A few months ago, I resolved to give yogurt-making another shot. I searched the internet for recipes and instructions, and broke out the yogurt maker that had been gathering dust in a cupboard. My first attempt using a new recipe was quite successful and I wondered why I had given up so easily years ago. Then I made another batch, and another, that didn't set properly. In the end, I discovered that the yogurt maker wasn't incubating consistently at the right temperature. In fact, I've heard of so many people getting inconsistent results with yogurt makers, that I wouldn't recommend buying one. I know many people get great results using a heating pad to incubate yogurt, but I don't have one. I do have a crockpot, but that method didn't appeal to me.
Really, the only trick to incubating yogurt is to find a way to keep it consistently at 110-115F for 8-10 hours. I came up with this Thermos-jug-and-cooler method which has worked well for me and uses items that most people already have laying around the house.
To use this method, you will need the following items:
-a 1 1/2 to 2 litre Thermos jug
-2 old towels
-4 large Mason jars (1 to 1 1/2 litres)
-a large cooler
Prepare your yogurt as usual (if you're new to yogurt making, I highly recommend reading the article in The Complete Tightwad Gazette on this topic!)
Once you've heated the milk and you're waiting for it to cool down (so you can add starter), fill the Thermos jug with as-hot-as-you-can-get-it tap water to prewarm it. When you're ready to incubate your yogurt, empty the water out, and pour the cultured milk mixture in. Seal it up as quickly as possible to keep the heat in. Wrap the Thermos jug in one of the towels, and place in the centre of the cooler. Then fill the 4 Mason jars with very hot tap water and place around the towel-wrapped jug:
Take the second towel and wrap it around the whole thing:
Now close up the cooler to keep everything warm and toasty inside! Leave it to incubate for 8-10 hours. You should have a nicely set batch of yogurt after that amount of time.
One thing I really like about this method (aside from getting more consistent results) is that when I'm not making yogurt, I don't have any extra pieces of equipment to store - these are all items that have multiple uses around my house.
I'd love to hear how this works for you if you decide to give it a whirl!
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