Here's how I did it:
Things you need
1/2 gallon milk
2-3 TBS. Plain yogurt with live cultures (check the label)
8 oz. Whipping cream (the liquid, not the fluff you put on dessert)
5 pint jars
Instant read thermometer
Crockpot (or other warm place for incubation)
A canning funnel might also be helpful
Before starting, preheat your jars and crockpot by filling them with warm water (like pictured above) and turning the crockpot on low until they are around 110-115 degrees, then turn it to 'Warm' or off.
1. In a large pan, heat milk to 180 degrees F, stirring more and more as it heats up.
2. Take the pan off the heat and put in an ice bath, stirring until cooled to about 110 degrees F. I did this by putting ice and cold water in my kitchen sink and putting the pan in it. It only took a couple minutes for the milk to cool down. Take the pan out of the ice bath as soon as it reaches 110 degrees.
3. Scoop out 1/2 cup of warm milk and stir 2-3 TBS of plain yogurt into it. Then put the mixture into the large pan and wisk it in good.
4. One at a time, empty the warm water out of your preheated jars and fill them with the warm milk mixture. Place them into the warm-water crockpot. Keep the temperature at 110 degrees for 4-5 hours. Don't set the crockpot on low and walk away! Keep the thermometer in the water and check on it from time to time, adjusting the heat and lid as needed. (prep time up until this point was only about 20 minutes) I did end up setting canning lids on the tops to prevent a milk film from forming.
5. Do something fun while you wait for your yogurt to 'work'; something like, say, paint your nails like candycorn and watch The Wonder Years. :-)
When the yogurt is set up, you will see it separate when you tip the jar. Hopefully you can see that in this picture:
6. Line a colander with coffee filters or clean t-shirt cloth. Pour the yogurt into the colander, which should sit in a large bowl to catch the whey. Note: if you use cheesecloth, you will likely loose some yogurt through the holes in the fabric.
7. Let the yogurt strain for several hours until it reaches the thickness you like. Greek yogurt is typically very thick and won't pour off the spoon when you turn it upside down. I let my yogurt strain for 7 hours and it wasn't as thick as some Greek yogurt I've seen, but it was thicker than regular yogurt. I has the consistency of sour cream.
8. Put the yogurt into a bowl and stir well to even out the texture. If it's too thick, stir in some of the whey until it's the consistency you like. Store in a quart jar in the fridge. Don't throw away the whey! Store it in a jar in the fridge and add it to your baked goods for extra nutrients.
Here is my finished product! The whey is on the left and the yogurt is on the right. It's a little tart for me to eat plain, so I like to add fruit, granola, vanilla, or whatever I'm in the mood for. Try this sometime, if you haven't already. It's not hard to do, and most of the work is done for you in the crockpot. It's a great project for when the kids are at school or for the weekend.
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