Heat 4 cups milk in a small sauce pan to 180° F for five minutes. Pour into a glass or ceramic bowl and allow to cool to 115° F. Mix 2 TBSP room temperature yogurt (use yogurt from last homemade batch or use yogurt with live cultures from the store) with 2 TBSP of heated milk, then mix into the remaining milk.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then wrap the entire bowl with a bath towel. Fill a large pot with hot water, place a pizza pan on top, then set the wrapped bowl on top of pizza pan. Don’t look at or touch the bowls for 24 hours. After 24 hours, refrigerate yogurt and save a little for your next batch.
VARIATION USING A COOLER
After mixing yogurt culture into heated milk, pour into a mason jar or other glass container with a fitted lid. Place in cooler along with one large bowl or jar filled with water approximately 115 F. Close cooler and leave undisturbed for 4 hours. After 4 hours, replace water with more water that has been heated to approximately 115 F. Yogurt will be ready after 8-10 hours (the longer it stays in the cooler that more tart the yogurt will become. For mild yogurt, remove from the cooler after 8 hours. Store in the fridge for up to 10 days.
I’ve tried a dozen yogurt recipes and this one is my favorite because it’s the easiest method and the yogurt turns out mild and thick every time.
Store yogurt in refrigerator for about 10 days. Sweeten with honey, applesauce, molasses, maple syrup or juice. Use your own yogurt as a starter for the next batch (up to 4 times), then buy new yogurt on 5th batch. I buy one small container of Brown Cow plain yogurt, measure out 2 TBSP into ice cube trays, freeze, then place cubes in a ziplock bag in the freezer for later use.
Please note that homemade yogurt has the consistency of European yogurt, not American yogurt. American commerical yogurt has pectin and gelatin added to it to make it very thick. Homemade yogurt will be a little thinner. If you would like your yogurt thicker, follow the method listed below to make yogurt cheese.
Yogurt Cheese: Line colander with 3 layers of cheese cloth, then fill cheese cloth with yogurt. Tie cheese cloth at corners and allow to hang for 4-6 hours in refrigerator with a bowl under the colander to catch the whey as it drips.
The whey will drip from the yogurt creating a thick "yogurt cheese." Remove cloth and store cheese in a tupperware container in the fridge. Use in place of cream cheese in any recipe.