12 April 2012

Self reliance and the yoghurt jar

Now that the hot weather is over for another year, I'll have to bring my maturing yoghurt inside again. I've had great success over summer making yoghurt and leaving it outside on the warm verandah. I really dislike buying new equipment to make something we use here at home. I don't want any new appliances or gadgets here. I prefer to find a way of doing what I have to do without bringing in the specialist piece of equipment. Most of the time, it's easy to find a way.

When you make yoghurt, the milk needs to be held at a warm temperature for a few hours - or overnight. That temperature is easy to reach when you're warming the milk, so if you can keep the temperature constant for a few hours, you'll have yoghurt. Leaving it outside in the warmth works well. A warm day will give you the temperature you need, and often you don't need to leave the jar in the sun, it just needs to be sitting on the verandah in the warm air.

This is what I do. When the yoghurt is made in the usual way - there is a post here about it - I pour the warm yoghurty-milk into a warm sterilised jar. It's vital the jar is warm. Then I wrap the jar in a flannel sheet and place it outside in a warm area. It doesn't matter if it gets some sun on it occasionally, but it doesn't have to have the sun beating down on it. At the end of the day, I bring it inside and check the yoghurt is made. It's then stored in the fridge.

But now that the cooler weather is here, I have to find that warm space inside. Instead of flannel, in winter I wrap the yoghurt jar in a woollen blanket, then leave it on my laundry bench top all day. If the day is particularly cold, I might place the wrapped jar in a warm oven in the afternoon, but usually, just the woollen blanket is enough.

So if you've been thinking about buying a yoghurt maker, try this method first. You'll save yourself some money and increase your self-reliance at the same time.

If you've been following my cheese making ventures, you might be interested in this photo, taken yesterday, of the two camemberts made a couple of weeks ago. This is the white mould growing on the cheese. They smell divine and I can hardly wait to try them. It will be a couple of weeks more before we will taste them.

Hello to Sarah and Tim, thanks for sending the photos. Good luck in your new home.


  1. Don't we all love to be sitting on the verandah in the warm air? ;o)

    Lovely day!

  2. I make my yoghurt by bringing 1 litre of full cream milk up to blood temperature in a pan. Whisk in pot of active yoghurt and pour into a warmed 1 litre Thermos flask. Tighten the lid and leave for 24-36 hours until it reaches your preferred thickness. Tip into a bowl and cool in the fridge. Delicious.
    Sometimes I use dilute evaporated milk which gives a creamier taste.
    Its cheap to make and uses what you have in the kitchen.
    Helen in France

  3. winters in Johannesburg are a bit cold to make yoghurt without a heat source - so I use my rice cooker; the 'cook' setting is perfect to heat the milk and denature the proteins, and then the 'warm' setting is perfect to set the yoghurt. It means I don't have to buy another kitchen gadget, and it does almost everything! (I also use it for steaming, reheating instead of a microwave, and slow cooking)

  4. I incubate my yogurt in a gallon of hot water inside a small cooler (which I already owned). It works like a charm year-round for me, and it only needs to incubate for 3 hours. Love!

  5. HI Rhonda,

    We have had good success with our yogurt by putting the jars in a cooler box that I fill with hot tap water and leave for about 8 hours. It has always turned out well for us. It does not get warm enough here in Eastern Canada to be able to leave them outside. It would be nice to do though.


  6. I make my yoghurt without a yoghurt maker too. I place my jars in an esky and wrap in a warm blanket overnight (evenings is when its easiest for me to find yoghurt making time). If its a real cold night i'll add a few jars of warm water.

  7. I agree completely - always try the simplest (and very inexpensive) way of doing things first! Years ago I always made yogurt in quart canning jars, in a recycled cardboard box with an ordinary light bulb as the heat source. Never failed. I was amazed when the fancy plastic yogurt-makers started appearing everywhere, with fancy prices to match.

  8. I am spoilt with lovely bought yoghurt made in Gympie. It is my little treat and although I can make yoghurt it isn't as yummy as the locally made.
    If I'm making labna or such I do my own yoghurt.

    Rhonda I am watching those camemberts with eagle eyes. This is something I am really interested in. With mother's day coming up I could put in a request for a joint ( and useful) gift from the family. My usual requests are fruit trees or rose bushes. Both are such good value for eating or enjoying but this year perhaps something a bit cheesier will be the go.

  9. Hello, Rhonda

    When I make my yogurt, I put the quart jar of yogurt and 2 jars of hot water in a small cooler, wrapped in a few towels. It works well for me, living in a colder climate and not having a yogurt maker.

    Thanks for the cheese picture. I have decided that cheese is my next project. I am going to make ricotta this week, and will have to satisfy myself reading about the other types for a little while. I won't have the milk until we get a cow, which we're hoping to do in the next few weeks!!

