Part of our lunch routine is to finish with yogurt. This used to be generic fruit flavoured, and has gradually evolved to live yogurt, then plain yogurt with fruit, jam or lemon curd. Plain yogurt is easily obtained in 1 litre tubs (I like Yeo Valley) but even though the tubs are made of recycled plastic, it’s still an awful lot of plastic in a year.
So, as described in an earlier post, I’ve been experimenting with making my own yogurt. I’ve been making it regularly since Spring (even while out on our narrowboat) so I’ll write up my final ‘recipe’ here. I have been specifically aiming for a thick and creamy yogurt, but you may be less fussy. Your result will be largely governed by the yogurt starter you use. I use an electric 1 litre yogurt maker, the simplest way to maintain the right temperature throughout the process, though I’ve discussed other methods previously.
The process takes about 12 hours, so start it at a time when you can attend to it again in 12 hours, like 9am or 9pm. The initial stage is only about 15 min.
- 1 litre UHT whole milk
- 2 heaped dessert spoons plain bio yogurt
Plug in and turn on the yogurt maker so it can pre-heat while you prepare the milk. Put a couple good dollops (heaped dessert-spoons) of plain yogurt into a small jug.
Pour the milk into a saucepan on smallest ring and the lowest heat, cover, and warm gently to 45°C -ish. Check at intervals with a thermometer.
When it has reached the right temperature, turn the heat off and add some warm milk to the yogurt and stir well. Add a little more milk and stir again. Pour back into the pan and stir well.
Pour the milk mixture into the yogurt maker, scoop off the foam, and cover. Leave untouched for 11 hours. (It will be yogurt after 8 hours, but longer makes thicker yogurt).
When done, turn off, remove inner container and put in fridge to chill. I then transfer mine to one of the old Yeo Valley tubs I have kept, for better use of fridge space, and also so I can start another batch when the current one is not yet gone.
- I use UHT milk because fresh milk needs scalding to 82°C then cooling – which is a faff and basically what was already done in the UHT process. I’ve done both ways and can’t detect any flavour difference (though I found a site that says only use fresh milk). Very handy to be able to keep in stock, and my council takes cartons for recycling. You can use evaporated milk – a large can plus same again of water. I haven’t tried this for flavour, but I’ve heard several people say this is what they do. You can also use sterilised or flavoured milk, but of course they come in plastic… so you haven’t gained anything.
- If you use fresh milk, warm to 82°C as slowly as possible, the affect on the molecules apparently helps it to get thicker.
- Use 1/3rd to 1/2 small pot of yogurt, and the freshest you can. The brand you choose will influence the flavour you get.
- If you are making yogurt frequently, you can use some of your previous batch to start the next one, at least a couple times, or the remainder of the small pot. The worst that can happen is it might not be as thick.
- I use a 2/3 cup of warm milk to stir into the yogurt, and a another 1/3 to ‘rinse’ the jug after and get out all the starter.
- I find the perfect result is strained through 2 layers of muslin cloth for about 15-20 min. However this removes about 1/4 litre of whey – which means less yogurt! Use the whey to replace milk when baking cakes or scones. Haven’t noticed any difference in flavour.
- If you want it thicker still, add 2-4 Tbs milk powder. Sieve it and mix well until dissolved with warm milk, add to the pan and warm with the rest.
- If you buy muslin for straining, get .5m and hem around the edge. Wash before first use. Fold in half to line a colander, and put the colander over a small bowl or pan to catch the whey. Rinse the cloth well after use, then put through the washer with your whites. If you make yogurt frequently, you might want two cloths.
- Sometimes it seems to go a bit thinner after a week or so. Strain it for a while and it will get thicker again, and put back into a clean tub.
- No two pots of yogurt seem quite the same from the supermarket, so it’s OK if your varies a bit too. 😉