I started my first batch of homemade yogurt last night before I went to bed. I followed Sally Fallon's super easy directions in Nourishing Traditions.Instead of obsessing about keeping the temperate at an even 110 degrees Fahrenheit, you just leave it comfortably warm and forget about it. It worked. I left it overnight in the oven (I had initially preheated it to warm, then turned the oven off before adding the yogurt mixture). By morning it was fairly well set but still a little too watery so I turned the oven back on for about five minutes (I didn't even bother to take the yogurt out), then off again, and in a few more hours the yogurt was ready.
Lately I've been eating tons of yogurt, in the form of yogurt cheese drizzled with a little honey and topped with some crumbled walnuts. It's my latest favorite snack, but I've been going through a lot of yogurt. This is great now to know how easily I can make my own. And all the whey left over from turning the yogurt into yogurt cheese can be used for more experiments with lacto-fermentation. Another win-win situation.
To make homemade yogurt:
Heat a quart of whole milk slowly on the stove until it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from the heat and cool to 110 degrees. Stir in 1/2 cup live-culture yogurt. Preheat your oven to warm, then turn off. Pour yogurt mixture into a shallow baking dish, cover, place in oven and leave over night. In the morning you should have yogurt (or, in my case, in a few more hours with a little more heat added).
To make yogurt cheese:
Line a strainer with dampened cheesecloth, and place over a bowl. Add yogurt. Fold excess cheesecloth over the top of the yogurt, then place a weight on top (I usually just stick the quart-sized honey jar on top, precariously balanced). Wait about an hour for the whey to drip out, then fold the yogurt cheese into a bowl and eat. I add honey and walnuts, but it can be used for savory things as well (i.e., adding minced garlic to create a soft cheese spread for veggies or crackers). Save the whey for other uses--it should keep in the fridge for about 6 months.