This is the long version, which I should have posted months ago and didn’t realize was missing from the website.
– milk (whole is yummiest, but you can use any real milk – from cows, goats, sheep, buffalo, you get the idea)
– yogurt (choose your favorite texture and flavor, because your yogurt will take on these characteristics, too)
(YES, it’s that simple!)
1. Heat the milk. To kill off any bad bacteria, and to break apart the casein proteins in the milk so the yogurt will gel more easily, boil the mill until it foams and rises. To retain the complete enzymes and bacteria of raw milk, heat the milk to your desired temperature. Remove from heat.
2. Let milk cool until it reaches 120°F. I use my fingers – when I can stick my fingers in the milk for 2-3 seconds until it’s too hot, then it’s ready. Inoculate the milk with live active cultures. This means, mix in about 2 T of yogurt for each quart of milk. Mix a small amount of milk with the yogurt, whisk well to remove any lumps, and then stir this yogurt mixture back into the warm milk.
3. Pour this inoculated milk into your incubating container. This should be some sort of glass or ceramic container with a top – it is not necessary for the top to be airtight, so you can simply set a plate over the top of a bowl if you like.
4. Incubate the yogurt at 105-110°F for 6-10 hours. The longer you incubate your yogurt, the thicker and more tangy it will become. Keep the temperature as consistent as possible during this time, and try not to jostle the yogurt. There are lots of methods of incubation, and it may take some time to find the best one for your lifestyle and environment, but here are some ideas:
- Wrap your yogurt in dish towels and place over the pilot light of your stove.
- Heat hot water, pour it into a cooler, place yogurt in the hot water, and close the top of the cooler.
- Wrap the yogurt in an electric blanket or heating pad.
- Heat a pizza stone, place it in a warm oven, put your yogurt in, and close the door to retain the heat.
- During the summer, it may be possible to make yogurt by just leaving the jar on the kitchen counter, perhaps in the sun, for longer than 10 hours. Be patient – I have met a few people on this trip who incubate their yogurt at a lower temperature for 24-48 hours.
5. Once your yogurt has reached its desired consistency, place it in the refrigerator and keep it chilled for a couple of weeks. It will leak whey and become more sour as the days pass, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone bad.
6. To learn about straining yogurt, read this post.