It takes a while, but the actual hands on part is brief.
If you have ever had organic yogurt, you see that its a little runnier than traditional yogurt. This is that consistency. So some people might like to turn it into Greek yogurt. But keep in mind this will cut the amount of yogurt you get in half.
I have heard that one of the key things is to make sure your milk is just pasteurized, not ultra. (lots of organic I have come across is ultra). I can't remember the source, so take it as you will. Its not that hard to follow the tip though, so why not?
You can use raw as well, but you might want to only heat it to 120 or so, otherwise you would basically kill anything raw about it.
There are LOTS of methods out there. I have only tried this one. And it worked just great! I might try other ways later on, so keep posted as I might edit this post.
You can also half this recipe if you wish. My son can go through a 32oz container of yogurt in 6-7 days, so I go big or go home :). Also, this should last 3-4 weeks in the fridge.
1 gallon milk (I used a good quality organic whole milk yogurt. About $6)
3 tbsp good quality plain yogurt with active cultures (I used Stoneyfield Whole Plain)
Tools needed for this method:
Large stock pot
thermometer (I used a candy thermometer but my digital meat thermometer worked too!)
4 quart mason jars
a funnel would have made life easier, but I managed without
a small cooler
Pour gallon of milk into the stock pot. Heat over medium to 180, stirring often. Especially towards the end. I let the milk on the bottom burn a bit, so I had to strain it. No huge deal.
This will take a while. 15-20 minutes or so. I emptied and loaded the dishwasher during this step.
Once its 180, remove from heat and place in sink half full of ice water.
Annnnd this was the day before I deep cleaned the sink. So glad I captured that for all time....
Monitor temperature and stir often until it reaches 120. This won't take as long 3-5 minutes. Don't go too far away!
Whisk in yogurt well.
Ladle into very clean jars. Put lids on.
Run hot water in the sink for a few minutes until its the hottest it goes.
Place jars into cooler and fill to brim level with water. Close cooler and wrap with blanket.
Let sit 7-8 hours.
Do not open or stir or shake. Put into fridge and let cool for at least 8 hours.
Open and enjoy.
A little honey and vanilla is great with this!
Or cook a cup and a half of strawberries and blueberries with a few tbsp of honey. Cook on medium low until nice and syrupy. Mash and cool. Add to yogurt for a mixed berry flavor!
For Greek yogurt:
You need a metal strainer and either cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
Scoop yogurt into the filter lined strainer. Place over a bowl and put into the fridge for around 4 hours. Check to make sure the whey (liquid draining off) doesn't reach the bottom of the strainer.
You can use the whey for a lot of things. I don't really know what at this point, but google it. Lots of good things out there.
For "yogurt cheese" (very very similar to cream cheese):
Take Greek yogurt a bit further and strain overnight.