Making Yogurt from Raw Milk: (Directions for Greek Yogurt Included)

Home » Making Yogurt from Raw Milk: (Directions for Greek Yogurt Included)

Preview: Learn about making yogurt from raw milk with this picture tutorial. The instructions are for making regular yogurt and Greek yogurt.

homemade Greek yogurt, raw milk, strained

No cows hang out in my backyard or the back forty. Raw milk is not available commercially in my town, but my son and daughter-in-law love yogurt made with raw milk. So they encouraged me to try it.

I may be entering treacherous territory. Recently I’ve had several inquiries about making Greek yogurt with raw milk (unpasteurized milk) on my Homemade Greek Yogurt post, so I decided to try it so that I can say I did.

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Please note:  As a home economist, I’m not advocating adding raw milk to your diet. It’s a controversial practice not advised by the USDA. I encourage you to do the research.

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Why do I need to heat the milk?

I have read that some people don’t heat their raw milk to 175˚F in the beginning, either because they want to save time or because they don’t want to kill certain bacteria. However, after doing side-by-side experiments, I observed that milk heated to 175˚F produces a thicker yogurt, whether raw or pasteurized at the outset.

High heat helps to unravel the proteins which aid the yogurt-making bacteria. However, I wouldn’t say I like to drink my yogurt, and I’m not comfortable letting unheated raw milk sit at 100˚F for 12 hours. So, I stick with the method for high heat, then a cool-down, before adding a yogurt starter.

As it turns out, making Greek yogurt with raw milk is the same process as pasteurized milk. What follows is a condensed tutorial. If you still have questions, check out my original post on making yogurt for more details.


How to make Greek yogurt with raw milk:

a clean, microwave-safe bowl and milk
Use a clean, microwave-safe bowl like this 2-qt Pyrex dish.
heating raw milk
Heat the milk to 180˚F.
cooling milk in a bowl of ice
Allow the milk to cool on the counter or speed the process by setting it on ice.

Second:

Allow the milk to cool down to 100-110˚F.

taking the temperature of the milk

Third:

adding starter
Add a tablespoon of starter per quart of milk.

Fourth:

adding starter
Whisk well, cover loosely, and set in a warm place. (100-110 degrees)

Once you prepare your yogurt by heating it, cooling it, and adding a starter, find a place in your house to incubate your yogurt. See this post for more ideas about how to incubate.

DO NOT DISTURB!!!!!!

If you peek too often, too much heat may escape. Also, if you move or stir the milk mixture, the incubation process will stop, and no more thickening will occur.

After 10-12 hours, go to the next step. If you are not available at that time, it is OK to let it incubate for up to 24 hours based on my own experience. In general, the longer yogurt incubates, the tangier the yogurt.

See the pictures below for an example of what your yogurt should look like when it has finished incubating. We made three batches using different milk in each. First, the pasteurized skim milk was the thickest, followed by the raw skim milk. Finally, whole raw milk made the thinnest yogurt. 

comparing yogurt, pasteurized milk was the thickest
Pasteurized nonfat milk was the thickest.
comparing thickness of skim raw milk
Raw skim milk was thinner.
comparing thickness of raw whole milk
The whole raw milk was the softest.

Fifth: How to make Greek yogurt:

You could eat your yogurt at this point– once it chills, but if you prefer Greek yogurt as I do, proceed.

straining raw whole milk to make Greek yogurt
Use cheesecloth or a coffee filter to line a colander or sieve.
whey collected from yogurt
The liquid in the bowl is the whey drained from the yogurt.
whisking yogurt
After straining, use a whisk to whip the yogurt until smooth.
showing shiny yogurt after whisking
See how smooth and shiny our yogurt turned out. Of course, it will be even thicker when chilled.

If you chill the yogurt before straining, you may not need to use a cloth to line your strainer if your strainer is fine enough. Then, after 1-3 hours (your choice, depending on the yogurt itself and how thick you like it),  set the drained whey aside for other purposes and whip the remaining yogurt with a whisk. Use some muscle behind that whisk, and your reward will be creamy yogurt.

