Making SCD/GAPS Yogurt in the Dehydrator

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When I first started making yogurt I used a cooler to keep the yogurt warm enough to incubate. Yogurt is pretty forgiving, but for GAPS and SCD we want to use up all the lactose in the milk so the temperature needs to be kept at an even 100 degrees for a full 24 hours. The Excalibur dehydrator has a temperature setting that can easily hold this temperature for you. With the trays pulled out, you can fit literally gallons of yogurt in the dehydrator at one time!

How to make Yogurt in the Dehydrator:

Ingredients:

½-2 gallons milk (goat or cow, raw or pasteurized.  Preferably raw and from cows or goats eating fresh pasture)

1 quart cream (optional)

Yogurt starter.  The Specific Carbohydrate Diet requires a yogurt starter with only acidophilus, on the GAPS diet plain high quality yogurt from the health food store can be used as the starter.

Directions:

In a stock pot, heat milk gently on medium heat, stirring approximately every 10 minutes, until milk is close to a boil.  Cover, remove from burner, and allow to cool until the yogurt is comfortable to the touch, 90-110* F.

Make sure the yogurt is not too hot at this stage, or you will kill the good bacteria that are going to make your yogurt into milk.  Place yogurt starter in the warm milk and whisk or stir to distribute evenly.

Pour milk with starter into the glass jars, if you’re using quart sized jars, they do fit in the 5-tray dehydrator you just have to tilt them to get them in there.

Cover, and shake to distribute culture even more. Place covered jars in the dehydrator, and turn to 100 degrees for a full 24 hours.

Yogurt is now done and should be kept in the refrigerator.

 

Miscellaneous yogurt tips:

  • Do you miss the grab-and-go yogurt cups from the grocery store? It’s so simple to just pour your milk mixture into small individual size jars before incubating! Then just stack them in the dehydrator. We have both 4 ounce and 8 ounce jars for this purpose- so cute!  These, and any size jar (I’ve done half gallons sideways in the dehydrator too) all take 24 hours.
  • Whenever you’re concerned about immune function, whether it’s during the winter when sickness is going around or during any stressful time, add just a few dried elderberries to your finished yogurt, the whey in the yogurt will plump them up a little and they’ll turn the yogurt a pretty pink!
  • The #1 reason yogurt fails is if it’s too hot when you put the starter in.  If the heat kills the starter, it can’t culture! The second thing that gets me is if my fresh (raw) milk is old- then it will separate into curds and whey all too often. I try to use it within 3-4 days of receiving it, knowing that it may have been in the fridge a few days before it was delivered to my milk drop.  Fresh milk from healthy cows is safe to drink after that, it just tends to turn to curds and whey for me when I try to make it into yogurt :)
  • Raw yogurt (not heated above 115 degrees)- I have never had success with this! If you have, can you leave tips in the comments? Heating the milk on the stove isn’t the same as industrially pasteurizing it, it heats slowly so it doesn’t change the protein structure.  Though it does lose the enzymes and friendly bacteria found in raw milk.
  • If curds and whey do form, that’s okay, save the curds as yogurt cheese and the whey for your cultured veggies.
  • Another way to make yogurt cheese is with a coffee filter.

Do you make yogurt? I love to! It’s a great way to save money too, with the cost of the finished yogurt being virtually just what you paid for milk!

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Comments

  1. I have made raw milk yogurt (fresh as possible even when not heating), it does not get very thick, but thats okay, its creamy enough for me. All you do is put some yogurt starter whatever you have on hand, I used stonyfield organic yogurt. Then mix in maybe 1-2 Tbs per quart and wrap in a towel and put it on top of the refrigerator! mine gets pretty darn warm, I have not tested how warm it gets, but I check it the next day periodically and wait until it is sour enough. I think its definitey more potent with probiotics since you don’t kill off the bacteria already present in the milk. A lot of people might not feel too safe doing it this way, but I liken it to leaving it to sour by itself on the counter.. the good bacteria usually win.

