Yoghurt is very good for you, as everybody knows.
And there are plenty of reasons to make it at home. It’s cheaper, fresher, purer, and more fun. It’s YUM! And it’s actually very easy.
You can use a dehydrator, a thermos or an Easi-Yo maker, or a jar inside an esky kept warm with hot packs and towels! I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to make yoghurt at home without any new special equipment.
How to make natural yoghurt at home: a tutorial
- Either a thermos, a dehydrator, an Easi-Yo or other yoghurt maker
- About a quart or litre of milk (I use raw or non-homogenised, but anything fresh – not UHT – will work)
- A tablespoon of live yoghurt – I use live yoghurt from the supermarket – look on the label for “live cultures”, usually listed by their actual bacterium names
- Patience. Yoghurt can’t be produced immediately, but the work is all done by the cultures, not by you. So it doesn’t take a lot of your actual time – just your waiting time!
1. Preheat your thermos by filling it boiling water you are using a thermos; set up your dehydrator and turn it on to medium; or your Easi-Yo parts together.
2. Heat the milk until you get a few little bubbles happening. Or aim for 82 degrees Celcius to be precise. Stir the milk while you heat it so that it doesn’t stick or burn on the bottom, nor boil over. You can skip this step if you want, but your finished yoghurt won’t be as thick.
3. Cool the milk down to finger temperature – wash your hands first before testing it, of course! Now, if you’re using a thermos, don’t let the milk cool down much more, because you won’t get enough heat to activate all of those good bugs. However, if you’re using a dehydrator, you can get away with letting the milk cool a bit more since the dehydrator will bring the mixture back up to heat again, and if you’re using an Easi-Yo, it’s possibly better to let the milk cool down a bit more anyway. (That’s because the Easi-Yo official instructions get you to put lukewarm mixture into the inner container, then fill the outer casing with boiling water – so you get plenty of heat from that boiling water anyway.)
4. Mix your starter yoghurt in. Use about one tablespoon of live yoghurt to one quart or litre of milk. It’s not an exact science, but don’t be temped to use any more starter than this. If you do, the starter cultures will eat all of the milk sugars up in no time and by the time you come to get your yoghurt out, you’ll most likely find a very watery and sour yoghurt! (Still edible, by the way – especially good for baking with – but not so much fun with your muesli.) Mix that starter in well so that it gets dissolved into a little bit of the milk first (or at least that’s what I do). Then add the rest of the milk and mix it all thoroughly so that the starter is now all the way through the milk.
5. If you’re using a thermos, now is the time to pour out your preheating water and pour in the yoghurt mixture.
If you’re using a dehydrator, pour your mixture into small jars and set them in the dehydrator using dehydrator spacers. If you don’t have any spacers, that’s OK – just sit your jars on the first dehydrating tray and then place a cardboard box over the whole thing. Not entirely kosher, of course, so please don’t go out and leave it running, but my dehydrator has an overheating auto-switch-off, plus I was home all day to check that it wasn’t getting too hot. (It was fine, by the way – I left a little air hole for it to breathe through at the bottom of the cardboard box!)
If you’re using an Easi-Yo, then pour your mix into the inner container, and fill the Easi-Yo up to the top of the “baffle”, that red thing with the hole in it that goes inside the Easi-Yo. Then screw on the lid of course.
6. That’s it! Now all you need to do is check your yoghurt after 8 to 12 hours have passed, and you should have lovely thick natural yoghurt. I like to check it more often than that, because I find it
fascinating, but don’t leave the lid off for too long or you will let eveything cool down, which you don’t want, since yoghurt cultures are thermophilic (they require heat).
7. If your yoghurt hasn’t thickened after the given time, and it still looks and tastes milky (rather than watery and sour, in which case it has probably cultured for too long), then reheat the thermos or Easi-Yo with fresh boiling water, add some more starter, and let it sit again for a few hours. Keep checking it. I’ve done this before when the weather has been cool, or sometimes when
I haven’t had the mixture warm enough when I poured it into my thermos.
8. Once the yoghurt is done, then put it in the fridge, where it should go thicker again. It will keep in the fridge for weeks and weeks – but it will get sourer over time, so just keep that in mind, but it takes a LONG time to actually get it to “off”! (And you’ll know about it when it does – there will be visible mould – but don’t worry, I’ve personally tested this (by accident) and it seriously takes months!)
And for the foodie geeks, here’s a few compelling
reasons to eat natural yoghurt, which you may not have known…
- Natural yoghurt contains live bacteria (the “good bugs”) which promote gut health. Your digestive tract is naturally full of bacterium of all types, and one of the ways yoghurt can help is by bringing in the good bacteria. When we take antibiotics, it kills off the good bugs as well as the bad ones, so yoghurt is a particularly good food for someone who has just finished a course of antibiotics. People who have just had a stomach upset can benefit for re-introducing the good bacteria via live natural yoghurt. Many yoghurts sold in the shops are not actually “live” – they’ve been pasteurised. Or they may never have been real yoghurt in the first place – some “yoghurts” in the supermarket are little more than thickened custards. But… when you make cultured yoghurt at home, you know that it’s “live”, and full of the proper good bugs.
- Natural yoghurt contains more digestible protein, B vitamins and calcium than the same amount of plain milk. That’s because the bacteria in yoghurt have predigested the milk a little already, making the nutrients more available to your body. And when you make yoghurt at home, you can make it with the most wholesome and nutritious milk you can get – for instance, organic, biodynamic, grassfed, raw, or unhomogenised – the choice is yours.
- Natural yoghurt is often tolerated by those who are lactose-intolerant. Lactose intolerance is not the same as a milk allergy, which is usually an allergy to the protein in dairy milk. Lactose intolerance, rather, is caused by a lack of the enzyme lactase in the body, the enzyme that breaks down the natural milk sugars and carbohydrates. For instance, most Asian people are naturally lactose-intolerant (traditional Asian cultures didn’t historically consume many dairy foods.) But because natural yoghurt bacterium have already digested much of the lactose in the milk, yoghurt is a good choice for lactose-intolerant people. The longer natural yoghurt sours when it’s being made, the more lactose gets eaten up by the culture. So when you make yoghurt at home, you can tailor it to your individual tolerance for lactose.
Happy culturing! 🙂 And tell us how it goes!