Homemade Yogurt
What is Yogurt?  Yogurt is a fermented milk product produced
by bacterial fermentation of milk. The bacteria used to make
yogurt are known as "yogurt cultures".
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In a nut shell that's what yogurt is.  
I want to add though that yogurt
can also be:  a complete meal, a party favorite, a snack, and a dessert!

It is a wonderful versatile very nutritional food.  Even people who are
lactose intolerant can usually enjoy a cup of yogurt.  Freeze it and put it in
a cone, use it in recipes or just add a little fruit and make it a yummy treat!  
Any way you have it, it is a wonderful food!
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What are the web benefits of yogurt? (from WebMD)

First off, your body needs to have a healthy amount of ''good'' bacteria
in the digestive tract, and many yogurts are made using active, good
bacteria. One of the words you’ll be hearing more of in relation to
yogurt is ''probiotics.'' Probiotic, which literally means ''for life,'' refers to
living organisms that can result in a health benefit when eaten in
adequate amounts.

Miguel Freitas, PhD, medical marketing manager for Dannon Co., says
the benefits associated with probiotics are specific to certain strains of
these "good" bacteria. Many provide their benefits by adjusting the
microflora (the natural balance of organisms) in the intestines, or by
acting directly on body functions, such as digestion or immune function.
(Keep in mind that the only yogurts that contain probiotics are those
that say "live and active cultures" on the label.)

And let us not forget that yogurt comes from milk. So yogurt eaters will
also get a dose of animal protein (about 9 grams per 6-ounce serving),
plus several other nutrients found in dairy foods, like calcium, vitamin B-
2, B-12, potassium, and magnesium.

In fact, the health benefits of yogurt are so impressive that many health-
conscious people make it a daily habit.  Here are five possible health
benefits of having a yogurt a day:

Benefit No. 1: Yogurt May Help Prevent Osteoporosis
Benefit No. 2: Yogurt May Reduce the Risk of High Blood Pressure
Benefit No. 3: Yogurt With Active Cultures Helps the Gut
Benefit No. 4: Yogurt With Active Cultures May Discourage Vaginal
Infections
Benefit No. 5: Yogurt May Help You Feel Fuller
One of the perks of making homemade yogurt (besides the fact that it has
no unnatural additives!) is that it is much easier on the wallet in todays
economical society.  Store bought yogurt, depending on what kind you
purchase, is roughly $1.00 per 5 ounce container (Greek yogurt).   
Homemade yogurt runs about 25-30 cents for 6 ounces.

Also if you read the label on the yogurt some contain no cultures at all, just
gelatin and starch to thicken them.  OK I think you get the benefits of
making your own yogurt so lets get started!
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I like to use powdered milk.  I use the non-fat dry milk in my yogurt, but you
can use store bought milk, skim, 2% or whole milk.  There is no added
benefit to using all fat milk though, so I prefer to use the non fat.  The
finished product is just as tasty. (if  you are using powdered milk, mix 1
gallon per instructions on the box)

Powdered milk is a little less expensive than milk by the gallon and it is
always accessible as it is kept in the cabinet and is ready when you are.  No
need to worry about an expiration date in 2 weeks.  It will last for years if
stored properly
My glass cooker holds a little more than 3/4 a gallon of milk.  I use the glass pot first as I tend to
scorch the milk on the burner.

I have learned my microwave and do not have to keep checking the temp.  I set it on 25 minutes
on high and know that it will be the correct temp when I take it out - 180 degrees.
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So either put your milk in the microwave or stove top (careful not to scorch it) and bring the temp
up to 180 degrees (just below boiling).  Remove from the heat source and skim any foam that
might be on top.
For this recipe what you'll need:

4-5 quart cooker
Thermometer (I use a glass one)
1-Large colander/strainer to drain your
yogurt
4 coffee filters or cheese cloth
(I prefer
coffee filters t put inside your colander)
1-Large bowl to set your colander in
3/4 - 1 gallon milk (my cooker holds 3/4 plus)
1/4 th cup yogurt*

Makes about 10-12 six ounce containers
I's that easy!
(You CAN split this recipe if this is too
much yogurt)

*Your finished product is only going to be as
good as your yogurt culture.  Pick your favorite
yogurt to start with just make sure it contains
active live yogurt cultures.  Read the label.

