1/4cupplain full-fat yogurt with live and active culturesas a starter
Make sure you have a tight-meshed strainer or a colander with cheesecloth to line it for straining the yogurt. You also need a meat thermometer to test the temperature of the yogurt.
Preheat oven to 225 degrees (warm).
Pour milk into clean 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring as needed so the milk doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan.
As soon as it starts to boil, remove pan from the heat and set aside. Let the milk cool to 120 degrees (if it’s too hot, the starter won’t work) and transfer to a ceramic or a glass container with a lid.
Stir in the starter and put the lid on.
Turn off oven and place container in oven. Turn on oven light. The goal is to keep the milk at a steady, low temperature for as long as possible—around 120 degrees—and the oven light is usually enough to do this. Place oven thermometer on lid of casserole so you can monitor the oven temperature.
Keep container in oven for 8-12 hours; if doubling the batch, add an additional hour. If the milk is ultra-pasteurized, it may take more time.
Remove container from oven (don’t forget to turn off the oven light!) and remove the lid. Do not stir! The mixture should look firm, almost gelatinized but a little watery.
Use a very tight mesh strainer or use kitchen-grade cheesecloth to line a strainer or colander that has a wider mesh. Secure cheesecloth at the top with string or very large rubber bands.
Insert strainer/colander into a large bowl and pour yogurt into strainer. Let drain for about 15 minutes, until liquid whey drains through strainer. The longer you drain it, the thicker it will get.
Portion yogurt into serving dishes or small “grab-n-go” containers. If you prefer, add fresh fruit, chopped nuts or a little honey for flavoring before serving. The longer you store the yogurt, the stronger the flavor will get.
Makes approximately 8 ounces.
For “regular” yogurt, do not strain. Instead, remove yogurt from oven, do not stir or strain and place yogurt directly into refrigerator to thicken further. Let chill overnight.
You must use relatively fresh yogurt as the starter. If it sits in your refrigerator for too long, some of the active cultures will die and the yogurt may not thicken properly.
Straining the yogurt is what turns it into a Greek-style yogurt, increasing its protein content and reducing the amount of sugar per serving.
Use the leftover liquid whey in baking (as a substitute for buttermilk, milk or water in pancakes, waffles, cookies, cakes, etc.), in cooking (add to rice, macaroni, cheese, sauces, etc.) or use it as a nutritional boost when you water your plants.