More Than Six Ways To Incubate Yogurt Without a Yogurt Maker

yogurt inside of egg red

It's easy to incubate and "hatch" yogurt at home.

It was a nervous moment just before the sonographer put the probe on my daughter-in-law’s still-flat belly. Our imaginations were pulsing with prayers, hopes and dreams. Was there really a baby in there like the test said?

As the probe began to dance around in search of new life, we spotted something doing the jitterbug. It was a flicker with rhythm. YES! We were witnessing a tiny heartbeat that only a powerful God in heaven could create.

This may sound crazy but I get shades of the same feeling when incubating a batch of yogurt. The mysterious process that transforms a gallon of milk to a gallon of yogurt by adding a couple teaspoons of starter is mind-boggling to me. It’s a miracle I tell ya!

Making yogurt is easy but sometimes it doesn’t always happen as hoped. One major variable is the incubation technique. Similar to hens sitting on eggs, you must find a way to keep your yogurt babies warm and cozy for an extended period of time. Temperatures between 100-113 degrees F are ideal and stimulate the bacteria to reproduce faster than mosquitoes in my wooded backyard. Too hot and they die. Too cold and they’ll act like bears and hibernate, leaving you disappointed.

In the last two years since I published my method for making healthy Greek yogurt, my readers have left some great comments regarding their creative methods of incubation. I compiled several here in the hopes you might be inspired by their stories.

But first, a word about yogurt makers sold at department stores and kitchen shops. They work great because they maintain the perfect environment, holding temperatures steady with a thermostat. However, the amount they make is much too small to satisfy my yogurt addiction. Furthermore, it would be a pain to make Greek yogurt since you would have to remove the yogurt from all the little jars, strain it and then return it to the jar or another container for storage. Frequent sightings at garage sales may not be a good sign–although I suppose you could say the same about bread machines, one of my favorite appliances of all times so forget that last comment.

I’ll start with the obvious and easiest way to incubate yogurt. My way, of course.

1. A conventional oven

my oven red

Set oven to 100 degrees F if possible. No need to wrap with towels. (Yikes! Please ignore the dirty oven.)

I heat and cool nonfat milk in a Pyrex, 2-quart batter bowl. It’s the perfect size and holds heat better than plastic or metal.

I’m blessed to have an oven with a bread proofing cycle. I set it to 100 degrees F and go to bed. No towels needed. No babysitting needed. Perfect yogurt in the morning!

My previous oven could not be set that low so I would turn it on briefly to heat it to 100 degrees and then shut it off. I produced numerous successful batches in that oven with the light on and the covered milk container wrapped in towels as illustrated in my original post.

N2ition commented about her own oven that also can’t be set on a low temperature. “Robert, I just saw your post and wanted to let you know that I make about 3 gallons a week. My oven is about the same age as yours and has the same problem (only goes to 200). I always preheat the oven about 1 minute and then turn it off and put the yogurt in. Yesterday’s batch took nearly 13 hours to set up…and at hour 11 it still looked like milk. Next time you try it, make it at night and just pop it in the oven over night. (I have good luck making it about dinner time or right after I put my kids to bed and it’s perfect by the next morning).

Preheating and then leaving the door closed usually will maintain the temp for 12-15 hours but if I am really impatient and open the oven a lot to check I have had to turn it back on for about 30 seconds to get the temp back up enough to keep the yogurt around 110. Good luck!”

2. A crockpot

crock pot

Try a crockpot with a Warm setting.

I tried this for myself last night and it worked. After heating the crock-pot long enough to bring the temperature of the milk to 115 degrees, I unplugged it. Then I wrapped the milk container inside the crock-pot with a towel and wrapped the covered crock-pot with a couple of big bath towels

Others have similar experiences. Whitney said, “Just tried your recipe today! After a few tries of finding a place where the temp stayed the most consistent my crock-pot won out. On warm with a water bath surrounding a smaller bowl (I only tried a half batch to see if I would like it or not) it stayed a consistent 103ish.”

Stephanie had beginner’s luck. “Success on the very first try! But I want to try to find a better way of incubating, as the process is long and ties up the oven. Think I will find a crock-pot with a “warm” setting and donate my old one to my parish kitchen (we always seem to need them for nachos, puzzle, etc.).”

3. A heating pad and towels

heating pad red

A lot of people like to use a heating pad. Be sure to place a towel between the bowl and the pad--unlike what you see here.

I’ve tried this too but it takes a little experimenting. The Errant Cook writes, “Hi! I’ve made yogurt 4 or 5 times now thanks to your instructions, and it’s fantastic. I set the covered bowl on top of a heating pad on low, check it frequently with an infrared thermometer (a lovely gadget from my husband), and after about 11 hours, it’s ready to go.”

