Well, folks I did it! I successfully made my own yogurt. It tastes delicious and was so easy. This is something that I have thought would be fun to do for years, but was somehow convinced it was a really difficult process and I would need lots of special equipment that would end up costing lots more than what I would actually save by making it myself.
Thanks to Tammy who made it seem possible and then this fabulous blog that made it seem so easy that there was no reason to not give it a try.
What you need:
A Crockpot (mine is a 3.5 quart)
A thick bath towel
1/2 gallon of milk (I used whole milk but I hear any kind of milk will work)
1/2 cup natural yogurt (you know, the kind of nasty - no flavor added kind you buy at the store. After you make your first batch, you can use 1/2 cup of your own yogurt next time instead of the store bought kind)
1/2 cup powdered milk (you don't really this - it just makes the yogurt thicker)
Now, here's what you do:
Pour the milk into the Crockpot, put the lid on, and turn to Low for 2 1/2 hours.
After 2 1/2 hours, turn the Crockpot off and let sit for 3 hours (DO NOT remove the lid - just unplug the machine and let it be).
When the 3 hours are up, scoop out 2 cups of the warm milk and put it in a bowl with the 1/2 cup store-bought yogurt and powered milk. Stir until mixed, then throw it all back into the Crockpot and mix it up. Put the lid back on and then wrap the entire Crockpot (remember, it's still unplugged) in a big bath towel. Then let it sit for about 8 hours.
When the 8 hours are up - unwrap your Crockpot, take the lid off, and just like that you have YOGURT!
(I started the process at 4:30pm. Cooked milk until 7pm, let it sit until 10pm, added the yogurt and powdered milk, then went to bed and left it until about 6:30 the next morning.)
As soon as I took the lid off, I could smell the tangy yogurt smell which meant success! You can enjoy a bowl right away, but after that be sure to put the remainder in the fridge. After about 8 hours or so in the fridge it will thicken up a bit more.
I chose to leave my yogurt plain and just add what I want to each individual serving I dish up. That way I can make it sweeter if I'm in the mood for sweet, or not as sweet if I'm not in the mood. You can store in fridge for at least 7-10 days (one site I read said up to three weeks, but as good as this stuff is, I don't think you'll have a problem eating it within the 7 days).
Here's a picture of the yogurt and dressed up with some maple syrup (or you could use honey) and frozen raspberries. It's a bit of heaven on earth (the bowl really doesn't do it justice, please excuse it - we are poor students, remember? My bowl options consist of the bowl you see or an oversized, very awkward squarish, ceramic thing with a few cracks through the center).