Rather than re-writing what I’ve learned in Nourishing Traditions and The Maker’s Diet, I’ll just go ahead and direct you to Kelly’s post on the subject if you’re not familliar with why raw real whole milk is the best. I’m just here to show you pictures of how to make yogurt.
You only need a dab of yogurt to culture the entire half gallon of milk into yogurt. I spread most of it into ice cube trays to freeze for next time and left about 2 tablespoons in the bottom of the container for this batch. This is french vanilla organic yogurt with live cultures. I’ve used cheap plain Walmart yogurt before, and it works just fine. The main thing is you need the live cultures.
Heat the milk in a heavy pot. I heat it over medium low until it’s just barely too hot to touch.
Then allow it to cool until it’s comfortable to touch. Any warmer than this and you might kill the cultures.
Next mix in either 2 cubes of yogurt (thawed, not in the microwave!) or the dab that’s left in the bottom of your yogurt container. Mix it in with a fork or whisk to get it all spread through the warm milk.
Pour the yogurt mixture in something that has a lid to incubate it in. I use mason jars usually, this time a mason jar and the plastic yogurt container that I already had out. Plastic most likely isn’t ideal…
Put the filled containers in a cooler and add warm/hot water to the bottom. You want them to stay warm. I go ahead and add water to about an inch below the lid of the lowest container (don’t want water in my yogurt). I usually do this in a big cooler, but since I was only doing half a gallon today and I was too lazy to go out to the garage, I used hubby’s lunch water cooler.
Close the lid as much as possible. I also draped a towel over the whole thing. I did the yogurt mixing part during nap time, then changed the water out for hot water again before going to bed. You want it to stay warm so the yogurt cultures.
And in the morning we have yogurt. You can refrigerate it, or do what I did and turn it into whey and cream cheese.
Updated: Cream Cheese and Whey pics here