Nancy shared a word of caution. “We used a heating pad on the first round which had an automatic shutoff (something we didn’t realize before starting the process)–the yogurt did not get thick overnight! We added more starter (from a small container of nonfat Fage plain Greek yogurt) and found another pad in the house (lucky!) which didn’t shut off at all. We have had a great experience with this yogurt and will make it often!”

Julie likes the heating pad too, ” I have a glass casserole bowl with a cover that holds about 3/4 of a gal. I heat the milk in the microwave to 160 -180 degrees ( about 20 min in my microwave) then let it cool to 110 -115 degrees. Stir in about 2 tsp of my starter yogurt and put the lid on. I set it on a heating pad (mine is not adjustable it only has off and on) with 2 layers of a bath towel under it and I cover the rest of the bowl with the remaining towel. It keeps it at 105 – 110 degrees. I make it before going to bed, I check on it if I wake up for some reason, but in the morning before work I have a nice big batch of yogurt”

4. A microwave oven

towels

Towels help even out and preserve heat.

From Tamara, a self-professed Greek yogurt addict, “A couple of tips that have worked for me — I’ve put foil over the top of the bowl to help retain heat and then double wrapped in dish towels. I incubate mine in the microwave, because it’s smaller than the oven. I also heat up a microwavable hot pad that will stay warm for hours. That provides the right amount of heat in the small space. I usually put it to bed about 11pm and it’s ready by 7am.”

Tony from Australia shared this idea,” ….Next, how to keep warm! Saw another reader’s microwave and pad idea. No pads, so used wheat bags we regularly use for muscle strain/pain. Heated the bags and wrapped around the bowl which was covered in foil. Then covered in two small towels making sure door side of microwave was well insulated with toweling. 8.5 hours later the microwave was still nice and warm and lo and behold I had lovely yogurt with no strong tang. Just very yummy.”

5. A camping cooler or ice chest

ice chest red

A camping cooler or ice chest reportedly makes a good incubator.

I have not personally tried this one but several have.

Yogurt man wrote, “I set up a regular camping cooler, and I put one plastic container in it which I fill with 2 kettle fulls of boiling water, then seal container/cooler right away. When yogurt is ready I put all the containers inside the cooler (where the boiling water makes it the perfect sauna and maintains the temperature you need) and let it sit for 7-8 hours and then it’s ready. ”

From Lynette, “This was so fun!! It is so easy. My gas oven did not stay hot enough with the pilot light on. I got our cooler out of the garage and put a heating pad in the bottom. I set it at medium heat. Wrapped the bowl in a beach towel, and set it in the cooler with the lid on. Next morning (12 hours) I have the most yummy stuff ever.”

Deanna said, “LOVE the tips here. I love making yogurt and used a yogurt maker with about 8 oz cups until now. A friend of ours makes his yogurt in quart jars and wraps the warm jar in towels and then puts it in an ice chest. Using commercial starter this method only takes about 4 to 5 hours.”

6. Miscellaneous ideas

Lenore uses a dehydrator and reports, ” I’ve got yogurt!! Straining now! Woo hoo! I followed the temperature instructions to a tee, but may have put too much yogurt in as a starter. I popped in a dehydrator at 100 degrees overnight and in the morning I had warm milk and a skin. Hmmm…pulled off the skin, added some probiotics and popped it back in the dehydrator again for the day. Got home late and..yes! I have yogurt.”

Janet wrote, “Hello there! I just want to say that both me and my wallet thank you- I have made two batches- both successful and I incubated the bowl in front of a long burning pellet stove!”

I have just one question for Janet. What is a long burning pellet stove?

Tim S. got really creative. “I use a sous-vide water bath to incubate yogurt at 113 degrees – worked great overnight….. Truth is, this ‘sous vide’ water bath is one I made using a bucket heater from Tractor Supply and an old Igloo water cooler, and sits under the dining room table in our trailer in the hills of Appalachia. Still, I am able to fix wonderful steaks and hamburgers for my wife (from our own farm), and the yogurt I did a couple of days ago came out perfectly.”

thermometers

I highly recommend a quick-read digital thermometer to ensure correct temperatures.

I’m impressed with Brooke‘s ingenuity. ” I’m so glad I found your website. This yogurt is an instant hit. For the incubation I put the lid on my Pyrex container and wrapped it in a towel. Then I put it on top of my computer router, put a 40-watt bulb in a desk lamp and put that about 6 inches from the top of the towel-covered Pyrex. I put an oven thermometer on top of the towel so I could monitor the temp. It read just under 100 degrees. I left it overnight–about 12 hours or so, and it was of perfect consistency!”

