How to Make Yogurt in the Desert

simple homemade yogurt
Making yogurt at home is an amazingly simple, inexpensive, and fun thing to do on a hot summer night. Some people use thermometers, special double boiler pots or fancy yogurt heaters, but not me. Who says there aren’t advantages to living in the desert? I used just two ingredients: 1 quart of whole milk (for a creamier yogurt), and 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt from the store. It really is easy-just make sure the yogurt from the store contains live cultures and you’ll be good to go…well, I guess living in the desert helps too!

How to make yogurt... in the Desert

I was going to use Dannon, which probably would have worked fine, but then I found Nancy’s nonfat yogurt in the health food section of my local Bashas grocery store for the same price of $2.99 for 32 ounces, and decided to go the more natural route and get the kind without rBGH artificial growth hormones.

I found The Secret in How to Make Yogurt from Wild Fermentation

how to make yogurt in the desertI learned how to make yogurt and many other awesome fermented recipes from a book called, Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods. I cannot recommend this book more highly for taking the mystery and fear out of fermenting foods. Bacteria is not a dirty word, in fact, bacteria is very pro-life in general-like training wheels for the immune system---I am much more wary of anti-bacterial soap and antibiotics now. The beneficial bacteria in yogurt, Lactobacillus, are even said to have cancer preventing properties.

How to Make Yogurt the Easy Way: In the Desert!

So, if you’re ready to find out how to make yogurt, here’s what I did. Using medium heat, I warmed about a quart of whole milk on the stove, stirring occasionally until it was hot, but not boiling. Heating the milk will result in a thicker yogurt, and stirring it helps prevent it from burning. Let it cool for a while until it is still warm, but not hot to the touch. Next add 1 tablespoon of yogurt. Wild Fermentation explains why using more than 1 tablespoon is actually not better-the bacteria like their room. It is going to consume the lactose turning it into lactic acid and giving it a sour taste. Stir the yogurt into the warm milk, tighten the lid, and put it somewhere warm. I finished this process at 2 A.M. and put it outside where it was around 80 degrees, knowing that as the sun rose, it would soon warm up to the more optimal temperature of 100-110 degrees for yogurt making. When I checked on it at 3 P.M. it looked like real yogurt-because it is!
making yogurt at homeHomemade yogurt is similar to what I would find at the store, but has a richer flavor because I used whole milk instead of lowfat. I sampled a spoonful and put the rest in the fridge. I plan to eat it with blueberries and maybe some blackberry jam for sweetness. This was really easy though, and considering this was my first time making yogurt boy am I relieved! I can’t believe people actually pay $3 or more for a tub of this stuff at the store when yogurt is so easy to make at home.

Ok, I just did a little wandering around the internet to see how other people make yogurt-I suppose if you don’t happen to live in a warm climate like the desert, it might actually be helpful to get one of those thermometers and some of the fancy gizmos might be helpful too. (although Wild Fermentation will show you how to make yogurt with just an insulated cooler so you can make yogurt at home year round anywhere you live.) You can also get yogurt starters to make it easier as well.

I consider this an adventure in learning to trust my taste buds. People were making yogurt at home long before it was ever mass produced. Some of our ancestors used to do adventurous things like store milk inside dead cow’s stomachs. If they had the courage to do that, I’m pretty sure a few us “adventuresome types” can manage making yogurt at home!

How do you make yogurt? If you've tried making yogurt at home I'd love to hear your comments.

And if you don't happen to live in the desert or don't want to try making yogurt with an insulated cooler there are yogurt makers that will do all the hard work for you. I haven't tried a yogurt maker myself yet but based on my research the Euro Cuisine yogurt maker below is one of the most popular yogurt makers for sale. Have fun making your own yogurt and don't forget to let us know how to make yogurt your way!

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This post on making yogurt at home was shared on Real Food Wednesday, Fat Tuesday and Fight Back Friday.


  1. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. Hope to see you next week! Be sure to visit on Sunday for
    Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

  2. This is very interesting! I’d love to try this. I just need to find where I could get yogurt with live cultures. Thanks for sharing how you make your own yogurt.

  3. Thanks for suggesting this simple and easy way to make yogurt at home, I will try it for sure.. Keep continue posting such useful and simple stuff.

  4. I love yogurt. especially yogurt ice cream top with fresh fruits. I did not have any idea yogurt was just this simple. Thank you!


  5. I make my own yogurt all the time. I also live in the desert, but sometime it gets cold – there was snow on the mountains this week – so then I pull out my yogurt maker. I sweeten it with a little agave syrup and fruit. Yum!

  6. You had me at ‘in the desert’. I’m finding commercial yogurts a little too sweet lately so thanks for this.

  7. Hi There Sandra Long,
    I take your point, what’s a good and healthy desert for not too many calories
    my ideas are
    – 60 calorie yogurt with granola
    – or a cut up apple with or without penutbutter cant really think of anything else
    love suggestions if you would like to post a comment
    BTW great blogpost

  8. Yoghurt must be one of the best nutritious foods which aid in digestion. To be honest I’ve never tried making yoghurt at home on the stove but I’ve tried the electric yoghurt maker a couple of times. Making yoghurt is not at all difficult but I think for first timers, it can be messy for the first time. I’m sure a lot of yoghurt lovers will find this post very helpful.

  9. I love Yoghurts, especially when it is in four seasons. I never tried making yoghurt at home I’ll just buy one in the department store, I honestly don’t know how to make one.

  10. Like Nicholle i love yoghurt too!!!I have a friend who makes the best home made yoghurt!!!but he does it using culture and some other stuff i dont quite get. i will be surprising him with my own yoghurt using this recipe!!!

  11. This post was written for me! When I moved to Arizona, I gave away a lot of stuff, including my yogurt maker. I’ve missed having it. Now I see I can easily make “solar powered” yogurt in my back yard. Does anyone know if using Greek yogurt culture makes Greek yogurt?

  12. I’ve gone through yogurt making phases, kept it up for a long while after I visited India and got hooked on the yogurt served at breakfast in the clay pot it was set in. I have not been happy with the thermometers that tell you the high or low temp that you want, great as they were for yogurt-making when they worked. Gave up on them (and on the yogurt-making) after the third one broke. Back in college I was cooking for a very big household. I’d scald a big restaurant-sized pot of milk, cool it to the right temperature, add the yogurt, then wrap the pot with a sleeping bag so it would retain the heat and leave it overnight. It worked.

  13. Awesome post.I know how to make yogurt but this process is new to me,This process is a quit simple and easy way to make yogurt. Yogurt gives more energy to our body – thanks for sharing this post.

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