Yogurt maker recommendations?
A canning jar and a heat source. I'm not kidding. I used to make it by just leaving a quart canning jar within the radiant air space of the wood stove. Alternatively you can use a heating pad in an insulated box similar to a proofing box for dough, it can be done in a crock pot, or an enclosed dehydrator like the Excalibur,
Or you can just buy the mesophilic starter culture that can culture at room temperatures. Here is just one type http://www.culturesforhealth.com/viil...
re: Nikki NYC
Get a thermometer to make sure your milk stays around 110 degrees F and then let it sit for at least 6 hours. I had the best luck with about 8 hours. You can try using quart canning jars and putting them in your oven. Either set the oven at a really low temp (110ish) or turn the light on inside the oven. If you use just the light and it's cool in your house, then you might want to pre-heat it a little to about 200, then turn it off, then put your milk in. Just be careful that it doesn't get too hot or it will kill the culture. Temperature is important.
You can also add milk powder to increase the milk proteins or strain the finished yogurt to make it thicker.
This older thread might be helpful. Lots of good info in it: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/292076
Weekly homemade yogurt maker here. +1 for the canning jar and a heat source.
I have a DIY sous vide type controller that I use with a crock pot to incubate mine, but before that I used my oven with the light turned on (aka the "proof" setting if you have one so equipped). The light bulb method is slightly more work in that you have to heat and then cool the milk manually, vs. my current set up which does the heating and cooling for me and only requires intervention on my part when it's time to add the culture. I went this route because I couldn't find a yogurt making appliance that met the requirements you have outlined. Either they are glorified sytrofoam insulators or they have those stupid little futzy jars.
Keep in mind that homemade skim milk yogurt is always going to have a different texture because it doesn't have any of the other (weird) stuff in it that makes commercial yogurt glopier, thicker, "creamier", etc.
I would recommend using 2% milk. You'll still get a different texture than store bought, but it's not at all unpleasant, IMO. I have heard adding a tablespoon or two of dry milk powder will help produce a thicker product, but I don't notice the difference enough to make this worth my while.
Sorry, everybody, but I caved and bought the Euro Cuisine with the 7 glass jars. The light in my oven doesn't work and I got tired of experimenting and ruining so much milk. Any ideas on how long to leave the skim mixture in the machine? I want to try it without adding powered milk, at least the first time. Thanks again for all the advice!