So, my beloved yogurt makers (sorta feels like a secret society, doesn’t it?), think about warm places in your house. Is there an old-fashioned radiator? Maybe a small closet housing a water heater where you could set a towel-wrapped bowl of warm milk? Or maybe you have a lamp like Brooke you could shine on your bowl.

I hope this has helped some of you who may have had trouble with the incubation process or even inspired others who haven’t worked up the courage to try it yet. If you have a completely different method, please share in the comments. This is also a good place to ask questions so don’t hesitate to speak up.

p.s. In case you haven’t seen my video on making Greek yogurt…

Other posts of interest about making homemade yogurt, Greek or otherwise.

Healthy Homemade Greek Yogurt (fat-free)

A Discussion About Protein in Greek Yogurt

Answers to Your Questions About Making Homemade Yogurt

Alternate Methods of Incubation for Yogurt

Making Yogurt at Home

How to Incubate Yogurt

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{ 108 comments… read them below or add one }

carolyn May 13, 2011 at 8:23 am

I always make my yogurt at night in my heavy crock pot insert.I put it in my 150 degree preheated oven , turn off the heat ,turn on the oven light . It has never taken more than 10 hours. Make sure the starter is fresh.I strain it thru a collander lined with fine mesh polyster screen wire lined with cheese cloth. It only takes about 1 hour to strain.It has never failed.I love it ,I love it Carolyn

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Paula May 14, 2011 at 8:29 am

Carolyn, I have never thought about using the crock pot insert. But of course, why not? The heavy ceramic would hold the heat in nicely. And I couldn’t agree more about fresh starter. It’s key. Also thanks for writing about your straining method. I’m planning to do a post dedicated to that topic soon.

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TheKitchenWitch May 13, 2011 at 8:40 am

A heating pad? A crock pot? You are amazing! Like yeast, yogurt is a living culture, so I think I’m afraid. But yours looks great!

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Shreela May 13, 2011 at 11:11 am

After kefir, heating yogurt is like switching tv channels without a remote – I’ll never go back voluntarily ^_^

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Paula May 14, 2011 at 8:24 am

Hi Shreela, Sounds like I need to investigate further. Thanks for the tip.

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Karen May 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

Wow, so many different ways to make yogurt! We have amazing yogurt here in Austria (no pectin or other grossness added to it), so I’m a bit spoiled and have never tried making my own. But you’ve peeked my curiosity, Paula! Thanks for sharing all these great tips.

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Paula May 14, 2011 at 8:25 am

Hi Karen, Someday, I hope to try your yogurt for myself. Sounds wonderful!

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Leslie May 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I had a yogurt maker in the 80s and loved making my own, but it fell out of favor. Now I find your post and am so excited to try making Greek yogurt on the bread proof cycle in my oven. It looks like you have a cover on your container. If I just use a Pyrex 2 quart measuring cup, should I just cover it with plastic wrap or is it OK to leave it uncovered?

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Greg September 16, 2013 at 8:31 am

I put my boiled milk in a large ceramic bowl, cool to Luke warm, and add the starter. Let it sit on kitchen counter with a cover on it…next day….delicious yogurt. Learned the method from a refugee friend. They had no way to keep it the perfect temp. And their yogurt was the best I ever had. Plus they give me some starter:) greg

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Paula September 16, 2013 at 8:48 am

Greg, You are right, but also lucky to some extent. A large ceramic bowl would hold the heat much better than the bowls most of us have in our kitchens. Also, I wonder what the temperature is in your kitchen. Do you have A/C? The ambient temperature can make a huge difference. But lucky for you, it all worked out perfect. And getting fresh starter from a friend…doesn’t get any better than that. Thanks for writing.

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Leslie May 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm

OK, I just read your original post and I answered my own question. :-)

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Lorraine May 15, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Great post with so many tips and suggestions. As Leslie said, I made yogurt in the late 70′s and early 80′s (mostly for my babies and toddlers). You do such intense research for your posts and I appreciate every one of them!

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Blond Duck May 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Popped in to say hi! That’s such a cool idea. I never even thought of making my own yogurt!

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Paula May 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Blond Duck, Thanks for stopping by. Don’t recommend you start making your own yogurt unless you’re prepared to be addicted to the stuff. :-)

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The Café Sucré Farine May 17, 2011 at 5:45 am

Wow, Paula, there is no excuse to not make our own yogurt now (except maybe laziness :) ) Thanks for all these great techniques and the sweet story about the first audible heartbeat of your grandbaby to be, how exciting! We truly have a magnificent Creator!

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Susie May 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm

glad i could contribute to your incubation story. yes, what a sweet miracle from God our little Kent is! and i still have yet to try this tasty yogurt on my own.

