I became kinda daring yesterday. I attempted to make yogurt. I had extra milk, and had bought a starter yogurt, and some powdered milk. So I went for it.
There are many recipes floating around the internet. I semi used one from the blog A Year of Slowcooking. I say semi, cause I didn't really follow it exactly, instead relied on my meat thermometer to really tell me what was going on in the crockpot rather than her time frames.... and maybe did some different amounts of ingredients..... and then I googled other recipes and included some of those hints....
So anyways, here's what I did.
Starter Yougurt (I used Dannon All Natural Plain, though I hear Stonebrook Farms has one much better for you - more live cultures)
Start by filling your crockpot with the whole milk. Bring up to 180 degrees on low heat- It took my crookpot about three hours to do this. (If in a hurry I hear the Microwave does it in about 10-15 minutes, but would it burn????) Then unplug your crockpot and let sit for 2-3 hours untill the thermometer reaches 120. Above this temp, you will kill your active yogurt cultures, so do not add till it says 120. At 120, take out two cups of milk, whisk in your yogurt (I used a spoonful, some recipies say a full cup, your decision) Add some powdered milk, and return to crockpot. Now do whatever you have to to keep the yougurt between 110 - 120. For the next eight hours! Yes I know that is a long time. There are different methods of doing this.... put towels/blankets arround the crockpot for insulation. Put Crockpot in an insulated cooler.... etc. After eight hours though, you have yogurt..... sort of. To get it to the consistency of true storebought yogurt, you have to strain it... to remove the extra whey or you can mix it back in and eat it too.
When I tasted it, I felt it was sour and nasty.... BUT I don't like plain yogurt. When I mixed it with a tablespoon of Jelly, it was delicious, but still a little soupy cause I hadn't strained it at all. The sour part I believe is natural for plain yogurt, so if you like plain yogurt you are all set.
I have also read that if you want to make it easier, you can use a double boiler (which I don't have) or your oven (which mine doesn't read below 150.). If you can find the sweet spot without the numbers on your oven nobs which makes your thermometer read consistently at 120 or slightly below, then you can do the whole thing in a regular dish in your oven.... If you can go for 12 hours without doing anything else in your oven. If you need your oven then you can do a double boiler version (which is basically the same as a crockpot version - heating it from the bottom) but then for the cool down phase you can use a cold water sink bath to speed up the cooling part, and a insulated cooler warm bath for the maintain 120 for eight hours part....
It sounds like to me though that it is basically all the same, provided you like the method you are using and it works for you.... and if all else fails, find a yogurt maker to borrow.
FYI, this was a first batch.... I read somewhere that the first batch hardly ever turns out really well, so if there is any resistance to the spoon on the first attempt, you have done well....