Add flavorings before or after chilling. Enjoy!


If you run into difficulty, leave your question in the comment section.


Other posts pertaining to making yogurt:

If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! Paula

Making Greek Yogurt with Raw Milk

A guide to making your own Greek yogurt at home using fat-free, 1%, 2%, or whole milk.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 6 hrs
Total Time 6 hrs 20 mins
Course Making Yogurt
Servings 8 servings

Video

Ingredients

  • 1 quart unpasteurized dairy milk )
  • 1 tablespoon yogurt - commercial or your own homemade

Instructions
 

  • Fill a Pyrex 2-qt microwave-safe bowl or pitcher with milk. Alternatively, pour milk into a heavy-duty pot to heat on the stove.
  • Heat in the microwave until bubbles begin to appear around the edge. The temperature should reach 170-180˚F after you stir it. (In my microwave, it takes about 11 minutes on HIGH). Check at 9 minutes.
  • Allow your milk to cool until the temperature drops to between 100-110˚F.
  • Whisk in fresh unflavored yogurt (the starter). You may use yogurt from a previous batch of your homemade yogurt.
  • Cover the milk and place it in a warm environment where the temperature stays around 100-105˚F.
  • Allow the inoculated milk to incubate for 4-8+ hours or until set.
  • At this point, you could chill the yogurt and eat it as is. Or you can decide whether to pour off the whey or stir it back in. Straining yogurt to make it thicker will result in Greek yogurt.

From Regular Yogurt to Greek Yogurt:

  • Carefully pour yogurt into a bouillon strainer or chinois. If the mesh is fine enough, you won't need to use a cheesecloth or paper towel. Or use a
    or a commercial size paper coffee filter inside a cheap strainer or colander.
  • Let yogurt sit in the strainer until the yogurt is reduced by approximately a third. Time will vary according to the thickness of the yogurt out of the oven and your own preference regarding texture and sourness.
  • Empty whey from the batter bowl and pour yogurt out of strainer back into the original bowl. Use a good whisk to beat until smooth. Thin with milk or leftover whey if yogurt is too thick.
  • Now is a good time to add any flavorings or sweeteners.
  • Chill.

Notes

Nutritionals are only an estimate. Numbers will vary according to how much you strain your yogurt.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Making Greek Yogurt with Raw Milk
Serving Size
 
1
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
74
Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
4
g
6
%
Saturated Fat
 
2
g
13
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Cholesterol
 
12
mg
4
%
Sodium
 
52
mg
2
%
Carbohydrates
 
6
g
2
%
Sugar
 
6
g
7
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Author: Paula Rhodes
Course: Making Yogurt
Cuisine: American
Keywords: homemade yogurthow to make yogurt at homeyogurt
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29 Comments

  1. Mal @ The Chic Geek says:

    This is so interesting! I’d never thought of making my own yogurt

  2. Hi Paula! I have learned more great things through your website. Question: I read somewhere that after heating my milk up in the microwave (I was taught to take it up to 180 but I don’t know if it makes that much difference or not) that I should try to hold it at that temperature for another 15 minutes (in the microwave) before starting the cooling process…I assume it has something to do with the speed of stovetop vs microwave and not having enough time to loosen the proteins. Have you ever heard of doing this and do you think it is necessary?

    In one of my experiments with using “nonfat dry milk” I tried skipping the 180 degrees and went for just below 120 (since it was already homogonized and dried) and then I added my starter …but it did not work… upon final inspection I saw it did not set…it was very runny and was already 10 hours old had to throw it out… so I found heating it up to approx. 180 (ish) a necessary step..I just don’t know if I need to keep it at that temp for 15 minutes.

    Thanks again for all your laboratory work…I always earn so much! 🙂

    1. Maggie, I have never heard of holding the higher temperature for another 15 minutes. Of course, anything heated in the microwave will continue to cook for several minutes but that’s expected. I see no reason to do it longer on purpose. Maybe an old wives’ tale? (There are many of those concerning the making of yogurt because so many people do it how their mother or grandmother did without the slightest idea why.)

