This time last year, I shared a post about my home made yoghurt. Since discovering how easy it is to make, I've never looked back BUT I've refined my process (and thought it was time to do an updated post on it).
So, it turns out that you can make yoghurt in just about anything so long as you have a yoghurt starter culture, some milk and a thermos/Eski type container. I use an Easiyo thermos (which you can find dime a dozen at the op shop) but I don't use the plastic jug any more. I've been using a glass Fowlers jar number 31. I feel better about using less plastic items in my life (we all know about the risks of BPA) and since discovering I can use the glass jar (or anything that fits into the thermos for that matter), I have purchased another op-shop easiyo thermos so I can do a double batch at once. Mainly because my family use 2L of yoghurt a week and it's easiest to do it all in one batch. You do not need a Easiyo thermos to achieve the yoghurt though, you simply need a small thermos which can hold hot water.
1 Litre of milk (of your choice, cow, goat, soy etc but not nut - it won't work)
1 Heaped tablespoon of your starter culture (that can be a heaped tablespoon out of a packet of Hansells or Easiyo powdered yoghurt starter or a heaped tablespoon of yoghurt out of your *last batch of yoghurt that you've made.)
1 - Heat milk in a saucepan but don't let it boil. A good sign of this (if you don't have a cooking thermometer) is the point where the milk starts to froth/bubble a bit. You do this to kill off any cultures/bacteria that will compete with the yoghurt cultures (which you don't want to die otherwise the yoghurt won't work). Alternatively, use a long life milk as it has already been heated at high temperature so you can skip this step and the next.
2 - Cool your milk to room temp or colder. I put the heated milk in a jug in the fridge for an hour or two at least.
3 - When your milk is ready add the yoghurt/powdered yoghurt into your jar of choice, making sure all the starter mixes through evenly. Cover your jar with a piece of cling-wrap.
4 - Boil the jug. Fill up the Easi-Yo thermos with boiling water to the recommended point and submerge your jar of yoghurt mix or if you use a small thermos, fill the water so that it comes two thirds up the side of your jar of yoghurt.
5 - Leave the yoghurt mix for minimum 6 hours (I prefer 10-12). When you are ready, remove the yoghurt from the thermos and check that it has worked. You should have lovely creamy yoghurt (and you can make it creamier by adding milk powder into your mix when you add the starter culture to the milk).
6 - At this point you can decide what to do with your yoghurt. Eat as it is or add other flavours. I have been adding equal parts of stewed/pureed fruit and a tsp of vanilla paste to make the most delightful sweet yoghurt.
If you want to make cream cheese:
7 - Get a bowl/jug and a piece of muslin/clean tea towel. Tip your yoghurt into the muslin/tea towel and tie it with a rubber band or piece of string. Suspend the wrapped yoghurt over the bowl/jug (I hang mine off a wooden spoon) so the whey can drain from the yoghurt. Do this at room temperature in a place out of the sun for up to 12 hours (or until you get the consistency of cream cheese that you want.) Do not discard the whey, it is incredibly nutritious and can be added to smoothies or used to ferment vegetables. Store it in a jar in the fridge for up to a month.
If you want to have a look at my original yoghurt making post, the link is here. It's much the same but I have tweaked it since discovering you don't need to use as much starter culture as I first thought.
Yoghurt made from a commercial starter culture like the one I use has 4 different beneficial cultures/bacterias which help with good gut health. Keep an eye out for my post on Milk Kefir which contains between 35-50 good cultures/bacteria and from it you can make coconut yoghurt. The stuff is magic juice for the stomach.
*note. If you use a heaped spoon of your last batch of yoghurt, you may find that you can only do 5-7 batches of yoghurt this way before you need to re start with a commercial starter product. I've recently learnt that this is because the probiotics slowly reduce each batch (I can't remember why) but what you will find is you get a thinner yoghurt the less probiotic it contains and if you're anything like me, I like a thicker yoghurt so I always use a commercial starter every couple batches. It only need to be a heaped tablespoon of a Hansells or Easiyo packet starter and you'll be off again with a renewed probiotic content (and thicker yoghurt).