Today we're going to do something pretty easy. Yogurt can be 'fermented' in one night. It's packed with probiotics- good for your gut! And last but not least, DIY yogurt is only $1 per quart to make. A great way to start saving money and eating healthier. All you need to start is a small container of yogurt that contains live active cultures (it will say this on the container), one half or one whole gallon of milk, and a candy thermometer.
1. Heat milk to 180 degrees F. Just FYI: I have forgotten to check the milk and accidentally let it boil. If this happens, not all is lost. Just turn off the heat and move on to the next step.
2. Let cool to 105-116 degrees F. For a half-gallon of milk, this usually takes a half hour.
3. Add yogurt starter. Use a wire whisk (or fork, or whatever) to mix in your container of live active culture yogurt.
4. Incubate. This can be done several ways.
A) Since our family is just Hubs and I, I use a half-gallon Yogourmet yogurt maker to incubate. This works very well for us, especially if I let it incubate 18-24 hours. The extra incubation time makes it extra thick and creamy.
B) When I lived with my parents (and lots of siblings), I used mason jars in a cooler of hot tap water, with boiling water to top it off with. I let this sit overnight, with varying results.
C) Recently my mom started using a gas stove, and she said it works well to simply set the jars in the oven and let the pilot light incubate the yogurt overnight. This is very economical since the pilot light would be on anyway.
D) A fourth way to incubate would be with a crock pot. Personally I have not seen great success with a crock pot.
Troubleshooting: If your yogurt comes out watery or "chunky", never fear. Use a cheesecloth to strain out the whey and make "yogurt cheese". When it has all drained, whip a little bit of the whey back into the yogurt cheese, with some jelly or honey if desired. This makes an excellent texture and taste.
The type of milk, amount of starter, and length of incubation time might have an effect on the success of the yogurt. When I first started making yogurt, I used raw, non-homogenized milk. I was stingy with the starter, using only a few tablespoons for a whole gallon. This produced watery, often runny yogurt, but I figured that was just how homemade yogurt was.
After we got married I started using pasteurized, homogenized milk from the store. I only need to make two quarts of yogurt per week, and use a whole single-serving container of starter instead of a few tablespoons. Now oftentimes I make yogurt in the morning so it has a day and a half to incubate, whereas at my parents' house I would make the yogurt late at night, so it would get maybe 8 hours of incubation time. Using my new methods, I haven't had a failed or runny batch of yogurt in months.