Most people would just get a yogurt maker (like this one) and call it a day. But oh, not us overthinkers! First, I was grumpy that I would have to pay some exorbitant sum of money for shipping ("exorbitant" being anything more than "free" - I really hate to pay for shipping. HATE it!*). Second, and more importantly, I realized that I simply had no room for yet another "small" appliance in my kitchen (and I did not want home-made yogurt badly enough to put the yogurt-maker into the bedroom). Thus began the quest for an alternative solution for my DIY dairy needs.
First, I tried making yogurt in my crock pot. It has worked for others**, but in my case, it produced half a gallon of slightly smelly burned milk. FAIL!
I'm guessing that either, the milk was still too hot when I put in my yogurt starter, or the crock pot was too hot even on "low."
Then, my mom told me about a Tupperware method using a contraption that is designed to strain noodles and then keep them warm (and which I can't find on their website - I imported mine from Germany). At the same time, a friend told me about the Alton Brown method (and I love me some Alton, even though I've never seen his show because I don't have cable and also live under a rock).
Thusly, I set out to try again.
On the left, you see the Tupperware contraption. I poured my heated-then-chilled milk-and-yogurt-starter into a (sorry, fake-Tupperware from IKEA) bowl, set that bowl inside the Tupperware contraption filled with boiling water, and covered it.
On the right, we have a big glass bowl with the milky yogurt mixture on top of my heating pad nestled inside an even bigger glass bowl. I set the heating pad on "low" and loosely covered the smaller bowl with its lid.
13 hours later, I had this:
I did not put the yogurts into the refrigerator right away. Chilling stops the fermenting process and I wanted to firm them up a little more. It turns out that the Tupperware yogurt didn't firm up much more (perhaps adding some more boiling water would have done the trick), and the heating pad yogurt firmed up beautifully but got a touch too sour for me.
Overall, I think that the Tupperware method would work better with smaller, individual containers. The instructions came directly from Tupperware, and actually said to use individual containers. I didn't have any that were readily available, and lo, I was too lazy to find any.The heating pad yogurt is delightful. I am going to start chilling it sooner next time, but I imagine it'll turn out firm and slightly sour - just the way I like it. Alton Brown FTW!
The yellow layer on top you see in the pictures is there because I used cream-top milk. Why I did that I really don't know (I think it just sounded exclusive and sumptuous). I'm not doing that again... it was hard to get out of the bottle, difficult to stir in, and the yellow layer is a little, well, icky.
*Quite possibly, this is the thing that is saving us from bankruptcy right now, because online shopping would be my favorite hobby if it wasn't for shipping.
**I couldn't find a record on the blog, but she did twitter it!