My quest for the easiest homemade yogurt is finally over. For a time, my favorite was this hybrid: half raw, half pasteurized yogurt made with milk and cream in a yogurt maker that yielded a consistently thicker yogurt than straight raw yogurt. But then along came Viili, a mesophillic starter culture that simplified my yogurt making for good.
With a mesophillic or room temperature starter culture, you don’t need to figure out how to keep your milk warm while it’s culturing. You simply let it sit on the countertop in a warm kitchen until the yogurt has set.
The consistency still isn’t super thick like store-bought yogurts, but it’s super easy to hang and thicken the yogurt if you’re in the mood for Greek style or even yogurt cream cheese.
Ingredients and supplies for the easiest homemade yogurt
To make 1 cup starter culture and 1 quart of yogurt you will need:
- 1 packet of viili or another mesophillic starter culture – get yogurt starters here
- 5-6 cups raw milk (or a combination of milk and cream depending on how creamy you like your yogurt)
- 1 pint size glass jar
- 1 quart size glass jar
- a non-reactive saucepan
- a tablespoon
- 2 clean, dry cloths and 2 rubber bands for covering the jars
How to maintain yogurt starter culture using raw milk:
Place about 1-2 cups of milk in a small saucepan over medium high heat, just until the milk begins to rise up the side of the pot. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. This pasteurizes the milk for the starter so that beneficial bacteria in the raw milk don’t overtake the yogurt cultures.
When the milk has cooled to room temperature simply stir in your starter culture and allow to sit on the countertop for about 12 hours until the yogurt is set. Refrigerate.
You can then use this ‘mother’ culture to make this week’s yogurt and to make a new starter culture every week or so. If you keep up with maintaining your culture you can make yogurt infinitely from this original starter – never having to buy anything but milk!
How to make homemade raw countertop yogurt
Once you’ve made your starter culture, you’re ready to make the easiest homemade yogurt.
Simply take 1 T. of starter culture and place it in a clean quart sized glass jar. Fill the jar with raw milk leaving about an inch of head space. Give it a stir, loosely cover it with a small bit of cloth secure with a rubber band.
Allow this to sit on the counter top over night (about 12 hours). In the morning, if you tip the jar you should notice that the milk has thickened into yogurt. If this has not happened, your kitchen may be too cool, so let it sit until it thickens – this may take up to 24 hours.
Transfer your yogurt to the fridge to cool and set, and you’re done!
If you prefer a thicker yogurt, you can hang and drain the yogurt just like I demonstrate in this goat cheese post. If you hang it long enough, you will have a lovely cream cheese that you can spread on toast or cucumber slices. If you hang it too long, simply stir some whey back in to achieve your desired consistency.