    • On top of the fridge, that’s easy! :) I don’t mind the ‘safety’ issues- if anything I think it’s a great way to check if we’re not sure how good our milk is because we just cultured whatever microorganism was in the milk, and if there was something bad in there it would have overtaken the yogurt (or kefir, as this is how I do kefir) and then we’d know for sure :)

  2. Shannon via Facebook says:

    whats the second best method then, if you don’t have a dehydrator? crock pot?

    • alexandra says:

      I do it in the oven with light on

    • I’ve used a heating pad set to low to make yogurt before. You set your jars of yogurt on the heating pad, wrap them in a towel, and turn a large pot upside down over the heating pad and jars. The yogurt came out perfectly thick but with a slimy coating on the top. I’m pretty sure that it was a problem with the starter, not the method, though–I forgot to set aside fresh yogurt to start the next batch, and the starter I used was the tail end of an older batch of homemade yogurt. I think it had started to go a bit off or been contaminated at some point by a less-than-clean spoon (my two year old helps with the dishes, and I occasionally miss one she’s stuck in her mouth).

  3. I’ve never done it in a crock pot, I have used a cooler a lot before, it’s linked at the top of the post

  4. Dawn via Facebook says:

    I have a YoGourmet, and I’ve had good luck with cow’s milk yogurt, but my goat milk yogurt keeps coming out runny (two members of our family are allergic to cow’s milk proteins). At the store, I noticed the organic goat yogurt has tapioca in it. Do I need to use tapioca to get goat yogurt to a decent consistency? If so, I’m not sure of the “how”. Does anyone have any tips for this?

  5. I have a Yogourmet and LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I use goats milk and as Dawn mentioned, it is a bit runny. She also mentioned using tapioca.. that is a technique my aunt uses and she’s happy with it. I don’t mind mine being runny. You could also strain a bit of the whey out to make it more of a greek type yogurt :-) I just ate a bowl of homemade yogurt for breakfast…. yum!!

  6. Amber via Facebook says:

    Kefir is so much easier, but I love the flavor of yogurt :)

  7. Kefir is way easier, we like that too :) Goat milk yogurt- I was able to get really good thick goat milk yogurt using this method when I used raw milk, but when I used goat milk from the store it was runny. The yogurt I made last night was made with half and half- it’s awesome :o)

  8. Charlotte says:

    Hi Cara, this post is very timely indeed. Thanks a bunch!

  9. When you got “really good thick” goat milk yogurt with raw goat milk, did you heat the milk to 180, or just to 100? I’ve seen mention that it always is runny, so I’m really curious as to how you did it. I add (pastured) gelatin to mine. I’ve used tapioca, and it does work well. I just figured the gelatin was a healthier option.

  10. I heated it to 180. I’m starting to wonder if it has to do with the fat content of the milk? Because the cow milk yogurt I made yesterday with half and half is super super thick, but with regular milk it’s thinner.

  11. I heat my raw goat milk to 180 for yogurt also :-)

  12. stephanie says:

    I have read that the yogourmet was not good for making scd or gaps friendly yogurt. Here is the reason why: The yogourmet keeps a constant temperature for about, I think, 10 hours or so but after that the temperature rises higher thus killing all the friendly bacteria. Over 115-120 degrees, the friendly bacteria do not survive. Although it looks like it worked at the end since it does still thicken, the yogurt is not as beneficial. It might be worth it to leave a thermometer in the yogurt to check on it after a certain amount of time. I was going to buy the yogourmet but changed my mind when I found out about that… I now use my dehydrator to make yogurt.

    • Ultimately I wound up purchasing a dehydrator, because we started going through yogurt and sour cream faster than I could keep up with the yogourmet. What I read that the “fix” for it running to hot is to get a plug in dimmer switch (around $8) and plug it into the yogourmet. You don’t have to turn the switch down much, just maybe 20%. But you’d have to also experiment to find the best setting for the individual machine.

  13. I just bought a Euro Cuisine yogurt maker and can’t wait to make my first yogurt!! I sure hope it works… I have raw milk and some pastured low-temp past. cream and I’m going to mix the two. I have Seven Acre Farm yogurt as starter.
    Right now I make kefir and kefired cream and mix the two – sooo good!!

