Yield: 1 quart
There are two simple steps to making homemade yogurt. The first is to heat the milk and then partly cool it. The second is to ferment the milk for a period of hours. All varieties of milk–sheep, cow, or goat–work for making yogurt, with each providing a slightly different result.
1 quart whole milk (or, for a richer yogurt, use 1/2 cup heavy cream and 3-1/2 cups whole milk)
scant 1/8 teaspoon yogurt culture (I like ABY612 from the Dairy Connection), or 2 tablespoons plain yogurt with live cultures
1. In a heavy saucepan, heat the milk (or milk and cream) to 180 degrees, watching carefully to be sure it doesn’t boil. Elevating the temperature in this way thickens the final yogurt, so even if you are working with raw milk, do not delete this step.
2. When the milk reaches 180 degrees, remove it from the heat. Let it cool a bit and then pour the milk into a glass canning jar and let it continue to cool on the counter top. If you want to speed the cooling process, you can immerse the glass jar in a bowl of ice water.
3. Check the temperature every so often until the milk reaches 110 degrees, the optimum fermentation temperature. If you are using powdered yogurt culture, keep it frozen until the milk reaches 110 degrees. Then remove the culture from the freezer, shake the jar well, and pour the amount of culture needed onto your measuring spoon. (Do not dip the spoon into the culture as this may contaminate it.) Then add the culture, or the plain yogurt, to the milk and mix well.
4. Keep the mixture at 110 degrees for about 6-7 hours, or until it reaches the desired consistency.* Note that the yogurt will thicken as it cools so, with each batch, note the consistency after it has been refrigerated and then make adjustments with your next batch. (Yogurt fermented for 24 hours is said to be lactose-free.)
5. Refrigerate the finished yogurt and use within a few weeks.
*I generally use two different approaches for holding the temperature of the warm milk. With both, I begin by wetting a thin towel with warm water and wrapping it around the canning jar. Then I place the wrapped jar into a Salton 1-quart yogurt maker and cover it with the plastic lid. Or I put the wrapped jar into a small, sturdy cooler (not a lunch bag, but a real cooler) and surround it with more warm, wet towels. With this second approach, experience has taught me to re-warm the towels every couple of hours.
Other ways to hold the temperature are to place the canning jar into a large pot of warm water; then keep the water on the stove top over the lowest heat, checking the temperature of the water to be sure it hovers around 110 degrees. Or, if your oven has a reliable 110-degree setting, put the canning jar into the pot of 110-degree water and place the pot into the oven for the desired amount of time.
Copyright 2011, Ellen Arian, Ellen’s Food & Soul