If you know the basic concept of yogurt making, you know the temperature of the milk has to stay within a range so that the good bacteria will grow and turn your milk into yogurt. There are various methods suggested online to try to do just that. I tried using the oven-method. My oven’s lowest temperatures were too hot. I tried using the crock-pot method. That didn’t work out either. Again, the lowest setting was too hot. I certainly did not want to spend money on a yogurt-maker so I just threw my hands up in the air and had given up, but not for long. A visit to an old Afghan friend a few months later changed all of that.
After the amazing meal my friend’s lovely wife had made for us, he gave me some of his homemade yogurt. It was delicious. I relayed my woes in attempting to make my own yogurt and he laughed and said, “Luisa, Luisa, Luisa, you taking the scenic route. Too complicated, too complicated.” He then proceeded to tell me how he does it. His is an old, traditional way that doesn’t require the fancy equipment of our modern lifestyle, but it works!! I followed his method the next week and I finally made yogurt! I have been using this same method ever since.
My Afghan friend’s method requires nothing more than milk, some store-bought plain yogurt (or get some from a friend), a liquid thermometer, and a heavy, thick blanket. Now, my friend never uses a thermometer and told me just to let the milk get to almost boiling and then cool it down to where you put your finger in it and it is still hot, but you don’t burn yourself. That seemed like a good way for me to screw it up, so I use a liquid thermometer, but feel free to try it that way if you’d like.
So what is his secret for keeping the yogurt incubated at the right temperature? It is the nice thick blanket. If your house is on the cold side you might want to use two blankets which is what I do in the winters here in PA. If your house stays on the warm side, you may only need one thick blanket, but you can use two if you want to play safe. It is simple. It is easy. I was skeptical about it working, but a batch of yogurt later, my skepticism was gone.
In the recipe below I give measurements, but the beautiful thing about yogurt is that the measurements do not have to be perfect for it to work. Sometimes I use a quart of milk and sometimes a little bit less than a quart if I don’t have quite enough. And I never measure out the starter (pre-made yogurt). I just take a big glop of my already made yogurt and mix it into the milk. Thankfully, I have not had a bad batch yet. So go ahead, give it a try!!