Partly because I'm cheap. Partly because I'm picky.
Mostly because it's not that hard and it's pretty cool to do. It's kitchen alchemy that makes me feel like I'm gaming the yogurt industry. I can get vanilla yogurt. Thick or thin. Without added sugar. A gallon at a time.
A few years ago, I wrote a blog entry with pictures and details. I'm at my in-laws house. I don't want to go digging online. I have doll hair to untangle. And Olympics to watch. It's faster to just type a summary. My SIL requested it. So you can have it too.
- I start with a gallon of milk. I pour it in a big pot.
- I heat the milk until it's reached 180 degrees.
- Then I let it cool.
- Yogurt cultures between 100 and 120 degrees.
- So as soon as the milk gets down to 120, I add yogurt culture. You can add powdered freeze dried culture. I just add existing yogurt.
- My favorite is Stonyfield Farms, because I like the robust flora. But other yogurts work just fine. I add around 4-8 ounces. It's a dollop. The more I add, the less time it takes to culture. If you use leftovers of your own yogurt, it has a diminishing efficacy. So I frequently buy new yogurt in a big container, and use the last serving to make a gallon of my own.
- I wisk in the culture, and usually a splash of vanilla extract. I've used vanilla bean when heating the milk before. That was better. But I don't always have it on hand.
- Then I let the milk sit. I try to keep it above 100 degrees, preferably closer to 120, for 6-12 hours. The longer it sits, the thicker it gets.
- Often I preheat the oven to 200, then turn it off. I put the lid on the pot, wrap the pot in a bath towel, and put it in the warm oven.
- Then I write myself a note to not forget the yogurt.
- I frequently strain it to be more like Greek yogurt. I line a strainer with a thin dish towel, and pour the cultured yogurt in. I recommend a large bowl under he strainer, as you can really strain out a lot of liquid. I've used it in place of buttermilk before, with good results. (I add a bit of yogurt to get the right thickness). I've also used it in smoothies, too.
- When you chill your finished yogurt, it will continue to thicken.
- And then you can add as much or as little as you'd like to it.
- While paying less than if you bought it at the store.
- With not much hands-on time required.
- This makes me extremely happy. I know, it doesn't take much.
You can also get a fancy yogurt maker. If you like things even simpler.
Either way, enjoy!