The Easiest Yogurt on Planet Earth

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My first attempt at making yogurt was with an electric yogurt maker.

Electric or not, I still had to heat the milk, pour it in small, individual yogurt jars, wait for it to cook, make sure I would be home to turn it off and refrigerate it, and then wash out each little jar only to do it again the next day because we ate the yogurt so fast. Ugh.

Did. Not. Like. It.  There’s something to be said for eating healthy without driving yourself insane.

Then I discovered viili yogurt (also known as viila).

Let me tell you, viili yogurt has got to be the easiest yogurt in the world to make. You add milk to a bit of yogurt starter, let it sit on your counter at room temperature, and before you can say Bob’s-your-uncle, you’ve got yogurt.

I can live with that.

click here to make yogurt at home

Not only is viili yogurt easy to make, it also lives ‘forever’ with proper care. Most yogurt starters only live for a few generations. That means eventually you’d have to buy another starter. With viili yogurt you use a small amount of yogurt to inoculate new batches over and over again.

Ohh, that made me sound smart, didn’t it. Inoculate. I should use that word more often. “Travis, dear, we’re having inoculated yogurt at dinner tonight . . .” Okay, maybe not.)

By using your yogurt to start new batches, you’ll never have to buy yogurt starter again. It’s like the Energizer Bunny. It keeps going and going. . . and I just aged myself, didn’t I? Ahem.

What Kind of Milk Should I Use?
I use pasteurized, store-bought whole milk (without RsBT or growth hormones) whenever I make yogurt. This milk does not need to be heated and the yogurt adds beneficial bacteria to pasteurized milk – therefore making store-bought milk a bit better in the end.

Raw milk, on the other hand, needs to be heated otherwise the bacteria in the milk will slowly kill the yogurt. To me, raw milk is like gold. I don’t use it in anything I would have to heat because I want all the health benefits and beneficial bacteria raw milk offers.

However, store bought milk is still pasturized. This is one of those areas I’ve been going back and forth on. Right now I’m using store-bought, but raw milk is just plain better for you, even if you do have to heat it. So don’t be surprised if I change my mind down the road. . .:)

Can I Use an Alternative Milk to Make Viili?
Viili starter can be used with coconut milk but it isn’t likely to last for more than a few generations. It’s recommend to keep a back-up dairy-based culture on hand if you want to experiment with other milks. You can make it with goat milk, however it will not be as thick as yogurt made with whole cow milk.

Does This Yogurt Contain Sugar?
Although I wouldn’t really count this as a this-contains-sugar recipe, technically, I should tell you that there is a small amount of sugar from the natural lactose in milk. Lactose is consumed by the yogurt bacteria to produce lactic acid (yogurt’s tanginess and natural preservative). With that said though, there isn’t much lactose left in the finished yogurt.

Homemade Viili Yogurt (egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, yeast-free)

you will need:
viili yogurt starter
a pint jar (I’m using a half gallon in the pics)
1 c. milk

Directions:

viili yogurt starter

1. If you’re starting with a new viili starter from Cultures for Health, detailed directions will be included. (The new starter is freeze dried.) However, the concept is the same. With a freeze dried starter you’ll want to add about 1/8th teaspoon to 1 cup of milk. With established yogurt, you’ll want to use about 1 Tablespoon per cup of milk.

I am using a half gallon jar so I start with about 1/2 c. of yogurt starter (left over yogurt) and add about 7 cups of milk, making sure to leave a bit of room at the top.

2. After you’ve added the milk, simply stir well and cover loosely with a paper towel so air can still get to it, but the flies can’t.

3. Let it sit at room temp (70-75 degrees) for about 24 hrs or until it becomes thick enough that you can gently tip the jar and see that it isn’t runny. You should be able to see a few bubbles through the glass on the side of the jar and the yogurt should be the consistency of a loose jelly.

