Friday, March 12, 2010

Adventures in Yoghurt

It took me a long time to get my head around making my own bread. I thought it would be too fiddly to fit into my day, all that rising and knocking down and stuff. Once I tried my first ever white loaf I never looked back and we’ve been eating home-made bread ever since. Now it has become just part of the daily routine, like doing the dishes, or putting on a load of washing.

So why has it taken me so long to try making my own yoghurt? I’ve been thinking about it for a few years, and dismissed it. After all I’m already making our bread, so why add another thing to the list of chores. But it’s been creeping up on me and last week I finally bit the bullet and gave it a go.

I did my research on the internet and found several accounts of yoghurt making that de-mystified it nicely and finally one that told me how to do it without a thermometer. So on Saturday I gave it a go.

The whole process is straightforward:
1: Heat up the milk to just below boiling to kill any bacteria
2. Let it cool to a temperature that is comfortable to dip your finger in and hold it there.
3. Stir in 2 tablespoons of live yoghurt.
4. Put in clean jars and tuck up nicely at a warm temperature for 6-8 hours.
5. Refrigerate.

And it worked! The yoghurt thickened and set and both girls pronounced it edible, though Youngest didn’t like it as much as the Darling yoghurt that we usually buy. Unfortunately that one doesn’t have live cultures in, at least it doesn’t say so on the label, so I can’t use it as a starter.

The only thing I wasn’t quite happy with is that the yoghurt had a slight stringiness to it when it dripped. I looked up that on one of the sites I’d read and found that it could be due to too hot a temperature when it is brewing. The two jars disappeared quite quickly anyway, so I’ve since tried another batch which had a better texture and more of the tanginess that Youngest was missing in the first one. So it looks like I’m on a roll here. Yoghurt making should be quite easy to slot into an evening after the kids are in bed or even while I’m making supper. It can then be tucked up overnight in the cool box, wrapped in a towel, until morning when it will have miraculously turned into nice creamy yoghurt.

One puzzle though from my second batch: The two jars were full, so I put the extra amount into a bowl covered with clingfilm and tucked it into the cool box next to the jars. In the morning, they had set but the yoghurt in the bowl was still runny. I warmed it again and added a little more live yoghurt to try and persuade it to set. When I came back to look at it a few hours later, it had separated perfectly into curds and whey. I’ve drip-dried it and now have a little ball of something approximating cream cheese!

I’ve just made a third batch, which isn’t at all stringy, but Youngest said tasted a bit sour, so I now have to try and get the right balance and work out the exact right combination of factors to get the perfect result.

If there are any experts on yoghurt making out there, I’d love any hints and tips on refining my yoghurt-making, without having to buy any fancy gadgets..


  1. This is something I've been wanting to try, too. We may invest in a yoghurt making machine.

  2. I've made yogurt several times, but the family prefers the sweetened kind in pots and I'm lazy. I should get back into it though, as I use it a lot in cooking. I don't have any tips; just keep working on it and soon you'll be an expert!


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