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How to Make Your Own Inexpensive Sugar-Free Flavored Yogurt

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Store-bought yogurt keeps getting more expensive, especially the fruit-juice sweetened variety.  Have you noticed how the single serving containers keep getting smaller, but the price stays the same? To save money on yogurt and avoid the high amount of added sugar that most brands use, consider making your own, which can cost about half as much as most store-bought brands. This article describes the supplies you need, details the steps, and  includes a video to illustrate the process.

Yogurt Makers

Yogurt Makers

Supplies

Yogurt Maker

To make homemade yogurt, most people use a yogurt maker, which is a covered heater that keeps the milk and active culture mixture at a steady temperature for a sufficient length of time (typically 9-12 hours) so that the bacteria propagate. To save money, some people rig up a homemade yogurt maker, but I don't recommend this. You want a device that is reliable and safe. For popular makers, expect to pay around $20-$40. Most of them include glass jars for the yogurt.

Cooking Thermometer

If your yogurt maker does not come with a cooking thermometer, get one to accurately determine the temperature of the heated milk.

Milk

For best results, use whole milk.

Half and Half

Half and half adds more fat to the milk mixture and produces better results.

Dry Milk

Dry milk (powdered milk) helps make the yogurt thicker. If you like a more liquid consistency, you can skip the dry milk.

Sugar-Free Jelly

If the added sugar is not a concern, you can use regular jelly for flavoring. If you like your yogurt sweet, add more of the jelly.

Flavored Yogurt with Jelly

Yogurt Made With Polaner All Fruit Jelly

Yogurt Starter

You need live active cultures as the yogurt starter. All you need is about 2 tablespoons. We usually use store-bought, plain, sugar-free yogurt (such as Dannon). Different starter produces different results, so you might need to experiment with the type and the amount to find one that suits you.

The Importance of Temperature

Follow the temperature guidelines carefully:

  • Heating the milk before introducing the starter is a necessary step to change the milk proteins so that they set together and don't form curds and whey. But if you heat above the recommended temperature of 175 degrees F or let the milk boil, the flavor will be off. Just imagine yogurt with a burnt milk flavor.
  • When you introduce the starter and begin the incubation period, keep the mixture at the proper temperature so that the fermentation process can occur.

Procedure

  1. In a pot, heat a mixture of 1/2 gallon of whole milk and one cup of half and half to 175 degrees F (about 10-12 minutes).
  2. After the milk mixture reaches 175 degrees F, turn off the heat and let it cool to 110 degrees F.
  3. Let the 2 tbsp of starter yogurt sit at room temperature while you're waiting for the milk to cool.
  4. After the milk mixture cools to 110 degrees F, in a separate container add a cupful of the mixture to the yogurt starter (the live cultures) and mix thoroughly.
  5. Add the starter that you mixed back to the main pot.
  6. In a separate bowl, add a cupful of the milk mixture from the main pot to one half cup of the dry milk and mix it thoroughly. Then add it back to the main pot.
  7. To add fruit flavoring, do the following:
  •  In a separate pan, heat 5 heaping tablespoons of the jelly until it reaches a liquid consistency (If you like your yogurt sweet, add even more jelly).
  •  Add a cupful of the milk mixture to the jelly and mix thoroughly.
  •  Add the jelly mixture back to the main pot.

     8.  Add the milk mixture to the glass jars and then put the jars in the yogurt maker.
     9.  Turn on the yogurt maker (important!), and then let it sit for 9-12 hours to ferment.

Note The longer you let it ferment, the more sour the yogurt.

After you remove the jars, make sure the yogurt looks OK and then refrigerate. 

For more details, watch the accompanying video.

Making Flavored Yogurt at Home

Polaner All Fruit with Fiber Blackberry Seedless Spreadable Fruit 10 oz
Amazon Price: $8.79 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 6, 2014)
This spread has no added sugar.
Euro Cuisine YM80 Yogurt Maker
Amazon Price: $49.99 $18.00 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 6, 2014)
This yogurt maker includes the glass jars and a thermometer.
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Comments

Dec 29, 2014 10:09pm
SilverandGold
I'd love to get a yogurt maker and experiment with flavors. Would canned peaches obliterated in a blender (drained before adding) work? I was also wondering if the homemade yogurt could be "spiked" when creating little desserts in parfait glasses for the holidays? For instance, adding some blitzed drained canned peaches and peach brandy.

You also mentioned using Dannon yogurt as the starter. Is that also because it has the active cultures?
Dec 31, 2014 3:49pm
shar-On
Silverandgold, you do not have to have a yogurt maker to make yogurt. Just a saucepan and I use a thermos to store until cured for about 10-12 hours and then bottle.

Nice informative article wjhunter, we used to make our own yogurt too, but travelling at the moment for a few months so buy it as too busy enjoying life.
Jan 5, 2015 7:06pm
wjhunter_spi2014
@ SilverandGold

I have not used fresh fruit in my yogurt. You can add fresh chopped fruit but as far as the canned peaches, I would not recommend it. They may contain too much liquid even after draining. After you make the yogurt you can add whatever you like, i.e. brandy etc. My experience has been that the consistency of the additive, in my case the type of jelly I use, affected that of the yogurt. I stick with either Polaner's, St. Dalfours, or Whole Foods 365 brands for best results. I use a starter (any fresh yogurt will do, it does not have to be Dannon) to ensure fresh cultures. I like a thick texture and using a fresh starter produces this result in my experience.
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