I actually tried to make this multiple times, and it always turned out too liquid. But know I found out a great trick that made mine finally work. Can’t believe I didn’t try this before when everyone else was doing it, because this is what really made the difference between runny, sour milk and thick, creamy yogurt.
The trick is… to take a bit of heated milk and mix it with the yogurt before adding it into the rest of the milk. I know, it’s that simple. And every recipe had this step but I never did it because I thought it wasn’t important. But it is! And of course, the temperature of the milk is also very important, but I managed to make yogurt and I didn’t even use a thermometer.
I started out with a small quantity at first because I didn’t want to waste milk if I failed, but if you succeed in making this, double or triple the recipe next time. And if you want really thick yogurt, use whole milk, not low fat. This yogurt is very plain, so you can add fruit with it when you eat it.
First you heat the milk in a saucepan until it just starts to boil. Let it cool until the milk reaches 44.5 to 46°C (112 to 115°F).
Since I don’t have a thermometer, I used a trick I picked up from a friend. She told me to check the milk every once in a while when it starts cooling down by sticking your (clean) little finger in the milk and keeping it there for as long as comfortable without it burning. If your pinky (little finger) can handle the milk’s heat for 10 seconds, it’s ready for the next step. (This works well for me, but if you have a thermometer, use it!)
Then pour the yogurt mixture into the rest of the milk and mix well. If you want to store the yogurt for a very long time, pour the saucepan’s contents into a glass jar instead of leaving it in the saucepan. This website has a good explanation on how to store yogurt).
Put the towel-wrapped saucepan (or glass jars) in the oven with the oven light on. This helps to create an environment where the active bacteria in the yogurt can reproduce (multiply themselves). Keep the saucepan (or glass jars) in the oven for a minimum of 4 hours, and up to 12 hours. The yogurt is ready when it is thick. The longer the yogurt stays in the oven, the more sour and thick it becomes.
Thick and Creamy Homemade Yogurt
4 cups (1 quart) milk (whole milk is better, but 2% and low-fat works too, just makes it more liquid)
2 tbsp. plain yogurt, with active bacterial cultures
- Heat up the milk in a saucepan until just boiling. Let it cool down until the temperature of the milk reaches 44.5 to 46°C (112 to 115°F). Or, if you don’t have a thermometer, the milk should be ready when you can stick your little finger (pinky) in the milk for 10 seconds without burning yourself.
- Measure out a 1/4 cup of the milk into a cup. Mix the yogurt with the milk in the cup. Do not omit this step!!!
- Now pour the milk and yogurt mixture into the milk in the saucepan. Mix until incorporated. Now cover with the lid and wrap the entire thing with a few towels. (You can also transfer the milk mixture into a glass container before covering with towels).
- Put the towel-wrapped saucepan (or glass container) in the oven, with the oven light on. Leave it like that for a minimum of 4 hours, and up to 12 hours so the bacteria in the yogurt can multiply. The yogurt should be thick. The longer it stays in the oven, the more sour it gets.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating. Can be stored in the fridge for a few days. There will be some clear liquid around the yogurt after a while, but that’s okay. Simply pour out the clear liquid in the sink.
- This is a very plain yogurt, so you can eat it with honey, syrup or fruit.