My mom has been making homemade yogurt for many years but I only started making my own when I came to live in Africa and discovered that the supermarket variety is not fantastic. I prefer the plain yogurt because I use it for cooking, in sauces, vinaigrettes , salad etc, but you can easily make your sweetened yogurt as well. Just make sure to use the best quality cultured yogurt the first time and the second time you can use your own free of chemical additives yogurt to make a new batch of homemade goodness.
2L semi-skimmed milk 2%
3 Tbs of cultured yogurt (Balkan style yogurt or Greek yogurt)
sugar and vanilla (optional)
You don’t need any special equipment for this recipe, just a thick bottomed pot, a whisk and a few glass jars.
Preheat the oven to about 50C/100F, it should be warm, not hot.
Pour the milk in a tick bottomed pot and heat over medium heat until almost boiling but not quite. As soon as you can see many small bubbles on the surface of the milk take it off the fire and put aside. Let the milk cool down just enough so that when you put your finger in, you could tolerate the heat for 10 seconds. Make sure you don’t let it get cold or the yogurt bacteria won’t grow.
Add the 3Tbs of yogurt to the milk and whisk it to make sure the culture is distributed evenly. Using a cone pour the milk into clean glass jars, close them and place the jars in the warm oven.
About 9 to 10 hours later your plain yogurt will be ready. Transfer the jars to the fridge to chill before serving. The longer it stays in the fridge the more sour it will become, but it won’t spoil for up to 4 weeks. Next time you make yogurt, use your own yogurt as the culture. You will discover that over time the bacteria will improve its qualities, your yogurt will set faster and taste better.
If you want to make your own vanilla yogurt add sugar to taste to the warm milk making sure it dissolves completely before pouring it in the jars. Then add a few drops of vanilla extract and you will have vanilla yogurt.
Note: The sugar feeds the yogurt culture and therefore the sweetened yogurt will set quicker than the plain yogurt. Check after 7 hours if it has set, if so it is ready.