We Get Greener Kit Cassingham & her Bigger Half

Homemade Yogurt

I go through phases of eating yogurt. I try to avoid those with added sugar (and do avoid those with corn syrup and fake sugar). I try to avoid those in plastic containers, but around here that leaves me with the one choice of a delicious Greek yogurt.

Back in my early adult years I made yogurt using my Salton yogurt maker. That was given away during the years I moved all the time, leaving me with no way to make yogurt, I thought.

Yes, I hear it's easy to make without a fancy or simple machine. But I resisted because of various, clever excuses like "my house is too cold and the yogurt won't set up", "I'm too busy", or "I want to avoid the fat in whole milk, and skim milk doesn't set up as well". But when a friend introduced me to Noosa yogurt I realized I wanted that delicious food, without the plastic waste.

Research introduced me to a great recipe that's easy to follow, with good results. It seems to me that the special flavor Noosa has is getting lost with time, but I'm enjoying what I'm making. When I want another Noosa boost I can go buy one, make yogurt and enjoy the remaining Noosa.

Now My Bigger Half is getting in on the act, but he's modified my approach. Let me share our recipes, then talk about the differences we are seeing.


Ingredients:
- 1 quart (4c) whole milk
- 1/3-1/2 cup yogurt with live culture (either store bought, or from your previous batch) -- Dannon, Mountain High, and Noosa are some yogurts I see at my store that have the live culture; I'm sure there are more.
- 1/2 cup powdered milk

Materials:
- 5qt glass container, or canning jars, sized to your preference
- heating pad
- thermometer

Cook:
Warm the milk, slowly blending in the powdered milk, until it reaches about 170-190 degrees. Don't let it boil.

Cool:
Let the milk cool to about 110 degrees (plus or minus 2 degrees). If you don't cool it enough it will kill the yogurt culture.

Inoculate:
Mix a bit of the milk in with the yogurt starter so that it breaks up and will blend with the balance of the milk. Blend thoroughly. I do all of this in the glass container I'm going to use to ferment and store my yogurt in.

Incubate:
Put your yogurt, with the lid on the container, on a heating pad set to low. Keep it quiet and covered with a towel for 4-6 hours. Ideally the yogurt maintains a 110 degree temperature while it sets -- thickens. The longer it sits the thicker and tangier it gets.

Refrigerate:
Cool for awhile, 10-30 minutes, and then refrigerate. It keeps in the refrigerator for about two weeks, if your refrigerator temperature is cool enough. Since my yogurt is eaten much faster than that I can't promise that's true.

Ok, want a less involved recipe? Try this one.

The Busy Person's Approach:
My Bigger Half's approach is a bit easier, and results in a similar product. In his approach he just puts cold, whole milk and yogurt (same proportions as my recipe) into his glass bowl, stirs them together until they are a smooth blend, puts the lid on, and places it covered on the heating pad set to low. He cooks it until he thinks it's done, anywhere from 6-8 hours. Then he refrigerates it.


Comparison:
I think my yogurt is a bit sweeter and thicker. I got to wondering about why that would be, hypothesizing the heating of the milk broke something in the milk down to make it seem sweeter. I learned that heating milk causes the lactose to react with amino acids in the protein, giving it a slightly caramel flavor.

My Bigger Half likes his tangier flavor, and doesn't mind the thinner consistency. Maybe most importantly, he loves the simplicity of his approach.


Some recipes allow for reduced and non-fat milk as well, but my experience says it doesn't set as thick, and it gets watery. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but that's been my experience. Since I like the fat in milk I'll stick with whole milk.

While we were experimenting with yogurt making in general I experimented with almond milk. That idea didn't come to me on its own; a friend talked about her first attempt so I thought I'd give it a try too. I used my regular recipe, substituting unsweetened almond milk for whole milk. The results are interesting. The flavor is only a little different from my regular batch, though I can taste the undertone of almond milk, and a bit tart. It's less sweet than my regular recipe. This effort didn't turn out attractively either. Who knows what I did "wrong", and maybe that's just the way almond milk turns out, but it was a curd of yogurt surrounded by water.

You can sweeten your yogurt if you want, or do as My Bigger Half does and add your favorite jam, syrup or chocolate milk powder to the dish of yogurt you spoon up for yourself.

Why make your own yogurt? If you are eating it regularly you will save money, reduce waste by not buying the mostly plastic containers it comes in, avoid corn syrup and other industrial foods, and control your food quality with the ingredients you choose.