4. Once it’s done I like to refrigerate it before I eat it. Cold yogurt tastes better to me and it seems to thicken just a tad more after being refrigerated.

homemade sour cream & whey

I LOVE yogurt and homemade granola sprinkled with a bit of stevia to help with the tanginess. The kids love to add frozen blueberries or strawberries. You can also use yogurt to make homemade whey, sour cream, or cream cheese.

There’s so much you can do with it, and it’s so good for you that living without homemade yogurt would be absolutely. . .crazy!

There’s apparently been a lot of controversy about the carb count of homemade yogurt. Because I make whole milk yogurt I’ve simply used the carb count stated in Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution for the same.

1 cup = 11.4g carbs

Homemade Yogurt

Meal type Snack

Ingredients

  • 1 viili yogurt starter
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

1. If you’re starting with a new viili starter from Cultures for Health, detailed directions will be included. (The new starter is freeze dried.) However, the concept is the same. With a freeze dried starter you’ll want to add about 1/8th teaspoon to 1 cup of milk. With established yogurt, you’ll want to use about 1 Tablespoon per cup of milk.

I am using a half gallon jar so I start with about 1/2 c. of yogurt starter (left over yogurt) and add about 7 cups of milk, making sure to leave a bit of room at the top.
2. After you’ve added the milk, simply stir well and cover loosely with a paper towel so air can still get to it, but the flies can’t.
3. Let it sit at room temp (70-75 degrees) for about 24 hrs or until it becomes thick enough that you can gently tip the jar and see that it isn’t runny. You should be able to see a few bubbles through the glass on the side of the jar and the yogurt should be the consistency of a loose jelly.
4. Once it’s done I like to refrigerate it before I eat it. Cold yogurt tastes better to me and it seems to thicken just a tad more after being refrigerated.

Don’t know where to purchase some of these ingredients? Visit our Whole Food Sources page.

Shared with: The Girl Creative, Home Savvy A to Z, The Healthy Home Economist, Tip Junkie, Cooking Traditional Foods, Chef in Training, Juliecache, Time-Warp Wife, Vintage Wannabee, Real Food Forager, At Home With K, A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, It’s A Keeper, Momnivore’s Dilemma, Sorta Crunchy, Sweet As Sugar Cookies, Make Ahead Meals For Busy Moms, Marvelous Messy, Delightfully Dowling, DIY Home Sweet Home, Heaven’s Homemaking Haven, Hartke is Online, Nourishing Treasures, Coastal Charm, Blessed With Grace, Permanent Posies, Hope Studios, Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mommy, Rook No. 17, Above Rubies, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Women Living Well, Blue Cricket Designs, The King’s Court IV, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Gluten-Free Homemaker, We Are That Family, The Thrifty Home, Raising Homemakers, Milk and Cuddles, This Chick Cooks, Nourishing Gourmet, Real Food Whole Health, The Shabby Nest, Fingerprints on the Fridge, Simply Sweet Home, Life As Mom, Whipperberry, Thirty Handmade Days, Mom Trends, Crumbs & Chaos, Food Renegade, Celebrating Family, Premeditated Leftovers, Raising Mighty Arrows, Our Simple Country Life, Flour Me With Love, The Modest Mom, Comfy in The Kitchen, Real Food Freaks, Little Natural Cottage, Growing Home, Deep Roots at Home, Our Simple Farm, Young Living Oil Lady

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Paula
I’m Paula - like many of you I wear a lot of hats. Child of God, wife of 17 years, mother of five, reluctant cook, full-time teacher, chocolate-snatcher, and children's author. Various family health issues including Lyme disease and candida has turned me into a 'researcher'. I don't have initials after my name, a degree in anything but motherhood, or a framed certificate on my wall. What I do have is a passion for understanding how our God-created bodies thrive or deteriorate based on what we put in it. Oh, and I also might mention homesteading, homeschooling, fitness, herbs, faith, and anything else I'm thinking about. . . like wow, I need to refill my tea. . .
Paula
Paula
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Comments

  1. Jill@ RealFoodForager.com says:

    Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/12/fat-tuesday-december-27-2011/