      As you already figured out, not heating nonfat dry milk to the higher temps of 175 or 180 means those proteins don’t get unraveled and your yogurt will not be very thick. Some people like runny yogurt but not me! paula

  3. Informative as always. You really are becoming the yogurt making guru, which I think is kind of cool. My chiropractor would be loving the raw milk suggestion since he advocates no milk unless it is raw due to all supposed meds. the cows are on to keep them healthy to produce milk. He is a bit extreme as expected of chiropractors. Great post Paula.

  4. The Café Sucré Farine says:

    Paula, Wow! Thanks for taking all the time to document all this! Have you though of writing a book? I would buy it! You are amazing!

  5. TheKitchenWitch says:

    I’m in love with the picture above! And now I’m off to check out the evil brownies…

  6. Betty @ scrambled hen fruit says:

    My daughter in law wants a goat so she can have a source of raw milk. I wonder if making yogurt with goat milk would be different? Very interesting- I’ve been wanting to try this for a while. 🙂

    1. Betty, I’m guessing the process would be exactly the same. I’ve also heard one can make yogurt with soy milk and oconut milk. Guess that will be my next project.

  7. I’m the founder/moderator for Punk Domestics (www.punkdomestics.com), a community site for those of use obsessed with, er, interested in DIY food. It’s sort of like Tastespotting, but specific to the niche. I’d love for you to submit this to the site. Good stuff!

  8. Hi Paula, Thanks for steering me in the right direction…This time I did not continue heating my milk in the microwave for the additional 15 minutes (as I mentioned above in my note) and happy to say my yogurt came out perfect! That really saved me some time. Looking forward to your next yogurt experiment with the non-dairy milks. Wonder if Almond and/or Coconut milk would make good yogurt? Thanks again for all your hard work!!!

  9. Hi Paula,

    WOW I have been converted to the greek yougurt craze!! I have been making my own yougurt with the cooler and warm water incubation to great results using raw milk from my family farm. I stumbled across your website when researching how to make it greek. SO SO SO easy, make yougurt, incubate, then strain through cheescloth, that’s it!! I think I can put the very local Chobani out of my house for ever! Yes chobani is literally 3 miles away, they employ hundreds of people locally ( great for the depressed NY state economy), work 3 shifts, and are still having a hard time getting all the product out that the demand calls for. SO I took your advice and put some bananas on the bottom of sevring size of yougurt, added some pomegrante seeds, topped with half a teaspoon of brown sugar and a shake of cinnamon! Heaven! gee let’s see…..saved at least $10 a week, and to make it, cost me literally pennies! Thank you so much for your blog. Same day with the cream off the top of milk can made the condensed cream of mushroom soup, then added the cream to serve as the best cream of mushroom soup I ever had!, again saving more moola, no more campbells for me! Looking into the salad in a jar, hoping to get some gift cards for Christmas so I can purchase the Food Saver.

    Thank you so much,
    Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!
    Jen

    1. So glad to hear from you Jennifer. Sounds like you will save a boatload. Paula

  10. Cari Jimison says:

    Paula,
    I am lactose intolerant. I drink lactose free milk but I can eat cheese that is aged and greek yogurt from the store. My question is, can I make yogurt @ home from lactose free milk?
    Cari

    1. Cari, Sorry, I have never tried it but it’s on my list.

    2. Probably not. The lactobacillus acidophilus (bacteria in your starter yogurt culture) need the lactose in regular milk to turn it into yogurt. However this will not be a problem for lactose intolerant people (including myself) as the process of making milk into yogurt uses up the lactose in the milk. If you have a little gastric distress after eating your homemade yogurt try just letting it sit another day in the fridge before you eat it…the live yogurt cultures will continue to “eat” any remaining lactose in your homemade yogurt.

  11. Hey just so you know pastuerised milk means to be heated to 161 degrees for 20secs. If you pay heaps of money for raw milk only to heat it up then it kinda defeats the purpose of raw milk. im still trying to find a way to thicken it without heating it.