    • My daughter just ordered me one of the Euro yogurt makers for my birthday. I can’t wait to get it and make some. I’m a diabetic and the store bought is sky high in sugar or has aspartame if it’s light. So I said I’ll just make my own. Am also making kefir so I might need to buy me a jersey cow! lol
      I’ve never made yogurt before so I am mega excited!

  14. How much starter do you use?

  15. I always use the raw method by not heating up higher than 100 to maintain the raw milk cultures. The yogurt is slightly runnier, I think mainly because you’re not evaporating off some of the liquid in the milk. I also find that when make raw yogurt I use twice as much yogurt for my starter, so instead of 1/4 cup as most recipes call for I will use a half cup or even close to one cup of starter. I think that the natural bacteria in the milk may have a tendency to overpower the yogurt culture, especially if it’s really fresh raw milk. I have a Salton yogurt maker that holds a wide mouth glass quart jar that I use sometimes in the winter when it’s cold. But most of the year I make my yogurt in the morning and put the jar up in the attic where it’s toasty warm – this is especially handy because I can make half gallons at a time. The next morning I retrieve my yogurt and it’s just right. Using these techniques I have good thick raw yogurt. Sometimes it’s so thick that it won’t pour out of the jar!

    I think maybe when we make raw and goat milk yogurt we have unrealistic expectations about what our final product should be. Perhaps we think our homemade yogurt should be thicker like what we buy in the store. But I think we’ve been eluded to believe that’s what yogurt texture should be. The reality is when you’re working with a living organism it’s not always going to be the same. Because we live in a society that values homogenization of things, we think each batch of yogurt we make should be the same as the last. In reality the milk will change seasonally depending on the amount of rain what the animals are eating and we should try to learn to recognize and appreciate those differences. My yogurt is typically thicker in spring/fall when the grass is lush and the milk has more cream in it. It’s usually thinner in winter when the cows are eating hay.

    • Wow – thanks Chiots Run. That was super super helpful. I have been so confused on all the various recommendations for making yogurt (temperature, duration, etc.). We buy raw milk from a farm, so I needed some very specific directions in regard to fresh, raw milk. Thanks!

  16. alittle2green says:

    I make raw milk yogurt in my dehydrator all the time. I actually think making yogurt is easier than kefir! I can’t seem to keep my grains alive. I feel like they are too high maintenance. Yogurt I can make when I feel like it, but kefir I have to make on its schedule. That may be the problem :) Perhaps I am doing it wrong.

    Anyway, to make the raw yogurt, I heat the milk to 100 degrees. I add 2/3 c of Seven Stars plain yogurt to a half gallon jar and fill the rest up with milk. I give it a stir and a shake and set it in the dehydrator, which I set at 110-115 degrees. Sometimes I put the yogurt starter in the jars and set them in the dehydrator to warm a bit while the milk is warming on the stove. I usually leave it in a little longer than 24 hours, and I find that this helps it to be a bit thicker.

  17. Christina S. says:

    I’ve tried making yogurt in the past. Heating the milk, letting it cool, adding in some yogurt started, wrapping them up and keeping them in a cooler for half a day… and the three times I tried all I got was this curds and whey stuff that didn’t resemble yogurt in the least.
    I really want to make yogurt, though, because we buy this amazing raw milk and it just seems silly to me that I ALSO buy yogurt at the store. But, I was scared to try making it again.
    However, yesterday I decided to give it a go. And I decided to forgo everything I’d tried in the past. I got a 1 pint mason jar (the first time I make yogurt I made TWO QUARTS of ruined yogurt. Very wasteful) and filled it to the neck with raw milk straight from the fridge. Then I put a small scoop of yogurt starter (Greek Gods yogurt) in and stirred it up.
    To keep it warm I put it in my microwave (not turned on!!!). My microwave is an old (70′s) microwave/hoodvent combo and if I have the overhead stove light on, the inside of the microwave gets a nice cozy 85* or so. I rise dough in there when I’m making (naughty) bread or pizza crust. I also gel my soap in there, too. It’s amazing! I might cry when we remodel our kitchen because it’s such a useful thing!
    Anyhow, so I turned the light on and put my (cold) pint of milk and yogurt in there at about 3pm yesterday. A couple hours later I check it and it was about room temperature, but not warm.
    I need to make some tea (currently pregnant, so I’m drinking an herbal tea infusing from my midwife to keep my feet swelling down) and so once I had my quart mason jar of tea piping hot, I put that in the microwave, too. Not too close to my milk, about four inches away. Before I went to bed I checked on it and it was nice and very toasty in there – I would venture to guess closer to 100*.
    I stirred the milk before I went to bed and it wasn’t thick at all. I was assuming defeat. HOWEVER this morning when I got up I took the tea out to strain for drinking today (it was still warm) and I checked on my milk and it has thickened up! It’s almost at the consistency of kefir. I am going to let it hang out in the microwave until the 24 hour mark and see how it is… And it tasted amazing! LIKE YOGURT! GO FIGURE!
    So, I would imagine if you have a dehydrator that can keep a constant temp of 100* or so that you could make yogurt this way? Is this considered ‘raw’ because I didn’t heat it on the stove?
    I just hope when I go to do this again that it works. HAHA.

