Making It Yourself – Natural Yoghurt

[ED – this post was supposed to publish yesterday but for some reason it didn’t!  Grrr! Will follow with the weekly mealplan post tonight.]

This is part of a semi-regular series of posts tackling how to make some of the things that we often end up buying pre-made.  Things that we think of as basic ingredients, that aren’t ‘ingredients’ at all but are actually processed in some way for us.  Things like bread, jam, butter, ketchup, baked beans and pickled ginger. Not everything is cheaper to make than buy, yet when you make it yourself, you know what’s in it.

banana and yoghurt

A couple of years ago, I was bought an Easyyo maker as a present and while I used the sachets that came with it once or twice, I wasn’t overly keen on the taste – it seemed a bit artificial to me.  I’ve been wanting to make yoghurt again, but the old-fashioned way, for a while, but been put off by the fact that you have to be organised enough to start it off eight hours before you need it.

When I found out you could use Easyyo makers to make yoghurt without using the sachets, I was sold and dug it out again.  If you don’t have an Easyyo maker, the next best substitute is  a food flask, as it’s a bit too cold in Scotland to just leave it out warmly wrapped up like they do in warmer countries.

So how do you make it?

It’s pretty easy – all I used was 700ml whole milk (which was already in my fridge) and the end of a tub of live natural yoghurt.  In case you’re wondering, I used Savers natural yoghurt (45p for 500ml), and there was only about 1/5 of it left in the bottom (it was actually past its use-by date too, so it really was the very end of the tub).

Step one – bring the milk to the boil in a small saucepan.  Once it’s just started boiling, remove from the heat and allow to cool down to just about room temperature.

Note: If you put it in a food flask, you only want to cool it to the right yoghurt-making temperature to start with – x degrees – but it’s best to pop it in the Easyyo at room temperature as the boiling water in the bottom will bring it to the right temperature by itself.

Step two – when the milk has cooled, add the yoghurt, stir in well and pour into the middle container of the Easyyo (or your food flask).  Add boiling water to the outer section of the Easyyo, to the red stand the inside flask sits on, put the inside flask on it and close the lid.

natural yoghurt

Step three  – leave the mix for around eight hours (mine was a bit longer because I left it overnight and needed more of a lie-in than that!).

Step four (optional)  – when you check on your yoghurt, it should be properly yoghurty tasting, but a bit runny.  If you want it to be thicker, put a sieve over a bowl, line with muslin cloth or kitchen roll (I used kitchen roll because I didn’t have any muslin, and it worked great) and pour the thin yoghurt into the sieve.  Leave it for half an hour or until lots of clear whey has run out into the bowl.  Spoon the yoghurt left in the sieve back into the flask or whatever you want to store it in, then mix well.

straining yoghurt 2

Note: you can replace some of the liquid in bread or scone making with the whey, so you don’t have to throw it out.  I always thought that whey was really healthy, but the internet seems divided on this (bought whey is really concentrated, so your homemade stuff won’t have as much protein per measure, plus it does contain some sugar too).  It’s still worth keeping the whey as it seems to make your bread softer, much like adding milk to the dough does, but without the cost of milk.  I probably wouldn’t keep it around for ages, but I was making bread anyway the day I strained the yoghurt.

Verdict – the homemade yoghurt was really nice, if a bit sourer than the orginal, and I’ve used it in both sweet (with honey and banana) and savoury (with fajitas) meals so far.  Not sure how long it keeps, but Google suggests one to two weeks.  I’d recommend using your common sense – yoghurt smells bad when it’s gone off, so you should be able to tell.  Google also tells me that you can make more yoghurt with this yoghurt, for four or so more batches – then you’ll need to chuck it and get more starter yoghurt, as successive batches get thinner and sourer.  Oh and I also found that the strained yoghurt was slightly thin still to start with, but after a day in the fridge it thickened up.  So don’t assume it’ll stay as thin as it starts.

Cost – it was 44p for the milk and 9p for the starter yoghurt I used, making the total cost for the batch 53p.  I got about 350ml after straining (I didn’t measure the whey).  I should have weighed it because commercial yoghurt is sold by weight, not volume, so I’m not sure if it was cheaper – but I suspect the answer is that it’s much cheaper than normal yoghurt but not quite as cheap as the value stuff I normally buy.  It was easy to make and nice tasting though, so I definitely wouldn’t rule out making it again.

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