I bought a yogurt maker last year with very ambitious intentions when Rowan was eating his first foods. He was a big yogurt eater, and thought it would be great to make the stuff myself. Well, sleep deprivation and the onset of toddlerdom forced me to shelve the yogurt maker. So in my pantry it sat, keeping my panini press and ice cream maker company while gathering a healthy dose of dust.
But lately, there have been some very small changes around here. Rowan independently plays (makes a mess) for decent stretches of time allowing me a window of freedom to do little things like, make yogurt. Yogurt takes about 20 minutes active time, and then it sits working its magic for 4-8 hours. Plus, it is much easier and less tricky than I expected. If you are a yogurt lover, I highly recommend this endeavor.
Homemade Vanilla Bean Yogurt
4 cups of 2% organic milk
1/4 cup organic dry milk (optional)
1/2 cup of organic plain yogurt (starter)
1 vanilla bean
Combine milk and dry milk in a pot and warm up over medium heat stirring gently. When milk reaches 180 degrees turn off the heat and let it begin to cool. Milk should not boil. Stir it occasionally until it reaches 100-110 degrees. (You can put it in the refrigerator if you want it to cool faster, but watch it closely.) When it reaches 110 degrees, add yogurt and stir gently until fully incorporated.
Add this mixture to a yogurt maker and let set for 4-8 hours until reaches desired sourness. I let mine sit for about 6 1/2 hours and it had a lovely flavor. Place yogurt in the refrigerator to cool for 2 hours. At this point, before you add flavor, set aside 1/2 cup of the yogurt to be your starter for the next batch.
Take one vanilla bean, cut it in half. Using a sharp knife, scrape the beans out of the center. Stir into the yogurt until beans are combined throughout. Let it chill for another hour. The flavor increases over time. Keep it chilled in an airtight container. The yogurt is good for about a week.
I referred to this post on 101 cookbooks about making yogurt. It is super informative and inspiring. I used the yogurt maker she recommened, Salton YM9.
Also, this post shows you how to make yogurt without a yogurt maker which I think is definitely worth a try and will save you the cash spent on the yogurt maker.