I love culture: music, film, blue cheese, art, beer, literature, yoghurt. So why not try to develop some culture at home (it’s the closest I’ll get to getting K to contemporary dance?).
No seriously, why make yoghurt at home? Isn’t it dangerous to actively encourage bacteria to grow in dairy products?
There are a few reasons I have taken to making yoghurt at home. Firstly, it’s interesting, that’s what the LAB is about, making interesting things happen in the kitchen. Secondly, if people have been doing it for thousands of years, surely I am capable in a modern kitchen (well, reasonably modern – bar the blue benches and yellow cabinets). Lastly, it is so much cheaper than buying yoghurt, and we eat a lot of yoghurt!
Funny anecdote that shows how much yoghurt we eat: A few years ago in the supermarket I started laughing when I looked in our trolley. As we headed for the checkout I saw that we had tofu sausages, lean gourmet meat sausages, vegie burger patties, a few bits and pieces and more than 3 kilos of yoghurt (plus a full trolley of fruit and vegies from the markets). I realised that we were the health freaks that I laugh at in supermarkets!
This also indicates how much yogurt we eat, usually about 3 kilos a week between 2 people. So if I can save $4 a kilo, over a year that’s more than $500!
Homemade Plain Yoghurt
Makes 1 litre, 15 minutes active involvement plus approximately 8 hours waiting
You can scale the recipe up to make it in larger batches if you consume more yoghurt
It will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge
1 litre of milk
3 tbs of plain yoghurt which contains active cultures
A milk thermometer
A bath towel
A pot (big enough to fit the jars)
Now, don’t be scared off with the instructions. There are a lot of words, but that’s just to talk through step by step. It’s actually pretty easy to make and the timing fits well to let it sit either overnight or while you’re at work. You need to be around the house over the course of 1 and a half hours for the first part, but the workload is minimal. Then you need to be at home around 8 hours later.
Put a tea towel at the bottom of a saucepan, this stops the jars rattling too much.
Put clean jars in the saucepan, wedge the edges of the towel between the jars to stop them banging into each other.
Nearly fill the jars with milk, whole milk or skim, either works.
Pour hot water (probably not boiling water, that could end badly) around the jars. At this point you need a milk thermometer, heat the milk to 85 degrees (185 Fahrenheit). This kills bad bacteria in the milk and does something to the proteins so the yoghurt bacteria are happier to eat it.
Once the milk reaches 85 degrees, it needs to cool down to 45 degrees (110-115 Fahrenheit). I take my jars out of the water so it cools down faster.
When the milk is at 45 degrees you add existing yoghurt to the milk. The first time you make yoghurt you need some from the store, but next week you use the yoghurt you made the week before. It is worth while putting a small amount of your yoghurt from each batch into a clean container for the next week.
Add 3 tablespoons of yoghurt to each litre of milk. Gently stir it in. Be nice, yoghurt bacteria is living and you want it to be happy eating your milk for the next 8 hours. Put the lids on your jars.
Then you need to try to keep the mix at 32 to 45 degrees (90-110 Fahrenheit) for around 8 hours. I have done this successfully by putting the jars back into the still warm water, wrapping it in a beach towel and placing it into an oven that has been warmed to about 50 degrees (120 Fahernheit) and then you turn the oven off but leave the light on.
After 8 hours you should have yoghurt! You can leave it for up to 24 hours, test the timing to see what flavour you like.
The little bit of work involved is worthwhile to save $500 a year if you ask me. Plus the batches have been super tasty and it’s an interesting project.