How to Make Raw Yogurt

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist February 27, 2012

raw  yogurt

If you’ve watched even one of the videos from the 75+ free video library available on this blog, you probably know that I have a microwave in my kitchen.

Do I use it for cooking or heating anything that my family consumes?

No.  I haven’t used a microwave to heat or cook anything in many, many years. I much prefer my small countertop convection oven which doesn’t heat food unnaturally and create carcinogens like a microwave does.

Why don’t I just remove the microwave from my kitchen then?

The truth is that the microwave can function as a handy airtight cupboard and proves quite useful for other tasks besides cooking and heating believe it or not.

I mentioned in one of my videos that I frequently use it for airtight, room temperature storage of freshly baked breads, cookies, and other baked goods.

It also works very well for making homemade raw yogurt.

If you don’t have access to raw yogurt, then you don’t know what you’re missing.   Pasteurized yogurt even if organic pales in comparison to the digestibility and nutrient value of raw yogurt, so if you are able to snag some raw milk from a local farm, here’s how to make it into raw yogurt.

*This cool recipe idea was given to me by my friend Cynthia Calisch, Sarasota Florida Chapter Leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Raw Yogurt

Ingredients

1/4 cup plain, whole organic, preferably grassfed yogurt from the store (this is the brand I recommend)

3  3/4 cups pastured raw cow or goat milk

Instructions

Scoop 1/4 cup of the Seven Stars plain organic whole yogurt into a clean, wide mouth, glass mason jar (I like these).  This is the best brand that is widely available in the United States at the healthfood store.  After you’ve made raw yogurt one time, you can use your own raw yogurt as the starter for subsequent batches.

Warm the raw milk on the stove to between 105 – 115F.   No enzymes or nutrition is lost heating to this temperature but the warmed milk enables the yogurt culture to “take” better than room temperature raw milk.

Pour about a half a cup of the warmed milk into the mason jar and mix with the store yogurt.

Pour the remaining warmed milk into the mason jar, stir and close the lid tightly.

Wrap the mason jar in a thick hand towel, secure with a rubber band and place inside your microwave closing the door.  Leave the light in the microwave on to keep a bit of warmth inside.

In 24 hours, open the microwave and voila!   You will have yourself a lovely quart of raw yogurt!

 

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Picture Credit

 

Comments (111)

  1. I have been making my own yogurt for months now. In my experience, the LESS yogurt culture you use, the thicker your yogurt will be. I am now using just a few teaspoons of yogurt to about a gallon of milk, and the final product can be held upside down with the lid off. It is thick, creamy, and delicious. (I am actually eating some right now.)

    I have never posted a comment on a blog before, but I wanted to share that there really is a huge difference in your finished product depending on the amount of yogurt you use to culture with. I am not sure if this is allowed, but here is a link to the blog that convinced me that LESS is better:

    http://www.salad-in-a-jar.com/family-recipes/reader-question-how-much-starter-do-you-really-need-to-make-yogurt

    Reply
  2. I saw someone else mention this, but I do our yogurt in the crockpot. It is so simple to do and makes quite a bit for my brood of growing kids. I have a yogurt maker, and while it’s cute and helpful to have little containers, it just hasn’t been practical for 5 kids all wanting yogurt at the same time. Using the crockpot, I tend to be able to make 2-3 quarts at a time. I warm the milk up on the stove, while turning my crockpot on warm, just to get the bowl comfortable for the good bugs :) Then after I inoculate the milk, I take the crock out of the warmer, put it on a large towel and pour the milk into it. I put the lid on, cover the whole thing with the towel, and place it in my oven, with the light on. I leave anywhere from 8-24 hours. If I plan right, 24 is the best…tart and tangy, but easy to digest.

    Reply
  3. I’m sure if anyone said this yet (don’t have time to read all the comments) but yogurt can also be incubated in a cooler. I usually do two gallons at a time and incubate in a large cooler. I fill up the empty spaces with more jars of hot water and cover it all with a large towel.

