I made yoghurt today. It's easy, delicious and inexpensive, costing about half the price of supermarket yoghurt. You can make yoghurt with any kind of milk, low fat cow's or from goat or sheep milk. All your equipment should be clean and make sure you use clean tea towels. Adding milk powder to the milk will make a thicker yoghurt.
You can use ordinary bought yoghurt as a starter, but make sure it doesn't contain gelatin. Generally the organic and biodynamic yoghurts have no gelatin. You can buy specialist milk thermometers, but for some reason they have very small dials. I've got a candy thermometer with a bigger dial for my older eyes. You probably need to use a thermometer until you know what the temps feel like on your clean finger. After that, it's easy enough to judge by poking your clean finger in the mix.
4 cups milk
½ cup instant milk powder, more if you want thicker yoghurt
3 tablespoons plain yoghurt at room temperature
- Pour 4 cups milk into saucepan and clip a thermometer to the side of the pan. You need to pasturise the milk again to make sure only the beneficial bacteria grow. Heat milk to 80 - 95 degrees C or until little bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Stir the milk while it's heating to stop it scorching.
- When the temperature is reached, remove the milk from the stove. Stir in the powdered milk. Leave the thermometer clipped to the pan and cool the milk to 40 - 50 degrees C. To speed up the cooling process, you can transfer it to a cool bowl or put it in the fridge.
- Add the starter. Place the plain yoghurt in a small bowl, stir in 1/3 cup of the warm milk and mix until smooth. Then stir the starter mixture into remaining milk and mix well.
- Incubate the yoghurt in the crockpot (or in a warm place like an oven on low heat). Preheat the crockpot on low for about 15 minutes, until it feels very warm to the fingertips. Pour yoghurt mixture into the crockpot, cover the crockpot, and turn off the heat. At 35 to 45-minutes intervals, heat the crockpot on low for 10 to 15 minutes then turn off the heat.
The mix needs to incubate for 3-5 hours at a temperature of 43-45 degrees C. Do not shake or disturb it during incubation. After 3 hours, check to see if the yoghurt is set by gently tilting the container. If yoghurt is set and firm, place it in the refrigerator and chill for 6 hours before serving. If not, continue to incubate. Check the yoghurt every hour and place in refrigerator as soon as it sets. The longer the yoghurt incubates the tarter the flavor will be. If your yoghurt sets within 3 hours, but you'd prefer more tartness, continue the incubation process for another hour or so. Yoghurt making is only successful if you use fresh viable cultures, so check the use by date on your yoghurt starter and make it as soon as you can after buying it. Once you've made your own yoghurt you can use it as your next starter.
If you want to sweeten the yoghurt, you do it after it's made. You can add jam, fruit, sugar or honey to sweeten it. When you've got your homemade yoghurt you can use it to make delicious quark cheese - either savory or sweet. There is a photo of my homemade quark cheese on this blog somewhere.