We love yogurt. We especially love the thick, creamy Greek-style yogurt that has become so popular lately. And just like everything else we have learned to do, making yogurt was a trial and error process. The recipe that follows is more of a guideline than a hard and fast recipe. The conditions in your kitchen will not be the same as the conditions in my kitchen. Because we do not have air-conditioning at our house, the conditions in my kitchen vary drastically throughout the year, and therefore, so does my yogurt making. I have one blanket for summer yogurt incubation and another for winter!
I have stopped using reserved yogurt as my starter. I have found much more consistent results from using the whey that was strained from the last week’s yogurt. However, you cannot strain commercial yogurt and use that whey as a starter. That series of experiments was an epic fail!
Homemade Greek-Style Yogurt
3 ½ Cups of whole milk (see note below)
½ C plain yogurt (either commercial with LIVE cultures, or reserved from your last batch) OR 1/2 C whey from your last batch of yogurt
Heat the milk on the stove slowly. If you are using pasteurized milk, heat to 180° F, and let cool to 110° F. If you are using raw milk, heat to 110° F. Whisk in the ½ C yogurt or whey. Transfer to a quart size mason jar and place the jar and a heating pad inside a little cooler. Turn the heating pad onto Medium. Incubate for 4-8 hours, depending on how tart you like your yogurt. After the yogurt has incubated, put it in the refrigerator until it is completely cooled (I usually leave it overnight). The next morning, place a flour sack towel inside a sieve and place the sieve on a bowl. If you have used raw milk, scrape the “cream” from the top and reserve in a small bowl. Put the rest of the yogurt in the sieve. Add the cream back on the top. Put it back in the fridge and let is strain for two or three hours. Reserve the whey for lacto-fermenting (it will keep in a jar in the fridge for a couple of months). Invert the sieve into the bowl and peel the towel off the yogurt and enjoy! My children LOVE this yogurt salted for dipping vegetables.
NOTE: I feel that grass-fed raw milk gives the best, most consistent results. If you cannot get raw milk, try to find grass-fed milk that is not homogenized. If you can’t find that, then settle for organic milk that has not been ultra-pasteurized.