In keeping with my recent attempt to keep the refrigerator and pantry stocked with necessary all-American staples, I decided to make yogurt yesterday. Reaching into the back of the cupboard, I dusted off the yogurt incubator given to me last year by my sister, and picked up a small container of whole-fat Stoneyfield vanilla at the store.
With or without an incubator, there isn't much to making yogurt. I heated up several cups of milk until almost boiling, watched with a thermometer until its temperature dropped to about 115 degrees, and stirred in a dollop of Stoneyfield as a starter. Into two sterile plastic containers, I poured the mixture and turned on the machine. This morning, we had yogurt.
But even after a year of attempts, it still wasn't the yogurt I was craving. Even when I use a Greek starter, the thick, creamy consistency of Mediterranean yogurt has always eluded me in my culturing attempts. This morning was no exception. The consistency of my jars was more reminiscent of a watery Dannon than a Fage Total.
A bit of hunting around online turned up the solution. The Greeks strain their yogurt through cheesecloth, removing more of the excess whey and leaving a thick, curdy cream. I grabbed a piece and started pouring; within minutes, a bowl of velvety, rich yogurt sat before me. I spooned in some strawberry jam, sprinkled it with granola, and we sat down to a Greek-American breakfast.
Fill a thermos with milk; pour milk into pot and heat until almost boiling (do not boil, as this will ruin the proteins in the milk). At the same time, boil water in a teakettle. Once boiling, pour water into thermos and over top; let sit 5-10 minutes to sterilize.
Once milk is hot, turn off heat and let cool to about 115 degrees, or until the liquid does not burn to the touch but feels uncomfortably hot after several seconds. Stir in several spoonfuls of live yogurt cultures, either from a previous batch or a store bought container. Pour water from thermos and pour in milk. Close tightly; let sit 8-15 hours, keeping container still.
Open thermos and pour or spoon yogurt into cheesecloth. Let drain for several minutes over sink or bowl. Move thickened curds from cloth into container; spoon out and enjoy!