Ok, I've recently discovered Greek yogurt, BUT I should have kept it to myself and not let the rest of my family taste it. A package of 4 single servings here in my town was almost $4.00. So...... I did a little research and decided to try making my own yogurt. It's actually quite easy to make, and at least I know it doesn't have any thickeners/additives in it. We all love it better than store-bought!
I started with a 2L of whole milk. I heated it in a double boiler.
I didn't stir it at all -- just waited until the temperature reached 175-180F.
When it cooled, I removed the milk from the double-boiler and let it cool to 110-120F.
You'll notice when it cools it has this thin layer of dried milk. I read this hint from another blogger. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of the milk, then pull up from the middle of the wrap and it will take that layer of dried milk right off!
Here's where you need to add some starter yogurt. If this is your first batch, use 2-3 TBSP from store-bought. Make sure it has "active bacteria" listed in the ingredients. For your second and subsequent batches, just same 2-3 TBSP of your homemade yogurt. I have a special container just for my starter.
I found that my first batch, made with the store-bought yogurt, was not as thick as the other batches I made.
You can also add a TBSP of vanilla extract at this point, and some honey or other sweetener. Two of us like it better without any sweetener or vanilla -- the others don't really mind one way or the other. Without sweetener it's obviously more sour. on a side note, I actually substituted some of the more sour yogurt for sour cream in a dip recipe I made. No one knew the difference!
If you add anything at this point, give it a whisk :-)
I then pour my yogurt into an old crock pot. I guess I could technically leave it in the saucepan, but I like using the crock pot. Wrap it in a heavy towel or blanket. Then I set my crock pot into my oven (which I turned the heat on for about 2 minutes). I then turn the heat off, and the light in my oven "on", and I leave the yogurt for 6-7 hours. Don't peek! Keep the heat inside.
I have made this late at night so it can set in my oven all night, while I'm not needing my oven for cooking.
With 2L of milk, I can get 6 cups of yogurt (three of these containers).
Now, if you like the thicker Greek-style yogurt, you can let your yogurt sit in a sieve (in a couple of layers of cheesecloth) and drain. What drains out is whey. Oh, and I've seen online that you can use this whey in fruit smoothies (I've tried it and it's fine), or for making rice. The downside of straining is that you lose about 1/2 of your yogurt.
After about an hour of straining, you can also tie it up and hang it to get even more whey out.
This is what the whey looks like.
There you have it! We love ours served with some fresh fruit of some homemade jams. Delicious!
Once you get one batch made, you can experiment with different flavours or different ways of making it. I've read about using the crock pot to set it (turned on LOW) or even putting the milk mixture, after letting it cool, right into jars and setting it in a cooler with some hot water bottles around it. Also, one idea I read about the mixture was poured into a thermos for 6-7 hrs and it set in there.
Let me know if you try some yourself, or if you have any tips/hints :-) Good luck!