Comments

Good reading. I'll try the 2% first, heating it as the smaller half does, then, sorry, vanilla, estevia, nuts, and maybe fruit. Yummy. Now I just have to remember my resolve til after I shop (for live culture yogurt)

Kathryn Urso at November 3, 2012 3:50 PM

Okay, so you were successful using Noosa yoghurt as a starter? I wasn't sure if it would work since the honey is already mixed in and I wasn't sure it would culture. I LOVE Noosa but I can't afford the price!

crystal at May 29, 2013 9:46 PM

Yes, Crystal, I make delicious yogurt from Noosa. One reason it works so well is that the culture is live. You'd only have to buy it one more time to use it for culturing your homemade yogurt.

I didn't really know what you meant about the honey already being stirred in since I thought it was sweetened with sugar. Having just bought a new container again this afternoon I noticed the store sold Honey Noosa, and that my Blueberry Noosa doesn't have honey -- and the sweetened blueberries aren't stirred in. I don't know how the sweetened yogurt would work. So, buy another flavor that hasn't been stirred in and go for it!

Kit Cassingham at June 1, 2013 4:06 PM

Heating the milk makes the lactose more soluble, thereby making the milk perceptually sweeter. Possibly the more soluble lactose reacts differently with the bacteria in the culture to produce a sugar that stays more soluble at cooler temperatures as well.

Mati at June 19, 2013 5:00 AM

Mati, I think you have summarized that well -- at least my best guestimate is well summarized. ;~)

Kit Cassingham at August 14, 2013 4:47 PM

Perhaps the use of powdered milk can account for both the flavor and consistency differences? Does the final product using Noosa as the starter taste like Noosa the first time or two and it just fades over time, or did it taste markedly different even the first time? Noosa almost tastes a bit like cream cheese to me. Yum!

Charisa at January 15, 2015 12:08 PM

Charisa,

It tastes different from the first. I like the flavor, but it's not as delicious and creamy as Noosa. The powdered milk came about as a suggestion in some recipe I found. I don't know what the answer is. I do know that what I make tastes good and is good for me, as long as I don't eat too much of it.

Kit Cassingham at January 15, 2015 2:19 PM

Thank you for sharing your recipe. I am giving it a try today and using some cream in hopes of achieving that creamy taste and texture. I'll let you know if it turns out. :)

Charisa at January 16, 2015 1:10 PM

Hi. I tried Noosa yogurt and fell in love. But, I can't afford the price on it. My store didn't carry plain so I tried the honey one. I used the whole container in 7 1/2 cups of whole milk and 1/2 cup of powdered whole milk, 8 hrs. It came out perfect! Nice and thick and needed no straining, I saw very little whey, not enough to bother with. I just made another batch using some of mine as a start. I did it exactly the same except I didn't use organic milk because all the organic milk in my area is ultra pasteurized. Sadly this batch has a good bite of whey and texture not as smooth. Organic milk difference?? I hope because the store where I found the Noosa quit carrying it. Any, thoughts? Alo, has anyone bought a packet of starter that turns out like Noosa? I am picky about my yogurt. I eithrr love it or dislike it. Thanks!

Tina at January 29, 2015 9:24 AM

Tina, I appreciate your passion for Noosa.

I bet your technique of using more starter than the recipe calls for contributed to your perfect first batch. I might have to try that too.

Also, maybe by having the honey in the starter, maybe you added enough extra food for the culture that you got that flavor and texture you like.

Without experimenting I don't know if organic vs non-organic would account for a different consistency. I was just talking to a friend about Noosa so was reading the label to her and noticed they use cream as well as milk. I'm betting the higher fat content is part of their secret. So, I'm thinking that using cream in addition to milk, and lots more starter, will give you more of that Noosa flavor.

I've never used packet starter so don't have any comments. In my early days of making yogurt I used Mt High. It's not Noosa, but it does have live cultures.

Thanks for sharing!

Kit Cassingham at January 30, 2015 9:00 PM

Hi all-
Couple of things- Noosa uses three different types of bacteria. The difference in stay over time may be due to the fact that some of the strains are more successful than the others, and each "generation" results on a different percentage of the cultures.

Secondly, Noosa, even plain Noosa, uses both gelatin and pectin. I have gotten a similar texture using plain Greek yogurt and whipping it in my blender. I came to this page in a search for DIY Noosa recipes that would tell me how to do this, as I'm not opposed to either ingredient.

Erin at July 8, 2016 12:08 PM

Erin, I love your idea of whipping your yogurt in your blender. Is that blending done before or after "aging" the mixture?

Since writing the article several years ago I've gotten even pickier about my yogurt so would not be using Noosa today, if making yogurt. I have quit making yogurt since I don't do much dairy any more. Now I treat myself to a small serving once in awhile.

Making your own yogurt is the way to go, though, if you eat much of it.

Kit Cassingham at July 8, 2016 12:51 PM
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