  18. I’ve never made yogurt… So, sorry if this is a silly question! Can you make coconut yogurt using the dehydrator??

    • You can, but you need a nondairy starter and you’d follow the instructions on there. Because you’re not using up the lactose, it also would not need to be incubated for 24 hours, shorter would be fine.

  19. Hi Christine
    I make yoghurt using the oven and putting the light on ….same idea as the microwave…works fine

  20. hi cara thanks so much for the info! I have had one unsuccessful attempt at yogurt and successful attempt. One question- how long will the curds and whey stay good for?

  21. I was curious if anyone has ever tried half goat milk and half non-homogenized whole cow milk (cream top) to make yogurt. It seems like that would be a fun experiment. I might try it next time and see what happens.

    I’ve let my yogurt go 24 hours in my Yogourmet and the end temperature was 113 degrees or so. Maybe each unit is a little different. I also have a Salton and that was 110 degrees after 24 hours.

    I always heat my milk up to 180 and then cool it down to around 108 or so. With some yogurt starters, I cool them to around 75 degrees and let them incubate for 24 hours, and by the end of that time they have gotten up to around 110 degrees. The whole cow milk (non-homogenized) always makes a much thicker and custardy yogurt. The goat milk is like the consistency of Elmer’s glue pouring out of the bottle. Haha.

  22. I want to try this. Does the milk need to be heated to almost boiling or can it just be heated to the needed 90/110?

  23. Yay! Finally successful homemade yogurt! I’ve tried several other methods and never been happy with the results (usually too runny or the one time when I made it in the crockpot and accidentally turned it on high! But we turned that into cheese and it was ok;). Thanks, this was so easy!

  24. It has taken me several attempts to figure out the mystery of Raw Yogurt, with each batch getting progressively better. I finally figured out my biggest problem… the temperature of my Excalibur is not exactly as the dial reads. Here is my method: Fill a jar (that will fit into the dehydrator) with raw milk. Add in a couple of heaping spoonfuls of yogurt from a previous batch or I’ve even used just the whey leftover from dripping my yogurt when making yogurt cheese. Stir it into the milk. Cover tightly with the lid. Put the jar directly into the dehydrator (that’s right, no preheating of the milk at all). Set the temperature to 100-F (mine is off by about 5-10 degrees, so I use a thermometer that I can just check every once in a while without opening the dehydrator). I let it sit in there at 100-F for about 30 hours. I’ve even gone a few hours longer (accidentally) and it came out wonderfully. The whole process is so very simple. It just seems to take longer than most others. But, at least I KNOW it’s completely Raw Yogurt.

  25. It’s onerous to seek out educated folks on this subject, but you sound like you understand what you’re speaking about! Thanks
    You must take part in a contest for among the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this site!

  26. Cara thank you for your wonderful website. I am preparing right now to get my family on the gaps diet this summer. My oldest has autism and my younger two and myself as well have multiple food allergies and symptoms of add. Your blog is helping me a lot. I was wondering where you found raw milk? I also live in AZ and had thought that it wasn’t available legally for human consumption here. If you have a source would you mind telling me or emailing it to me?

