Learning a new skill is never pretty. At least not in my case. There are always smears and smudges (blood and bones) left as trail markers on the path of skill development. I prefer to do my learning in the quiet privacy of my home, or a safe group of close friends.
Well, here I am, learning several new skills (blogging, photography, tutorial) and it is in a very public venue -- that is to say if anyone other than you felt like looking at this, they could. I am trying to hide in in a corner of the world wide web and learn quietly, but I promised some Relief Society sisters my slide show and this is how I told them to reach it. Now I have put it off almost a whole week. It really isn't going to get any better than this. (sadly!)
At least I didn't have a learning curve on the yogurt making -- just the blogging about it. I have (in the quiet privacy of my own home) made plenty of mistakes, blunders, fumbles with powdered milk (not least of all drinking the stuff!) but here I am pretty sure that you almost can't go wrong.
(that is to say I won't take credit if you do...)
Why would you want to make your own yogurt? Because it is SO easy that you will wonder why anyone pays for the stuff at the grocery store.
Add about 1/3 of cup less than recipe calls for.
You are trying to make slightly thicker milk than regular
You need about a quart of water
Pour it into a large but shallow pot with a heavy bottom
It's a pot not a person so yes I can make personal comments like that.
Next you need to measure the powdered milk
Don't look at this picture too closely, because you really need 1 1/2 cups of milk powder rather than 1 1/3...
Stir it up well
It's okay to have foam.
Heat milk on medium low
I promise there really is a flame there and I did not put my family in danger of gas inhalation.
Heat to 180 degrees
This kills off the bad bugs and leaves all that nice warm milk for the yogurt babies.
Let the milk cool to 90-100 degrees
Please be careful: I take no responsibility for burns (or other injuries) but I wait about 1/2 hour and then put my wrist on the side of the pot. If it feels skin temperature than it is good to go.
Add 2-4 TBS of yogurt
The less starter the longer it takes to culture. (The longer it takes to culture the tarter the flavor.) Don't overdo the starter though or you will curdle the milk and get lumpy, cheesy yogurt. Yogurt cheese is my next tutorial. Hang onto your hats...
A word about your starting culture
Make sure it has active live cultures. I like to splurge and get the kind of yogurt that my family could never afford to eat a quart of every day but would like to. Plain is best, but vanilla will work. In a pinch I have used the top non-fruit-gunky portion of a fruit-(gunky)-on-the-bottom single serve cup. After your initial start you can use homemade yogurt as your starter. I like to buy a quart container and divide it into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Two cubes is about 4 tablespoons and you don't have to get the milk to such a low temperature because the frozen starter will cool it while it is melting.
Pour inoculated milk into clean canning jars
I know everyone says you have to sterilize everything, but I have 5 children and nothing in my house is sterile. Don't eat it if it smells funny (as in not like yogurt) and every couple of generations (yogurt generations, not family generations) start with fresh store bought starter. After the first few times you will know if it is different than it should be.
This is how much I usually get
Not including the inevitable spills...
Now fill a small cooler with very hot tap water
If your hot water heater is set properly it should be somewhere around 120 degrees or so and will work nicely for this. Please disregard the grungies on the sink. They are, of course figments of your imagination, or blemishes on your computer screen.
Place lidded jars in hot water
There are many, many other ways to incubate your yogurt babies, but this one works for me every time. No one sneezes into it, or turns on the oven with out checking, or takes my thermos and puts worms in it this way.
Let sit undisturbed for 4-6 hours
As mentioned above, the shorter the time it takes to set up, the less tart the yogurt will be. Other things that affect the tartness of the yogurt are milk fat (um... it is supposed to be nonexistent in powdered milk so expect this to be a bit on the tart side) and sweeteners added (again, none here...)
Set up yogurt
I love it best on homemade granola. (maybe once a year...)
Next up is yogurt cheese...