Everyone knows that yogurt is good for you, but buying a lot of small containers of yogurt can get expensive, even with coupons. You also have no control over what goes into your yogurt, and all those plastic containers are bad for the environment. I asked for a yogurt machine for Christmas and have used it weekly ever since. Discover the advantages, and minor disadvantage of homemade yogurt.

Homemade Yogurt Is Easy to Make

homemade yogurt ingredients

If you have a yogurt machine, this is everything you need to make yogurt. If you don’t have a yogurt machine, see Alton Brown’s slightly more complicated method. For mine, I just microwave the milk, let it cool, add the starter, and then leave it for 9-10 hours. When it’s cooked, pop it in the fridge for 3-4 hours to set, then it’s done. You can either use store-bought starter or already made yogurt with live cultures. I trade off – one week with fresh starter, and then one week with two tablespoons of yogurt from the previous batch. I find that pushing it to three weeks can make the yogurt lumpy and a bit sharper in taste.

The total process takes about 10 hours, but only 5 minutes of that is actual effort.

The Yogurt Is Cheaper
A one-quart container of yogurt costs at least $2 in most areas. Small containers of yogurt range from 30 to 90 cents. Many of those containers have shrunk to as little as 4 ounces, which means you’re paying around $2.40 for a quart of yogurt.

I can buy a half-gallon of whole milk (non-organic) for $1.79. That’s enough to make two batches of yogurt.  A box of starter costs $4.50 for six packs. That comes to 37.5 cents per batch (using the one week starter, one week yogurt method). The total cost per quart is then $1.27.

Homemade Yogurt Is Better for You
Most commercial yogurts are packed with sugar, flavorings, stabilizers, and chemicals. My yogurt contains milk and live cultures. That’s it. I also found that commercial yogurts tended to set off my lactose intolerance. I’ve had no problems with homemade yogurt.

You can choose to use whole, 1%, or even non-fat milk. They do recommend adding powdered milk to lower fat milk, which will increase the total cost slightly, but it’s still not exorbitant and you still know exactly what’s going into your milk. You can also use organic milk to make it even healthier at a lower cost than store-bought organic yogurt, which can be very pricey.

You Can Flavor It Yourself
Don’t like plain yogurt? You can add a different flavor to each individual serving after it’s made. Try fresh berries, granola, honey, or anything else that tickles your fancy. I like to use a half teaspoon of raw sugar. It adds a touch of sweetness without being overpowering.

It’s Better for the Planet
Each little container of yogurt is made of plastic. That plastic is made from petroleum. As we all know, oil-drilling is bad for the planet. Processing it into plastic is also bad for the planet. Then those plastic containers must be delivered to your store, which consumes more petroleum. And then the empty containers must be recycled or stuffed in a landfill where they will never break down.

When you make homemade yogurt, you’ll still need to buy the milk, which may well come in plastic that was delivered to the store, but you cut out the last step. Homemade yogurt containers are reusable, so they don’t have to be recycled or thrown out. Some machines include glass containers if you really want to reduce the plastic in your life.

Homemade Yogurt Requires Advance Planning
This is the primary disadvantage. You can’t just enjoy the yogurt minutes after you return from the store. It takes about 14 hours to make a batch. I make a fresh batch every Sunday around noon. I transfer it to the fridge before bed and it’s ready for breakfast in the morning. If your family eats it faster, you’ll have to remember to make it before the last jar is used up.

Currently, I don’t use organic milk in my yogurt, which keeps my cost down. If I was pregnant or had a child eating the yogurt, I probably would switch to organic milk. For now I’m happy knowing that homemade yogurt lets me be a friend to my body, my budget, and the planet.


10 Responses to “The Pros and Con of Homemade Yogurt”

  1. Cadelle on February 6th, 2009 6:03 pm

    You can also make your own cream cheese from it. Double the yogurt batch (2 quarts instead of 1), save half the yogurt as is and use the other half for cream cheese. Assemble a cheesecloth, two zip ties, a wooden spoon (or something similar) and a large bowl. Line the bowl with the cloth, pour the yogurt inside and gather up the edges to create a bundle. Fasten it closed with one zip tie. Thread the other one through the first one (the end result resembles a chain link) and use the second loop to suspend the whole affair over the bowl on the wooden spoon. The bowl catches the resulting liquid or whey draining from the yogurt, which can be used in sourkraut and pickling recipes amongst other things, and the process creates cream cheese. It takes about 8-12 hours depending on the beginning consistency of the yogurt. Thicker yogurt sets up faster. This has the advantage of not using preservatives, and saves the environment from further packaging wastes as well.

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  3. K on February 13th, 2009 10:47 pm

    Was wondering if homemade yogurt is about the same thickness/consistency as the readymade type or is it thinner?

    And what type of maker do you have…yogourmet?

    Many thanks. I was just looking into making my own recently.

  4. Aryn on February 16th, 2009 4:45 pm

    It depends on the type of milk you use, the starter, and the type of yogurt you usually buy. I’ve found commercial nonfat yogurts to be very thick (almost custard-like), but I haven’t tried homemade nonfat yogurt yet. My whole milk yogurt is similar in thickness to the whole milk yogurt I used to buy.

    It also depends on how long you let it incubate.

    I have the Donvier Eurocuisine maker. Amazon occasionally has it for $25-30.

  5. K on February 16th, 2009 10:28 pm

    Thanks for the reply. I am going to have to give it a try.

  6. Don on May 31st, 2009 2:04 am

    How long will it stay fresh in the refrigerator?

  7. Aryn on June 1st, 2009 10:25 am

    Hi Don,

    I’ve never tried to keep it more than a week. I make it every Sunday, and the last cup is still fresh the following Sunday, so it probably keeps longer than that.

  8. Katy on January 5th, 2014 11:11 pm

    Have you ever used raw milk, or is that the same as organic milk? You can also make yogurt in the slow cooker, it’s awesome!

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  10. Antje on January 3rd, 2017 2:10 pm

    I make my yoghurt by adding 3 Tbsp of culture (of my previous batch) to a quart of organic milk, let it sit overnight (14 hours) covered with a cloth. Done. Delicious.

    I used to use the yoghurt maker and the thermometer which is too much hassle if you can make it otherwise. Not to mention that my yoghurt maker cups are made of plastic and give a strange taste to the yoghurt as well as undesirable chemicals.

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