Natural Yogurt

Jar of Naturally fermented yoghurt
Natural Yoghurt

How to Make Natural yogurt – no yogurt maker

Skip to Recipe & Method


Do I need a yogurt maker to make yogurt? NO! You don’t need a yogurt maker to make natural yogurt at home. All you need is something to stand the yogurt container into to keep it warm overnight. The bacteria need a continuously warm environment to multiply and thicken into a delicious tasting yogurt.


As adults, we are not equipped to digest milk. Milk is food for babies not adults, we lose the enzyme lactase which digests the lactose in milk, around the age of 5 years old. Lactose from milk sits in the digestive tract and ferments, causing what some refer to as lactose intolerance. There is too much consumption of milk in the modern world. It is used in all sorts of processed foods, often in powdered form, you can even find it added to some vinegars sold in shops – always read the label! So lets get back to yogurt.

We don’t need milk for calcium, this is a myth too and I’ll cover that in another post. So when we ferment milk to make yogurt, the bacteria help reduce the amount of lactose and makes it more tolerant for adult consumption. The most delicious yogurt you can make is from organic farm fresh full fat milk from grass fed cattle of course. It is possible to use pasteurised or ultra heat treated (UHT) but you won’t get the same result. I have experimented with lots of different temperatures when adding the yogurt starter and have found 47C/116F to be the optimum giving me the best results. Here is how I make my home made yogurt without the use of a yogurt maker.

Recipe & Method

You will need:

1 liter farm fresh organic whole fat milk. I buy mine from the local farm – I know we are so lucky. If you really can’t get farm fresh, get fresh pasteurised organic or UHT organic. They are treated slightly different when making yogurt and won’t produce the same result but if that’s all you can get then go for it.

Mason jar or other container to put your milk mixture into overnight. I prefer glass, and find the mason jars were perfectly.

Something to stand your (preferably glass) container into so you can wrap it up and keep warm. I use an old microwave bowl, a piece of thermal fabric (you can use a flask but I got inconsistent results and trying to get the yogurt out was a nuisance) and towels to cover the whole thing to keep warm overnight.

My yogurt maker

A tablespoonful of left over natural yogurt or 2Tbs whey. If you don’t have these, you can either buy some organic natural yogurt as your starter or buy a sachet of natural yogurt bacteria. Either way you will need to innoculate (add a yogurt starter) to the milk to make yoghurt.


Step 1 – Take your fresh unpasterised milk, and heat gently to 180F or 82C. You can do this in the microwave (mine is a 850W). I start with 2 x 3 minutes on medium, then 2 minutes medium. Check temperature. As I get closer to 180F/82C I reduce the time to 1 minute then 30 second intervals. No microwave? Use a pan on the stove. Heat gently and stir frequently. This step will kill off competing bacteria and denature the whey proteins to help give you a thicker yogurt. If you are using pasteurised or UHT you can skip this step.

1 liter of organic fresh whole milk
Heat to 180F/82C

Step 2 – Put the hot milk aside to cool. I usually heat my milk in the morning and make the yogurt in the evening (I reheat to 47C/116F). Not required for pasteurised or UHT.

1Tbsp Yogurt with milk

Step 3 – Take your tablespoon of yogurt and place in a small dish. When your milk is below 50C/122F, take a tablespoon and mix with the yogurt to thin it out. This makes it more likely to spread evenly when you add it to your milk. If using UHT or pasterised just mix a tablespoon in with the yogurt at this stage.

Step 4 – When your milk is at 47C/116F (either cooled or you can reheat), place the container into your “yogurt maker” container. Add the starter and stir well. Place the lid on the jar, wrap your jar and cover with (2) towels. I use 2 towels in winter because it’s colder but in summer you can usually get away with 1.

Step 5 – Leave overnight (at least 12 hours) and let the bacteria multiply, leaving you with a beautiful thick rich yogurt. After I have unwrapped in the morning, I put the jar straight in the fridge for at least an hour or so before using.


How long with home made yogurt last in the fridge? In optimal conditions it can last for weeks*. What will happen is that bacteria will continue to multiply slowly and you will find that the taste will change to a much more “tangier” or “sharp” flavour. You are perfectly safe to leave it 1-2 weeks, mine only lasts 4 days! (*The only caveat I would add, is that your jar is not sterilised and so bacteria in the airspace above your yogurt can multiply and effectively start to grow mold).

Can I add fruit to my yogurt? You can add fruit to your yogurt but I would recommend you do this after the yogurt is made and has set up in the fridge for a couple of hours. Adding fruit will limit the life of your yogurt a bit because the fruit itself can go rancid. I prefer to use my yogurt on fruit so I can have different fruit every time.

My yogurt didn’t set. There could be a couple of reasons for this. It could be the temperature was not maintained long enough for the bacteria to grow and therefore thicken your yogurt. You could also try increasing the amount of starter. If you were using pasteurised or UHT milk, you will find that the yogurt will be thinner.