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Sustainable Life: Make your own yoghurt

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Delicious and creamy.

Yoghurts have been enjoyed by people for thousands of years, all around the world. Mongolian herders make Tarag from the milk of cattle and yaks, in Africa there’s the butter-milk-like Amasi, and across the Mediterranean, there’s a thick yoghurt made from the milk of cows, sheep and goats.

Shops are quick to sell yoghurt making gadgets but don’t be fooled—it’s easy to make yoghurt at home, without any special equipment. We’ve been making yoghurt at home for more than 10 years, with just milk, a tablespoon of cultured yoghurt (Chobani plain yoghurt, for example), a saucepan, an old towel and a few 500ml–1 Litre glass jars.

Here’s how we do it

STEP ONE

Heat 1 litre of milk in a saucepan, so that it’s nearly boiling or at 92 °C. You’ll notice little bubbles slowly coming to the surface. If the milk boils, don’t worry, it doesn’t affect its yoghurt making properties…it just makes a mess in your kitchen.

Heating milk changes its protein. You can use full cream, skim or unhomogenised milk. In fact, any milk that’s come from an animal will be fine. Full cream milk gives the thickest, creamiest finish.

STEP TWO

Let your milk cool down so that it’s just above body temperature. We test our milk’s temperature using the highly scientific method of putting in a finger and counting to three.

The milk should be hot enough to make you want to remove your finger at the count of three. We can also guess the milk’s temperature in relation to the time that it’s had resting.

For one litre, five minutes rest after Step One is about right. For those who like to be precise, it’s 35°C – 40°C on a kitchen thermometer.

STEP THREE

Pour the hot milk into a large glass jar or two. Plastic or ceramic containers work just fine, we just use glass because it’s easy to clean between each batch of yoghurt.

Then, take a tablespoon of cultured yoghurt and vigorously stir it through the hot milk. Attach the jar’s lid.

STEP FOUR

Wrap the sealed jar in an old towel, so that it doesn’t cool down too quickly. Then, let it sit at room temperature for 5 – 12 hours. The yoghurt has finished ‘making’ when the milk has thickened.

If you want to maximise your yoghurt’s creaminess, leave it wrapped in a towel for at least 10 hours and until the jar feels the same temperature as the room.

STEP FIVE

Immediately after Step Four (after the yoghurt jar has measured at room temperature), refrigerate it. This extends its life from days to weeks.

Our home-made yoghurt doesn’t last more than a week because we eat it. However, a second trick to improve your yoghurt’s creaminess is to let it rest in the fridge for three-six days.

From this basic yoghurt recipe, you can make anything

Greek yoghurt is made extra thick by straining excess water from the basic yoghurt recipe. Sweet strawberry yoghurt can be ‘pot set’ by including strawberry jam in the bottom of the jar before making yoghurt. Alternatively, stir through jam or honey and cinnamon, after your yoghurt has set for extra flavour.

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