Since writing Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too, I’ve had several people ask,”How do you make yogurt in a food dryer?” Happily, the food dryer part of the answer is really simple: If your dehydrator has a temperature control, you can use it as an incubator in which to grow cultured yogurt. With that out of the way, the question becomes, “How do you make yogurt?” and the answer can be very simple or very complicated.
The method I explain here is very simple and it makes very respectable yogurt. However, Google “how to make yogurt” and you’ll find dozens of articles and videos each having its own spin. Explore, find the method you like best, and still you’ll be able to use your dehydrator as a yogurt incubator.
What You’ll Need to Make Simple Yogurt in a Dehydrator
Yogurt Containers for a Dehydrator
The yogurt-making method I explain in this blog post makes just over a quart of yogurt culture. You pour the culture into a container or containers and incubate it for about four hours. You can use a single quart-sized container, or several smaller ones: four 1-cup bowls, six 6oz used yogurt containers—but whatever you use, you need a lid for each container.
More importantly, because you’re incubating the culture in your food dryer, the covered container or containers must fit in it. For a cabinet-style dehydrator, you can remove several trays to make room for a tall container. However, for a stackable-tray dehydrator, you’ll need to find shallow containers that can fit between two trays; that’s a tall order.
Let’s keep it simple. To make yogurt, start with the following items:
- 1 quart of milk (skim, 1 percent, 2 percent, or whole… even raw is fine)
- ¼ cup of plain yogurt – use only yogurt that clearly identifies itself as containing live culture—or probiotic.
- 2 quart or larger sauce pot
- A cooking thermometer
- Container(s) with lid(s)—see the box for thoughts about containers
How to Make Yogurt in a Dehydrator
Start by sterilizing the containers in which you’ll incubate your yogurt culture. At the same time, bring the milk to boil. Stir the milk occasionally while it heats, and watch when it boils so you can keep it from boiling over; it will generate foam and try to escape from the cook pot.
Let the milk cool until it reaches 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, add the yogurt to the warm milk and whisk it thoroughly to ensure that the yogurt dissolves through the entire volume of milk.
Fill the containers with the milk and yogurt mixture, cover the containers, and set them into the dehydrator. Set the dehydrator at 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
Check the yogurt after four hours. It may have become a very thick liquid, or it may have set up harder than that (encourage a harder set by boiling the milk longer before cooling it). In either case, it’s ready (there may be whey on the surface—a nearly clear liquid). Yogurt becomes tangier as it incubates, and if you let it go much beyond eight hours, it can become far tangier than most people prefer.
When the yogurt is thick or firm, move the containers to the refrigerator and let them sit for several hours to cool. Save ¼ cup of your homemade yogurt to use when you make your next batch; you should never again need store-bought yogurt.