Why should you make your own yoghurt?
Homemade yoghurt is one of those truly sensational but amazingly simple food experiences. Europeans treat their yoghurt cultures like family heirlooms, passing them down through generations and even smuggling them across the oceans when they emigrated.
A lot of people don’t realise just how many additives and preservatives are in commercial yoghurts — in fact, an old Greek would say a lot of them are not really yoghurt at all. Once learn how to make your own yoghurt, you’ll probably never go back. It’s easy to make yoghurt. The benefits just don’t stop there. You will not only get a great result, but it’s significantly cheaper than store-bought, particularly if you consume a lot of yoghurt.
There are two options for homemade yoghurt: the old-fashioned way using a double boiler, thermometer and heating pad; or the modern (and arguably easier) method using a yoghurt-making machine. Whichever way you choose how to make the yoghurt, high-quality ingredients will ensure you get the best end result.
To make yoghurt with a machine, just follow the instructions that come with it. Ensure that you use a good-quality milk base (organic is best) and a plain yoghurt starter that has live cultures. Shop for a yogurt that says live cultures on the label. There are excellent biodynamic products widely available that are ideal for the purpose. Once you have made your first batch, simply save a few tablespoons to start the next lot and keep your cultures alive by making new yoghurt frequently.
To make yoghurt the old-fashioned way, follow these simple instructions. You will need a double boiler and a good food thermometer. If you have a double boiler, sterilise it. If you don’t have a double boiler, a large pot with a smaller one inside it will do just as well — just make sure they’re sterile when you start.
- Pour about half a litre of milk into the top of the double boiler and heat the milk to 85°C. Once you have reached the correct temperature, remove the pot of milk and place in a sink filled with iced water to the same depth as the milk, to quickly cool the milk.
- Cool the milk to 43.5°C. This is the temperature at which the cultures will multiply.
- Once your milk is the correct temperature, add 2–3 tablespoons of shop-bought plain yoghurt (preferably biodynamic or at least organic).
- Your yoghurt should now be left undisturbed and kept warm for around 6-7 hours.
The longer the yoghurt sets, the thicker and tarter it will be, so experiment with setting times to suit your taste, but 6-7 hours is a good place to start. Once your yoghurt is set (it will get thicker in the fridge) give it a good stir, pour into sterilized containers and place in the back of your refrigerator.
Yoghurt will keep in the fridge for up to 10 days. Remember to save a little to start your next batch.
Not sweet enough?
If you prefer your yoghurt on the sweet side or you want to entice your kids to eat it, try adding maple syrup, honey with crushed nuts, berries, mashed banana, passionfruit or vanilla to the finished yoghurt. Stewed rhubarb and apple are other options and in summer you can make the most of mango, peaches or apricots, which all go especially well.
TIP: To keep yoghurt warm while setting without using a yoghurt-making machine, you can sit it on a heating pad with a wet tea towel over the top; or place it in an oven set to 50°C; or put it in an Esky along with two cups filled with boiling water.
So now you can start enjoying the taste of fresh, homemade yoghurt without the nasty additives or preservatives. It’s just up to you as to how you’ll go about it and what other additions you can add to it.
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