Make Your Own Yogurt: a cheap, easy, delicious party in your mouth

Whoooooo likes yoghurt*? (This is your cue: Weeeee love yoghurt!) Who consumes so much yoghurt that if they poured their weekly yoghurt consumption on the floor instead of down their throats, they’d end up with enough white goodness to build yoghurt-people and walk in a yoghurt wonderland? Just me? Didn’t think so (I hear ya!) *For the purpose of correct spelling according to my country, and the country my country’s language originated in, I will be using the word ‘yoghurt’ in this post. For the purposes of being an attention seeker and making it easy for everyone on the www to find me, I’ll use the word ‘yogurt’ in the title 😉

Why Eat Yoghurt?

I am addicted to yoghurt, and this is a good thing. Yoghurt is a super food and extremely beneficial to those of us who have digestive issues.  The Weston A. Price Foundation states:

Yogurt and kefir are lacto-fermented products that can aid digestion. They may be the only dairy products that some people will be able to tolerate well.

This is definitely true for me. I love cheese but it does not love me. Milk is a liquid laxative to me, and I may as well scoop ice cream straight into the toilet bowl (TMI? You’re reading the wrong blog!). However I can eat yoghurt endlessly. Kefir we’ll come back to another day.

A review by the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University found that pro-biotic yoghurt can provide assistance to a number of gastrointestinal disorders including: lactose intolerance, constipation, diarrhoea, colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and H. pylori infection. However, please note that these beneficial effects don’t necessarily apply to the sugary dairy confections which a lot of big companies plug in the supermarkets. Real yoghurt is pro-biotic – it contains live cultures – and is made through lacto-fermentation. It does not contain sugar, and has no need for gelatin or gluten. Yep, that’s right, wondering why you’re avoiding gluten but still feeling bloated after breakfast? Read the label the next time you buy a big name sweetened supermarket yoghurt.
Real yogurt can also help stabalise vaginal flora (ie prevent yeasty infections ladies), and as it contains all of the nutrients of milk, it has all of the health benefits of milk, including helping to prevent osteoporosis. For someone like me who has to take calcium-depleting steroidal immune suppressants, high levels of calcium in the diet are absolutely vital.

Let’s make it!

I’ve been making our yoghurt for a long time now, and I’ve dabbled, experimented, and tried most of the methods out there in blog land.  However, I’ve found a method that works for me EVERY time, and produces the most delicious, glossy, creamy yoghurt, so this is the one I’ll share with you today. It’s a bit of this method, a bit of that, plus a few trial and error tweaks thrown in. It’s not original; people have been making yoghurt for thousands of years. Although probably not with an electric slow cooker (that’s just a guess).

There’s not a lot you will need to make this:

  •  2 litres of good quality full fat milk (in short, low-fat milk is not your friend and is not your yoghurt’s friend). Raw milk is preferable, but that’s a bit hard to come by here, so I use organic, unhomogenized milk. That’s the most unprocessed and toxin-free I can get. For the love of all things crunchy and holy, please don’t use bargain-basement, homogenized, pasteurized, home brand, cheap ‘milk’ containing permeate. This is terrible for you, the environment, and the farmer who struggles to make a living while supermarkets have price wars over the spoils of their hard labour.
  • A starter. The easiest way to get your yoghurt started is to buy a small container of good quality, pot set, probiotic-containing, lacto-fermented organic yoghurt (organic or biodynamic pot set brands are available in most supermarkets here – normally buried on the bottom shelf. If you can’t find one, grab a small container of good quality Greek yoghurt). Remember, the better your starter, the better the result. Once you use the 2 tablespoons you need for this recipe, you can eat the rest of the tub, and marvel at how much better your beautiful fresh yoghurt tastes.
  • A slow cooker. Also known as a crock pot. Also known as that thing I turn on then walk away and forget about – yay!
  • A kitchen thermometer. It’s possible to do this by touch and sight, but I’ve found the best way to get a consistently good yoghurt is to use a thermometer. Mine cost about $10 from a department store. It’s a good investment, particularly if you’re as incompetent as me 🙂
  • Sterilized jars that you can seal slightly (mason type jars, or screw top with metal lids). Sterilize them just before you’re ready to fill them with your yoghurty goodness
  • A small, sterilised (non-plastic) bowl, a sterilised metal spoon, and a tablespoon and cup measure if you’re pedantic

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STEP 1: When you’re starting to think about making your yoghurt, take the milk and starter yoghurt out of the fridge and let it sit for a while to get rid of the chill. If you feel like it, you can put them together in your unplugged slow cooker for a cutesy group photo.

