In Taiwan yogurt often contains little jello like cubes, both to add a bit of “Q” (as in chewy) texture and probably to take up space that would be occupied by the more expensive ingredients such as the actual yogurt. I would fault them for this, except I am rather fond of the little cubes.
In America I find the yogurt in general far too sickly sweet to eat. Plus it often is solidified with a number of gums and whatnot, once again this takes the place of more expensive ingredients such as actual yogurt. This I do fault them for, because it adds very little to the yogurt.
So I make my own yogurt. Luckily making yogurt is ridiculously simple, it requires very little in the way of technology (which is probably why it has been done for thousands of years). A couple of thermometers, a pot and an oven with a light seems to be the most of it. As for ingredients, milk and plain yogurt are all you need.
Yogurt is, most simply put, cultured and fermented milk. First, one needs to heat the milk to denature the milk proteins so it sets properly. Second, one needs to introduce the appropriate bacterium, which is as easy as adding plain yogurt to the cooked milk. Third, one needs to hold this mixture at a suitably warm temp for several hours (for this part I use an oven with the light on).
I use the oven because 1, I don’t want to buy anything else such as a heating pad or a yogurt maker, and 2, well I guess there is only that one reason. Using the oven is easy, but you will need to know how warm your oven gets with just the light on, too warm and you will kill the bacteria you want to grow, too cold and they wont grow. So I suppose the first step is to put an oven thermometer in your oven and turn the light on and leave it for a while. Make sure the temperature is at least 90 F but no more than 115 F, preferably around 110 F (sometimes I have to prop the oven door open ever so slightly).
- plain yogurt with live/active yogurt cultures (whisking 1/4 cup of yogurt with 1 cup of milk before hand makes it easier to incorporate into the milk)
- On a stove top slowly heat a quantity of milk in a stainless pot until it reaches 195 F, stirring rather frequently. Hold the milk at this temp for 10 minutes, again stirring rather frequently and preventing the milk from boiling.
- Remove the milk from the heat and let cool to 110 F. Whisk in about a 1/4 cup of plain yogurt.
- Cover and put in a warm place, with temps of around 100 F to 114 F for around 4 to 7 hours (I usually use the oven with the oven light on) until firmly set.
- Remove and put in the fridge*.