**UPDATE 08/01/12: The first time I tried this, it worked perfectly. I've tried it again 2 or 3 times since then with epic failures. My yogurt was still runny :( I don't know what went wrong, but I'm on the search for a new yogurt recipe. I'll keep you posted as to when I find it.
**UPDATE 09/10/12: I've found a better yogurt method, you can find it here.
I've been wanting to make yogurt for months now. With my recent experimentation with ricotta and mascarpone, I was feeling confident in giving yogurt a try! One of my favorite blogs, Passionate Homemaking, has a recipe for yogurt that was simple, and foolproof! One of the contributing writers, Trina Holden, shared her top four secrets to thick, creamy yogurt every time. I definitely prefer thick yogurt over runny yogurt so I was all about this recipe!
Your only ingredients are whole milk (preferably not ultra-pasteurized),1/2 cup plain yogurt for your starter (I used a whole milk vanilla yogurt from Trader Joe's and it turned out just fine!) vanilla extract and maple syrup, honey or sucanat. Keep in mind, if you choose not to use plain yogurt for your starter that your entire batch will taste like whatever flavor you're using.
I know I say this often, because I prefer easy recipes, but this was SO easy! For real. You heat the milk over the stove with your sweetener of choice, then add vanilla, then let your milk cool a little, then add yogurt, then spoon into your jars. Cap the jars and pour warm water over top, then put the lid on the pot and let your yogurt do it's thing on the counter for 10-18 hours. The only thing I did differently was wrap my pot in a towel to keep it warmer for longer. You don't have to do that, but I read about doing that with other recipes and wanted to, just in case. I also changed out the water halfway through the process, draining the old water and adding new hot water.
The recipe says to use quart jars, but I used little jars instead so it was single servings like the ones you buy at the store.
One thing I wanted to mention... I know Greek Yogurt is the craze right now, and frankly I LOVE it! Now, if you want to make this into Greek yogurt, you'll just have one extra step after your yogurt has incubated, and that is to strain your yogurt. You'll put some cheesecloth, a coffee filter, a paper towel or even a clean/sterilized tea towel over a colander with a bowl underneath (make sure the colander is suspended and not touching the bottom of the bowl. You'll want a couple of inches between the colander and the bowl), then dump in your yogurt and put the whole thing in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. All of the whey will drain out of your yogurt, and you'll be left with deliciously thick and creamy yogurt for a fraction of what you'd pay at the store.
So, go now and make your own yogurt. My whole family loved it, and yours will too! Go here to get the recipe and instructions.