  2. Hi
    I'll be checking the starter out to see if it is safe for my peanut/tree nut allergic child.

    I have a question. All of the homemade yogurt recipes that I've seen are for plain yogurt. My kids will only eat vanilla yogurt. I know that the alcohol in the extract will kill the good bacteria. I have found alcohol free extract(hope I can find it again), but I don't know at what point to add it to the yogurt. Do you know?
    Thanks
    Linda

  3. I've made yogurt for years, but I've never heard of Villi yogurt. Thanks for sharing!
    Gina

  4. Your welcome! Glad you stopped by!

  5. Wendy (The Local Cook) says:

    aw man, I was excited until I read that you can't use raw milk. I don't want to have to buy more milk :-(

  6. Wendy – I think you misunderstood. You can make this yogurt with raw milk, I just choose to make it with store bought. Raw milk would need to be heated, but there are directions that come with the culture for how to do that.

    Hope you give it a try!

  7. hännah @ dishesanddishes says:

    This looks wonderful! I love the idea of making my own yogurt and you make it look so simple.

  8. Chris@Natural Health Goodies says:

    I can't wait to try making my own yogurt – we are heading out of town for a week so I have to wait until we get back. I just got Nourishing Traditions for Christmas so I'm rarin' to go. :) Using a Viili starter sure sounds like an easy way to do it though. I'm going to try the oven method I think first and see how that goes.

    My sister-in-law lives in Arizona so she just leaves the batch outside on the porch over night and has yogurt in the morning – can't get much easier than that either. We are actually going to visit her so I'll get to find out how it tastes pretty soon. :)

  9. Can you use lactose-free milk to make this yogurt? Also I read your posts about making sour cream and cream cheese.

    If you decrease the amount of milk or increase the starter can you make Greek yogurt? Thanks so much for all your information and clear directions! Happy new year! I am now following you on FB.

  10. Hannah – thanks for stopping by!

    Chris@NaturalHealthGoodies – oh, Arizona sounds great this time of year! So excited for your new cookbook – you're going to love it! Stopped by your blog – very nice!

    Mrs. C – I know that using coconut milk or other lactose free milks will work, but only for a few generations, or a few batches. The lactose is what feeds the good bacteria. Once the yogurt is done culturing, the finished product has very little lactose left and several lactose intolerant people can eat it without problem.

    Yes, decreasing the milk or increasing the starter will make it thicker. I'm not sure if it would be considered Greek yogurt. If it's not thick enough, you could strain out the whey like you would when making sour cream or cream cheese until the yogurt is to the thickness you'd like.

    Thanks for following on FB! Have a great New Year!

  11. I enjoyed reading your post here. I made yogurt with raw milk, but didn't heat it high enough to pasteurize it, just warm it up to get the cultures I added growing well. It turned out great! My kids like it sweetened, so we like vanilla and maple syrup or strawberry jam.

    http://inchwormchronicles.blogspot.com/2012/01/yogurt-making-update.html

  12. You have taught me something new. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Eve – So glad your yogurt turned out! Thanks for sharing. We love adding vanilla and fresh fruit too. Yum!

  14. Glad to share something new with you, Linda. Thanks for stopping by!

  15. I love making my own yogurt, but I make mine in a yogurt maker. I'll have to give this culture a try – it looks so easy, which I always like!

  16. I make yogurt with a quart of raw goats milk, 2 Tbsp of good store bought plain yogurt (I use Brown Cow). I heat the milk to just 110 degrees before adding to the starter. Then it sits in a hot water bath (110 degrees) for 8 hours. It is a bit runny compared to store bought, but we mainly use for smoothies anyway. I am interested to try this viili culture. It sounds very easy.

  17. Mindie Hilton says:

    Very cool, I have never made homemade yogurt but we do enjoy it. I like to add it to my oatmeal. I will also use the plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream in dips. I would love for you to share you talents at Bacon Time's weekly linky, fri-monday come strut your stuff.
    http://bacontimewiththehungryhypo.blogspot.com/

  18. Jennifer – Welcome to Whole Intentions! I'd love to hear how you like making viili compared to the yogurt maker – so much easier!

