Home-made Yoghurt Adventure

Buying yoghurt seems to be getting more expensive; every time I go to the supermarket I check for the yoghurt on special, and it’s always the flavours that the kids don’t like that are on sale. Yoghurt is invaluable in baking; a lot of baked goods have plain yoghurt in them. I use quite a lot of it, so rather than continuing to pay an astronomical amount I thought would give making it at home a try.

Reading through the instructions online it seemed easy enough, people have been making yoghurt for centuries in tents and cold twig huts using tin cans and hand thrown pots, so surely I, the contemporary woman, could make it? It seemed like a slightly hippy-ish thing to do, but I am a 60’s kid after all.

I was very nervous making this: what if it didn’t work? What if it all just turned into a stinky mess? You all know I like to do things the hard way with as few gadgets as possible, no fancy yoghurt maker here! I was really taking some serious risks with this project.

I’m pleased to say that it worked beautifully and I now have a big pot of beautiful creamy white yoghurt sitting in my fridge.

Fresh Home made Yoghurt

The first time you make this you will need to buy a carton of plain active yoghurt from the store as your starter. After the first time you just need to retain a few tablespoons of your home made yoghurt to use as your starter. You can also buy yoghurt cultures if you wish to do it that way. They will come with their own set of instructions.

If you are retaining some for a starter for next time you need to get your new batch started within 5-7 days, so it still has some oompf there.

Make sure you have a clean container with a lid to make your yoghurt in.
A candy thermometer is helpful but not essential.

You need to use your yoghurt within 2 weeks.

You can make this with any type of milk, I chose to make this batch from a combination of whole milk and low fat milk.

  • 1/ 1/2 litres milk (roughly 1 1/2 quarts)
  • 2-3 large Tblspns plain active cultured yoghurt at room temperature.

First scald your milk - put it in a large saucepan and bring it up to the temperature where it starts to foam 185F/85C. Stir while it’s coming up to temperature, you don’t want to burn your milk. Take it off the heat once it starts to foam. You can use a double boiler if you’re the nervous type. I like to live on the edge and use a regular saucepan.

Cool your milk down to 110F/43 C or till it just feels slightly warm to the touch. But do make sure that you stir your milk occasionally while it’s cooling so that it is the same temperature throughout.

One website suggested using a water bath to cool it more quickly and evenly while stirring to ensure even temperature throughout the milk.

Once your milk has cooled to that slightly warm temp (110F/43C) place your yoghurt starter in the milk and stir through to mix.

Tip the mixture into the container that you are going to make your
yoghurt in, and seal the top. Now you need to put it in a warm place
for between 7-12 hours. You want to maintain the current temperature of the milk mixture. I left mine incubating overnight on top of the hot water cylinder while I was snuggled up in bed.

There are a variety of ways you can keep your yoghurt warm so that it does in fact turn into yoghurt. It’s really the same thing as when you raise dough for bread. If you have a spot that you like to put bread dough to rise, no doubt it will work for the yoghurt too. I just used a sealed plastic container- nothing fancy.

You could leave it in the oven with just the pilot light on. You can do it in a crockpot, or you could wrap it in a towel or quilt and put it in a sunny car, use a heat pad, sit it on an electric blanket on low setting - now’s your chance to be creative!

The longer you leave it, the thicker and more tangy it will be.

When you take your yoghurt out of its warm place, put it into the fridge to chill for a couple of hours. You will notice a yellowish liquid on the top of your yoghurt, this is the whey, you can either strain or drain this off. I chose to strain mine for a slightly thicker consistency. You will notice that it’s also a little lumpy in texture. Just give it a good whisk or a stir to make it smooth.

For thicker Greek style yoghurt strain overnight in the fridge. I’m going to try this next time and see what the result is like. I was really happy with the yoghurt; it was creamy, thick, fresh smelling and snow white. I assume a different starter yoghurt would give a slightly different result.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Flavour with fruit purees, fresh fruit chunks, honey, syrups or sweet spices. Honey and cinnamon works well as something a little different.

Really in summary the recipe is - scald milk, cool milk, add yoghurt, keep warm - chill yoghurt, eat yoghurt. Pretty easy.

Isaac had it poured over his breakfast this morning, it got his seal of approval and “I didn’t know you could make yoghurt Mummy!”

Kit scoffed his and mumbled something complimentary with his mouth full of strawberries and yoghurt.

I suppose there is going to be milk incubating on my hot water cylinder from now on, which is not a bad thing at all.