Learning to Make Yogurt in Costa Rica 2

Imagine our disappointment when we arrived at the grocery store with rumbly tummies in need of some yogurt to find nothing but yogurt drinks. Sugary, watery, sweet, yucky yogurt drinks. Yeah…not what we were looking for! So, we decided to make our own homemade yogurt when we were traveling and living in Costa Rica.


Early in our traveling experience, we learned that yogurt is a food containing live active probiotic cultures. Now wait…what?? Essentially, probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. It’s not a bad bacteria. In fact, it is bacteria that your digestive needs in order to stay happy and healthy. When you are eating lots of different foods from different countries, you stomach may tell you at some point that it wasn’t a good idea.

Travelers Need Probiotics

One way to help your stomach anticipate these different foods, is to fill it with good bacteria, probiotics! Thus, our quest to learn how to make our own yogurt began. We knew if we could master the process, we would benefit our stomachs and steer clear of that watery, sugary stuff we despised!

We make yogurt on a weekly basis and LOVE how it has been incorporated into our diet. Not only to eat as yogurt, but for using in recipe substitutes as well. The possibilities are endless! Below is the recipe we use. Feel free to ask us any questions. It’s really fun! 

Homemade Yogurt Recipe


– 1 liters of whole milk

– 1 teaspoons of plain, nonflavored Greek yogurt (store-bought)


Pour milk into a large pot. Heat milk in the pot until temperature rises to 180 degrees F. We like to use a digital thermometer when we’re at home or can find one on our travels. This thermometer is ideal because it has an alarm to alert us when the yogurt has reached the temperature. We can also monitor it during the incubation period.

If you don’t have a thermometer, no problem, just heat the milk slowly until a few bubbles start to form at the top. It’s important not to go too high over 180 degrees or boil the milk like you’re cooking pasta. Once the milk reaches 180, hold it there for a few minutes and then remove it from the stove and let it cool until it reaches 120. You’ll know the milk got hot enough if it forms a skim on the top as it’s cooling.

At this point you can remove about a cup of warm milk from the pot and add in the teaspoon of yogurt (to help it get mixed in better). Just gently stir – you want to see chunks of the yogurt in the milk. “Incorporating,” not mixing. Then pour the cup of milk with mixed-in yogurt back into the rest of the milk mixture.

Pour it all into glass containers for incubation. Place the milk in a slightly warm (not hot) place for 10-12 hours. We hold our yogurt at about 105-110 degrees for the duration of the incubation, but it doesn’t hurt it if it gets a little colder. Refrigerate when done.


We make the yogurt after dinner usually so it can just sit overnight and we don’t have to worry about it. We place ours in an ice chest with a pot of boiling water to keep it warm. You can also place it in an oven with the light on. Remember to keep a few teaspoons of your batch so you can use this as your “mother yogurt” for your following batch! If you do this, you will always have yogurt!

** If you like your yogurt Greek style, then before putting the yogurt into the refrigerator, strain it for 5-10 minutes through a cheesecloth or a thin towel. Doing this extracts the whey, giving you a thicker, creamier yogurt. This is always our preference and it’s so much better!

Add-in suggestions:

If you like flavored yogurt, here are some yummy flavors to add in!

– Coconut & Pineapple
– Jam (flavor of your choice – we like strawberry)
– Peaches
– Vanilla Flavoring (Starbucks has a yummy vanilla syrup)
– Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)
– Granola – Check out this recipe

It might seem like a really long process but after you get the hang of it, it honestly goes really fast! You don’t have to think about it much at all! If you really get into making yogurt, you can purchase a yogurt maker but we have found it works just as well in a pot!

Hashtag #unevensidewalks on FB or Instagram to let us know how it goes if you decide to try it!

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