    Reply
  4. Hi Sarah
    I am using my dehydrator for the incubation period. Please specify the temp for the 24hr incubation since I haven’t owned a microwave in years and want to get that temp right.
    Thanks a bunch, Renee

    Reply
  5. Hi Sarah, I just made raw milk yogurt and it came out stringy and gooey. The taste is great, but the texture is weird. Maybe because I used a fair amount of whey instead of yogurt? I used 4 Tablespoons per half gallon raw milk which I heated to 110d. I tried to make whey with it. The whey was not clear. Another time I left the raw milk out for over a week. Half way through I added some whey. It barely curdled. Thoughts?
    I have just discovered your site and have purchased Nourishing Traditions. Have made several recipes from both sources. I love the theory and the recipes, but I am getting pretty mucousy with all the dairy. And my tongue gets very sore seems like from the fermented foods. Trying this all out, hoping it will work.
    Thoughts?
    Thanks,
    Phoebe

    Reply
  6. Will this recipe work with very sour milk (1-2 months sour kept in the refrigerator)?
    I would like to make raw yogurt from my soured milk but do not know if it will work the same way or if I should modify the recipe.

    Reply
    • @Anne: I’m curious also. Another site said raw sour milk can be used to make yogurt. I tried it last night using my usual recipe and I ended up with 50% clear liquid and 50% clotted chunks; it also smells spoiled. Would like to know what I’m doing wrong.

      Reply
      • I just had the same thing happen. I was thinking it was because my milk heated too quickly and also got too hot. (I was distracted by my kids and wasn’t monitoring the process as closely as I should have.) Is there anything that this 50/50 mixture can be used for?

        Reply
  7. I gave up the microwave long, long ago, so I’m looking for an alternative way of making homemade yogurt. I’ve seen some recipes using the crock pot, but the ingredient used make me feel leery about the process, as well. Do you have any recommendations or recipes to share? Also, what about adding fruit – can this be done while making it or is adding fresh fruit to the final product before eating the best route? Thanks for your help on this subject…an all the others!

    Reply
  8. Thanks for this post! It has helped unintimidate me to this! Two questions. 1) can I use my raw milk that’s been frozen? 2) if my microwave doesn’t have a light function are there alternate heat sources? Or should I let the yogurt sit longer to compensate?

    Thanks!!

    Reply
  9. Hello Sarah. I appreciate your post and thank you for useful ways to use my raw milk. What is critical to making yogurt- organic? whole milk? I found “yogormet” at a healthfood store about two hours away(…so its a drive to find the right thing) it’s freeze dried, which i think would matter. So…what does matter?

    Reply
  10. Sara,
    LOVE YOUR POSTS! Thank you for all you do! I have raw milk that started to sour. I decided to make raw milk yogurt. I shook up the milk, heated the milk to 110 F and it separated and turned into a gooey clump like a stringy blob! HELP! What happened? Is it still good to use? What should I do? Also, I received an Excalibar Dehydrator for Christmas and would like to use it for making yogurt. Should I use the dehydrator at 110 F for 5 – 7 hours according to the instructions? Shouldn’t it be for 24 hour to get the beneficial bacteria? Is it better to culture raw milk on the counter for 24hours than to use a dehydrator?

    Thank you,
    Celeste

    Reply
  11. Hi Sarah,
    I made my first batch of raw yogurt this morning and am awaiting results. I did not have a thermometer to check the temperature. The milk almost came to boil and I hope i did not kill it! What do you think of the probiotic starter from a generic supermarket? Is it optimal?

    Reply
  12. Thank u for your humor Sarah! Those of us who follow u consistently get u! Lol this is my first attempt at making raw yogurt and because we got our kitchen built sans microwave I think the only difference i will make to keep the temp consistent is make this in my Excalibur left on at 115′. If it turns out a bit runny I may pass it through my cheesecloth that I use forsaking whey. Thank u so much for all your work Sarah

    Reply
  13. My girlfriend taught me how to make almond yogurt with sprouted almonds, fresh coconut water (and flesh) and my favorite blend of powder or liquid probiotics. I’m curious. Has anyone tried making frozen yogurt from the raw milk? Does that defeat the purpose of using raw? I love tart frozen yogurt but getting it from a shop is usually not as healthy as one I imagine I could make.

    Reply
  14. Pingback: 101 Uses for Soured Raw Milk : Real Food Farming

  15. My last batch of yogurt was just a bunch of curdled stuff. Is it still yogurt? Or is it clabbered milk. I made drinks and leather with it. Do I still get the benefit of yogurt when it turns out like this?

    Love the microwave thing. My mic has a light on the outside bottom, so it’s warm enough on the inside for incubation. Good thing- I had to dust it out to use it! Thanks for the great idea.

    Reply
  16. How many times can I reuse my homemade raw yogurt as a starter for the next batch? How can I tell when the health benefits are gone?