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Betty @ scrambled hen fruit May 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm

With as much yogurt as I buy, I really need to try this. With all of these different techniques you’ve shared, I have no excuse not to!

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Megan May 18, 2011 at 8:42 am

I make mine in a coffee carafe. Keeps nice and warm for the entire night!

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Paula May 18, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Megan, A coffee carafe? Inspired. But is it hard to clean out? I guess it would depend on the model you own.

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Flour On My Face May 18, 2011 at 8:46 am

I love making homemade yogurt. I use my oven and turn the light on. I wish I had a dough proofing cycle!

I saw your comment @SweetBasilKitchen on her Kefir post you can buy kefir grains here, thats where I got mine. They have a bunch of different cultures http://www.culturesforhealth.com/milk-kefir-grains.html

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Paula May 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Flour on my Face, I just ordered some Kefir starter. Have to try everything at least once. thanks so much.

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Karen May 18, 2011 at 10:54 am

This is so interesting. It would never occur to me to make my own yogurt. I think I need to master my bread machine first!

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Connie July 9, 2011 at 9:38 am

Hi Paula, i am going to make yogurt tonight and I was wondering where did you get your lid for your 2 quart measurin cup? I ama also going to make salad in a jar. It took me all morning to find Food Saver jar sealer. Good grief. I knew I had them. Thanks for a fabulous blog.

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Ruth August 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I live in Texas, and when I make yogurt in the summertime, I put milk + starter in a pyrex container with a glass lid and put it in the sunshine. Keeps it toasty, and I have yogurt in a few hours.

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Paula August 24, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Hi Ruth (fellow-Texan) Yep, I’ve been putting mine outside too. Crazy temps we’re having don’t ya think?

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Doris September 11, 2011 at 6:48 am

My husband, born in Bulgaria, taught me how to make yogurt like his mother did. Just like you, but to incubate, simply use blankets or a sleeping bag. I make a set of three mixing bowls per week. I cover them in an old plastic tablecloth that I can wipe clean if needed, then wrap in an old sleeping bag. Let sit overnight (8-10 hours) – perfect yogurt every time!

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Paula September 12, 2011 at 8:54 am

Thanks for sharing Doris. Sounds like a great use for an old sleeping bag that doesn’t cost anything.

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Joan September 15, 2011 at 11:59 am

I have been making yogurt for 40 years. I heat the milk to about 100°; I see no reason to heat pasteurized milk any higher. I use plastic containers and an electric frying pan for the heat source. Here is my list of ingredients; you can double them.

1 quart of milk (I use nonfat)
1/2 cup of yogurt
3/4 cup of dry milk powder

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Paula September 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Hi Joan, I always love to hear how different people make their yogurt as it is most certainly not an exact science. If it works for you, keep doing it.

In side by side experiments, I found that heating the milk to 175 made thicker yogurt for me. I’ve heard it unravels the proteins. But either way, I had yogurt after a few hours of incubation. Regarding the amount of yogurt starter, I’ve found the fresher my starter the less I need. In fact, I have simply scraped out an empty yogurt jar and the amount (less than a teaspoon) made beautiful, thick yogurt out of 2 quarts of milk. It seemed to be a miracle. And you may have read I no longer use powdered milk but that is strictly a matter of personal taste in my experience.

Do you strain yours to make Greek yogurt? If so, I would love to know what you do with the whey. ( See post on my home page.)

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Tee Kahn October 12, 2011 at 10:30 am

I just started making home-made yogurt this summer. The oven light method worked okay. I wound up having to incubate for a long time: about 16 hours. I live in Montana, and now that Fall is on the move, the house temperature has dropped and now the oven light is not warm enough to incubate. Sadly, I do not have a oven with a thermostat that can maintain 100 degrees F.

The heating pad method would work for my situation, but, alas, I also have a auto-off pad. As I am too cheap to go buy something, unless absolutely necessary, I tried to repurpose something I already had: a 17W seed germination mat! It works well.

After heating the milk in double-boiler, I cool to 110 degrees, pour into a warmed crock-pot crock, pitch the starter, place the lid, swaddle in a towel, and place it on the mat for 8 hours. I ferment some fantastic yogurt every time, even if the house is cold.

While the mat is not powerful enough to maintain 100 degrees, it can stave off cooling enough with the combination help of the towel and starting the yogurt at 110. I do not put a towel layer between the mat and the crock. I think the power is low enough and the crock is thick enough to prevent any problems there.

Finally, I am not certain on the Wattage of heating pads on low – it seems typical high settings are 65W – but the 17W seed mat certainly uses less energy than those 25-40W appliance light bulbs, so that is another advantage for the miser.

