For Christmas I was given a yogurt maker, which has only added to my weekly tinkering in culinary self-sufficiency. Remarkably, it's relatively easy and has excellent results--unlike the method I looked up that involved filling mason jars with milk, putting them in a cooler filled with warm water, and putting that next to a radiator.
But the basic process is the same, and produces tasty yogurt that keeps for 8-10 days in the fridge. Take a quantity of milk that will fill all your yogurt jars, bring to a brief boil and then remove from the heat and allow to cool to blood temperature. Add in a small amount of pre-made yogurt (either store bought or from a previous batch), then pour in the individual jars and put inside the covered heat plate. That incubates the inoculated milk, allowing the cultures to thicken into yogurt. It takes about 8 hours for whole milk, 12 for skim, and a rather surprising 20 for goat's milk.
The goat's milk was a bit of an experiment on my part. I love the taste of goat's milk, but the yogurt retails for $2.30 per 8 oz cup at the local supermarket. So I tried to recreate this at home, with goat's milk and goat's milk yogurt. While the yogurt tasted clearly "goaty" and tangy, it never got past the consistency of kiefer, or thick, viscous milk. Ah well. Might be worth another shot, perhaps with another brand of goat's milk.
Part of me would like to try this with raw milk, although part of me worries that the warm, slow culturing time might incubate some unwanted bacteria. Maybe I'll keep that project for another day. For now I'm excited to pop some home made yogurt into my ice cream maker for frozen yogurt!