Once you get the right instructor.
For me, it was our friends Ani and Zareh. They are Armenian and grew up knowing how to make delicious yogurt. It is Zareh who gave me the instructions below.
Due to my independent streak, I attempted wavering from his recipe…I used a plastic bowl instead of glass or I put it in a jar in the oven with the oven light on instead of insulated on the counter or I didn’t do the finger test right or I wrapped blankets around the bowl instead of towels or…or…or…
But I finally gave in to conformity and did it like he told me. THAT’S when it finally worked out. I’d strongly recommend you conform too.
Start with a half-gallon of milk. With practice, you can do more or less. I use raw goat’s milk. He uses grocery store pasteurized cow’s milk. Either one works. Heat your milk to almost boiling then pour it into a glass bowl. I heat it in the glass bowl in the microwave. He heats it on the stove then pours it into a glass bowl. (That’s the ONLY thing I do differently).
Then get your starter ready. You already bought it at the grocery store, before you started making this yogurt. It is in the dairy section and is labeled very trickily “Yogurt”.
Many people, including this people, were scared to make yogurt or thought it would be too hard because of the starter. (I used to shudder at the thought, wondering what it was and where one could get it.) The recipes say…or the yogurt experts say…mix in your starter.
Well, now the cat’s outta the bag.
A starter is just yogurt. From someone else’s homemade batch, from your own homemade batch or from the grocery store.
Just be sure it is plain yogurt with “Live Active Cultures.” I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be considered yogurt if they were “Dead Active Cultures” but haven’t gotten into that yet.
Then, mix in a little regular milk just to get the starter kind of runny.
Now: DO THE FINGER TEST. Dip your finger into the hot milk. If it is hot, but not so hot that you have to pull your finger out, it is ready. If that’s too vague of a description, dip your finger in. Count to 10. If you don’t come out with a 3rd degree burn on your finger and your forehead sweating bullets, then it’s ready.
So, temper it with about a cup or so of the heated milk. Temper it means to slowly add the warm milk to the starter while stirring the starter so that the starter heats up slowly but doesn’t curdle. If it curdles, you’ll still have yogurt, it’ll just be grainy.
As long as the hot milk passed the finger test, you can now add the starter mixture.
Pour it in, slowly, while stirring to mix it throughout the warm milk.
Put a plastic cutting board on the counter.
Then spread out two bath towels. Preferably clean ones.
One going north to south, the other going east to west. Translation: One going one direction, the other going the other direction.
Start wrapping one side over the top of the bowl, pulling tight so the towel doesn’t fall into the bowl. Tuck it in around the bowl.
Then wrap the other side up and over.
Repeat the wrapping process with the second towel.
Let it sit at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
My milk was a little too hot when I put the starter in, so I think that’s why my yogurt came out so thick and with bubbles on the top. It is also more sour because it was hot.
But that there is some GOOD yogurt.
Now, add honey and vanilla or add pure maple syrup or add stevia drops or add granola or add fruit or, like Ani and Zareh do, add water to half a glass of yogurt and drink it!
– The Goat Cheese Lady