Looks yummy, no? I have several theories as to what went wrong. First, I didn't have fresh milk. I mean, it wasn't past date, but it was getting close. Also, my yogurt that I used for the starter was about two weeks old. Again, not bad, but not fresh. The biggest mistakes were these: I didn't cool the milk completely down to 110. I was in a hurry, and I realized later that it was 120. Also, I read that it is best to mix a bit of the warm milk into the yogurt and then add it all back to the milk. I didn't do that. As you can see, it is all nice and solid at the bottom of my container and liquid at the top. I think all my starter stayed at the bottom.
Anyway, I guess I was feeling brave the day I made this mess and just put it in the fridge to see what would happen. The next day when it was nice and chilled, I took it out to see if anything could be done with it. I smelled it, and it smelled fine. I tasted it, and it tasted great. But the texture was way wrong. Lots and lots of whey, and a dry and somewhat grainy yogurt. I did some research and found out that you can make cream cheese at home! I actually found this out by looking up how to make whey. I use whey to soak grains to make them easier to digest. I was having a hard time skimming enough off of yogurt for this and found that you can extract the whey out of yogurt, and what you are left with is cream cheese! Who knew?
So I got a bowl and set a strainer lined with a towel in it and dumped in my not-so-perfect yogurt into the strainer and let it sit out on the counter.
I let it sit like this for several hours on the counter until it wasn't really dripping out any whey anymore. At that point, I carefully pulled up the corners of the towel and tied it around the handle of a wooden spoon and hung it over a pitcher so it could drip while hanging and get every last drop of whey out of it.
It kept dripping overnight and a few hours into the next day. When the dripping stopped, it was done! This is what was left in the towel - the most beautiful, yummy cream cheese!
I was a bit skeptical that it would actually taste good, and the knowledge that it had sat out all night creeped me out a little bit, but it was really nice. And what was really strange was that it was even a bit cool to the touch even after sitting out. And I was left with a jar full of whey (about 1 1/2 cups) and a little over a cup of cream cheese. This cream cheese is a little bit different from commercial cream cheese - not so much in taste, but in texture. It is a little bit more dry.
I am working on a recipe using the cream cheese right now, and I'll have to let you know how it turns out.