There are lots of posts around the internet for how to make your own yogurt. Google away, and you'll probably find at least ten different ways to do it.
Some call for raw milk and others say that won't work because of the competing good bacteria. One calls for for powdered milk, another says you can use non-fat, 1%, 2%, or whole milk. Opinions vary from using a powdered culture to using store-bought plain yogurt. "You MUST hang your yogurt to get a non runny product". "Don't bother hanging it, it's just fine without". Different temps, use the oven, use a yogurt maker, use a cooler...
And they probably all work just fine.
For myself, it's all about making it simple. And cheap. And deeeelicious.
I originally followed directions for using the oven and the results were sorta slimy. So then I tried using the cooler because, by golly, I was NOT purchasing another space taker-upper for my kitchen (as in a yogurt maker)!
The cooler worked great. But then, the stopper to my cooler broke off and got, um, misplaced. And the other cooler is huge and needs a good cleaning. And they took so much water and so much space while they did their magic.
So here's what I use and it is PERFECT:
more fun than saying "Yogurt in a Drink Dispenser".
It perfectly fits four one quart canning jars (that's a gallon to all of you who maybe forgot). It doesn't take much water or space, and it makes the yogurt turn out creamy and delicious!
So, here's the skinny:
~ Turn on your tea kettle filled with water.
~ Sterilize 4 one quart canning jars and lids.
~ Bring ONE GALLON MILK to 175-180 degrees F. If you want to be precise, you really won't need the entire gallon. But pretty close, so mayizwell play it safe and just do the whole gallon. Then let it cool to 105-110 so the heat doesn't kill your squirmy little active cultures.
OPINION ALERT: If you are buying organic milk from a trusted source, go for whole milk. If you cannot afford that, get skim. I personally think that getting the proper amount of fat is healthy, especially for growing children. But research shows that toxins are stored in fat cells. So if you don't know what is going into the cow that makes your milk, try not to ingest the fat.
~ Pour the milk divided evenly between your 4 sterilized quart jars that have been allowed to cool. Don't get stressed about who gets more. The jars won't care. Just be sure you leave a few inches at the top so you have room for the cultured yogurt.
~ Drop in about a quarter cup of plain active yogurt into each jar and stir. Just plop it in, no need to measure precisely. Well, I don't. But my sister who asked for these instructions probably will, because she's a precise kind of girl. She'll be happy I told her a quarter cup instead of a plop.
~ Place caps on jars. Screw lids down tightly. You don't want watery yogurt do you?
~ Now, you are going to need to fill the Igloo to just below where the jar lids will be, with water that is between 105-110 degrees. I try for 110 or a scad (sorry about the non-measurable measurement Sis) bit higher myself. I fill it about halfway with faucet-warm water, then take it's temp and add boiling water or cold water until I get it right. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT put your jars of yogurt in first, then dump boiling water in, thinking you will cool it. It's gonna kill those active lil cultures. Water first, then jars.
~ Put your jars in the Igloo. If you've filled it past where the bottoms of the lids end up, drain some out.
of the starters. It was a pretty nice starter, just slightly tangier than when I used the
powdered culture and every bit as creamy.
Make sure your Igloo is in a warmish area, or wrap it real good with some towels or a blanket. I put mine in front of a heat vent in the laundry room.
Now go have a glass of kombucha or kefir and read all about how healthy it is for you and your family to ingest as many good, live, cultured foods as possible.
Then, for goodness sakes, go to bed before the sun comes up. That yogurt is going to need a good 8 hours in it's bath. It is very shy, plus you don't want to allow precious heat to escape, so DO NOT OPEN THE LID.(Alternatively, I hear you can make it early in the day and let it sit for about 8 hours, then refrigerate. I have not tried doing that.)
Dream about bunnies and rainbows and unicorns. Or a pina colada on a beach in Bora, Bora. Or about one day having your entire house clean and your laundry done all at the same time for an entire hour. Whatever puts you in your happy place so you can get some good REM Zzzzs.
When you wake up in the morning and realize it was mostly all a dream, it will be nice to remember you really do have some fresh yogurt to eat for breakfast.
Take the jars out and dry them off. Open a lid and check on the consistency. Now is also a good time to stir in a little vanilla if you like vanilla yogurt. I am thinking you could stir in any flavor extract if you'd like. I love orange extract in other things, but I have only tried vanilla for yogurt.
It will probably be just fine to eat for breakfast, but if you want optimum consistency, only eat one quart and put the rest in the fridge for a few hours and it will set even more.