Making Raw Yogurt

by Meg Cotner on June 28, 2011

fresh milk with yogurt starter

Fresh milk mixed with yogurt starter

The other day I decided to make yogurt.

The last time I tried making yogurt was a lackluster experience. It was eons ago, in another life, and we had a Salton yogurt maker. It had 6 ceramic cups and made unremarkable yogurt  – it was extremely runny, even moreso than the raw yogurt I am accustomed to now, which is thin compared to commercial yogurt. We abandoned the project after a couple of tries.

after culturing

After culturing

Fast forward a couple of decades and to this raw milk yogurt tutorial. I was really inspired by it – it sounded so easy to make.  And it was!  Basically, I stirred a tablespoon of nice raw yogurt into a pint of fresh raw milk (I did not heat it), put the lid on, wrapped the pint jar in a towel around noon and set it in a cabinet above my fridge that gets nice and warm (but not too warm). I checked it around 10am this morning, and it was yogurt!

It had the curds that I’m used to, and the beautiful separation of cream and milk. It’s easily mixed back together, so no worries there.

yogurt texture

Yogurt texture

It’s fresh and tangy and lovely. I’m thrilled!  I’ll be making this regularly and experimenting with the recipe a little. I think I’ll try straining some at some point, which makes a thick, creamy wonderful product. Next time I might use cream as well.

A few things – from what I’ve read, the milk should not be older than 5 days to be effective in making yogurt. Also, I am not sure if this recipe would work with pasteurized milk. And with any kind of preserving/fermenting, make sure your jars and lids are sterile. If you have observations to share on this, please leave a comment!

This post is participating in Real Food Wednesday, hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

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{ 15 comments }

Janelle June 28, 2011 at 8:33 pm

I had never though to put it on top of the refrigerator, and since I don’t have a yogurt maker I am going to be trying that today! Great photos! the cream makes my mouth water!

Meg June 28, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Definitely let me know how it works for you! A lot of fridges do put out heat on top – especially during summer when they are working harder to keep things cool inside. I’m fortunate to have a cabinet just above the fridge which is awesome for proofing. Thanks for the kind words about my photos, too – and yes, I love yogurt cream!

JMR June 29, 2011 at 10:06 am

I’m going to try this today. Most recipes call for heating the milk, but I didn’t want to do that to my raw milk. Thank you for the recipe.

Meg June 29, 2011 at 10:44 am

I’d love to know how it works out for you. I’m not sure how hot my little cupboard is… maybe mid-70s?

I tasted my yogurt today, just to see how it was the day after – it’s amazing. It’s actually a bit smoother in taste, and it thickened a bit being in the fridge (not a surprise).

I also love having yogurt in a glass container, compared to plastic!

Emily June 29, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I’m going to give raw yogurt a go. I’ve done it before the high-heat way w/pasteurized milk b4 I knew better. Anyway, I use a cooler w/ warm water to keep mine insulated and it works great.

julie July 15, 2011 at 12:53 am

I’ve made yogurt with a yogurt maker, but I’d like to make raw yogurt without heating it. The question I have is where do you get the raw yogurt to start with? If I don’t have raw yogurt, can I add a yogurt starter packet to raw milk to get the same result?

Meg July 15, 2011 at 10:51 am

I get my raw yogurt the same place as I get my raw milk. But I understand you can start things out with regular plain yogurt. Make sure it has active cultures and no stabilizers (like gelatin or pectin). Erivan brand (I like it very much for pasteurized yogurt) would likely work, or any artisanal whole milk yogurt. Next time you go to the grocery store, look for some simple plain, whole milk yogurt with active cultures.

Alternatively, you could order some cultures – Cultures for Health sells them: http://www.culturesforheal?th.com/

Good luck, Julie, and let me know how it turns out for you!

Julie July 15, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Thank you!

Melissa July 15, 2011 at 1:04 am

Just to clarify, you did not heat the milk, at all?
Wanted to double check since in the tutorial you link to she does heat the milk to 110. That’s where I tend to mess up, so haven’t tried to make yogurt in a long time. So if I can do it without the heating step, I might give it a try. :)

Meg July 15, 2011 at 10:55 am

That’s correct, Melissa – I did not heat the milk. The place I set it in was nice and warm, so the ambient air temperature in there helped things along. Wrapping it in a towel I think was a help, too.

The yogurt will be thinner than you’re used to with yogurt in the grocery store, as there are no added stabilizers. I read in that tutorial that using cream would help make the resulting product thicker.

I’d recommend trying this out with just a pint of milk – I think it’s good to test things out like this with a smaller amount at first. Plus a pint mason jar is such a great container to work in! I love the size and we have a ton of them around from all the canning I’ve done over the years. And if something goes wrong by chance, you haven’t wasted a lot of milk. :) Good luck and let me know how it turns out!

Patty Faussett July 15, 2011 at 1:07 am

Oh, I’m so there! I have made kefir by leaving it on the counter for 24 hours or more, and it was lovely and delicious, but my kefir grains needed so much attention. I will try this with yogurt cultures and see how it works compared to the kefir. Sounds like a winner to me.

Meg July 15, 2011 at 10:58 am

Oh yes, kefir is great stuff, Patty! It does really well just on the counter. I’m happy to know you’ve made some delicious kefir! I am really curious about water kefir, myself, and hope to make some soon. Apple cider kefir also intrigues me.

A key element to making yogurt this way – no heating over a flame – is to have a nice warm spot to put it in. I love my warm cabinet, though I’m sure it’s warmer because it’s summer. I hope I can find a solution for winter when it’s not as warm in that cupboard…

Jen Z July 15, 2011 at 8:24 am

I put it in the oven with the light on.

Meg July 15, 2011 at 10:58 am

Jen, that is a great idea! That should provide good warmth for making the yogurt.

Satya July 25, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I am a raw milk yogurt enthusiast. I usually make 1-2 gallons at a time. I use a big stainless steel pot and I just mix 1 packet of yogurt or kefir starter and about 1 cup of left over yogurt (or some plain store bought yogurt) into the milk with a wisk and let it do it’s thing. Depending on the season, it will take 12-36 hours. During the winter, I put my pot on top of a heating pad at a low setting . The yogurt is delicious and alive! And so easy.

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