    • I’m in the Prescott AZ area and I bought raw milk at new frontiers this week. It was from save your dairy they have a website.

    • Stacey Gonzalez says:

      I used to buy milk in the Queen Creek area when I lived there…not sure if they are still there but it was about $8 for a gallon at the time. It may have also mentioned something about save your dairy. I will try to remember the cross streets if you are close by and it would help!

    • I lived in AZ in Phoenix and we bought milk from Save Your Dairy. It was very fresh and lasted 2 weeks (pickups were every other week). A neighbor and I started a pickup site in our neighborhood (was so convenient!!!!). We now live in MN and it’s very difficult to find raw milk here because the state is doing busts on the farmers and pickup sites. It has taken me over 2 years to find some folks willing to share information about where to get decent milk. It is so bad that some of the pickup sites from some of the farmers have milk that is already 6 days old before it even gets delivered and it only lasts 3 or 4 days before it is sour and yucky tasting. I finally found a farmer whose milk is less than 48 hours old when she delivers to the pickup site. The issue with it is that we have to drive almost an hour each way, every single week to the closest pickup location. UGH!

  27. hi there-
    i’ve just started the scd diet and will introduce yogurt in the next couple weeks. love this tutorial!
    just a couple questions:
    i’d like to go with the dehydrator method. i don’t have one, but i’ve really wanted one for a variety of reason for a while now. is the 5 tray big enough to make yogurt in? that’s the one i’d like.
    also, do you boil and sterilize the jars first, or just make sure they’re clean?
    and when you say cover the jars, do you mean you have the metal lid on tight?
    sorry about so many questions….
    thanks!!!

  28. I recently bought a Euro Cuisine yogurt maker so that I could make CSD yogurt (24 hour fermentation) but everytime I check the thermometer it’s always between 90-100 degrees F. I have colitis so my system is EXTREMELY sensitive and I’m concerned about eating the yogurt which has not be consistantly between 100-110 degrees. I feel like there may still be lactose in it. Is ths a valid concern?

  29. Cara S. says:

    Thank you for the info. This makes me want the Excalibur right now ;) I am a raw milk enthusiast so I will try to make mine at low temp.. I did not realize the proteins stay intact by stove heating. Can you point me to some info explaining that? I have never done yogurt or kefir. I will look around on your blog and see :) Why is it important to get rid of the lactose? If the enzymes survive is it still necessary?

    • Hi Cara :) It’s the high rapid temp of industrial pasturization that messes up the proteins, the WAPF site has more info on this. Getting rid of the lactose is only for those on GAPS/SCD or lactose intolorent. Anyone else can incubate longer.

  30. judy whitmore says:

    Ive heard about adding powderedmilk to make it thicker. Is that allowed on the gaps diet

  31. Stacey Gonzalez says:

    I was given tips this week at a farmer’s market from a woman who sells raw milk and yogurt…she heats her milk to about 110 or 112 (enough to heat it but not enough to kill off the good stuff), setting aside a couple of tablespoons of cold or room temp. milk. She adds just under 3 tablespoons of starter yogurt to the milk that was set aside and then adds that to the heated milk once it cools to 100. She says she lets it sit for 9.5 hours for greek style yogurt and doesn’t add anything. I did buy a cup of her yogurt as a starter and it is thick, but I haven’t tried it yet. It sounds like for GAPS you would need to let it incubate longer, but the theory should still work.

    • Hi Stacey, when you say she lets it sit, do you know at what temperature? From your indications it sounds like room temperature, but I believe that for greek style yogurt you would need a higher temperature?
      Thanks for the tips, I hope I can make this work because I am getting runny yogurt using the raw milk. Also you say she adds under 3 tablespoons of starter, but do you know how much milk she isadding that amount to?
      Do let us know how you get on if you try it!

  32. How many quart mason jars can fit in a 9 tray excalibur? thanks.

    • A lot. :) I’ve never used it to full capacity, but have easily had 4 quarts and 2 pint jars in there and could have fit a few more.

