Yoghurt revisited

19 October 2016
A few readers asked about yoghurt starter cultures after yesterday's post so I thought I'd add to the information here. It really is a very good way of making yoghurt.  I buy my culture from Green Living in Brisbane. They charge $16.95 for enough culture to make 100 litres. The culture is highly concentrated so even though you have the capacity to make that amount, it's a tiny parcel. I bought sour cream culture too and measuring spoons so I wouldn't over-measure and waste the culture.  Every batch I've made has been perfect. I don't have any affiliation with this company but I have been impressed with their fast and efficient service.

When you have your starter culture, you make yoghurt in the usual way but you use the culture instead of adding live, fresh yoghurt to your mix. If you haven't made yoghurt before, here is an old post on the process, although now I use the Easiyo in the final stage to ferment the milk and I use starter culture instead of adding fresh yoghurt. For those unfamiliar with the Easiyo process, it's plastic one litre jar that fits inside an insulated container. Just before you place the filled jar into the container, you fill the base of it with boiling water. Sealing the jar inside the container with the hot water overnight gives you a simple and easy way to make yoghurt.

When the yoghurt is made, you can use it to make a simple fresh cheese called Labneh. All you need to do is to sit the yoghurt in a strainer with a loose weave cloth over it and allow it to drain for a few hours while it sits in the fridge. If you want to hurry the process, put a plate on top of the covered cheese with a large tin of fruit on top. That will press the cheese down while the whey is draining off. When most of the whey is gone what remains will be a much thicker yoghurt that, when shaped, makes a delicious cheese.  

At this point, it's over to you to add the flavourings you prefer. I always add ½ teaspoon of salt to the savoury Labnah, plus chilli, pepper, herbs, finely diced cucumbers or capsicum. Other flavour choices are dill, green onions, mint, honey, figs, candied fruit, jam etc. Hanno loves it on bread and crackers and it's a great replacement for store-bought cream or cottage cheese.  Don't throw out that whey. You can use it in your baking. Cakes, scones and bread made with whey are excellent and nutritious.

Labnah will last up to three weeks in the fridge.

I have a dairy chapter in my last book, The Simple Home, which contains several other dairy concoctions that are easy to make and delicious.