How I make my yogurt

Home made yogurt

Simple goodness

How to make yogurt at home?
“Where do you get the time to make your own yogurt?” I get asked this question very often.

The truth is: I don’t … get the time that is.

I don’t set aside a specific time for yogurt making. It all has to fit with my already full schedule. I usually make yogurt when I am making dinner or spending time in the kitchen for some reason, like baking. It takes a little bit of planing and a reasonably organized kitchen.

So, let’s say I am making dinner of pasta and sauce.

I fill a pot of water for the pasta, at the same time I pour 4 litres of milk into a similar pot and put in a digital meat thermometer preset to 82 deg C (the same temperature as roasting poultry).

Set both pots on the stove. The one with water on maximum heat, the one with milk on medium-high heat and cover them with lids. They will both be ready at about the same time, as I slice, dice and stir veggies for the sauce. The one for pasta will start to boil – I pour in spaghetti and stir; the one with milk I turn off as the thermometer beeps furiously and set it on the cooling rack to do just that – cool down to 42 degrees C. I turn off the beeping but keep the thermometer in to watch for that.

While the pasta sauce is simmering, I prepare the jars or containers for yogurt. They came from the dishwasher in the past few days and that is clean enough. I never fuss around with sterilizing equipment or anything like that. We are planning for refrigeration here not long term storage.

Meanwhile pasta is done, sauce needs final touch of spices and dinner can be served. While the family enjoys dinner, the milk is sitting on the counter, cooling down. After dinner and the dishes are done, the temperature is usually just right at 42 degrees C – it has to be this temperature for the bacteria to do its best.

From the fridge I retrieve a small jar labelled: “Yogurt starter, do not eat!” which has about half a cup of yogurt from my previous batch. The strict label is to warn off any potential fridge browsers looking for a snack.

If this is your first time making yogurt, you may be using freeze-dried culture. In which case you will need about two packages. Yes, I know, it says one package makes about one litre, but trust me, two packages are more than enough for four litres of milk.

Or you maybe using any good yogurt from a grocery store. By good I mean plain, with as few ingredients as possible – no starch, carrageenan, sugar,… You will need about half a cup for four litres of milk.

At this time I pour little of the warm milk into the small jar with yogurt starter, stir and whisk into the pot. Now I am ready to pour into jars or containers, close them tight and into a cooler they go. Stand in the yogurt maker, plug in, check for the green light blinking, close the lid and I am done. The last thing to do is wash the pot and whisk.

I prefer to leave the yogurt for 24 hours. My family likes the “zing” the yogurt gets, when the bacteria use up most of the lactose. This kind of yogurt is basically lactose free. So the next day after dinner, I transfer the containers from the cooler to the fridge to stop the fermentation process.

For about a week to ten days we have excellent, smooth, creamy yogurt for breakfasts, snacks, baking, curries, sauces, dressings, dips, cheese making, but also first aid for burns.

I love making yogurt. There is something very satisfying about having home made food.