    Reply
  17. Jenni in March mentioned “pet food” as a legal term for raw milk. Yup. In our neck of the woods
    we have to buy “pet food”, not raw milk, or the powers that be will swoop down and destroy the operation. It’s kind of like hiding from the gestapo. (sp?)

    Reply
  18. Oh my goodness I just opened my jar and it came out PEFECT!!! Thank you so much Healthyhomeeconomist!!!! I am on cloud nine! It is so easy and nutritious and DELICIOUS! I added blueberries and some organic maple syrup and it is so yummy I CANNOT stop eating it! LOL I’m seriously way too excited right now! :) Thanks again! ~Julie

    Reply
  19. I am trying this right now- except I don’t have a microwave, so I found a warm little niche on top of my hot water heater! The milk I’m using is raw, grass fed, and milked this a.m! How perfect is that!? I can’t wait to see how it turns out!!! :)

    Reply
  20. Pingback: Grassfed Raw Milk: Benefits & Uses « Mind Body and Sole

    • I have found homemade yogurt is usually runnier unless you add something like dry milk powder {yuck!}. You can make it thicker by straining it through a cheesecloth or flour sack towel from your kitchen cabinet knob for a few hours. You’ll be left with thicker Greek-style yogurt in the cheesecloth and whey in the bowl below. Just don’t leave it too long or you’ll end up with yogurt cheese!

      Reply
  21. I just tried this recipe yesterday and am now enjoying my yummy yogurt. This was by far, the easiest method I have used in making raw yogurt. Thanks, for posting this! I will definitely be using this recipe from now on. :O)

    Reply
  22. I tried this and ended up with something that doesn’t look much like yogurt. The jar is filled with whey, with a thick chunk of white at the bottom and floating white on top. Is that still edible?

    Reply
    • I’ve done this before and the answer is YES. It’s definitely edible. I strained it through a dish towel and was left with delicious Greek style yogurt.

      Reply
  23. Help! Okay, I think I confused your instructions of waiting 24 hours, and the instructions of Nourishing traditions to keep it at 100 degrees. I warmed the raw milk, and stuck it in a 100 degree oven with the starter. After about 18 hours I checked it and it started to separate and become a bit chunky, though not completely curdled. I tasted it and it’s a bit sour. What have I created? Can I strain it or something?

    Reply
  24. Can you tell us more about the countertop convection ovens? When our microwave broke last year, I threw it away and breathed a sigh of relief. I got my kids switched over to other methods of reheating…. and then my husband brought home another microwave. Argh. I dare not break another microwave, er, I mean wait for this one to break without having some alternate convenient countertop appliance ready to take its place.
    Diane\’s last post: Teenagehood: Documented

    Reply
  25. I’m very new to all of this so forgive my ignorance…I have access to low temp pasteurized milk but not raw…are you guys getting the “for pet consumption” milk? I’m assuming that label is “legal” so is that what I should be looking for?

    Reply
  26. It’s great for disinfecting the damp kitchen sponge! 1-2 minutes all kinds of germs are killed. Makes me wonder what it does to the food. I am trying to use it less and less. Except for weekly sponge cleaning, :)

    Reply
  27. Sarah i hate to tell you but a microwave is not air tight. It has open vents and a exhaust fan. I have learned a lot from you, THANKS. I guess i have been heating my milk more than is needed for making yogurt, i have been heating it to 180 and then cooling to 110-100 before adding my culture, of course i don’t have access to fresh whole milk at this time. But i am in the process of making my annual maple syrup and sugar, mmmmmmmmm good!

    Scott

    Reply
  28. I love the title of this post! After a split-second of puzzlement, even before reading the post I figured it out. I will be trying this. :)

    Reply
  29. I make my raw milk yogurt absolutely the same way, but I use oven with the light on instead. I have also tried making sour cream this way. Here is what I did:
    Heated up the raw cream to 115F, add a little TJ’s organic yogurt, wrapped it and put in the oven with the light on. After 8 hours I checked it and nothing happened. So I thought something went wrong. I added a little kefir in there and let it stand on the counter for a day. I became thicker but was still too liquid. So I transfered it to the fridge thinking to use it in smoothies. The next day when I open the jar, I found, to my surprise, the creamiest sour cream ever. There was a liitle whey on the bottom, but the top layer taste amazing and was extrmely smooth! Not sure what worked at the end, but my next batch I am making the same way

    Reply
  30. Can anybody help me with this?

