We live in a somewhat remote Southeastern Kentucky “city”, population 750. I am so grateful to have a grocery store that is only about a five minute drive, but it does not carry everything I would like. One item that is nonexistent on the shelves is plain yogurt. So when we moved here a year and a half ago, I decided I would have to learn to make yogurt. I had looked over yogurt recipes in the past and found them intimidating. One day on the web, I discovered a Crock-pot (slow-cooker) yogurt recipe and decided to try it. I have never had it fail. The yogurt is a little thinner than some might like, but it is great for baking, soaking grains, smoothies, and just plain eating. It will work with any milk, but I use whole milk. Lower fat milk will result in more whey which seperates to the top but can still be used. Just stir before use, or pour off the whey to use in recipes. Here is the method:
Heat a 1/2 gallon of milk in a Crock-pot on high for 2 1/2 hours. Turn off Crock-pot. Let cool for 3 hours. Remove 1 cup of milk. Add 1/2 cup of plain yogurt and mix. Pour into Crock-pot and stir. Wrap Crockpot with 2 bath towels. Let sit 8-12 hours. Stir. Store in glass quart containers. Refrigerate 8 hours before using. Yield is 2 quarts and a bit more.
Since my local grocery store does not carry plain yogurt to use as the starter, when we are out of the area at a larger grocery store, I puchase a quart of plain yogurt. When I come home, I put 1/2 cup amounts in small containers and freeze for when I need it to start a new batch.
We use plain yogurt in a variety of ways at our house. The children enjoy a bowl of plain yogurt mixed with a teaspoon of jam. For smoothies, in a blender, I put a handful of raw spinach, several cups of partly thawed frozen fruit such as strawberries or peaches, a cup or so of yogurt, and a bit of orange or other fruit juice poured over top. Yogurt can be substituted for part of the oil or butter in baked goods. To soak whole wheat flour or oatmeal for bread, pancakes, waffles, and baked oatmeal, yogurt can be used as the souring agent.