19 September 2011

Yoghurt - make it yourself

Thank you all for your kind thoughts for us as we grieve for Alice. Last week was a very sad one for us and it helped  knowing  that Alice touched the hearts of so many. We spent a couple of quiet days here together, then drove down to the Gold Coast yesterday and had Sunday with our family. Seeing them all with the babies did us a lot of good and now we're ready to move forward and settle into life again, without a dog.


I've been asked to do another post on making yoghurt and last week, when I was working at the Neighbourhood Centre, I was talking it about with our student Julie. Hi Julie! She has never made yoghurt so I told her this would be here and to try it. It's so easy.

There are many ways to make yoghurt, this is how I do it. I don't buy appliances and equipment that I don't need so for this method you will probably already have everything you need in your kitchen. If you make it in the afternoon, it will be ready the next morning. Yoghurt is milk that is fermented with beneficial bacteria. Other fermented products include cheese, wine, beer, kimchee, sauerkraut and kefir. 

You should make your yoghurt in sterile conditions and store it in a sterile container. The aim is to eliminate all the pathogens by pasteurising the milk. Even it is already pasteurised, the milk might have bacteria in it and you want to make sure that only the bacteria you want in there are present. When the harmful bacteria are gone, you introduce the probiotic bacteria in the form of yoghurt or yoghurt starter. The beneficial bacteria produce lactic acid during the process of fermenation. The acid conditions in the milk help preserve it because harmful bacteria find it difficult to colonise in acidic conditions.

  • A preserving/canning jar big enough to contain the amount you want to make - I used a 1.5 litre/quart jar
  • Whisk or fork to mix in the yoghurt
  • Spoon to scoop out the yoghurt
  • Large saucepan to sterilise the jar, or an oven
  • Small saucepan with a thick bottom to pasteurise the milk
  • Two towels
  • 1.4 litres/quarts milk - this can be full cream, skim, UHT, powdered - any milk you have on hand will do
  • 2 tablespoons good quality natural yoghurt with live cultures and no added gelatine
  • 2 tablespoons powdered milk

  1. Fill the large saucepan, place the jar, lid, whisk and spoon in the pan and bring to the boil then keep it boiling for ten minutes. Turn off the heat and leave everything in the saucepan until you're ready for it.
  2. Pour the milk into the smaller saucepan.
  3. Add two tablespoons of milk powder and whisk it in making sure the milk powder is completely dissolved in the milk.
  4. If you have a thermometer, clip it to the side of the saucepan and turn on the heat.
  5. Heat to 90C/195F - if you don't have a thermometer, it will be at the right temperature when small bubbles start forming around the outside of the milk.
  6. Take the milk off the heat and let the saucepan sit in a sink, half filled with cold water. This will help cool down the milk quickly.
  7. When the milk reaches about 45C/113F - but no higher than 50C/122F  - add two tablespoons of yoghurt and whisk in thoroughly. Adding the yoghurt to the milk when it's too hot will kill the beneficial bacteria but you need the milk to be warm enough to activate the bacteria, so make sure it's within that temperature range.
  8. Taking your time to whisk the ingredients thoroughly will give you a smooth yoghurt.

Buy a good quality yoghurt to be your starter. It needs to contain live bacteria and no gelatine.
Make sure you whisk in the powered milk and the yoghurt properly.
Pour the warm milk into a warm jar - do this step quickly so you don't lose too much heat.

  1. When the yoghurt is made, take the sterilised jar out of the water and place it on the bench to cool down slightly. While the yoghurt is still hottish and the jar is still warm, add the yoghurt to the jar and seal the lid. 
  2. Wrap it immediately in one towel, then the second towel so you have a nice parcel.
  3. Let this sit on the kitchen bench away from the drafts. You want this to retain the heat for as long as possible. Don't open the jar, don't stir it, don't shake it. Just leave it to sit in a warm location, that, and time, is all it needs.
  4. Late in the afternoon, heat the oven up for about 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.
  5. Place the parcel in the oven and leave it there, untouched, till the next morning.
  6. When you take it out, the milk will be yoghurt.
This is my jar the next morning. It has been lying on its side and you can see in the photo above that the whey has started to separate from the yoghurt. The whey is that yellow fluid.

With the lid off, you can see the indentation of the writing on the jar lid has transferred to the yoghurt.
Nice, thick yoghurt.
I keep a few tablespoons of the yoghurt that I made in a container in the freezer to be used for the next batch. 

And that's it!  Less than 30 minutes to make this delicious and nutritious yoghurt. Store it in the fridge. I believe the yoghurt I make is the equal of the good quality I buy to use as a starter, but it's cheaper. You can enjoy it straight from the jar but if you want a sweet yoghurt, add some jam or honey to it. I use our homemade jam and it's absolutely delicious.

This is the finished cheese with the whey in a jar. Whey will store safely in the fridge for at least a month. You can use it in your baking as a substitute for milk and it will give you absolutely wonderful results.

Hanno loves yoghurt made into a sort of cream cheese/quark/labnah - yoghurt cheese. To make this all you have to do is to strain the yoghurt in a clean cotton cloth placed in a strainer, sitting over a jug. Cover it and put it in the fridge for at lease one day, preferably three. The whey will drip into the jar, the flavour of the yoghurt will develop and you'll get a nice thick cheese. We use this as a savoury cheese and add extra ingredients like chilli jam (or chilli flakes), chopped green onions, finely chopped cucumber or herbs, pepper and salt. 

I know many of you already make your own yoghurt but if you haven't, try this. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

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