Definitely better than store bought! I have used various brands of Greek yogurt as a starter and I find that if you like the way the starter tastes, you’ll probably like the yogurt you make from it even better! I prefer to make my own because I can control the fat content that way (I like to add cream to whole milk for a richer result).
I’ve been making my own Greek yogurt every 10 days or so for several years, starting with 2 gallons of milk. Heat it to 180 degrees, cool it to 110 degrees, add a cup of Fage as the starter. Keep warm in 100 degree oven for 8 to 12 hours. Drain in fridge through cheesecloth for 24 hours. Flavor with chocolate or vanilla or blueberry or mango and put into 10 or 12 individual 8 or 10 ounce containers with lids. Higher in protein, lower in sugar, lovely mouthfeel.
Nah, sell the yogurt maker at a yard sale. Put the culture and the milk in a sterilized and closed mason jar. Put water at 120F or so in a beer cooler and submerge the jars. Go to sleep and wake up to yogurt in the morning.
That’s pretty similar to how my MIL did it since we had no special tools at home. She just found a cardboard box, lined it up with some sweater/ jacket, warmed the milk with some residual heat on the stovetop, and then put the milk+starter into the box. Not sure how long she did it though.
I’m not sure what the usual temp is for killin’ cooties but it is less than 180. The 180 is supposed to denature enough of the milk proteins so you get a thicker, smoother yogurt. I did some experiments (not exactly scrupulously controlled) and that seems to be true. I have rarely let it get as high as 200 by accident and it seems as good.
In this hot weather, cooling it back down to 110 so I don’t kill the starter yogurt is the most tedious part. Sometimes I fill up my big sink with cold water and immerse the big stockpot in it and it can still take an hour or two.
I have had the same experience. If you have a sous vide circulator, that’s a great way to get your milk to 180 and hold it there with no risk of scorching (I seem to end up with caramelized milk solids on the bottom of the pot every time if I do it on the stove). I just pour milk into a gallon sized ziploc, plop it in the water and let the sous vide do its thing at 180 for a while. You can open the bag and take the milk’s temp to make sure it’s all the way up to 180. A glass mason jar would probably work very well too. This is my new favorite way to make ricotta cheese as well.