Sunday, March 14, 2010

Further Yoghurt Adventures

I’m getting the hang of this yoghurt making business now. The third batch came out a little on the sharp side, much to Youngest’s displeasure. A fair amount of Googling later, I came to the conclusion that I had left it incubating too long.

Once it has set, any further time just allows the yoghurt to get tangier and sharper. So overnight was too long in the case of the culture that I am using. Most of the guides suggest 6-8 hours, but in my latest batch I checked after 4 hours and it was set already, quite tangy, and I think I just caught it in time before the cultures had partied on too long and got the tang levels too high. Phew! I shoved it in teh freezer for half an hour to calm them down, then left them in the fridge overnight and now have the best batch so far.

I have high hopes that it will be acceptable to Youngest. She is the one who eats the most plain yoghurt without mixing in anything else (virulent pink, smooth, strawberry yoghurt in our son's case), so I don’t want to drive her to adding sugar by getting it wrong, and there’s no way I’m going back to buying her favourite brand of plain yoghurt now that I’ve discovered the joys of home-made.

The other tip from my Google trip that I tried, which worked well, was creating a double boiler from two saucepans that sort of fitted one in the other, so that the milk can be heated without it burning on the bottom of the pan.

It leaves you with that much less scrubbing later and it was easier to heat in a controlled way.

I also found the solution to the initial stringy texture in my first batch - I'd used a bought live yoghurt that had corn starch as a thickener - apparently that or pectin results in that strange elasticity. Luckily by the third batch, using each last batch as a starter, that effect had completely gone and now the texture is perfect.

I went one step further today and made the rest of the too tangy batch into yoghurt ice cream. Several people recommended draining the yoghurt through muslin first, to reduce the water content and get a creamier frozen yoghurt. In the absence of muslin I used a new J-cloth, well-rinsed, and it worked fine.

I got a cupful of whey from it (that strange cloudy liquid in the background of the picture), which is supposed to be excellent in baking and full of good enzymes and minerals, so that I kept for my next batch of bread.

Somehow I got very excited about the whole neat process of dairying: turning milk into yoghurt, using the whey, and turning excess yoghurt into ice cream. It's not just that it is frugal with no waste, which often seems like a good thing but rather dull, it is something about the whole natural cycle of it with everything slotting into place and nothing being thrown out or wasted... and more importantly it all tasting good. Now all we need is our own cow... but I'm not quite ready to start milking one yet!

After all that domestic goddessness, I felt I should be adding home-grown organic fruit puree to make my first ever yoghurt ice cream, but I blew my self-sufficiency badge and any chance of earth mother status and used tinned peaches instead. The only ripe fruits we have at the moment are tomatoes and I couldn’t really see the kids going for tomato flavoured ice cream.

The peach yoghurt ice cream is now in the freezer so I have to wait until tomorrow to taste the results, but pre freezing it was pretty darn good. Just hope it passes the child taste test. This could be the answer for any yoghurt batches that get too sharp in the future, that and yoghurt muffins. Gotta have a back up plan.


  1. My husband loves sharp-tasting yoghurt and compares every homemade kind he eats with the stuff he used to have in North Africa in his younger days. He'd be thrilled with your latest batch! I made my own yoghurt in Japan, but I was a wimp and used a yoghurt maker.

    You can make great cheese by draining the whey out of your yoghurt. I used to mix it with cracked pepper, salt, chopped coriander and garlic, then use the whey in soup. Nowadays I'm so busy that I hardly cook at all...

  2. Kit, I use Jamie Oliver's recipe from Naked Chef (I think). It always works, and is ridiculously easy. Tastes nice, work in baked recipes. Let me know if you want me to send you the recipe.

  3. Oh yum! Nothing like frozen Yoghurt, but then again I am in seventh heaven with plain yoghurt and a swirl of honey!

  4. Annnnnd don't forget you can make skin, hair, and body wraps/scrubs from yogurt (we don't use the "h" here), when mixed with oatmeal and crushed almonds or something.

    And painting plain yogurt on rocks and statues outside encourages the growth of lichen and moss for that old-world look.


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!