Easiest Homemade Yogurt - no instant pot or special milk required

My mother in law, who is an excellent cook, taught me to make this delicious yogurt. I was scared to make yogurt the first time. It seemed wrong to me to leave milk sit overnight unrefrigerated, and I was untrusting of the process. I skeptically tried it anyway, and this yogurt comes out perfectly and so delicious.

There are a lot of very fancy yogurt recipes online involving yogurt making devices, instant pots, special kinds of milk or weird baby food incubator looking things. This recipe is not one of those. We're just making good, old fashioned, normal yogurt.

You will be leaving it alone for a time, so start this on a weekend or an evening right before bed.

What you'll need:

- a little plain yogurt (1/4c per gallon, I use plain whole milk yogurt)
- milk (I make a gallon at a time for our family of 5, and I use whole milk)
- a pot with a lid
- a kitchen thermometer (any old one will do, it does not need to be fancy)

What to do:

1. Pour your milk into your pot and heat it over medium heat on your stove, stirring every few minutes in such a way that you scrape the bottom so the milk won't burn. Continue this until your milk reaches 180F

2. When it reaches 180F (don't worry if you're over by a few degrees, it isn't rocket science) turn off the heat and allow the milk to cool to about 110F. You can just leave it there on the stove while it cools

3. Add in your 1/4c of yogurt and stir to distribute it throughout the milk. If you'd like, you could also add vanilla.

4. Put the lid back on the pot, wrap it in a dishtowel or other cloth, and pop it in the oven and turn the oven light on. If your oven is busy it can sit in the microwave or any other spot it can kind of be a little warmer and cozy than the counter. Don't put it on a heater or anything like that.

5. Leave it alone for 8-12 hours or overnight, then come back and stir it! You'll have warm delicious yogurt ready to eat right away. At this point, you will refrigerate it and it will solidify just a bit more in the fridge.

Safety Notes:
Making yogurt is a perfectly safe thing to do but I did want to add a couple of safety notes because there are ways that you can do it that would make it unsafe.

1. Be sure your hands, pot, spoon, etc. are clean. They don't have to be like boiled and sanitized, but taking a little extra care never hurts.

2. Do not add fruit or fresh uncooked things to your milk along with the yogurt culture. Fruit is raw, and has naturally occurring (usually good) bacteria on it. That's fine, but since you're leaving it what is basically an incubator with milk all night, you don't want to introduce other bacterias that aren't from the yogurt itself. Add your fruit in the morning or when your yogurt is done.

3. Do be sure to heat your milk to 180F. This step makes sure you've killed any bacteria in the milk that might not do well being left out overnight and made into yogurt. Skipping this step wouldn't be safe practice.