    1. Hi Daniel, Thanks for writing. I’m not into raw milk myself but my daughter-in-law thinks the yogurt it makes tastes better so heating it doesn’t change that for her. pr

    2. Susan Hagen says:

      If you are looking at the benefit of raw being only the good bacteria and losing that when you heat it, then you are right, don’t waste the raw milk money. Don’t forget all the antibiotics and hormones that is in store milk. If I can avoid those but lose the good bacteria with the heating process, it is still worth it to me. Raw milk is not only about drinking to get what store milk does not have, but also what Raw Milk does not have it in too.

      1. Daniel Rogers says:

        So you are assuming now that raw milk doesn’t have antibiotics and hormones. Raw doesn’t mean organic. If you want to know for sure ask the farmer directly assuming the farmer isn’t going to lie. a poor farmer will try to cut costs by using more cows per area of land thus increasing diseases and thus the need for antibiotics or hormones for faster growth. Unless the farmer is poor for not doing this.

      2. I would just like to add that all milk you purchase in the store has no antibiotics in it! All milk is tested before it is even unloaded at the processing plant. If any milk has a trace of antibiotics in it they will not use the milk and it is spread on a farm field. ANY milk you buy in a store is free of antibiotics!

  12. Very helpful-although I’m with Daniel if you are spending money to get milk raw-heating it over 112 doesn’t make sense. Also-using the microwave really changes the chemical structure of the foods heated. From what I’ve researched it really makes the food unrecognizeable to the body.

    1. Hi Sara,
      Welcome. If you have read much of my blog, you probably already realize we don’t agree on the whole microwave issue. My research shows much different results than you found. But that’s OK. It depends on who you believe. Hopefully, we can agree to disagree on this point.

      Regarding the whole heating of the milk thing, it has nothing to do with the taste and everything to do with food chemistry. Heating changes the structure of the proteins and makes a thicker yogurt. I prefer very thick yogurt which is why I will do anything to make it thicker. Honestly, I’m no expert on raw milk. It scares me because of the risks involved with disease–especially for people with compromised immunity systems. I wrote the post because my kids love it and wanted to make yogurt with it.

      Thanks for writing.

      1. Daniel Rogers says:

        comprimised immunity systems seems to be an ever increasing percentage of the population. Seems to me that the further away from nature we get the more prevalent it is. Refering to “Raw milk scares me” comment, Marie Curie once said “nothing in life is to be feared only to be understood”. The risks you speak of are unfounded and something that has been said over years and years for generations and people just accept it. Ideas like this need to be rethought and reexamined over time as technology and sanitation methods improve.

  13. wow. thanks for the how-to! i’m a bit confused though – this seems so simple, so why are there ‘yogurt makers’? i was going to buy one on amazon, but it looks like it really isn’t needed-?

  14. Susan Hagen says:

    My naturopathic doctor has cautioned me to not use the microwave for any food (now I use it to kill bacteria in a sponge). She says it changes the molecular structure of food and kills any nutritional value to it. Basically the food becomes a stomach filler but has no value to it. If you have not heard this before, research it online. Most of the Real Food websites do not recommend them. I started reheating food on the stove or in the oven, and it really does have more flavor to it.

  15. Thanks for the info! A lot of people say that it is a complete waste to use raw milk if you will be pasteurizing it, but here in California the raw milk we can get comes from 100% grass fed cows, which to me is better milk than the stuff from grain fed cows. I think that the fat in the grass fed milk is of better quality.. Opinions?

  16. You say that you are”not comfortable letting unheated raw milk sit at 100 degrees for 12 hours” but with raw milk to does not go bad. It just gets more and more sour. Raw milk is a living thing. I know someone who left raw milk out for several weeks to see what would happen. It never went bad.

  17. Assuming raw milk has some good bacteria not normally found in pasteurized milk…

    I’d love to make some yogurt using a mixture of any and all raw milk I can find (goat, cow, sheep, camel, etc), but I wonder if the bugs would play nice together? For example would one type of colony crowd out the rest when heated to make the yogurt?

    Also, Mad Cow disease is so scary, is there any way to lower the number of potentially bad germs?

    1. Ben,

      I’m not a food scientist so don’t feel qualified to answer your question. So sorry. paula