Ever since we started milking our own cow a few months ago, I've been trying to make yogurt and it's been turning out with a runny, unappealing consistency that leaves my preschooler begging for storebought yogurt. The online advice for making thick homemade yogurt is to add gelatin, powdered milk, or pectin, which is not what I want to do because the whole point of making my own yogurt is so that my family can eat yogurt made out of grass-fed, grain-free, soy-free, A2, organic, local, pure milk without a bunch of weird additives. (Check the label of your favorite brand of storebought yogurt and you might be surprised by the ingredients!)
On the suggestion of my mother, I decided to try heating the milk to 180F and holding it at that temperature for 30 minutes before cooling the milk, adding the culture, and incubating it. The result was wonderful yogurt every bit as thick as storebought yogurt but without the additives. Here is my current recipe:
1. Pour 2 quarts of milk into a pot and heat on the stove to 180F and hold at 180F for 30 minutes
2. Place the pot of hot milk into a cold water bath and cool rapidly to 115F, changing the water in the cold water bath as necessary to keep it cold
3. Add starter of your choice (I am currently using about 1/4 C of plain yogurt of the Seven Stars brand
4. Incubate between 110F and 115F for 6 hours.
5. Refrigerate and enjoy.
The yogurt tastes great and is nice and thick, but I do have mixed feelings about this recipe. The reason why the yogurt is thick is because the proteins are denatured when it is heated to 180F and held at that temperature for an extended period. Some of the raw milk advocates say that it is better to consume the milk without denaturing the proteins. If that's the case, then we should be making raw milk yogurt that is never heated to a temperature higher than when it comes out of the cow at around 100F. I have to do some more reading on this topic before I form an opinion on it. What do you think about it? For now, I'm going to enjoy the yogurt I just made, knowing that even if it is not the ideal yogurt it is still a much better alternative to storebought.
PS--My preschooler can't tell the difference between yogurt from this recipe and storebought yogurt.