pour the cultured milk into glass canning jars and cover, stirring the pot before filling each jar to make sure the culture is evenly distributed. I use quart jars but other sizes would work just as well.
  8. I incubate my milk overnight in the oven with just the lightbulb on. I sometimes briefly turn the oven on low for a minute or two so it’s just barely warm before I start. (Be sure to turn it off before putting the yogurt inside!) Some people prefer to put the jars in a warm water bath in the sink or use other methods of incubation, but this has always worked well for me.
  9. It’s best to do this overnight when you aren’t active in the kitchen because disturbing the yogurt could interfere with the “set.”
  10. In the morning, very gently take the yogurt out of the oven, being careful not to jostle the jars or set them down on the counter with too much force.
  11. I put them into my freezer for about 20 minutes to hasten the cooling process but that isn’t necessary. They could just go directly into the refrigerator after cooling for a bit on the counter.

I hope this helps you make great yogurt you can be proud of, at less cost than most commercial brands.