Hey look, I knitted my own yoghurt, yo!

How to make homemade yoghurt

I have a friend who refers to me ‘knitting’ my own yogurt, because she believes that making yoghurt is complicated and full of dropped stitches. But she’s wrong. It’s about as easy as… well, making yoghurt.

Any time can be UHT-time

But wait! I hear you cry. Why do I need to make my own yoghurt when I can buy it from the shops? Well I’ll tell you why. Because shop yoghurt can be quite expensive, especially if you have a penchant for the fancy organic bio-live stuff (which isn’t fancy at all – that’s what yogurt is supposed to be).

Also you might be on your boat floating miles from a shop.

Making your own yoghurt using these guaranteed foolproof techniques means you can rustle up your own yoghurt any time using store cupboard ingredients – by which I mean your new best friend, UHT milk.

Amiable microbes

And yoghurt is so good for you! It’s full of those, I don’t know, friendly-chummy microbes that… do something, I don’t know what they do. But I’ve seen TV adverts that say there are friendly bacteria in yoghurt. And if it says so on an advert it must be true.

You can rustle up your own yoghurt any time using store cupboard ingredients – by which I mean your new best friend, UHT milk.

By making your own yoghurt you can breed armies of the amiable little fellows and they can all move in to your tummy and… play charades, or whatever it is the friendly bacteria do! Whatever they do, you just KNOW it’s bound to be friendly.

Who wouldn’t want that?

Now, I’ve tried making yoghurt using different tools and techniques. When I first started making yoghurt I followed some instructions which told me how I had to heat the milk to a certain temperature and bla-di-bla. So I went out and bought some special jam thermometers and, to be honest, it was a bit of an effort. In fact, it was almost as complicated as knitting. I think in those early days I was even using a Thermos flask.

How things change!

Too much to flask

If you’re gonna ask me about making yoghurt in a Thermos I don’t know what to say. I can’t help you. For starters, you will never get the smell of yoghurt out of that flask so you’d better not be thinking of using it for Lady Grey tea.

First off, the milk has to be around 40 degrees when it goes into the Thermos flask, so it stays at that temperature while it’s yoghurtifying. If you’re using fresh milk, you need to boil the milk first (just barely, or the yoghurt will taste boiled – or, worst case scenario, burnt). Now let it cool to 40 degrees, using your jam thermometer to keep an eye on things. Now mix in your starter culture, bung the whole lot in your Thermos and hope for the best.

You will never get the smell of yoghurt out of that flask so you’d better not be thinking of using it for Lady Grey tea

But we’re not going to do that, at least I hope we’re not. After a few painful sessions in the kitchen with the thermometers and the Thermos and the burnt milk I decided to invest in a yoghurt maker. An EasiYo yoghurt maker. Which I kind of assumed this would be an electric device something like an ice-cream maker.

It is not.

The EasiYo requires no power. But it will change your life.

The EasiYo yoghurt maker is little more than a very big Thermos flask with a removable inner plastic tub. The inner tub is where the yoghurting happens, and later this tub can be used to store the yoghurt in your fridge. In the base of the EasiYo is a reservoir which you fill with boiling water, and this keeps the yoghurt at a constant temperature while it’s fermenting.

They’re not expensive; I think mine was less than a tenner in Lakeland. They’re often being sold on special offer. And the best part is, you can say to yourself ‘it’s easy, yo!’ in an American accent, and make yourself rattle with laughter the whole time you’re using it.

Like, SO freakin’ easy, yo

The EasiYo folk tell you that in order to use their yoghurt maker you need to buy their sachets of yoghurt mix. Not so, yo! The sachets are expensive – it works out around the same cost to make yoghurt using their sachets as it does to buy the expensive supermarket stuff. You only need to use milk and a starter culture (i.e. some existing yoghurt).

Of course, it could be useful to have a few sachets in the cupboard in case you’ve got no live yoghurt starter in the fridge. I’ll leave that up to you. Personally I’ve never used them. That’s how you can tell EasiYo aren’t paying me to write this (although if Mr EasiYo is reading this, we should talk because I’m pretty cheap.)

Yoghurtify is definitely a word

When I first started making yoghurt I read on the inter webs that you cannot use UHT milk for yoghurt because it doesn’t yoghurtify. I can promise you it does. What’s more, it doesn’t need to be boiled first, because it’s already been Ultra-Heat-Treated.  I don’t know why exactly milk has to be boiled or ultra-heat-treated in order to turn into yoghurt. Just trust me, it does. Something to do with bacteria. (Probably unfriendly ones.)

EasiYo aren’t paying me to write this (although if Mr EasiYo is reading this, we should talk because I’m pretty cheap)

So now… drum roll… we’re going to learn the not-very-advanced technique of making yoghurt using an EasiYo and UHT milk. Oh, it’s so easy, yo!

You will need:

The EasiYo yoghurt maker
Some live, unflavoured yoghurt (a teaspoon will do – or use the scrapings from an existing pot of live yoghurt, or your previous batch)
I litre carton of UHT milk (I always use Moo full-fat organic)
Some powdered milk (I never see organic or full-fat available so I just buy a standard unbranded pack of dried skimmed milk)
Boiling water! Which you can’t always take for granted when you live on a boat.

If you’re using a Thermos then you will need to use a jam thermometer and warm the milk to 40 degrees. If you don’t have a jam thermometer, and have no plans to make jam, or to measure the rectal temperature of an elephant (they’re pretty long), do not buy one. Just spend your money on a yoghurt maker!

Making yoghurt using UHT milk: the yo-it’s-so-easy method

1. Open your carton of UHT milk.
2. Pour around half into the Easi-Yo plastic pot.
3. Add a teaspoon of live yoghurt and a tablespoon or two of powdered milk. The powdered milk thickens the yoghurt, but you can try it without and see what happens. Don’t add more than a teaspoon of live yoghurt – for some reason this upsets the yoghurty balance. Less is more when it comes to starters!
4. Mix it up! Make sure you’ve ironed out the lumps. Obviously I don’t actually mean ‘iron’.
5. Top up the plastic pot with the rest of the milk (there’ll probably be a little left in the carton, you can use that to put in your tea), screw on the lid, and give it a last little shake to mix.
6. Fill the reservoir in the bottom of the yoghurt maker with boiling water.
7. Stick your pot of would-be yoghurt in the reservoir…
8. Put the lid on…
9. Wait twelve hours or so (you can entertain yourself during this time, or go to bed; you don’t actually have to stand and watch the yoghurt maker)…
10. Voila! In the morning you’ll have a lovely almost-litre pot of bio-live yoghurt. Take the pot out of the yoghurt maker and keep it in the fridge. I probably didn’t need to tell you that last bit.

Yo! Wasn’t that easy?

Additional comments because it’s nearly the end

Yoghurt still too runny? Leave it at room temperature for a few more hours. It will continue to ferment. Once you put it in the fridge it will stop fermenting.

If you still think it’s too runny, next time add more dried milk – or we can think about straining the yoghurt…

If you don’t have a jam thermometer, and have no plans to make jam, or to measure the rectal temperature of an elephant (they’re pretty long), do not buy one.

… because now you’re adept at making yoghurt you can do other stuff with it too, like making Greek-style yoghurt or even cheese. Beyond that there’s a world of lacto-fermentation ready to be explored (sauerkraut, anyone?).

But that’ll be a whole-set-of-other-posts.

 

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I'm Victoria. Hi.

I'm afraid I write most of the nonsense on this site, apart from the stuff written by Geoff. (Geoff is the cat in orange.)

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