It's actually not nearly as intimidating as it sounds! (Soap is much harder.) All you need are a few key ingredients and supplies and a sense of adventure and you end up with creamy, fresh, homemade yogurt. (Not only tasty, but MUCH cheaper than buying it!!)
I don't really follow an exact recipe, so bear with me.
Pour a bunch of milk in a pot. I use organic milk from our local dairy, but any milk will do, I think. Have fun and experiment! Let us know how it goes! (Unless you use breastmilk. We don't want to know about that.)
Heat the milk to 180 degrees. Here it is very helpful to have a candy thermometer. The milk will be almost boiling--with little bubbles around the edges. But I find it much easier to ignore the bubbles and just look at the thermometer.
Next cool the milk down to 112 degrees. You can place your entire pot in an ice bath. Or put your pot in the fridge. Or just leave it out. Whatever floats your boat. Again, though, it is nice to have a candy thermometer here. ($3 at Wal-mart.)
While you are waiting for your milk to cool, heat up your containers. For one pot of milk, I used three big yogurt containers. I just put them in the sink in hot water.
Now add your starter. WHAT STARTER?! you ask. Never fear. Just add some yogurt to your milk (a little store-bought container will do--you just need to make sure it has "live and active cultures".) Mix it up. You can also add a little sugar at this point to "speed up the bacteria growth." That's right folks, we are growing bacteria!
Pour the milk into the containers. Put the lids on. You now get to incubate your yogurt. There are many methods to this madness, but my favorite is the heating pad method, so that is what I will show you. You are welcome to research others...
I put a cutting board down to protect the counters, then place the heating pad on top and cover it with a towel. Put your yogurts on top of this and wrap them all up in another towel. Put the heating pad on medium heat and let the yogurt incubate for about 8 hours or so.
Warning! You kind of need to babysit your yogurt. It's not like babysitting an infant or anything, more like a 10 year old girl. Just a little bit of supervision here and there. The first time I tried to make yogurt I let it incubate overnight. Fail. The heating pad has an automatic shut off feature!!! The yogurt needs to stay between 90 and 120 degrees the whole time. So I ended up with weird milk stuff. Now I just do it during the day, so I can periodically make sure that the heating pad is still on.
That's it!!! We like thick yogurt, so at this stage I start the process for making Greek yogurt--see my previous post. It's super yummy and creamy and not as tart as store bought stuff.
Oh, I should mention, this is plain, unsweetened yogurt. Add fruit or honey if you don't want to feel like you are eating straight up sour cream. :)
So I know that seems like a lot of steps and somewhat daunting, but it is really easy! Give it a try!!!
All you need:
a small thing of store-bought yogurt (with live and active cultures)
a little sugar (if desired)
old yogurt containers
a heating pad
a sense of adventure :)