    After heating to 105-115 and wrapping and stuffing into a microwave with the light on, what is the temperature at which the yogurt should stay for the 24 hour period? I have tested my microwave’s light with a jar of water started at 110F with a candy thermometer in it, and it seems to level out at 75F in the morning. It’s winter here (the snowy kind ) and I can’t find a place warm enough in my house. Heating pad? Crock pot?

    Reply
  31. Ilana Grostern via Facebook February 28, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Do you want to incubate your yogourt in an airtight environment? Doesn’t that lead to the growth of dangerous anaerobic bacteria?

    Reply
  32. Kimberly Rasmussen via Facebook February 28, 2012 at 3:30 am

    we live in the tropics, and ours makes a wonderful hideaway from ants for nuts and dried fruits that they would usually get into.

    Reply
  33. If yours doesn’t have a switch to turn on the light inside, you can use a napkin lodged in the door channel to make the light go on (takes a few tries to get it right). My big oven with the light on doesn’t rise to the right temp. for fermenting yogurt, but the otherwise unused microwave does.

    Reply
  34. We use ours for storage and for heating up neck warmers in winter. I like the idea of a moist place to let bread rise. It’s time to make yogurt, and I will give this a try!

    Reply
  35. After heating to 105-115 and wrapping and stuffing into a microwave with the light on, what is the temperature at which the yogurt should stay for the 24 hour period? I have tested my microwave’s light with a jar of water started at 110F with a candy thermometer in it, and it seems to level out at 85F. Is that a high enough temp?

    Reply
  36. After reading all comments above I have to conclude that most people don’t read the post, or simply don’t understand what they read and then jump to comment “something” just for the fun of it. Too bad!
    Thanks Sarah for all your great post!

    Reply
  37. I am just getting ready to make my first batch! Thanks for the simple recipe!
    PS: I knew when I read the headline story I knew you meant it to use as storage(before even reading the article), not as using a microwave. If anyone has seen your video should know you do not “use” your microwave.

    Reply
  38. Laura Weyer via Facebook February 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    microwave bad bad. destroy’s food. cant imagine using it on something that’s suposed to be so good for you.

    Reply
  39. Tiffany Ninness via Facebook February 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    awhile ago i was in the kitchen thinking about ditching the microwave and after i discussed it with my husband i went to use it (i think i was just curious to see if it was still working) and it had stopped working! buttons all worked but press start and only the light turned on! What a weird series of events ^^

    Reply
  40. Hello?! Why didn’t I think of this? I have a unused microwave above my oven and I purposefully didn’t start my yogurt today because I’ll be using the oven tonight. My little yogurt maker is wonderful, but can’t do big mason jar batches. By the way, I noticed a few times when I forgot to turn of the yogurt maker or the oven light turned off and the yogurt sat at room temp for hours before the light or maker got turned back on, the yogurt resulted in a nicer thicker consistency. Also I actually use VSL#3 unflavored probiotic as my starter and it still turns out great without heating up. I just put some in my 1/2 gallon of milk shake it up and pour into mason jars. VSL#3 is expensive, so making yogurt out of it stretches it.

    Reply
  41. Roseann Ligenza-Fisher via Facebook February 27, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    We just moved recently and left our above range microwave.behind. Havent used it.in a long time. I have tried making it in my crockpot recently and it came out great. Only problem the recipe calls for the milk to be heated to around 180 first then cooled to 115 to 120. When it cools down is when to add the culture. Im thinking that maybe skipping the step of heating it to 185 might work with the crockpot? To maintain the temp I cover my crock pot with a double folded bathtowel and turn the pot on low every couple of hours for about 15 minutes.

    Reply
  42. this is an awesome idea!

    but i also have a question…this is my second time making raw milk yogurt. the first time it was “chunckier” so to speak and more runny. this time it is thicker and has the consistency of store bought yogurt. which one is correct?? this time i just introduced the starter to the raw milk, two tsp in each mason jar, but didn’t stir it in. (read this on someone’s blog) they both taste similar, but i just want to make sure the second way is just as beneficial. do you know anything about this?

    thanks!!

    Reply
  43. Love this idea! I also like to use it as a moist place to let breads rise in the winter. I put a bowl of water in there and heat it up for a five minutes. Then I remove it and put the bread inside and leave to rise. It stays warm and moist for a long time.

    Reply
    • That is such a cool idea, Lisa! I must mention it to my husband… our spices take up SO much shelf space in our pantry!