    Sally – Hi! We love making smoothies with yogurt too. Strawberry is at the top of the list right now. Hope you give the yogurt a try – it's so much easier.

    Mindie – Thanks so much for stopping by and the invite to your link up. I'll be sure to stop over.

  19. Anne @ Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy says:

    I will have to try this method. I don't mind the typical method, but anything that's easier sounds good to me!

  20. Melissa Naasko says:

    My husband is Finnish, so I make viili using the starter his family has been using for more than 100 years. It is stupid easy.

  21. This is a great post..But I dont know where to buy starter,want to check…. Found you via whats cooking Wednesday linky party.Would like to invite you to my linky party
    Midweek Fiesta

  22. Hi Amy,

    In this post you can click on the blue word "viili" or the ads that say "Make Yogurt at Home: 9 varieties of yogurt starter" and both will take you to Cultures for Health – a great site about all kinds of yogurt, directions, FAQ, plus a wide variety of other starters for kefir, sourdough, kombucha, cheese. . .

    Thanks for the invite, I'll be stopping over!

  23. Loved this recipe! Thank you! Just one clarification about heating the milk. I use raw goat milk for making yogurt and thought it was best not to pasteurize it. But are you saying that if you don't pasteurize it the bacteria in the milk consumes the friendly bacteria or probiotics in the starter? Could you please elaborate? Thanks so much.

  24. Nicole Feliciano says:

    Thanks so much for sharing on Friday Food at Momtrends. I am a huge greek yogurt fan (right now I'm loving FAGE) and I'm inspired to try whipping up my own some time. Your photos are really instructive too. Have a great weekend.

  25. Hi Debby –

    Every place I've ever read about making yogurt with raw milk (whether they're raw milk advocates or not)say you need to heat it.

    Some say 110 degrees, some say 185 degrees. Cultures for Health has directions on making this viili yogurt with raw milk and they suggest at least 160 degrees.

    This is from the directions by Cultures for Health: If you do not maintain a pure mother culture, the bacteria in the raw milk will slowly kill the yogurt culture and the starter will not perpetuate long term.

    To make a pure mother culture, heat 1 cup of milk to a least 160 degrees and then allow it to cool to room temperature (alternatively you could use a 1 cup of pasteurized milk).

    My biggest problem is that I'm forgetful. :) My milk would inadvertently get too hot and even when I had it at just the right temperature, it seemed to have a curdled texture in the end product. I was tired of ruining precious raw milk and not getting any yogurt to show for it!

    Hope this helps, if you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

  26. Lea H @ Nourishing Treasures says:

    Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures' Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! :)

  27. Jenn Erickson says:

    Paula, I've always been curious about making yogurt. This method definitely seems like the one to try. I'm featuring your post on my Facebook page today.

    Jenn

  28. Thanks Jen! I appreciate that. Let me know if you try it – it's sooo easy.

  29. Shannon, Food Channel Editor, Momtrends.com says:

    I would love to try making yogurt sometime. How does it taste? Like a plain yogurt or greek or something else?

    Thanks for linking up to Friday Food on Momtrends.com!

  30. Hi Shannon,

    I've never tried Greek yogurt so I can't really compare taste-wise.

    Store-bought yogurts are LOADED with sugar so even 'plain' yogurt seems sweeter than it is naturally.

    I find this yogurt tastes most like a plain yogurt but with a slight 'sour' taste that I temper with stevia. I also add a little vanilla extract because I loooove vanilla-flavored yogurt.

  31. What funny timing! I just decided to abandon my villi and switch to milk kefir, and then I found your post through Fight Back Friday. It's a small real-food world. :) I am excited to poke around your blog a little and read some more!
    http://mindofthemother.blogspot.com/

  32. Stacey Lanier says:

    I have tried the crock pot method for yogurt a few times and it was ok. couldn't get it to the right consistency. I did add powdered milk last time to help. and now i'm looking into getting a yogurt maker. but this sounds great!
    stacey
    http://www.gettingthroughtheday.com

  33. April @ The 21st Century Housewife says:

    Thank you for sharing this excellent homemade yogurt tutorial with the Hearth and Soul hop!

