Homemade Yoghurt: Helping your Health and the Planet
I have a confession to make: I buy food in plastic packaging. Much though I’d like to, I haven’t been able to eradicate plastic from my life. I did try, but fairly early on in the experiment I realised the Wannabe family would soon starve if I continued along the #plasticfree path. Of course, I’m all for companies to actually provide food not wrapped in plastic, and I buy it when I can, but until the whole world becomes #plasticfree, I’m afraid I’m guilty as charged.
Except for yoghurts. Now, here’s the thing: those processed yoghurts were annoying me anyway. Full of sugar and depleted of any goodness, they are pretty much the ultimate non-health food in my opinion. But the Wannabe kids couldn’t seem to get enough of them – and I had hundreds of pots to wash weekly.
I could do without those in my life, I thought. I could have the milk delivered in the morning and have fresh, homemade yoghurt by the evening for pudding. Job done.
So I bought myself a yoghurt maker. You don’t need one. Apparently you can make yoghurt in a thermos flask. But mine came with the prettiest glass jars which, when filled with yoghurt and lined up in my fridge, make me happy just seeing them there. The only other item of equipment you need when making yoghurt is a jam thermometer. I already had one. It proved rubbish for making jam but really useful when making yoghurt, so I didn’t need to throw it out after all.
Finally, you need some starter culture. You can buy this in dried form online or in health food shops, but the easiest source is wherever you already get your groceries. A small pot of live, plain, preferably organic yoghurt (check the label for “made with live cultures” or a list of “live bacteria”) will contain enough bacteria to transform a litre or more of milk. And yes, it will most likely come in a plastic pot but if you like what you make you can freeze a little to use as a starter next time you are planning to make some more yoghurt.
- 500ml or 1 pint of milk: Cows’ or goats’, pasteurised or UHT. Full-fat, semi, skimmed: they’ll all make yoghurt, though of decreasing thickness. If you like yours extra-creamy, you could also invest in some powdered milk. If so you’ll need:
- 25g powdered milk.
- Pour the milk into a saucepan and, if using, whisk in the powdered milk.
- If using pasteurised milk, heat it to 85C, stirring occasionally, then leave it to cool to about 46C (this process results in thicker yoghurt, as well as killing some unwanted bacteria). If UHT, simply warm it to 46C.
- At 46C, whisk or stir in the live yoghurt – about 3 tbsp for every 500ml.
Then pour it into a thermos or your jars and yoghurt maker. Eight hours later – bingo! If not already in jars, decant and store in the fridge. It should keep for up to a week.
I like to have mine either with honey or homemade blueberry compote: Blueberries, a splash of water and a sprinkle of sugar simmered together until they achieve a rich, glossy unctuousness. Delicious.
And no more pesky yoghurt pots to wash and recycle.
Fruit compote, honey or completely natural? What’s your favourite way to eat yoghurt?