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1/2 gallon 2% milk
1/2 cup starter
3.7oz dry milk (by weight)

2/3 cup sugar (or to taste), optional
vanilla bean, optional

In a large pot, mix fluid milk and dry milk. If desired, add sugar
and vanilla bean (left whole).

You cannot use vanilla extract with alcohol as the alcohol will
kill the starter culture, but (surprisingly) the sugar will not
affect the starter at all. The dry milk is what allows the yogurt
to become as firm as commercial yogurt--without it you will have
*very* soft yogurt--nearly liquid. Either instant or non instant
milk will work as long as you weigh it. For volume measurements
see the above website.

Put the large pot of milk into an even larger pot of very hot water.

You want the milk to heat as quickly as possible to avoid bacterial
growth, so preheating the water is important. If you have a double
boiler big enough, you can use that, but I don't, so this is how
I do it. <smile>

Heat the milk in your makeshift bain-marie to 165 deg F, and keep
it at that temp for a few minutes. Over 180 degrees and the milk
will scald and make funny tasting yogurt.

Cool to 115 degrees F. Cool the milk immediately by putting the
pot into a bowl of icewater. Once again, you want the temperature
change to be fast to avoid bacterial growth.

If you have remembered to bring your starter to room temp (I *always*
forget to take it out of the fridge), cool the milk to 110 degrees
(And remove the vanilla bean if you have used it).

Add the starter.

Starter can be commercial yogurt, but make sure it has live bacteria
in it and no stabilizers. Of course, if you make it regularly, you
can set aside some for the next batch every time you make it. It
may be easier to mix the starter with a little of the milk mixture
before putting it all in the pot--avoid using a whisk as yogurt
does not set well if there is too much air in the milk.

Keep it warm--110 degrees F is ideal.

Under 90 degrees, the culture stops working; over 120 degrees it
dies. At 110 degrees, I can have yogurt ready in 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Just how you keep the yogurt-to-be warm is up to you. Some options

Put the final starter/milk mixture into a jar/jars and arrange them
in a "nest" of blankets with a heating pad on low or medium.

Place jars in a pan of 110/115 degree water and put them in a gas
oven with the pilot light on. (The water will cool, so 115 is

Place pot in gas oven with pilot light on (takes longer as the temp
drops--which makes the yogurt more tangy.)

And my personal favorite--fill a cooler with enough 110 degree
water to cover the jars, then cover the top and wait.

Wait for yogurt to set, then refrigerate and enjoy!

The yogurt set is pretty obvious, especially with the dry milk in
the recipe. It will have some resistance when touched and will
hold together when you tip the jar. It will take anywhere from
2 1/2 to six hours or more to set. More than eight hours and
something is wrong.

Try not to jiggle the yogurt before it has set--it can make the
yogurt set up soft.

All the recipes I ever read caution to sterilize everything ahead
of time. I never do, and I have had no problems. If there is
contamination, the yogurt will not set though, so you may like the
extra insurance of boiling all your utensils and jars.


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