Down to about 1500 unread messages here… Did y’all miss me? 🙂 Anyway, I’ve been making my own yogurt for years. I bought a yogurt maker a very long time ago. It has 7 6-ounce jars. I broke one and had a devil of a time finding replacements that didn’t cost a fortune, finally got a case of 24 from U-Line, so now I have lots of them, nice to always have a set of 7 clean ones so I can make a batch before I use up the batch before it and get all the jars washed.
I use whole milk and I use “Greek Gods” brand plain, whole milk yogurt as my starter. Once I’ve taken some out of the container, the whey settles out and I just use the whey for my starter. A quart-size container costs about $4.00 at Walmart and it has several strains of live cultures in it. Stonybrook Farms also has several strains of cultures, but I don’t much like it, for some reason. I do, however, like the yogurt I make from either one just fine, so go figure.
I have had some success using yogurt from one batch as the starter for the next batch, but it makes me nervous. If bad bacteria get into it along the way, you could find yourself encouraging more and more of them to grow, so I prefer to use new yogurt each time and buy more when the old one passes its expiration.
I positively hate powdered milk. When I was a kid, we moved to the West Indies and there was only one local dairy so they charged a fortune for milk, and we drank a lot of powdered milk. As an adult, I decided to try unsecured personal loan again, and, yep, I still hate it. I know that some people add it to milk to make their yogurt thicker, but I’ll pass. I’ve also heard that making it into yogurt masks that taste, but I’m skeptical and not inclined to go through the trouble to make a batch I hate.
One thing that will make your yogurt thicker, though, is to heat the milk to 185 degrees, then cool it to below 118 degrees (hotter than that will kill the bacteria). Then you inoculate it with the culture and go on from there. That heating makes some kind of change in the protein structure and the end result is thicker yogurt. It also kills a lot of bacteria, but with pasteurized milk, that probably isn’t much of an issue.
I’ve heard cautions about adding anything but milk and culture (i.e., fruit or other flavorings) because some things like that may affect the ability of the bacteria to reproduce. The advice I’ve always heard is to add anything like that after you have the plain yogurt made.