Natural plain yoghurt costs about $3 for a small 500ml tub at Coles, but have you ever wondered if there’s a way to defeat those Washington fat cats and their milk monopoly by producing your own cultured milk products? Then read on… (If you have an Easi-Yo yoghurt maker, skip to the end)…
Ingredients and materials:
4 tablespoons of plain natural set yoghurt (from the shops – it must have live acidophilus culture listed as one of the ingredients)
1 litre of milk (which can be made from powdered milk, which is the cheapest, or powdered skim milk, which is the cheapest and healthiest)
1 litre Thermos flask or casserole dish (must be very clean)
1. First, make 1 litre of powdered milk as per the instructions on the packet, or just use milk that hasn’t been powdered.
2. Heat the milk in a clean saucepan until it reaches a temperature of just over 45 degrees Celsius.
3. Mix 4 tablespoons of the warm milk with 4 tablespoons of yoghurt in a separate container (one that’s good for pouring) and let it sit for about 1 minute – this is now your yoghurt culture.
4. Gently mix the remaining warm milk (at 45 degrees) with the yoghurt culture, and then pour the mixture into your 1 litre thermos or into a casserole dish wrapped in a tea towel and left in the sun or placed in a warmed oven (not too hot). I usually rinse my Thermos with boiling water just before putting the yoghurt mix into it to make sure that it is sterile and nice and warm.
5. Leave your container somewhere warm for 8-12 hours. Do not bump it or move it about, because this will disrupt the reproductive efforts of our bacteria friends. Leaving the yoghurt for a longer time period (i.e. 10-12 hours) will result in more of a sour taste, and leaving the yoghurt for a shorter time (8-10 hours) will result in a more creamy taste.
Once you’ve made your new batch of yoghurt, you can put it in a container and place it in the fridge. Usually I can use that batch to make another batch of yoghurt, and another batch, but after that (i.e. by the third generation) the end product is a bit runny and doesn’t set very well, and then you need to use shop yoghurt for your culture again. To save money, I buy a 500ml tub of yoghurt and put one tablespoon of yoghurt into each compartment of an ice tray, and then I can defrost my cryobiologically frozen bacteria whenever I want. When devouring the yoghurt, feel free to mix in some berries or fruit, add some sugar or honey, or whatever you want – it’s your yoghurt now, and I can’t stop you from doing anything you want with it (but you can’t make more yoghurt with flavoured yoghurt – it has to be plain. Duh). And if your yoghurt turns out too runny, you can always make labna, which is a type of yoghurt cheese. Basically get your runny yoghurt and leave it to drain in a muslin cloth overnight. Mmm…
One recipe I have says to 1) boil the milk 2) when a skin forms, remove it, and then mix 4 tablespoons of the warm milk with 4 tablespoons of plain yoghurt 3) mix the rest of the warm milk with the yoghurt culture when the milk temperature drops to 45 degrees 4) place the mixture in a thermos or whatever for 8-12 hours etc etc. I think this method may be more sterile (because boiling the milk kills off some of the bacteria that compete with Lactobacillus acidophilus), but it takes longer, so I’m undecided which is better…
If you have an EasiYo thing:
Add 4 tablespoons of natural plain yoghurt and just under 1 litre of milk (at room temperature) into the EasiYo container, and then do what you’d do for one of their super expensive packet mix yoghurts (i.e. fill the thermos thing with boiling water and leave it for about 8 hours). This is super easy and it usually comes out really well, and you can perhaps use more than three generations of the yoghurt for future cultures.