Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Yoghurt: Making your own is easy!

I love yoghurt and use it a lot in cooking, or simply eat it straight from the fridge with a big bowl of fresh or stewed fruit.  Yoghurt is a staple food in many parts of the world and it's not hard to understand why-it is just so versatile.  My friend Dennis, of Lebanese extraction, makes yoghurt every week with a culture (laban) that he insists his mother brought from Lebanon decades ago.  I'm not sure if it's true, but it makes a good story.

Freshly made yoghurt with full-cream Jersey milk

I'm not a big fresh milk fan, in fact I never drink it straight as it just doesn't agree with me, but with yoghurt  I'm fine.  This is because the bacteria that sets the milk into yoghurt curds (or 'clabbers' it!) converts most of the lactose present in whole milk into lactic acid.  That bacteria - Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophilus are also beneficial in maintaining good gut health and are often recommended as a supplement to take after a course of antibiotics (which kills all the bacteria, good and bad).

Yoghurt is easy to make at home.  It just needs to be made with fresh milk and those with 'full cream' will make a thicker yoghurt - more in the Greek style.  It is best made in small quantities as it will 'set' better.  I always make it when we have made a trip to the dairy.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
1 litre full cream fresh milk
1tbs yoghurt 'starter' - any good cultured plain yoghurt
NOTE: Don't be tempted to increase the amount of 'starter' as it will make the yoghurt excessively sour
Container with a lid.  I use a glass Pyrex bowl that has a lid.

HOW TO MAKE IT:
Heat the milk in a saucepan until it is begins to boil and the froth rises.
Lower the heat and let it simmer for about two minutes - you have to watch it like a hawk!
Turn off the heat and allow it to cool to the point where you can barely dip your finger in and hold it there for the count of ten (42oC/110oF).  It's much easier to invest in a thermometer - they are readily available in cookware shops - it has a probe that goes into the liquid and clips on the side of the saucepan.
NOTE:  If the milk is much cooler or hotter than this the yoghurt is likely to fail.

Beat the milk and activator (your spoonful of yoghurt), a little at a time until it is thoroughly mixed.  Pour into a glass or ceramic container that has a lid.
Wrap the container in a towel/small blanket and leave in a warm, draught free place for eight hours/overnight.
It should be like thick custard.  Don't leave longer or it will go sour.
Thick and creamy home-made yoghurt
NOTE:  My Indian friend Nalini showed me how to make yoghurt by this method about 40 years ago.  Her favoured place to leave it to set was in a cupboard on top of her water heaterI put it in an insulated bag (the kind you take on a picnic to keep things cool) and put a tea cosy over it.
NOTE:  Save a spoonful from each batch to make the next one.  The yoghurt, in the picture above, has been 'going' from one I started about a year ago - making a new batch every week with a spoonful from the last one.  This is very easy to do - and tastes delicious.

For an easy way to make ricotta with fresh milk - go to this link.

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