Thanks for the article.

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Luanne Shackelford October 26, 2011 at 5:56 am

I live in the Philippines and make yogurt from powdered whole milk. I heat the water in a pan to very warm, add enough milk powder so it is a higher than normal concentration (thicker yogurt), add the starter, whisk, and pour into 1 liter jars with tight lids. I put these in my picnic cooler and pour in hot water to the top of the jars. I put on the lid and have lovely, thick, smooth yogurt 8-10 hours later, depending how tart we want it. I have tried other systems, but this has been the easiest.

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ilian December 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I used to use thick wool sweaters to wrap around standard plastic jars (750ml) to keep the yogurt warm during incubation. The problem with this method, I find, is that the milk cools down too much after 10-12 hours, and the yogurt sometimes requires extra heating to finish the incubation.
Recently, I started using a camping cooler for this purpose. I fill it up with warm water (104F) to about 3/4 of its size. Then I carefully put the plastic jars (three 750ml-size to do 2 liters of milk), filled up to about an inch below the rim with milk and a teaspoon of starter, into the water bath. This way the plastic jars are just floating on top of the water, without toppling, just like an iceberg: only the non-filled part of the jar and the cap are above the water. Because of the large amount of water (6-7 gal) and the insulating properties of the cooler, the temperature stays fairly constant: I measured about 101F after 8 hours. The result is an outstanding yogurt in shorter time.
As a starter I use a teaspoon of yogurt per jar from my previous batch. If the previous batch is gone I use a plain yogurt from the store.
Here is a link to a website that gives a more scientific perspective to the commercial methods for making yogurt.
http://www.foodscience.uoguelph.ca/dairyedu/yogurt.html

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Sarah February 12, 2012 at 6:58 am

I think my yogurt is too watery. I used a digital thermometer. When the milk reached 178, I added the starter and popped it in the over at 100 degrees but my over fan kept blowing so I turned the over off and the light on. Still this morning 16 hours later it’s getting there but doesn’t look like yours. How long do you keep the milk at 180 degrees? Do you put the starter in at 180 or 120 degrees? Lastly do you strain in or out of the refrigerator? Also, you are very right about cheesecloth etc. Very messy.I’m investing in the strainer today.
I love your web-site. Once I perfect the yogurt I’m moving on to lemon curd.
Thanks,
Sarah

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Dan September 15, 2013 at 2:48 am

Sarah,
First, when the milk is at 178 it needs to cool to 110-113 before you add the starter or it kills it immediately. Let it cool to 110 then mix the starter in then incubate.

Any straining can be done outside of the refrigerator.

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Becky March 13, 2012 at 10:53 am

HI, Thanks so much for your incredible website. You have so many good ideas and I haven’t even seen all of them yet. I want to make yogurt in the oven. My oven with the light on only gets to 80F. Do you think that will work? Should I get it really hot first, like 300F or so and then wrap my ceramic bowl in towels? I am assuming I should cover the ceramic bowl with foil. I also have a rice bag that I could zap in the micro and put it in there as well; it does hold a lot of heat. Thanks so much!! My last batch in the yogurt maker was creamy and delicious, thanks to you!!

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Brittany April 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Hi! Thanks so much for your info. I purchased the bullion strainer you recommended, it works wonderfully. I make at least a gallon a week. I used the crock pot method first, it was too watery. I used the oven and it didn’t stay warm enough. Finally I decided to use the heating blanket my in laws gave my husband and I for Christmas. It works wonderfully. It keeps the yogurt at a perfect temperature every time. I always add a little homemade jam. I usually only let about 3 cups of whey strain out and its perfect. So wonderful and tasty.Your video was very helpful– thanks!!

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Paula April 5, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Thanks for writing Brittany, Love hearing that you bought and like the boullion strainer. I don’t think I’ve convinced many people that you really don’t have to use a cheesecloth if you buy the right strainer and it is SO much easier. pr

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Auntie Maine April 27, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I use my electric wok with the thermostat set to barely-above just on.

I tested a few different things (e.g. crock pot, warming tray) by filling it with water or placing a Pyrex measuring cup of water on it, turning the thermostat to its lowest setting, and testing the temperature over a few hours. The wok gives the best results.

I found your site while searching for a way to make buttermilk from the yogurt whey. I haven’t found what I’d call a recipe, so I’m still looking. Any ideas?