    ~Melanie in Canada

  10. Natalie, where in eastern Canada are you? I am in NB!
    ~Melanie in Canada

  11. Like the above comments, I use an esky to keep the yoghurt warm. Already had the esky so nothing needed to be bought. Cheese is looking good. One of my favourites!

  12. Hi Rhonda,

    I did buy a yoghurt maker - 2 different ones in fact from ALDI and every yoghurt batch was a disaster:) The last few months I have been using little poppa's method for the slow cooker - http://littlepoppa.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/homemade-yoghurt.html. I have really good (and consistent) results. My yoghurt maker is on its way to the next car boot sale - no point storing an extra electrical item

  13. Great to read all the ways to make yogurt. I fill my quart jars then place them on top of a heating pad set to low and invert my soup pot on top of the lot. I then cover the lot with a towel. SJ in Vanvouver BC Canada

  14. As my grandmother used to say, "There is more than one way to skin a cat." All these innovative ideas for making the same product! Hopefully these different ways of making yogurt will make people brave enough to try making their own. :-)

    Here in England, we rarely have the natural warmth required. I've been using my slow cooker with a recipe and process from Stephanie O'Dae's blog. You only heat the milk up for a little while, with the rest of the time using the slow cooker as an incubator.

  15. Not sure if anyone has mentioned above. I have a four day old baby so sadly don't have time to read the comments just now. My mother in law swears by putting rising bread dough and yoghurt in the car in winter. Just need to make sure the car isn't too hot. Eliza

  16. Well who's a duffer? I do put the bread out to rise in winter (as Eliza mentions above) but I never thought to put the yoghurt out. It makes perfect sense, the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean people must have done this in the past.

    Wasn't butter discovered by milk being in a pouch on an animal that was walking?

  17. I've been using my yoghurt maker as the twins really love their yoghurt and it is still cheaper and nicer than buying the already made yoghurt. However i do want to start making it from scratch...but the girls are now used to a vanilla yoghurt....do you have any tips for flavouring yoghurt Rhonda? It doesn't need to be overly sweet but they do prefer some flavour rather than the plain (they haven't had the yoghurt marketed to kids as it is too sweet with many added extras....but they are used to easiyo now) can i just add a few drops of vanilla or some pureed fruit to your yoghurt base do you think?
    Thank you if you get a chance to reply!
    Your cheeses are looking great...can't wait to hear the verdict!

  18. I agree Jode, homemade is tastier and healthier. Since you've got a yoghurt maker you should use it. I was hoping to reach people who haven't yet made the purchase.

    I flavour ours with homemade jam or stewed fruit. You can also add some honey as long as the twins are over 12 months but I think your babies aren't. Maybe I'm wrong, I keep forgetting dates lately.

  19. Very cool. :)
    Have a wonderful day!

  20. Yogurt is one of those things I have yet to try and make. I am afraid of failing with it. I have been wanting to try it though. I have a question. You say you let it sit outside in the summer. How hot is it in your area? It gets to the mid 90s here. How warm can it be and this work outside?

  21. I find the area near the combustion stove good for raising bread and making yoghurt in winter. In fact the stove does lots of things beside heat the house in the colder months.

  22. could you add flavoring such as vanilla or lemon? And if so, at what stage would you add it and I wonder how much you would add. Any idea?

  23. I just make mine in the crockpot and time it so it can set (up to 12 hours) overnight. Near bedtime, I unplug, put a folded towel under the crockpot, and wrap the whole thing in heavy towels or a blanket. By morning, it's still warm and so yummy. What I haven't scarfed down goes in the fridge.

    brenda from ar

  24. I know this is off the subject...but I love the jar...the little butterflies are adorable...is it a canning jar? I have a couple with sunflowers on them and a few that belonged to my grandma that are very special to me.
    Enjoy all your tips!

  25. Scarlett, it gets fairly warm here - between 80 - 95.

    April, it depends on how many people would eat it. If it's just you, you could flavour the whole lot before you put it in the fridge to store. If there are a few of you, store the yoghurt plain and flavour it when you serve it.

    Janet, yes, it's a canning jar. It's Italian, they're the best quality jars we can buy here and they have replacement lids that are easily found.

  26. I LOVE your jar. Is so pretty. I've never seen anything like it. I'm a cheese nut and my mouth is literally watering.

  27. I HAVE to get onto making our own cheese. Looks wonderful. I admit to having a yoghurt maker that cost me about $15 and is basically a big thermos. I'd like to try making it without it sometime too, just to prove to myself I can xx

  28. It's like you read my mind, I spent most of the day yesterday researching ways on making yoghurt that didnt include the pasteurisation part and came to a decision that a machine is better and sourced a machine that uses glass jars, but as you said, it's yet another machine or gadget that will get shelved like the rest. So ok, I will try it this way first and see how I go..... :)

  29. Thanks Rhonda....i hadn't thought of adding jam and honey is fine as the girls are nearly 2 now can you believe!
    Getting the yoghurt maker was my first step towards making my own...didn't even think about some of the other options you mentioned unfortunately!
    Thanks again x

  30. I have to admit that the EasiYo system makes it simple to make yoghurt, even for me. I weighed up the options & the expense of the setup was worthwhile in my circumstances.