I personally like
Activia Greek Yogurt so that is
the culture I used.   Some people say you can not
use the sweetened kind but it does not make any
difference.  I use the
Activia with fruit on the
bottom, but I skim off the top and
DO NOT
include the fruit part from the bottom of the
container in my yogurt recipe.
Once it reaches 180 degrees it must cool to 110 degrees.  This initial step is very important.

After the milk has reached 180, I pour the milk from the glass pot to a metal pot
(it takes  the milk
longer to cool in the glass
) then I set the pot in a sink of cold water.  I monitor the temp and it
usually takes about 10-15 minutes to cool down to 110.

Once it has reached 110 degrees I add my 1/4th cup yogurt with about a cup of milk and mix it
well.  Once it is mixed smooth I add it back into my pot of warm milk and mix it with my wooden
spoon.
After it's all mixed up, you'll need to set it someplace warm for about 6-8 hours so
it can work it's magic.  I place the warm milk, covered with a towel for insulation, in
the oven with only the oven light on.  The light will keep the oven and your mixture
warm enough to ferment. (Do not turn the oven on)

I leave mine about 6-7 hours and it has always been perfect. Sometimes I prepare
it just before I go to bed and it is ready in the morning. I have forgotten it and left it
12 hours and all was fine, but the longer you leave it the more tart it will be.  
During this setting time you can prepare your containers for the finished product.  I use the same containers every time as I make it about twice a week
(yep we love yogurt!).  So my jars are generally in the cupboard ready to use.  I prepare 13 but generally use 12 eight ounce glass jars.  Next, line your
colander with your coffee filters or cheese cloth and place you colander inside your large bowl as you will drain off about a quart and a half of whey.
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Ok, 7 hours has passed and we are ready to take our yogurt out of the oven.  What you should see when you uncover your pot is a big glob of solid
warm  milk with some clear yellowish liquid when you tip the pot to the side.
As you can see from the picture I prefer the large
commercial coffee filters
.  I used to use 4 of the small
set of hands to hold them in place while I poured the yogurt.

In the cooker it will look like one big glob but as you pour it
it will come apart and separate and look like the photo
below.
Once you have pored it in your colander to drain, cover it and place in the refrigerator.  It
usually takes about
5-6 hours of draining the clear liquid, whey, off the yogurt.  The more
whey you drain off, the thicker your yogurt will be.
Remember, the
whey is packed with protein, is full of vitamins and minerals and can be
added to smoothies and lassis, used as a cooking liquid, or made into a simple drink with
a bit of sugar or salt.
(Lassi is a blend of yogurt, water, spices and sometimes, fruit)
Next and final step is too fill your containers.  The picture below is what
your yogurt should look like when it is ready.  
If you have drained too much whey off, and your yogurt is too thick, just
pour some of the
whey back in and mix it up!  Mix the yogurt with a spoon
till it is nice and creamy, then fill your containers.
I use 8 ounce jelly jars but only fill them up 3/4ths of the way to save room
for the fruit.
If you don't add anything to your yogurt you can use your own culture in
future batches.  I reserve about 1/4th cup for my next batch.   Occasionally
I will purchase another Activia Greek Yogurt for a fresh culture.

ENJOY!!
And this is what you will end up with!!
They should last 1-2 weeks in the frige (at my house they last a
couple days LOL).  I use fruits, jams and preserves that I have
canned, to add to the yogurt.  You can also use fresh fruit,
granola or what ever topping you prefer.  You might also use it to
cook with, even top baked potatoes with it.  ummmmm!

I don't add the fruit to the yogurt till we are ready to eat it.  I can
lots of different kinds of Jams so we are always choosing
something different and yummy.
I do not sweeten or add sugar to the yogurt when I make it.  Some people do but
I do not because the fruit you add later should be enough to sweeten it just fine
(or it works for me).  One more way to cut down on the unnecessary sugars.
With homemade Mulberry Jam!
Country Pure Bath & Body
The video below is about 15 minutes and is a start to finish tutorial