  33. Kristi Cooke says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, so I apologize if someone has already posted this info, but for those who don’t have a food dehydrator, you can still make yogurt. I heat the milk as directed and cool to no more than 110 degrees. Then I like to add a high quality probiotic and a couple of tablespoons of good organic plain yogurt. (I don’t use a starter – the probiotic and yogurt will suffice.) Then place in your oven with the light on. It will usually be just warm enough to culture the milk into yogurt. I leave in around 8-10 hrs. Different ovens will vary. I just got a new oven and it is now too hot to do this. I am going to try leaving my oven door ajar, or maybe use my new “proof” setting on my new oven. But you don’t have to have to dehydrator to make yogurt.

  34. If you love the excaliber, you will love, love , love the Tribest Sedona dehydrator!

  35. I just tried making yogurt and it smells and tastes like cooked milk and it still has the consistency of milk. I used a 1/2 gallon if raw goat milk. Brought it up to 100*. Added 3tbsp of organic plain yogurt. Poured it into 2 quart jars and placed it in my oven at 100* for 12 hours. I put it in the fridge and then remembered some one had said 24 hours so I pulled it out of the fridge. By then it had cooled down considerably. It was still runny like milk so I put it back in the oven at 100* for another 12 hours. Still runny like milk and no where near being yogurt. What did I do wrong? Put it back in after it cooled? Not enough plain yogurt? Perhaps my goat milk was old? 100* oven too hot?

  36. frankie says:

    Can this process be done with GREEK YOGURT?

  37. I make yogurt in my dehydrator quite often. I take my 8 cup measuring cup and put in about 7 to 7.5 cups of milk (either skim, whole, 1%, or 2%, whatever I have handy). I add about a cup of skim milk powder and about a half cup of distilled water. Stir it up, put it in the microwave for 20 minutes. Cool to about 110. I take a bit of the milk mixture out and add to a 1/2 quart jar, add about 2/3 cup of yogurt from previous batch or storebought plain with cultures, or powdered culture and then mix back into the milk mixture. Pour into old yogurt containers (about quart size, I usually get 4-5) and set my dehydrator to about 110 degrees. I always have a pretty firm yogurt in about 3.5-4 hours. The longer I let it sit the firmer and stronger tasting it becomes.
    I haven’t tried using goat’s milk but am planning to buy a goat very, very soon and can’t wait to give it a try. :)

  38. Helpful info. Fortunate me I found your site unintentionally,
    and I am stunned why this coincidence didn’t came about earlier! I bookmarked it.

  39. Cindy Smith says:

    I have made two batches of yogurt using raw cow milk by simply stirring in the cold yogurt starter into the cold. I used a Euro Cuisine the first time, I set it for the max time of 16 hours and left it set for a few more hours before putting it in the fridge. This yogurt was nice and thick and good, but I was a bit yellowish at the top, maybe the temp got too high. The second batch I used the oven light. The milk was older and there was a layer of whey at the top and the yogurt was thinner. I hung it in cheesecloth for a few hours and got a really great fresh cheese! Next time I will try it in my Excalibur dehydrator, thanks!

  40. I have very good success with raw milk yogurt. I put in pint mason jars, heat to 110 degrees in pot of water on the stove. Remove and add 1/2 tsp of gelatin, mixed well and then add a heaping teaspoon of plain yogurt, mix again. In to the cooler with the hot water from the pot, covered for 8 hours. In the fridge to chill over night and it is ready to go and fabulous!

  41. I have noticed a huge volume difference in how much yogurt I net from different brands of milk. I usually use raw, straight from the dairy whole milk and get the highest yield. I recently bought some organic whole milk from the local supermarket-1/2 gallon of milk gave me a 2 cup yield of yogurt. I do drip my yogurt to make Greek yogurt and yogurt cheese. I use the whey for making pickles and relish. I have a very steady Yogourmet I am very happy with. Will have to move to the dehydrator soon, since my mom has decided she likes yogurt after all.

  42. Kimberly says:

    We buy yogurt from the farm. Can that be used as a starter for the yogurt? Is yogurt considered the starter? Our farm is 40 minutes away and I would really like to start making our own yogurt to save the trip!

  43. jada sarfate says:

    HI Cara! I was looking to purhcase an dehydrator for yogurt but on the website it shows they only go as low at 105….is that to high for yogurt??

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