Print the recipe card! Homemade Yogurt Using Shelf Stable Ingredients
This week I’ve been experimenting making *yogurt* from powdered milk and shelf stable starts. Having made five batches of yogurt in all (with three turning out) I’ve discovered is that it’s completely possible to do, even using powdered milk and no actual “fresh” yogurt to start with…and it’s simple to make! All you need is a good thermometer and the right ingredients.
As plain yogurt, it can be used as a sour cream topping substitute while flavored it can be enjoyed for breakfasts and snacks!
2 cups powdered milk
4 cups water
~either~ 3 “Acidophilus Three Billion” tablets, crushed or 1/2 packet of Yo’Gourmet freeze-dried yogurt starter
By the way …
The Acidophilus tablet container states that it requires no refrigeration. The Yo’Gourmet starter, on the other hand, was purchased off the shelf (not in the refrigerator section as I’ve seen it sold in some places) and since I bought it I never realized that it should be refrigerated until I saw this note on the bottom of the box. Still, even though it was never refrigerated (and on top of that, expired!) it still worked even at half the strength as the instructions on the box suggest (as you’ll see below). Happy surprise!
Three Successful Trials
In testing this out I learned a few things. First of all, it takes 12 – 24 hours for yogurt to set up using these types of starts rather than using actual yogurt. I’ve read in using yogurt as a start it takes 2 1/2 to 4 hours to set, so I’m expecting once I have yogurt made to use in starting subsequent batches it won’t take quite as long but all of my batches here took atleast 12 hours. I’ve also read that the longer you let your yogurt incubate the more sour it will be, so that’s something to keep in mind. Trials #1 and #3 tasted just like the plain yogurt you would buy at the store, trial #2 was more sour than the others either because of the extra starter or because of the extra time it took, I’m not sure.
Secondly, in my experience, I didn’t have success when I divided a batch into separate containers to incubate or when I didn’t fill the incubating container completely full. I’m thinking that the concentration of start wasn’t high enough in the divided containers and the extra air space in the containers that were only partially filled interfered with the temperature staying where it needed to be.
Thirdly, I tried making yogurt using evaporated milk and it didn’t work at all. Lesson learned. In all three trials below the recipe for the milk was the same, 2 cups powdered milk to 4 cups of water. It doesn’t matter how you initially heat the milk, microwaving it for 6 minutes does the job just as well as heating it on the stove in which you have to constantly stir it to keep it from burning.
In this trial I heated the milk to 180 degrees and allowed it to cool on the counter top until it was 125 degrees. It took about 30 minutes for the milk to cool. Setting a timer was helpful so that I didn’t forget about it. At that point I mixed HALF of a Yo’Gourmet packet of yogurt starter -half of the amount that the instructions on the box suggest to use (it measured to a little less than a teaspoon) with a little bit of milk and then mixed that mixture into the milk itself, stirring well. I divided this batch into 2 pint jars (which I’d heated ahead of time in hot water) and put them into my Wonder Oven to incubate. After 12 hours one of the jars set up perfectly while the other one (the second jar I filled) didn’t set up at all.
While waiting for the yogurt to cool I heated my jars and lids in hot water.
Once the milk had cooled to 125 degrees, I mixed half a packet of start with some milk and stirred this into the batch.
Into the Wonder Oven to incubate.
12 hours later…
The first jar I’d poured had set up perfectly while the second jar was still liquid. This is a picture of the successful one.
This yogurt was good and not too sour. And you’d never know it was made with powdered milk — which was exactly what I was going for!
I heated the milk in a glass bowl in the microwave and then transferred it to another bowl to help it cool faster (which didn’t really make a difference, it still took about 30 minutes to cool). Next, with this trial, I used a whole packet of Yo’Gourmet freeze dried starter and I used a quart jar for the container. Following some directions I’d read for making yogurt in a Wonder Oven, I wrapped the jar tightly with a towel before placing it in to incubate. I started this batch at 2:30 in the afternoon and at 10:30 at night I checked it and it still wasn’t set at all. I left it overnight and in the morning it was done, so it took somewhere between 10 and 15 hours to set up. This batch was more sour than the first, making it better (in my opinion) for use as a sour cream topping.
10 – 15 hours later …
This yogurt was noticeably more sour, either due to the extra starter or the extra time it was incubating.
(this trial has been updated with additional tips and information)
Finally, my trial with “Acidophilus Three Billion” tablets as the starter. In this trial I used 3 crushed tablets, which I purchased at a vitamin store. I prepared two quart sized Mason jars by immersing them in 100-120°F water in a medium sized pot. Next, I combined four cups of water (again 100-120°F) with 2 cups of instant powdered milk. Sugar and vanilla can be added if desired, or if you’re planning to use it as a sour cream replacement you can leave it plain.
Once I had my milk mixture ready, I added the crushed Acidophilus tablets to a small amount of the milk mixture, and then added that small mixture to the rest of the milk. I poured this mixture into my warmed quart containers, replaced the lids and immersed the jars in the pot of very warm water where I had been warming my jars. After that, the whole pot went into my Wonder Oven (making sure it was nested nicely) to incubate. 18-24 hours later, the yogurt was set!
The key, from what I’ve read and tested, is keeping the temperature warm enough. You can check on your water every 8 hours or so to be sure the temperature is staying between 100-120°F. I’ve found no need to replace the water when I’ve done this (using my Wonder Oven), but if your yogurt isn’t setting up this could very likely be the problem. Notice (in the sequence I’ve shared here) the milk was between 100-120°F in temperature, as well as the jars, lids and surrounding (incubating) water. Yogurt’s happy place is right there in that 100-120°F range. However, you have to be careful because if it’s too hot you’ll kill your starter (and have no yogurt) – this happens at 130°F.
Warming the jars. Btw – if life is normal (you still have hot water) you can use very warm tap water for convenience. Go ahead and warm the lids and rings while you’re at it.
Using a pill crusher I crushed 3 tablets to use as the yogurt starter.
Once again (for convenience), I used very warm tap water to mix into my powdered milk. It was just the right temperature.
After letting the yogurt to incubate 12 – 15 hours the yogurt was done.
Remove yogurt from the jar and strain out the whey using cheesecloth over a fine meshed strainer. When desired thickness is achieved, stir and enjoy.
Being able to make yogurt 100% from food storage opens a lot of possibilities in my food storage plan in addition to being so much cheaper than buying it in the grocery store. Give it a try and see what you think!
- This blog post was helpful as I was learning how to do this. Check it out!
- To make vanilla flavored yogurt, add 1 TBS vanilla and 1/3 cup sugar (or less) to the milk mixture just before pouring it into the container to incubate. For fruit flavored yogurt wait until the yogurt is set and mix in your favorite flavor of jam.