With honey and granola, it's almost a dessert!
I have been asked several times how I make our yogurt, and this time of year I make it frequently. Milk is abundant with the new grass, we eat more cold breakfasts and I make a lot of smoothies. Gemma eats yogurt every day. She likes it with pureed fruit, and she likes it plain, too.
Anyway, here is the way I go about it. There are many ways to make yogurt, but they all are the same in the basics. Since I make four quarts at a time, I start with a scant gallon of fresh milk, generally straight from the cow so that it is already warm and takes less time to bring to a scald. I have tried making the yogurt without scalding the milk in order to preserve the enzymes, but haven't had luck with it. It always turns out soupy.
I rinse the pot with cold water before putting in the milk, as this prevents milk from burning on the bottom. I pour in the milk and bring it to a scald on medium heat. I use a dairy thermometer to watch the temperature. It takes quite a long time for it to cool to the right temperature for adding the culture, 100-110 degrees.
In the meantime, I prepare my "incubator", which is one of these:
My heating element is one of these:
See the warning there? That's me, throwing caution to the wind. I like to live dangerously. I've even been known to eat things past their expiration dates. I turn the pad on to medium and put in my towels, and close it up to get warm.
When the milk is about ready, I fill my clean jars with hot water and set out my canning funnel and a sieve.
The milk will have formed quite a skin on top, so I carefully skim that off and plop it in the pig bucket. My yogurt culture is just a cup of yogurt (about 1/4 cup per scant quart of milk) saved from my last batch. If I am totally out, I'll use the Dannon All Natural Plain Yogurt, not the nonfat. I let it warm to room temperature, or put it in a water bath to speed the process up. Then I wisk it smooth and stir it into the milk. I also add a couple of tablespoons of powdered milk and wisk that in as well.
Then I empty the jars, one at a time, and place the canning funnel in the jar with the sieve resting in it. I pour the milk into the jars, close them up and place them in the incubator.
I insulate them with dishtowels, and place one on top. Newspapers folded around them would work, too.
Then I let every thing sit for about 6 hours. I tilt a jar gently to see if the contents look solid. There will be a layer of yellow cream on top, and the whey will show (this disappears when the yogurt is chilled). I let it set on the counter until it is room temperature before placing it in the fridge.
That's all there is to that!