I've been talking yogurt with the folks over at my favorite homeschooling forum, Simply Charlotte Mason, and Doug gave me a new method to try. He thinks it may address the runny factor. Here is the way his family makes yogurt.
"We've been making yogurt a lot lately too and I've worked out a procedure that has been consistently producing nice thick and flavorful yogurt.
I make it in a large roaster oven so I can load it full of pint jars. Ours roaster easily holds eight to twelve jars.
The key is to get the temperature just right. I use a digital thermometer with a probe and an alarm. Heather, you mentioned yours being a bit runny and that may be a temperature issue. A crock pot on low actually gets too hot for the yogurt bacteria and can kill them. The ideal is between 110 and 120 degrees F.
We started with a good quality Greek yogurt that didn't have a bunch of extras in the ingredients. Greek yogurt usually contains five cultures instead of just L. Acidophilus. It has a creamier texture and less tartness. Of course, we just use our own yogurt as a starter now.
Each jar gets filled with skim milk and maybe a quarter cup of yogurt as a starter. I put lids on them, load them into the roaster, and fill the pan with water to help keep the temperature steady. I crank up the heat and set my alarm for 110 degrees. When it reaches that temperature I turn off the heat because it will continue to climb a bit. I then set my alarm for 118 just in case it climbs too high. If it does, I just dip out some of the warm water and replace it with cool.
It usually takes about four hours but I let it go longer if the yogurt isn't as thick as I'd like. I do check now and then to see if the temperature drops below
110. If it does I just apply a little more heat as before." -Doug
Well, I have a super neat digital thermometer from Pampered Chef, and my sweet husband stopped for a roaster oven and greek style yogurt last night at the local Wal-Mart. The roaster oven was only $30, and it is HUGE! Even if it doesn't work for yogurt, I am set for making ham, turkey, or soup for a crowd!!! Money well spent.
I'll let you all know how it turns out.