This is an updated post with photos and better directions. I originally posted it back in 2011 when I got my yogurt maker. This post also contains an Amazon Affiliate link
There are people out there who make yogurt in crockpots, or coolers, or in turkey roasters.
I am not one of those people.
I need the little machine to do it for me, because I don't want to have to think about it. Like my buddy Ron Popeil would say, "fix it and forget it".
I have the Donvier Yogurt Maker that was a gift that I received for Christmas a few years ago. I had some missteps with it at first, but once I figured out the problem - that the thermometer that came with it sucks - I made perfect yogurt each and every time. I now use the $5 candy thermometer that I found at a garage sale last summer.
We buy one half gallon of raw milk each week to use for cooking, baking, etc. We are not big milk drinkers, so typically the half gallon of milk has a few cups left at the end of the week. Milk that is in danger of going bad before it gets used. Instead of wasting it, I make yogurt one day before it expires. I hate wasting food, and I really hate the idea of wasting expensive raw milk!
Homemade Yogurt Yogurt Maker
Dependable candy thermometer
3 tblsp yogurt starter (my favorite is Brown Cow Cream Top Yogurt)
Milk (5 cups will fill the 8 cups in the yogurt maker)
1/2 vanilla bean, optional
1) In a pot, heat the milk (stirring often) until it reaches 190 degrees. You don't need to rush this step; I typically cook it on medium. If you want to make this "fancy", scrape the inside of half of a vanilla bean in to the pot. Use the discarded bean to flavor some homemade vanilla extract. Remove from heat.
2) Now, it's time to cool the milk. If you want to make this process go faster (like I usually do), I put the pot in a casserole dish filled with cold water. Stir often until the milk has dropped to 110 degrees.
3) Put your yogurt starter in one of the little yogurt cups, and pour a little bit of milk in the cup, and stir well to combine. I like to stir until the mixture looks super smooth.
Now, I'm not saying that spilling some milk will make better yogurt, but it is a little trick that I've learned along the way.
4) Put mixture back IN to the pot with the milk, and stir for about a minute.
5) Divy up the milk mixture in to each cup, and put the lid on.
6) Put the cups in the yogurt maker, and put the dome lid on. Set the timer for your desired time. After much trial and error, I've found that 12 hours is perfect for the consistency that we prefer.
Except for using the vanilla bean to flavor the milk, I don't add any sweetener. If you want to flavor the yogurt, add it after the fact. We usually use homemade jam or blackberry pancake syrup.