      Thanks for that! :)

      Reply
      • If you are going to use the microwave to store spices, be sure not to ever use the so-called “surface light”. My mw is an above-the-stove model, and the surface lights are located sort of underneath the body of the mw and shine down onto my stovetop while I’m cooking, and can also be used as a kitchen night light. My mw is a GE and if anyone else is using one like it, those bulbs throw off a lot of heat. Mine doesn’t have an interior light which I can turn on independently. If the mw oven door is open the light’s on, if it’s closed the light’s off. But I could make yogurt with the heat that goes up into the mw from those bulbs, for sure.

        Also, my mw “turntable” doesn’t turn independently either. It will only turn if the oven is functioning. It’s not like a lazy susan. But even if I wanted to use my mw as a spice cabinet I can’t because of the heat from the surface lights, which I use quite often up here in the hinterlands where it’s dark by 4:00 in the afternoon and stays dark until 7:30 a.m. Even with only one bulb going while the second bulb was burned out recently, the inside of the oven gets downright warm. Too warm to store delicate spices and herbs, which will deteriorate quickly when exposed to warm temps for any length of time.

        Reply
  44. Pingback: Raw Yogurt (Made in the Microwave) | CookingPlanet

  45. I have tried raw milk yogurt several times and I never get it right. If you were using a dyhrator, what temp would you set it and how long to leave it? I tried my light in my microwave and mine will not come on while not on. Strange! But I do have a dyhrator. Also, I don’t have that brand of yogurt in my area, what would be another choice? Any thoughts?

    Reply
  46. Well I don’t see how a light in a microwave is giving off any more radiation then you get from sitting in front of a computer while reading this article.

    If its the light or the microwave that is bothering you there are other ways of keeping it warm. Like in a cooler wrapped up tightly with warm towels fresh from the dryer. Or put it in your oven with its light on and the door propped just ajar.

    Sarah, this may sound silly but can you make yogurt from raw cream? I have made raw milk yogurt a couple times before and it seems like the top layer is so creamy and amazingly wonderful, and I thought that it might be thicker from cream rising to the top?!?! I may be way off on that one. I also noticed that raw milk yogurt seems to not spoil, or if it does it takes a lot longer then non-raw homemade yogurt.

    Thanks for all your posts! Please never retire from blogging!!!

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist February 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      Another friend uses a cooler .. yes this works too but the microwave with the light on with the door closed works better. Yes, the oven works well too the problem is that we use the oven where the microwave is not used and wasted space unless you get creative :)

      I think what you would end up with instead of yogurt if you fermented straight cream with a yogurt culture would be something similar in texture and taste to creme fraiche.

      You’re so right .. raw milk yogurt never spoils it seems. At least I’ve never wasted a drop at my house.

      Reply
      • I was thinking the same thing as Melissa. My microwave doesn’t have a button to turn the light on and off, so it doesn’t work for us! However, thankfully we are able to use our dehydrator for our raw milk yogurt.

        It’s an interesting post, thank you Sarah… I often look at my dejected microwave and wonder what I could do with him… :)

        Reply
    • mine doesn’t have a light either…but I am boiling a pot of water on the stove and am going to put it in a bowl in the microwave for a heat source. This is how I used to do it, but with a cooler. I love this idea of using the microwave….no big clunky cooler on my counter.

      Reply
      • you could put the yogurt it in the oven with just the oven light on, this is how I do it and it works perfectly every time. Just be sure to put it in before bed, so a bulk of the fermenting is done while the oven is not needed,

        Reply
  47. It’s a different kind of heat. It’s like radiation, very unlike the heat from a fire, gas or electric stove. It does more than destroy nutrients, it changes the molecular structure even on low temps.
    Paula\’s last post: February 25, 2012

    Reply
      • Sarah, I want to stress that the person using the D for their name here, is not the D. that I usually use when I post. I have communicated with you a time or two by email and I don’t know if email addresses are visible to you when people sign in to post, but I just wanted to be sure to clarify that the other D is not me.

        Let me also say that I knew, the minute I read the headline, there had to be a catch because I know you don’t use a microwave. You use a microwave in the same fashion as I use a dishwasher – which is to say, I use my dishwasher to store dirty dishes until I have time to wash them by hand! MY dishwasher (which, btw, is less than a year old) has been serviced four time and still gets the dishes dirtier than when I put them in. The repairmen stand here and scratch their heads but have no clue. Go figure.

        Reply

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