Last year, my wife treated me and bought me some fancy yogurt from the Rainbow Blossom. This is the stuff that sells for $3.50 (or more) a quart; pretty expensive milk, but it does taste awfully good. In fact, I found myself unable to go back to the cheaper yogurt that I had been eating for years. As the yogurt bills began to mount, I figured that there must be something that I can do to bring the costs in line.
Well, you can buy yogurt makers, but most all of them work with little glass cups that look like they’re a hassle to deal with. I wanted to just grow a quart at a time. Turns out that Salton made an inexpensive quart yogurt maker for years, but ceased production last year. Guess they decided that they weren’t going to get rich selling fifteen dollar yogurt makers.
Once again, the Food Network came to the rescue. Here’s how to get yogurt from a cardboard box: Take a quart of milk (better milk makes better yogurt, but I’ve had surprisingly good results with cheap milk). Whisk in ½ cup of dry milk. Heat this mix to 160°F (use a candy thermometer), stirring constantly to avoid scorching. Let the mix cool to 120°, then whisk 1 cup of the mix into ½ cup of room-temperature yogurt (use the expensive yogurt here). Whisk this yogurt mixture back into the warm milk, then pour it all into a container with a tight-fitting lid (I use a top-of-the-line tupperware container; you might want to use glass if cooking in plastic bothers you). Wrap the container in a tea towel, wrap a heating pad around that, set the heating pad to medium, and put it all in a cardboard box. Let this sit undisturbed for six to twelve hours, then take out the container and put it in the refrigerator for at least eight hours.
You may have to experiment with your heating pad at first. Remember to keep everything very, very clean. Some people won’t heat the milk to 160°F first, but since that’s what kills off any undesirable bacteria, I wouldn’t recommend skipping that step unless you know you have a very strong immune system.
With a cardboard box, you should be able to cut your yogurt costs in half.