These days, I love my yoghurt and feel lost if we go away for an overnighter and I don't have it for my breakfast. I also use it to feed fussy children by stirring through jams (unlimited flavouring options by eating it this way), it has a million uses in baking cakes and other goodies, we stir it through curries and I often make a minty raita for dipping naan breads in. It also makes great smoothies and hair conditioner (yes, seriously!). Making it at home saves you a bundle - it works out to be about a third of the cost of the bought variety, often less - depending on what type of milk is used.
The following method is the way that I had always read about how to make yoghurt, (if you are interested in reading more about making it from scratch - try a google search on "Dahi", [Indian for yoghurt], you will find the information that comes up much more comprehensive than searching for 'yoghurt').
To start off with, you will need:
1 litre (1 quart) of full cream (organic if it pleases you), milk
2 tbs of natural yoghurt (from a previous batch, a generous friend or from a small bought tub
A jar or large container big enough to hold one litre (1 quart) of liquid
To start off, pour the milk into a saucepan and allow it to heat over medium-low heat until it is just about to reach a simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent a skin forming. This heating changes the protein structure in the milk, therefore allowing it to be turned into yoghurt. Allow the milk to cool down (20 minutes or so), until you can hold your pinky finger in it for 10 seconds, comfortably.
Pour a small amount of the warm milk (1/2 cup), into a cup and add the 2 tbs of natural yoghurt. Whisk with a fork to combine and then pour this 'starter' back into the pot of warm milk. The temperature of the milk here is vital, if it is too hot the heat will kill all of those beneficial organisms in the yoghurt, preventing it from setting your new batch. Lukewarm is the key here. Stir the milk well.
Pour the warm milk/yoghurt mixture into a clean, dry glass or plastic container (1 litre/1 quart) capacity. In my case, a cleaned out coffee jar from hubbie's work.
Fit the lid and wrap snugly in a blanket or towel and place somewhere warm and undisturbed for 8- 10 hours. Lucky for us, it was a chilly day and the fire was going!
If you prefer yoghurt that is milder, pull it out as soon as it sets, possibly after 6-8 hours. If more of a 'tang' is your thing, leave it in there for 10-12 hours.
If you forget about if for 24 hours, don't worry it will still be fine, (although I would imagine it would be mouth puckeringly 'tangy'!)
The yoghurt, after 10 hours incubation, and overnight in the fridge.
We (ok, I), consume a litre of yoghurt in one week, sometimes less. I have heard it can keep for up to 2 weeks, although I couldn't say for sure because ours doesn't last that long.
So..... you like the idea of homemade yoghurt but just can't be bothered with all this heating of the milk business and incubating in a blanket?
Stay tuned for part two - homemade yoghurt for the busy person, (prepared in the time it takes to boil a kettle).