Have you ever bought one of those wonderful brands of yogurt that have the layer of thick “cream-on-the-top,” and wished that the layer of cream was a little bit thicker… or a lot thicker?

One day, I was looking at a quart container of heavy cream sitting in my fridge that had been open for about a week and thinking I’d better do something with the pint or so that was left. Before the cream turned and its potential uses became more limited.

I just so happened to have a little smidge of greek yogurt left at the time. So I scraped the last bit of yogurt out of the container, and made yogurt with the heavy cream. Wow! A whole pint jar of “cream-on-the-top” kind of cream!

It doesn’t have that exact texture… but closer than I ever thought possible. It made me way beyond happy to sit down immediately after it was done and savor a few dollops of it in a pretty little dish with a baby spoon– with some pure maple syrup and a frozen strawberry. Of course it was even better after I let it get cold!

How to Make Cream Yogurt

Maybe you already know how to make yogurt. But here is how I do it, with heavy cream, in my relatively low-tech wilderness kitchen.

I have also made this yogurt with half and half, and with 1 cup half and half and 1 cup heavy cream, all with wonderful results. But the pure heavy cream version is the best, I think!

2 cups plain, heavy (whipping) cream

1 tablespoon live yogurt (any brand that has live cultures in it, or your own homemade)

First, pour the heavy cream (or whatever mixture of milk/cream you wish) into a small pot and put it (uncovered) over low heat. Bring the heat up to the point where little bubbles start to form around the sides of the pot, but the whole thing is not yet boiling. Turn off the heat.

Next, let the pot sit until the temperature gets to be around 110 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, use a clean finger and test it as the temperature drops. Sometimes I stir it to make this go faster. When it feels just barely hot to your pinky an inch or two below the surface of the cream, it should be the right temperature. 

Whisk in the tablespoon of yogurt, and pour the cream into a pint jar. Ideally, one that’s been sitting in the sun. Next, you need to keep the jar warm, but not hot, for about 4-6 hours. Too hot will kill the culture. Too cool will keep it from growing. Besides starting out with the right temperature of cream (or milk) this is really the only tricky part of making yogurt. I make things easiest by :

  1. Making yogurt on a sunny day, ideally sometime before noon
  2. Putting the jar of cream or milk into a lidded pot partially filled with water that is just a  bit hotter than the cream or milk itself.  After adding the jar, the water level in the pot should come up to just above the top of the jar, ideally.
  3. Setting the pot in a sunny place, that shade will not enter in the next 4-6 hours
  4. Wrapping a thick towel around the pot and over the lid.

There are plenty of other ways to keep your incubating yogurt warm, this is just how I do it. If I have started the yogurt later in the day than is ideal, or the day turns cloudy, I will check the water at some point. If the water temperature has fallen significantly, I take the jar out and put the pot on the stove just long enough to raise the temperature back up to the right level, then stick the jar back in and wrap up the pot again. A little annoying, but it works.

Once you can see that the cream inside the jar looks spoonable, rather than pourable, it’s done! It will get even thicker after you put it in the fridge for a while.

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