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I think it's easy to make yogurt without one if you have a heating pad or any way to maintain temperature for a day.Here's a post by Food in Jars on how to make it with a cooler and mason jars http://www.foodinjars.com...
I use a zip up cooler with mason jars full of hot water - no heating pad or anything. Comes out great.
Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
For literally years, I made yogurt in a Mason jar wrapped in a heating pad set on low and secured with rubber bands. A couple of years ago my sister gave me a Yogourmet, and I love it. It makes up to 2 quarts of yogurt (or crème fraîche!), and isn't a pain to store when not in use.
We make our yogurt about every three weeks without a machine. My point is, you absolutely do not need a machine to make your own (you probably already know this). In cooler weather I am not nearly as clever as Christine; I put the cooled pot of a gallon of boiled milk + culture in a (ever ever ever so slightly) warm oven and turn on the oven light to maintain the warmth. (I can provide more yogurt making details if you need it.)
At any rate, if you find a fantastic yogurt maker then please share the model and make with the rest of us since I have never used one. :)
I'm not sure where you live but I like your technique. I think the extra precautions are helpful to know about if you live in colder winters like I do but your method is undoubtedly sufficient for almost all climates. Yogurt has been around longer than electricity!
Sam is a trusted home cook.
No machine needed. I take milk and heat it it a bit, then pinch off the film that might form. When it's about 100-110 degrees. Mix in a couple of table spoonsl of the old yogurt. Then place in a draft free place overnight---or until set, lots of wiggle room there; it'l be more lemony the longer it sits.
The microwave is perfect place to rest the yogurt---if it's winter and the house is cool, put in a old fashioned red-rubber water bottle filled with hot tap water to keep the compartment warm. It'll be fine.
Bonus: The hot water bottle makes a excellent bed warmer for winter nights. Get a silicon oven mitt and you can use tea kettle water----but don't do that with your bare hands; the bottle burps when filling.
If your kitchen is cool, a Yogotherm is nice. It's a container lined with styrofoam into which you set another food-grade plastic container (2 qt.) with the milk and starter in it. This works best when you begin by rinsing the yogurt container with boiling water. Then set it on the counter and forget about it. No electricity involved. New England Cheesemaking carries it, as well as some very nice yogurt cultures.
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Well played. You deserve a cookie.
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