I buy my yogurt culture from the Dairy Connection. It comes freeze-dried and must be stored in the freezer to remain fresh. I usually only make a quart at a time. They have a couple different strains and I’ve only used the one that produces thicker, milder yogurt. Next time, perhaps I’ll try the one that produces thinner, more tart yogurt to see how I like it. I’ve always used Strauss milk, and believe it or not, I prefer using low-fat milk because Strauss’ whole milk just produces a yogurt that is too rich. However, I usually do use the whole milk since that’s what I keep on hand. Using a candy thermometer- the kind that clips-on to the side of the pot- is the easiest way to do it. By the way, I’ve found Harold McGee’s (On Food and Cooking) insights on yogurt making very helpful…
As for eating it….even SCOTT likes this yogurt, and he’s been a hard-core yogurt hater his whole life. Most often, I stir in home-made jam to flavor it, but in the spring and summer, I stir in fresh fruit and some honey for sweetness. I also love to use it to make creamy salad dressings, mixed with good extra-virgin olive oil and a little vinegar, black pepper and salt (try adding some herbs too)
In a small sauce pot, gently heat 1 qt milk to 180 F, stirring frequently.
Hold at 180 for a 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently…I find that they best way to do this is to turn the heat to the lowest possible setting, and put a lid on it. If your stove setting won’t go low-enough, you may need to play the “on-off” game.
Remove the pan from the heat, place on a rack, and cool to 115 degrees.
Stir 1/8 tsp culture into a small amount of the cooled milk to make sure that it gets distributed evenly. Then stir it all into the milk.
Hold temperature at ~ 105 F for 6-ish hours…to do this, I wrap it- baby bunting style- in a dish towel and set it on my stove near a pilot light. It never stays at 105 for the whole time, but after about 6 hours it’s always thick enough.
Transfer into the container of your choice, and refrigerate.
Supposedly, you can add ½ cup non-fat powdered milk before heating for extra body, but I’ve never done this.
For enhanced flavor, add a few drops of vanilla when adding the culture….lemon zest might work nicely too, though I’ve never experimented with it.