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Paula April 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Jenifer,
Thanks for sharing about the wok. I do not have know about making buttermilk from whey, but whey by itself will substitute for buttermilk all by itself in most recipes. Check out my biscuits made with whey.. Pr

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Candi May December 21, 2012 at 11:55 pm

For buttermilk, I just put about 1 cup of buttermilk into a gallon (well a little less than a gallon so the starter will fit) of whole milk, shake well, and set it on the counter until it thickens (about 24 hours). When I only have about 1 cup left, I dump it in on top of a new gallon and start the process all over again. For your very first batch, however, you’ll need to use purchased buttermilk. I make 2 quarts of whey a week and it’s never enough! I rinse my hair with it, use it as an antacid, tenderize my meat, soak my grains, etc. LOVE whey!!!

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Marilyn April 30, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I was on here the other night after I made a batch of yogurt and then realized I had no way to keep it warm. In the past I used the oven light method, but I realized too late that my oven light bulb was broken. So I spent the night getting up to put the oven on for a few minutes and then turn it off.

The next morning I had to go out for the day and I had an epiphany – I screwed a regular 60 watt lightbulb in the oven socket and put my yogurt close to it and laid the thermometer on the oven rack. It kept the yogurt perfectly warm at 100 F for the rest of the 24 hours (I make SCD yogurt). I took the light bulb out immediately after so that I wouldn’t forget the next time I use the oven – that would probably shatter the bulb.

I used a large one liter glass peanut butter jar (sterilized with hot water) and it worked perfectly. I would not recommend ever putting anything hot into plastic – you kind of ruin the benefits of making your own yogurt because then plastic is going to leach into your beautiful yogurt.

I hope this helps people out there. It really is a simple thing to do. I also bought myself a candy thermometer with a clip so I don’t have to stand over the pot and hold the thermometer. I could see the dial from across the room so I could babysit the heating and cooling milk without having to get up all the time.

The other incubation method I just thought of was using something like a trouble light (if anyone has a mechanic husband out there or is a mechanic herself you’ll know what a trouble light is) and put it and the yogurt into a relatively large cooler. You could use a towel to seal the edge if there is a gap. I’ve also read about someone placing large pitchers of hot water into the cooler surrounding the yogurt and then replacing the hot water periodically.

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Paula May 3, 2012 at 1:43 am

Marilyn,
You are my kind of girl. Resourceful! Thanks for taking the time to share your tricks. pr

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Blacky May 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I had an old Wolf range at my last home with a pilot that kept the oven at a perfect 100*. I used the stainless bowl from my Kitchenaid mixer to make a gallon batch at a time. Our new Viking is awesome, but its electric starter doesn’t warm the oven. Voila: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000Q7GUJ2/ref=pe_175190_21431760_B1_cs_sce_dp_1

I also use it to rise pizza and bread dough and dry fresh basil and oregano. My wife dries fruit with it (go figure).

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Nora May 7, 2012 at 6:59 pm

You say you use this method because is healthy. Well, if you warm your milk (or anything for that matter) in the microwave, much of the “healthy” part will be lost due to the creation of free radicals (those nasty little buggers you try to combat with anti-oxidants.Knowing this, I do use my microwave, but in a very restricted way, when I absolutely cannot employ any other heating method. If you do use the microwave as you say so frequently, and are concerned about health issues, I personally switch to heat in a double boiler, or some other method that does not involve microwaving

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Bill May 12, 2012 at 8:54 am

Sarah, any temperature above 125F and you will kill the culture. Yogurt will keep on working at temperatures as low as 70F and below – it just takes much, much longer.

I keep the milk (with a cup of 50-50 sugar/Splenda in it plus 1/2 tsp salt) at 180F for at least 5 minutes and then cool it to 120F. I use a blender to mix the culture with part of the cooled milk (I make a gallon at a time) and then mix the blended culture into the rest of the cooled milk. I strain it into 4 quart jars and pop it into my yogurt maker and in 3 – 8 hours it is ready. Perfect every time!!! I have made over 100 gallons of yogurt in the past 2 years… a gallon a week.

Good luck,

Bill
mryogurt.info

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Ed July 9, 2012 at 8:40 am

Here in Phoenix, incubating yogurt in the summer time is a snap. I set the covered bowl on my porch as soon as the temperature outside is at least 100 and leave it for a few hours. I just let the desert climate do the job.

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Trudy August 4, 2012 at 6:52 am

Good morning! My son has developed food allergies to raw fruit and veggies and is NOW lactose intolerant! Poor boy feels like everything is off limits! I’d read you can incubate the yogurt for 24 hours to remove lactose. But buying a yogurt maker just to experiment seemed expensive, plus my small house has no storage and the little jars seemed like a PITA. Then I found your website.
However:
my oven doesn’t have 100
my heating pad turned off
no warm radiators in summer
outside not quite hot enough
Tried the crock pot method, yogurt didn’t set because it was too hot :(
I killed the little yogurt babies!
So… I tried leaving the lid off the crockpot and ta-da, it worked! He can eat it but so sour we have to add sugar :( Next I’m going to try using lactose-free milk.