    My super simple recipe:
    1 cup powdered milk
    3 Tbs starter sachet (alternatively use fresh yoghurt)
    1 Tbs Vanilla essence (optional)
    1 to 3 Tbs sugar (optional)
    tap water

    Put all ingredients in the container & give it a good shake
    Put your boiled water in the flask, then add your yoghurt container & let it develop.
    If you use fresh yogurt, whisk it into a little powdered milk & water in a separate container before adding to the batch.

    I can do this in the morning & by the time I am home from work it is ready to put in the fridge.

    I make mine without sugar & top with chopped seasonal fruit for a little sweetness.

  31. I was given a yogurt maker 31 years ago as a wedding gift, and it still works, probably because I don´t use it as often as I should! The yogurt comes out nice and thick though, and I love it.
    Those cheeses are looking great, will have to give it a try as well. Thanks for all the tips.

  32. Hi Rhonda,
    I make yoghurt warming 1 litre milk to about body temperature (in a pot on the stove), putting 3 TBs of yoghurt in, stirring, then filling in jars, lids on. I fill a hot water bottle and put it together with the yoghurt jars in my bed, covered with the duvet. After about 8 hrs (I just leave it in there during the day) it's ready to use!
    Greetings from Germany, Betti

  33. I'm getting some great ideas to try! Evaporated milk, using a cooler/esky to hold the heat, etc. One thing I'm not picturing, is quite how people are using their cars in winter as a means of letting dough rise or making yogurt?? Eliza is probably too busy to respond (CONGRATULATIONS on your new baby, Eliza!!) but can anyone enlighten me? I feel silly asking, but...

  34. Hi Rhonda, your Camembert looks great! I am making quark today, another soft cheese. I like the soft cheeses these days because making them fits nicely into my schedule.

    I enjoyed your yogurt information. I have a yogurt incubator but often make my yogurt in a gallon jar set near our wood stove. I do enjoy my yogurt incubator, and it was a gift so that made it free for me. :o)

  35. Quinn, I used to do this. The car interior will hold heat and you can use it as an incubator. I can only to it in winter here. I stopped using the car because I did't like leaving it out in the sun to heat up.

  36. Oh that cheese looks divine....I am doing a cheese making course the following weekend....can't wait to see what I can learn (just a pity we no longer have a dairy)

  37. I use an Australian Cooler Bag - (wool inner, oilskin outer and lining) to make yoghurt, summer and winter. It keeps a nice even temperature all year round(in south east Queensland)with no additional heating or cooling.

  38. When I lived in NT I used to incubate my yoghurt outside too. Now I live in Hobart... I use an easiyo thermos :-) Making yoghurt is so easy and cheap - I use part of a pack of the easiyo sachets and the rest powdered milk. It is best for me to use powdered ingredients as they are easy to keep in the pantry. I sweeten the yoghurt with homemade jam or honey.

  39. I was taught by an old Lebanese woman to make yoghurt.

    Heat 1/2 gallon (2ltrs) whole milk until you see it just begin to 'rise' and bubble around the edges. Pour into a large, heavy, glass bowl. Let cool until you can hold your little finger, up to the cuticle, in the hot milk to the count of 10 but no longer. Whisk a little warm milk into your starter and then whisk that back into the big bowl of warm milk. Cover with a plate or lid. Wrap in a big bath towel and leave on the counter until morning (about 12 hours).
    I have never had this method fail in 28 years and it takes no special equipment - just regular kitchen stuff.

  40. You Camembert is coming along nicely Rhonda.

    I have produced a Camembert cheese making video tutorial over on my cheese making blog, Little Green Cheese for anyone to watch. I believe that any of your readers who are interested in cheese making would enjoy this resource that I have put together.


  41. Some very useful ideas for making yoghurt in this colder weather! I haven't made it in quite a while, actually.

    I do want to try that camembert cheese though, I can only imagine how amazing it would taste freshly made

  42. Hi Rhonda,

    In winter (and sometimes in Summer, I'm in Melbourne) I make my quark and yoghurt by putting the jar into a small esky, with a warm wheat pack. I leave it overnight, and voila!

  43. I lived in Papua New Guinea for years and made yogurt just leaving it on the kitchen bench overnight.

    Now living in Melbourne which is much cooler, I put my lidded bowl in our bed under the blankets with the electric blanket on low-makes excellent yogurt, and very quick and easy.

  44. Hi, I made up your yoghurt recipe a couple of days ago, it was very good. On a completely different tack, can you recommend what I can use to remove the lime scale below the water on my toilet. I want to stop using normal toilet cleaners.

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