Written by Chef James

Raise your hand if you eat yogurt for the beneficial probiotic properties.

Some people even go so far as to purchase frozen yogurt with the hopes of reaping some sort of healthy benefit. Sorry to burst any bubbles, but commercial yogurt is not what it used to be. Store bought yogurt, by definition, must have minimum of at least 10 million colony forming units of microorganisms which sounds like a lot, but in the culture world, that’s nothing.

Nowadays most yogurt comes with two strains of bacteria whereas traditional ‘heirloom’ cultures were filled with a variety of bacteria that can’t be found in modern yogurts. Similar to the soils of America, we’ve lost the nutrient-density and thus benefits of our yogurt over time.

I say we take back our health and reclaim the benefits of yogurt by making our own.

It’s a lot easier than you think and traditional cultures are available so you can repopulate your yogurt with strains of bacteria that will make your gut happy.

Below is a recipe* for you to make your own yogurt. You’ll need to do a little planning before you start, but once you’ve made your own yogurt you’ll never want the sweetened half-life product sold at the grocery store again.

*This recipe comes approved by New York Times Best selling author Sandor Katz, who I recently met at the WAPF conference. If you’re not familiar with Sandor’s first book, Wild Fermentation, then you’re probably new to the world of fermentation. Sandor is a self taught fermentation experimentalist and has over a decade of experience with culturing. If you’re interested in learning more about fermentation, I recommend his newest book, The Art of Fermentation.

Home-made yogurt

What you’ll need:

  • First, choose one of the traditional yogurt starter cultures from Cultures for Health. They have a guide to assist you with choosing the yogurt starter that meet your taste.
  • Raw or organic milk (about 1 to 2 quarts)
  • Food thermometer
  • Mason jar(s)
  • Whisk


Place the milk in a pot on the stove top over low to medium heat slowly. Using your thermometer, check that the milk heats no higher than 180ºF/82ºC. Once you hit the target temperature, remove the pot from the heat and allow the milk to cool to 115ºF. You may need to gently stir the milk with a whisk to help cool it. Once the milk hits 115ºF/46ºC, add the culture (approximately 1 tablespoon of starter per quart/liter of milk) and mix well ensuring the culture is fully dissolved. Pour the mixture into an appropriately sized mason jar. Cover and seal the jar and then put it in a warm spot like inside your oven with the oven light on. If you have a dehydrator or a yogurt maker, set it to 110º and put the jar into it. Allow to keep at 110º for 4-5 hours.

The milk should now be firmer. You shouldn’t see a lot of whey separation. Place the jar in the fridge and you’re done. You now have homemade yogurt and you get to control what goes in it.

Make sure to save about 1/2 a cup of the yogurt for your next batch. The culture in the yogurt will repopulate your next batch without you needing to buy the culture every time.


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