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Cynthia August 21, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Homemade yoghurt is the best. I heat the oven on 200 degrees the whole time I am prepping. Place it in the oven in mason jars, wrapped in towels in a large stainless bowl. Then turn the oven off. leave it over night and it’s good in the morning.

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Kiyon henry September 17, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Would a heat plate with a temperture control placed in a camping cooler work for my yogurt?

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Paula September 18, 2012 at 4:44 am

Klyon,
If it goes as low as 100 degrees, it would probably work. You might try just wrapping the bowel of warm milk with heavy towels and putting it in the cooler. If the cooler is a good one and in a warm house, it should stay warm long enough to do the job.

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Monica October 13, 2012 at 8:29 am

My son spent time in Jordan. He taught us to incubate yogurt like his host family did it: using a 2 qt. plastic thermos, overnight, sitting on kitchen counter. Next morning he strains it using a muslin pillowcase suspended over a bowl. Delicious, smooth, creamy.

We enjoy a homemade Jordanian breakfast with his yogurt (drizzled with olive oil), hummus, black bean purée, chopped tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, eggs (hard-fried in olive oil), and flatbread. Filling, and yummy!

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Paula October 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Wow Monica! That is some breakfast. What fun to have your son bring home a wonderful tradition from another culture. Thanks for sharing.

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Sophie October 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I warm up a wide mouth stainless steel thermos and put the mix in there. Leave for 5 hours to overnight on the counter and then put in the fridge. Works like a charm!

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Deborah October 19, 2012 at 3:24 am

In the process of making my first ever yogurt. (I’m someone who is known for my ability to the kitchen on fire if I try to boil water.) Bought a yogurt maker in a rummage sale last weekend and today bought a thermometer and a smoke detector. Now realize that the yogurt incubator is not doing the job. I’m house-sitting – just packed my heating pad, water-bottle, etc and put into storage a week ago. Thought there was a crock pot (I’ve never used a crock pot) but got suspicious when the liner wasn’t ceramic (like I’d read in other posts). It isn’t a crock pot. It’s a rice cooker.

After reading more posts (and many many blogs and websites ) I decided it is more dangerous to kill the yogurt with too much heat than to bore the yogurt to tears with too little heat. Thus have put the rice cooker away. Contemplated putting it outside like the Texans, but realized I’d sooner make popsicles than yogurt here in Canada. Meanwhile, have been nudging the yogurt maker by putting a tea towel on it and resting a pot of hot (but not killer hot) water on that. It’s working! I can’t finagle my thermometer in there, but I know that 100 F must feel close to body temp – like a baby’s bottle – so I’m touching the lids and am pleasantly surprised!
Have just dug a microwave aches-and-pains-bag out of the couch. (I remember having that bean-bag sensation when I sat there.) It is being heated and will replace the tepid pot of water while I endeavour to sleep. I shall rest, resting assured that the worst that will happen is that it will take more tomorrow hours if it isn’t warm enough. Thank you all for putting my mind at ease about that. Sleep well. ~Deborah

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Deborah October 19, 2012 at 9:30 am

Update: it is now 7 hrs and 45 minutes since the start of incubation. (I followed some advice (from one of the many How To sites) that suggested using seven hours the first time – then modifying to taste.)
At seven hours I jumped up an checked it – I had SET YOGURT!
** I ** have created the crème caramel of yogurt!

I have now eaten half a batch of the most exquisite, thick, lovely *warm* yogurt!
I realized that the chilling is merely to arrest the incubation process – and I love warm textures – so I tried on right away. Aaahhhh… It cleaves on the spoon like crème caramel!
3 warm cups later… I am sated!

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Deborah October 21, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Back again! I’m in the midst of heating my milk (for my second batch) and one of the 6 perfect 6-oz-jars-with-matching-lids from my yogurt maker fell and BROKE!

Have gone to the cupboard and found another glass that will fit in the yogurt maker. However, the lid fits over it but doesn’t fit tight.

Thus, my Current question:
Does the lid need to fit tight (and make a seal) or does it just have to be a cover?

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Deborah October 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm

no rush – have found a mason jar that can replace the missing jar. I’ll just have to use a different incubator for it. (I’m mostly disappointed ’cause I thought the yogurt maker with its matching, fitting jars and its matching, fitting lids was so sweet!)

There is a silver lining to this mishap: I will incubate the 5 jars as usual, but I will “think outside the box” for the gosling jar, the ugly duckling. This will make me more comfortable with abandoning strict measurements and instead making larger batches – to be incubated in random places!

