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Product Review (submitted on May 23, 2014):
I first started making my yogurt in a 5 cup yogurt maker but it has become such a staple of my diet I had to move to half gallon batches in a slow cooker crock that I incubate in the oven. At first I only gave the review a 3 on price but changed it to a five since your initial culture seems expensive but since it lasts indefinitely due to the heirloom culture it ends up being very economical in the long run.
Delicious tasting every time. I like to incubate for about 5 hours or until set and then stop incubating. I let cool for two hours and then refrigerate overnight and strain so the finished strained product is mild with the perfect consistency. I prefer to strain for about 2 hours as my most frequent use is for breakfast with a little maple syrup and fresh berries and a topping of homemade granola. To round out that meal I add one egg and one egg white scrambled and I am good to go for the morning.
I whole heartedly recommend this starter. I am retired so it is totally worth it to me to make my own yogurt every week. In fact it has become part of my routine. Now that I have been incubating in half gallon batches it has been easier since I only need to do it once a week usually. If you are interested read on for my method.
I heat the milk on the stove in a large sauce pan to 175 degrees and let cool. I use a digital thermometer with an alarm. Meanwhile I have preheated the slower cooker ceramic crock by adding water to it and just turn it on. When the milk has cooled to 110 degrees I remove the crock from the slow cooker and pour out the water in the crock and add the milk. I then stir in 3 tablespoons of reserved yogurt from my previous batch. I set the covered crock on a bath towel and wrap it up to insulate it. I put the whole thing on an insulated cookie sheet in the oven which I had preheated for about 3 minutes and then turned off but leave the oven light on. I insert the thermometer probe into the fold of the towel to track the temperature. During the culturing I keep an eye on the temperature and if it looks like the temperature is getting a little low I turn on the oven for 30 seconds to maintain the 110 temp. The crock is removed from the oven after about 5 hours or until the milk is set and cooled for about 2 hours and then refrigerated overnight and strained for two hours in the morning after I remove the small amount i will need for the next batch. I have not had a failure yet and sometimes the temperature while culturing is a little high like 117 or so but I am monitoring the temp between the towel and the crock and not the milk itself so that has not been a problem. Happy culturing!