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Make yoghurt at home – explained in 10 easy steps

Make yoghurt at home - explained in easy steps - picture of bowl with muesli and yoghurt

What’s the Idea?

You can make yoghurt at home to have an unlimited supply of fresh, live, dairy yoghurt in your fridge to dive into any time.

What’s the story

I really enjoy eating plain yoghurt.

It is so nutritious, versatile, and delicious.

I have it on muesli, with fruit salad, in a smoothie, with a hot curry, just with honey, with strawberries instead of cream, swirled on top of soup…..I could go on……want some?

We have been going to Iceland for our summer holidays for the last couple of years.

Out there they have ‘Skyr‘ – an Icelandic cultured dairy product similar to yoghurt.

It’s thick, creamy and quite possibly addictive. We had lashings of it on our muesli every morning.

Back in the UK we continued to buy Skyr and other types of yoghurt in copious quantities.

Then, when availability was reduced and I found a bit of spare time on my hands I started to experiment with making yoghurt at home.

There’s a lot of information out there and I must confess it was a bit of a shaky start.

Now, however, I am getting consistently great results and I am ready to share my personal tips for how to make the best yoghurt at home every time.

People should do this because…?

Live yoghurt is a versatile ingredient for cooking.

It is a tasty way to incorporate beneficial bacteria into your diet which strengthen your immune system and improve gut health.

Once you have cracked the method it is quick, money-saving, and sustainable.

And of course, you can use it to make healthy smoothies.

Stuff you will need

  • Starter culture or good quality, live, plain, dairy yoghurt
  • 1 Litre organic cow’s milk
  • Measuring jug
  • Saucepan
  • Metal spoon
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Glass jar or thermos flask
  • Warm place, towels, thermos flask or yoghurt-maker

How do you do it?

This is how I make yoghurt at home for repeated success

Step #1
  • In the evening, after dinner, heat 1 Litre of organic whole milk in a pan on the top of a stove to almost boiling point;
  • (The milk will be hot and small bubbles will be on the surface but not moving);
  • Keep cooking the milk at near boiling point for 10 mins.
Step #2
  • Take off the heat, cover with a tea towel and leave to cool until the temperature is 42 C or just below;
  • Use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature accurately.
Step #3
  • Add the required amount of your freeze-dried starter culture according to instructions on the packet;
  • (I get mine online from a company called ‘Freshly Fermented‘);
  • Or you can add 3 tbsp of good quality live yoghurt, store-bought, or from a previous batch you made.
Step #4
  • Stir with a metal spoon for 2 mins.
Step #5
  • Warm the container you will be putting the milk mixture into;
  • You can do this by rinsing it in fairly hot water from the tap and then drying it off;
  • If you are using a yoghurt-maker, it will come with its own jar;
  • Or you can use a standard glass jar like this, or even a thermos flask;
  • Pour in the milk mixture.
Step #6
  • You want to be able to keep the container at around 42 C /107.6 F;
  • A yoghurt-maker will do this for you;
  • Just pop it in the thermal container and top up with lukewarm water;
  • If you’re using a glass jar, then just wrap it in some towels;
  • Or you could pop it in the airing cupboard or linen closet;
  • A thermos flask will do fine on its own, just leave it on the side in the kitchen.
Step #7
  • Leave for 8 hours to thicken overnight.
Step #8
  • First thing in the morning, remove the jar or thermos flask and place it in the fridge for a couple of hours to chill and thicken further.
Step #9
  • I recommended reserving 3 tbsp of the finished yoghurt and keeping it in the fridge to start your next batch;
  • Bear in mind you will need to use it within 7 days from the fridge;
  • Or you can freeze it for up to a month, to use at a later date.
Step #10
  • Eat and enjoy! The rest of your homemade yoghurt can be devoured as quickly as you like.

My Top Tips

Tip #1 – Use the correct milk

This is a recipe for dairy yoghurt and will work with fresh, skimmed, semi-skimmed or whole cow’s milk.

Whole milk will produce a creamier, thicker texture.

I prefer to use organic milk but non-organic won’t make any difference to the end result.

Tip #2 – Use a cooking thermometer

I wasn’t consistently successful without one.

Heating the milk just below boiling kills off competing bacteria and denatures the milk proteins.

Over-boiling will ruin the texture of the yoghurt.

Plus if the temperature is too hot when you add the starter culture, the yoghurt-making bacteria will be killed off.

Tip #3 – Take it slowly

You could heat the milk in the microwave and then plunge the bowl into cold water to speed up these steps.

However, if you do this, you have less control over the temperature, and using these shortcuts didn’t work so well for me.

Tip #4 – Choose the right starter culture

There are many freeze-dried starter cultures you can buy on line for all different types of yoghurt.

I bought the Icelandic Skyr one from a UK company called Freshly Fermented.

Alternatively, get a good brand of organic, plain, live yoghurt from the shops and use that for your starter.

Just remember, your own yoghurt will only be as good as what you start with.

Tip #5 – Use the right container

Glass jars definitely work better than plastic for making and storing.

You can use a thermos flask for incubating overnight, wrap a jar in towels, or put it in the airing cupboard.

It’s all about keeping it at 42 C for around 8 hours.

There are electric yoghurt-makers to help with temperature control.

I use a maker from Culture Cupboard which uses only stainless steel and glass, and is and non-electric.

A bit like this one.

Tip #6 – what to do if your yoghurt hasn’t set in the morning

The most common reasons are the milk was over boiled or the starter was put in before the milk had cooled down enough.

Put it in the fridge anyway; it tends to thicken more on chilling.

If it does, reserve 4 tbsp (rather than 3 tbsp) for a thicker batch next time and keep a better eye on the milk temperature.

If it doesn’t thicken at all after this, try starting again. But if it smells bad then chuck and start over with fresh milk.

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