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Londa November 28, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I have a yogurt maker with matching jars also, but instead of using the matching jars, I put a large container with a lit that fits into the maker. It still works great and it makes it easy to stain for greek yogurt, without all those individual portions. After I strain, I use the matching jars just to make easy individual servings ;)

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Barb November 30, 2012 at 9:20 am

Thank you so much for this! None of these methods would work for me, but it made me think “outside the box”! I put my yogurt-to-be in 1 qt mason jars, wrapped them in two beach towels and popped them in my cold oven (the light bulb blew a while back and hasn’t been replaced, and the coolest heat setting is 175 degrees F). I used a method that I use when making bread to get it to rise, as our house is pretty cool when it isn’t summer. I placed a pan on the rack below my jar and filled it with water from my tea kettle. In the morning, the jars were still nice and toasty, though the oven had cooled by the time I got to it, and I’ve got beautiful yogurt.

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Margaret D. January 17, 2013 at 8:06 am

Thanks so much for sharing that method. I wonder if I turned my oven to ‘warm’ (probably about 175 degrees) for a minute and then turned it off before placing the yogurt to be in the oven w/the hot water under as you’ve described, if it might help?

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Sara December 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Ohh! I am so glad that someone else has discovered large Adams Peanut butter jars for this. They hold a touch over 1qt and have straight sides unlike canning jars. I love to “scald” ( 180 degrees) a whole gallon of milk at once, divy it up into 4 super-clean jars and then pop them in the refridge. ( no waiting for cooling or worry about plastic. ) Whenever I want to make my next batch I grab one, heat it a little in the microwave or a pan of water and plunk in the starter. I have an older 1 quart maker that the jars fit perfectly in. Thanks for the light bulb in the oven idea! I was hoping for some idea that any friend could use that woudn’t involve buying equipment or boiling lots of water.

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Lesley January 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Wow, this article and its comments are chock-full of ideas — thanks! The whole site looks awesome.

I’m going to try a combination of things. Our (poorly insulated Canadian) house is freezing. My sister-in-law gave us some of those homemade hot/cold beanbags as a gift years ago, and they’ve been in the freezer ever since, taking up space. (Duh. First winter in a new house.) Other than for keeping groceries cold in the car in the summer, I haven’t known what to do with them because I don’t do microwaves either.

I’m going to warm them up on the top of the woodstove and try putting yogurt on top of that, at around bedtime or a bit before.

We’ll see! Thanks again for the great tips!

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Margaret D. January 17, 2013 at 8:01 am

Thank you, Paula .. you’ve provided just the encouragement I’ve needed w/the multiple ways and means you’ve shared for making yogurt! I recently bought a yogurt maker which is great for making little jars of the yummy stuff. My 4 year old grand-daughter is delighted to make it w/me .. and then eat w/fresh fruit :)

Now, you’ve given me the way to get the quantity needed to make Greek yogurt – and she can help make that too!

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Fermentator February 6, 2013 at 9:31 am

I used the cooler technique and it worked perfectly! After 3 hours I opened the lid and the termometer read 113. I put in another hot kettle for another 3 hours and the yogurt came out great. What an amazing tip.

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kristinaoquinn February 18, 2013 at 8:58 pm

My chicken incubator works perfectly. Apparently, the temp for chicks is also great for yogurt. Only took four hours!

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Paula February 20, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Hi Kristina,
Thanks for offering one more idea for how to incubate your yogurt.

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Fran February 22, 2013 at 6:25 pm

How much starter should I use for each quart of milk. I do have a setting for bread proofing and I want to do separate quart containers.
Thanks.

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Jane March 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm

I have a glass top electric stove with a 5th burner called a warming burner. I put a large pan of warm water on top of this burner in which I have placed 5 quart jars of milk for incubation. Set to low temperature the warming burner keeps the incubating yogurt at the ideal temperature.

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Paula March 7, 2013 at 7:25 am

Hi Jane,
Another great way to incubate! Thanks for adding your method to the list.

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Pam March 20, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Thanks, I was wondering if that would work. Did you cover the jars with anything? How high was the water on the jars?

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Jane March 22, 2013 at 11:43 am

Hi Pam
I use regular jar lids on the jars, and the water is up to the shoulder of the jar. I have a nice large pan so everything fits nicely, then I put the probe from the digital thermometer into the water set it to sound an alarm if the water temperature goes over 110 degrees, cover the pan and let it do it’s thing. Sometimes there are minor adjustments to make but temperature changes happen very gradually so if you keep an eye on it you won’t have any problems.

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Ingrid April 13, 2013 at 8:58 am

I loved your post!!
Just wanted to share, I use my steam cooker to incubate my yogurt (in covered containers, so no water will get into the yogurt), works like a charm.

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