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STEP 2: Pour the room temperature milk into the slow cooker. Put the lid on, turn it on, walk away. Check it every now and then with the thermometer, but it’s going to be there a while. It needs to heat to 80C / 180F. Mine takes about two and a half hours, but it all depends on your appliance.

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When it reaches temperature, you’ll also notice that the milk is just starting to form a skin. This is how you can use the sight and touch method. All that yellowness you can see is the fatty, creamy goodness from my beautiful unhomogenized milk. Very good thing to have! Once it’s reached temperature, take the lid off, turn the appliance off, and take the crock pot out of the base and place on a trivet, or heat-proof surface. Walk away, and leave it to cool until the milk reaches 45C / 110F. Again, it depends on a number of factors, but it usually takes about 2 hours at my house. This is a good time to work out how you’re going to sterilize your jars, and time when you’ll need to do it so they’re ready for the next step.

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STEP 3: Take a cup of the warmed milk out of the slowcooker and put into a (glass, stainless steel, or ceramic) bowl. Get two tablespoons (thereabouts) of the room temperature starter yoghurt, and place it into the milk. Gently incorporate it, ie don’t stir, just kind of move it around for a bit. Definitely don’t whip it, whisk it, beat it, stir it vigorously, or in any other way physically assault the living cultures! Once the starter yoghurt is incorporated, pour this milk back into the slowcooker milk, and again incorporate it into the rest GENTLY. Turn the slowcooker off, and give it about a minute for the cultures to get to know each other and spread out.

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STEP 4: Then, gently ladle your warm yoghurt into your sterilized jars (they should still be hot, which is why I’m holding it with a dish cloth). If there are nice chunky bits in your yoghurt, try to distribute these evenly among your jars. These are a good thing!

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STEP 5: Put the lids on the jars tightly, rinse the crock pot, and place the jars back in. Fill the pot with warm water until it reaches just below the rim of your smallest jar. It’s best to try to use jars of the same size for this reason, but you can see how much attention I paid to that.

Covered yoghurt

Put the pot (containing jars and water) on a trivet on the kitchen counter. Put a clean dish cloth over the top like a little blanket to help keep the jars warm, and also to, ahem, ‘set the mood’ so the cultures can get together and multiply. Walk away. For about 10-15 hours. Leaving them out overnight works well. Finding the right time for your brand of milk and climate can mean a bit of trial and error. The yoghurt should be firmish and smooth at the end of the fermenting period. If your yoghurt is still very runny after fridge setting (next step), it may have needed a longer fermentation time. If it’s way too sour and cottage cheese chunky, then you’ve left it too long. Either way, mix it with jam or fresh fruit, or cook it into cakes and biscuits, make a lassi, and remember for next time.

finished

STEP 6: At the end of your fermentation period, put the jars into the fridge and leave for a few hours to set. And voila, glossy, creamy, thick, lusciously delicious yoghurt!

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STEP 7: Eat, and enjoy! I like to serve mine with my version of Sarah Wilson’s sugar-free Coco-nutty Granola. I vary the recipe, but Sarah’s was definitely my starting inspiration.

And that’s it! Less than 10 minutes total work for deliciously healthy yoghurt, free of sugar, gluten, gelatine, preservatives, artificial flavours, artificial colours, and the huge price tag!

So, your turn. Will you give it a try? Do you already make yoghurt? What method do you use? Have I forgotten anything?

All words and images by me. All content ©Raw Once More 2013

 

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About Raw Once More

Recovering workaholic chronically ill perfectionist starting all over again (again!). After a crazy life (including running away with the circus), I'm learning to stay still and journeying towards health, happiness, and wholeness, by nourishing myself and the Earth. Interested in frugality, simplicity, creativity, sustainability, myo/diy, and living healthily with autoimmune disease.

Posted on April 29, 2013, in Eco-Friendliness and Sustainability, Frugal Tips, Living With Autoimmune Conditions, Make Your Own!, Nutrition and Food and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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