I've been making my own yogurt for quite some time. The girls, Lila especially, love it. We go through a half-gallon of plain yogurt a week.
Some people think I must labor long and hard when making yogurt. Here's a secret: It's fairly quick, easy, it saves a lot of money and it's a lot healthier because we sweeten it with maple syrup or honey and I use a fantastic culture that makes a thick, creamy, very mild yogurt. I don't have to use thickeners. Have you noticed the high sugar content of flavored yogurt in the grocery stores? If it isn't organic yogurt, it's, most likely, sweetened with HFCS. In my opinion, 90% of all yogurt in the grocery store is junk food. With fillers and HFCS, the only benefit is the culture in it. Often, organic yogurt still has fillers, a high sugar content and/or it's quite expensive.
So, here's what I do and use:
- Heat half gallon of local, organic whole milk to 180-degrees. Remove from heat and cool to 118-115 degrees (about 20-minutes in fridge or use an ice bath and monitor temperature carefully-I use an immersion digital thermometer and set timer to check frequently so I don't forget about it). Note: Please do not use ultra-pasteurized milk (UHT). It is heated at very high heat, therefore, killing almost all nutrients and good bacteria. This milk does not provide a good environment/host for culture and you will, often, get a very thin yogurt. I've tested this and found it to be true.
- Pour cooled milk into Yogotherm jug. Sprinkle in 1/8th teaspoon of ABY-2C yogurt culture. Close lid and shake gently. Set jug in Yogotherm, cover, and let rest on counter for six-eight hours. Cool in fridge before serving. Drizzle local honey or maple syrup to sweeten. Add fruit, vanilla, etc. Lila likes her yogurt with honey and a dollop of peanut butter.
You'll also see a few recipes on my side-bar in which you can use your homemade yogurt: Waffle/pancake recipe (add honey or maple syrup to the batter in that recipe to taste as she doesn't add any and it needs a little bit, in my opinion), chocolate coffee cake and baked oatmeal (We call this breakfast cake = YUMMO!)
Tip: If you save one cup of yogurt, you can use that to stir in your half-gallon of cooled milk when making your next batch instead of using culture, thus saving money! You can do this once or twice before needing fresh culture.
I spend $3.75 on a half gallon of organic, local milk. A half gallon of delicious, organic yogurt for $3.75! A steal!
You can find the Yogotherm and culture I use here: Dairy Connection
Cultures for Health also has great yogurt cultures (Belgium, Greek, etc) and also buttermilk, kefir and more. Also a great selection of supplies.