  34. Alea Milham says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I have wanted to make dairy free yogurt as one of my children cannot have dairy at all, but I like adding yogurt so some baked goods because it creates such a tender crumb.

  35. Head Ant says:

    I have been wanting to make yogurt for many years. I've even seen a crock pot recipe!

  36. Lisa @ Flour Me With Love says:

    I make my own yogurt too, but I always heat my milk up first. I can't wait to try it this way. Thanks so much for sharing at Mix it up Monday :)

  37. Faythe @ GrammyMouseTails says:

    I have never thought of making my own yogurt from scratch before. it sounded to time consuming & all those little containers… This sounds easy enough for me to try. Have you ever added vanilla extract as a flavor? I love fresh fruit but I also like vanilla flavor. Stopping by from the EOA hop.
    ~Faythe @ GMT~

  38. Hi Faythe,

    I add my vanilla when I'm ready to eat it. Depending on how much I'm taste-testing at the moment :), I add about 1/4 tsp to 1 cup or so of yogurt.

    I suppose you could add it while it's culturing, but I've never tried it so I can't say for sure. Hmm, I'll have to give that some thought.

    Thanks for popping by!

  39. Hi – I just found this post a while ago and have tried making yogurt this way a few times now…the first time I used a couple tablespoons of store bought plain yogurt as starter and that turned out OK, but maybe a bit thin (I thought this was because I used only 1% milk). The second time I used the store bought yogurt to start it again, but I tried using a bit of cream added to the 1%, which definitely turned out creamier, but not necessarily thicker…also the taste is a lot milder than the starter was. Anyways, this third time I tried using some of the previously grown yogurt to start another batch, and it didn’t really thicken at all this time (the taste is again very mild). I was just hoping you could give me some advice or suggestions. I was going to try using a different plain yogurt to start this time. Also…I wonder if I should let the ingredients warm to room temp. before mixing them…? Anyways…thank you for the post! :)

    • Hi Beth,

      Sorry you’re having troubles. Here’s what I’d suggest:

      First, if you’re using store-bought plain yogurt, you’ll have to heat it. The method for making yogurt from a store-bought plain yogurt culture is a little different than my method. Emily at Live Renewed explains how to go about making yogurt this way. You might find her post helpful.

      Secondly, if you do want to make my easy version of yogurt, you’ll need to start with viili yogurt starter. This starter is specifically made to culture at room temperature.

      As far as the milk, I’ve made it with 1%, 2%, and whole – and I’d have to say the whole turns out creamier. Also, you let it culture at room temp until it’s thick, as shown in the photos, and then refrigerate it where it thickens just a bit more. If you want it even thicker, you can let it drip through a cheese cloth.

      The the dripped out whey can be used for a host of other things!

      Hope this helps! Let me know how it turns out! :)

  40. Make yoghurt without heating anything??? Wow! I should have found you 1st! I have put off doing it because I hate heating up the milk and finding that it did not work because I didn’t maintain the heat. Thanks for enlightening me!

  41. Amanda Smith says:

    Let me see if I am understanding correctly.
    I make my first batch of yogurt with Villi powder, then I save some of that batch and I can make another batch with the part I saved later.

    Can I make the second batch on the counter as well?

    And if I want to make 1/2 gallon, how much do I need to save as a starter each time?

    Also how long does this keep in the fridge? Thank You.

    • Yes, you can make your second batch on the counter as well. The directions that come with this particular yogurt say to use 1/4 c. yogurt per quart of milk so if you want to make half a gallon, you would save 1/2 cup of yogurt.

      How long it keeps in the fridge? The directions don’t specify, and we usually eat what’s in the fridge in about three days so I can’t say either. :)

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