Homemade yogurt, though sounding intimidating, is nearly fool-proof to make once you give it a try, and really doesn’t have to involve any complicated heavy machinery. You have the freedom to use any variety and percentage of milk that you prefer, and after your first batch, you will probably never buy store-bought again! Yogurt makes a great starter for cheesecakes, dips, soups, and many desserts. It has the versatility to be sweet or savory, and I encourage you to start with a plain (milk and cultures only) variety, and then branch out.
*this yogurt is freshly made, served warm, and topped with grated cinnamon, flaxseed meal, and a generous drizzle of honey!
1 quart Milk (whatever percent you prefer)
Yogurt culture or 1/2 cup live, active culture plain yogurt, such as Chobani (I prefer the thicker Greek) *you can get yogurt culture through the mail or at a specialty store
Vanilla extract and/or Stevia extract if desired
+ 1 packet gelatin if you are looking for a firmer consistency
1) Pour milk into a double-boiler if you have one, if not, a heavy bottomed soup pot will do. Bring up to a boil, about 180 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, simply wait until the milk boils and begins to crawl up the sides of the pan. You can turn the burner off now, or you can bring the heat back down & continue to simmer & steam for another 15 minutes to further thicken the final product.
*If you plan on using gelatin to thicken yogurt, you need to allow it to bloom. This is simply sprinkling gelatin into a small of dish of cool liquid (in this case, milk) and allowing it soften, that way when you pour mixture into your boiling milk, it will dissolve evenly.
2) Once you are done boiling/simmering the milk, let it cool enough to touch comfortably. You can also speed this process by pouring the milk out into a bowl set in a sink with a few inches of cold water. If you notice that the milk forms a skin, or has any scorched bits from the bottom of the pan (hopefully not, but your yogurt is still salvageable!) then pour it through a fine sieve.
3) If you are using pre-existing yogurt, let it sit out until its room temperature, and then whisk it thoroughly into the milk, adding vanilla extract and stevia extract or sugar, as desired.
4) Pour yogurt into jars from yogurt machine, if you have one, or if not, and truly equally as easy, into a saucepan or bowl with a lid, and let set for a minimum of 6 hours and up to 12 hours, until firm. If you are using a yogurt machine, set the dial for your prefered time. If not, set the saucepan/covered bowl on top of a heating pad set on low and cover with a cotton towel. Yogurt developes a more tart flavor the longer you allow it to set.
5) After yogurt has set, 6 to 12 hours, refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably longer, to allow it too cool. It will keep for up to 2 weeks. You should save about 1/2 cup of your own homemade yogurt to use as the starter (portion containing live, active cultures) for your next batch.
6) Serve with a variety of toppings, such as homemade granola, dried cranberries & honey & cinnamon, fresh fruit, jam, or whatever suites your fancy.