Yogurt, DIY

I was so happy to come across this recipe by Priya Krishna in the New York Times food column. In my past, making yogurt has been a chore and the results were not worth the effort and worry of watching the thermometer like a hawk and wishing I could maintain temperatures in my cooler-than-most kitchens. Usually the recipe failed. This has been foolproof and perfect every time.

The recipe’s author’s words are in quotation marks. All other directions are my paraphrasing or telling what has worked for me.

1 quart milk, 1/4 cup yogurt, the heavy pan to heat the milk, the glass jar in which the yogurt will ripen over-night, the little amount of water for the bottom of the heating pot.
4 cups milk
[Smallest burner on high = 10 mins]
“Evenly coat the bottom of a medium Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot with a thin, 1/4-inch-thick layer of water. (To prevent milk from sticking to the bottom of the pot.)” Set the pot over high heat. “Add the milk to the water in the pot, and heat until it just comes to a boil, watching closely: As soon as you start to see bubbles forming, take off heat.” 
“Let the milk cool until it reaches 130 F. degrees, about 25 mins. If you don’t have a thermometer, the milk should be warm enough that you can comfortably stick your (clean!) finger in it — it should feel hot, but not hot enough to scald (think of a Jacuzzi).” There will be a skin on the top of the milk at this point.
Here is 1 Tablespoon of yogurt in the bottom of the 1-Qt glass jar.
1 Tbsp yogurt  “Smear the bottom of a 1-quart lidded glass container with 1 Tbsp of yogurt. (A dab in the center is fine; you needn’t spread the yogurt evenly to coat the bottom.)
3 Tbsp yogurt “When the milk has cooled, add remaining yogurt to milk and whisk until the yogurt has completely dissolved into the milk.” I use a balloon whisk and stir 50 times clockwise, 50 times counter-clockwise, then 50 times clockwise. You want it thoroughly mixed.
“Pour the mixture into the prepared glass jar and loosely set the lid on top, leaving a little room for air to get out.”
9:28 PM Thursday“Place the container inside an unheated oven. Shut the oven, turn the oven light on and let sit for 4-12 hours” Note: “Depending on the temperature outside, you may want to vary the conditions a bit. In the winter, you may need to leave the oven light on the entire time it takes for the yogurt to set, as directed above; in the warmer months, you may need to shut the light off about an hour after placing the yogurt in the oven.” I like my yogurt firm, so the long ripening times is perfect.
I don’t do this step. Maybe in summer I will….Check the yogurt: When it is done, it will be set (not liquid) but still jiggle like Jell-O. If it’s not yet set, leave it in the oven for 1 hour more. Depending on the humidity and temperature outside, the setting process can take up to 5-½ hours, so don’t fret if the yogurt isn’t done the first time you check.
8:28 AM Friday“When the yogurt is done, top it with the lid to seal. Put it in the refrigerator to chill and fully set before using. The yogurt will keep, covered, for 4 to 6 weeks. (It’ll start to get pretty sour after 2 weeks, which, depending on your tastes, could be a good or bad thing.] You can also freeze a few tablespoons to start a later batch.”
Ready to go! Just right for smoothies, to eat with fruit, use as ‘crema” in fajitas and enchiladas, in coffeecakes — whatever you please.