It seems somehow improbable that a person should be able to make yogurt. Shouldn't yogurt manufacturers have figured out how to hybridize their cultures by now, a la Monsanto, to create a product that can't be replicated by any fool with a pot and a thermometer?
Apparently not, because I am that fool. I made yogurt yesterday.
This is one of those things that I've been thinking for some time I should be doing. Unlike baking bread, which I know I WON'T do because I'm the only one who eats it and besides, I really, really hate kneading. It makes my hands and wrists ache.
Unlike the bread of which I am the sole consumer, we all eat yogurt. A LOT of yogurt. Including Cubby. And it's surprisingly difficult sometimes to find whole milk, plain yogurt. Low-fat plain yogurt seems much more common, for reasons I cannot fathom. So to get our whole milk, plain kind, we have to buy fancy name-brand stuff that costs about three bucks a quart. Know how much yogurt you can make with a three-dollar gallon of milk? Four quarts.
I think we can all see the cost advantages here.
Despite the overwhelming reasons making yogurt makes sense for me, I never did it because, in addition to kneading, I really, really hate messing around with thermometers in the kitchen. It's so boring, all this standing around watching the mercury rise and hovering until the correct temperature is reached, at which point I spring into action and rush to do whatever needs to be done before whatever it is cools off.
Plus, the prevalent method I was seeing for making yogurt without a purpose-made yogurt maker involved a slow cooker and took about 12 hours. Granted, the majority of that is not hands-on time, but I don't want to have to try to remember anything for twelve hours.
Which is why, when I happened upon this method that does indeed require the dreaded temperature gauging but only takes a few hours sitting around in a cooler after that, I decided to try it.
Fooling with the thermometer was as irritating as I expected it would be, but after that, I just stuck the jars of liquid hopefully-to-be-yogurt in the cooler with hot water. When I retrieved them three hours later, they had thickened up noticeably, and an hour in the refrigerator produced recognizable yogurt. Hooray! Take THAT, Dannon!
I didn't use particularly good milk--just the store milk we had around--and the yogurt I used for a starter was fairly mild, so the yogurt I made is correspondingly mild. In the future, I may try using some Greek yogurt as a starter to make tangier yogurt and then drain it to make it thick like Greek yogurt. But I'm happy with the results of my first yogurt-making attempt.
So it appears I'll be making our yogurt from now on. But bread? Forget about it. Pepperidge Farm works for me.