Saturday, July 16, 2011

Homemade yoghurt

Clear blue skies and cool winter nights mean creamy potatoes baked in their jackets, slathered with butter and chives; lots of hugs from sexy stiletto-wearing friends to conserve body heat; and yoghurt-making over the gas heater when nippy weather leaves uncovered toes at risk of frostbite.

The results of culturing yoghurt at home can seem wildly unpredictable at times. Like all other aspects of cooking, yoghurt-making is very much a science. Every ingredient has a purpose and every action has a reaction. What is it they say? That the beating of a butterfly's wings can cause a hurricane ten thousand miles away.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a little sentimental when it comes to dairy. I was once utterly infatuated with an adoring Spanish woman whose mother raised goats and produced queso de cabra in Cantabria, along the northern coast of Spain. Whenever she went to visit her mama, she'd return to Madrid nursing three small semi-hard goat's cheeses.

Somehow each of these cheeses would last for weeks despite turning up in creamy steak dressings and tomato salads. Occasionally we'd cut tiny slivers and savor the pungent aroma without distraction. The cheese was produced with lots of love and a precision that only comes with years of experience. There's something about artisan produce that commands absolute respect. The skills and patience required are admirable and often the passion needed to compete with mass production is unwavering.

I often wish that I had the know-how to produce cheeses. I've gotten as far as making curds for a sweet tart and ricotta for hotcakes but I fear that without any training, the only cheese I'd be successful in producing would be a new variety of a toxic, inedible sort used for biological warfare. Luckily I've found that making yoghurt at home is quite simple and satisfying results are always to be had.

Homemade yoghurt
1000 g full-cream milk
30 g dehydrated milk powder
75 g yoghurt starter (a good quality natural yoghurt containing live cultures - I like to use Meredith Dairy sheep's milk yoghurt)
Place milk in a small saucepan, add dehydrated milk powder and bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes to kill any bacteria present and denature as many proteins as possible (this results in a more thick and luscious yoghurt later).
Remove from heat and cool to 40ºC.
Add the yoghurt starter and stir well.
Pour the mixture into sterilised jars and seal.
Maintain temperature between 35 - 40ºC for about 6 - 8 hours or until yoghurt has set.
Remove from heat, cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight before eating.

More starter can be added if you prefer a rather tangy yoghurt and the amount of dehydrated milk powder can be adjusted for a thicker or thinner consistency. Resulting whey can be stirred back into the yoghurt or poured off and reserved for making bread.


  1. I still haven't tried making yogurt like that. I always use a thermos thingy which seems to always set, (except for the occasional batch, when the yogurt likes to keep me on my toes.)
    One day I'd like to make my own cheeses as well....*sigh* one day.

  2. i've read about people using an esky filled with hot water to set the yoghurt. i've found that using two old cds as a trivet on top of the heater on its lowest setting keeps the temperature just right. i ended up with really gloopy, snotty yoghurt once when i followed a recipe that said to only bring the milk up to 80 degrees. big mistake :P

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