It is not hard to make your own yogurt. The most critical tool you need that you may not have would be either an instant read or a candy thermometer. The instant read is more versatile and available on the internet for about $10; the candy thermometer would be less expensive but more fragile.
I first made yogurt about thirty-five years using a kit that consisted of a circular cardboard container (think oatmeal box) lined with reflective foil, a candy thermometer and a thick, round foam cap. I had to supply my own one quart mason jar.
Heat about 3/4 quart milk to 180 degrees F. You can use high heat but you must keep a close eye on the pot. Glass is preferable but a metal pot will heat more quickly.
When the milk has reached 180 degrees F, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool to 130 degrees F. Then stir in 6-8 ounces of plain yogurt, blending it to uniformity as much as possible.
At this point the mixture needs to be put in a temperature controlled environment overnight. A sufficiently large, wide mouth Thermos bottle will do nicely. If there is none, pour the mixture into a clean tempered glass quart jar, cover with the lid and wrap it in aluminum foil. Then put it in your microwave overnight. In either case, the yogurt is ready in the morning.
You can use whole, 2% or 1% milk. My experience is that using 2% requires me to add about 4 ounces of evaporated milk; otherwise, there will be excess whey in the final product. You could instead add dried milk. If you do add evaporated or dried milk, you can do so while the milk is cooling; it would likely speed up the cooling cycle.
Another thing I have noticed is that the resulting product will be more firm if the fresh product is placed in a clean, permanent coffee filter and allowed to drain. It can be done at room temperature.
When the product reaches the consistency desired, place it in a clean container and store it in your refrigerator. You can use a small portion of the product you have made as a starter for you next batch.
Costco offers milk at about $2.25/gallon which will give you yogurt at about $.75/quart.
By Tracy from Kansas City
Editor's Note: Be sure to use yogurt that is labeled "Contains Active Cultures" in this recipe
Mom used to make yogurt for us when we were kids back in the 70's. She had a little yogurt machine. She probably still has it. I wonder though if you want to make vanilla or say a fruit yogurt when would you add it to the mix after it has cured over night? (06/27/2009)
You can make yogurt with your crock-pot, too.
I line my colander with cloth, dump in the yogurt and strain out the whey, which makes it thicker. I strain for one day for "sour cream" and four days for "cream cheese". (07/13/2009)
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