It’s difficult to find yoghurt that isn’t flavoured, low fat or enhanced by emulsifiers and additives. Or fancily packaged yoghurts packed full of fruit for that matter. Sure I’ll eat yoghurt at home with fruit either freshly cooked or prepared on the day. But I don’t see the need to buy yoghurt mixed with fruit. I want my yoghurt pure and free from additives.
In the organic and hippy shops you can find the pure simple stuff but it is bloody expensive. My favourite Meredith Dairy Sheep’s milk yoghurt costs for 1kg about $10 a pot.
So why not make it yourself when milk is so much cheaper?
It’s really easy to make yoghurt. And all you need to do is understand a little science to ensure your home yoghurt factory is productive. The only equipment you need is a jar, a thermometer (a basic $5 to $10 version) and a warm place at a steady temperature.
This is the first experiment with my landlady, you know the type – fag in mouth, curlers, pink kitten slippers and a day coat. When she’s not making me fag ash infused greasy fry-ups on her Aga, she sometimes is a tad more healthy.
And in an effort to bypass an, um, triple heart bypass I’ve been encouraging her to make a lot more a healthy stuff, sometimes not even involving bacon or pork at all.
And so it was on that 43C day when the Aga was on full blast wearing nothing but a pair of budgie smugglers that I mapped out the hot and cool spots cooker’s surface to find where best to incubate yoghurt.
There are no hard and fast temperatures in making yoghurt. It just depends what style you prefer, thick, thin or strongly flavoured.
The quality of milk does vary based upon the rainfall and changes depending on how lush the grass is, itself affected by the rain. A maintains that her favourite yoghurt is best a couple of weeks after heavy rain.
To date we’ve made three batches using a biodynamic cow milk, organic cows milk and goats milk.
There are two spots on the Aga which will keep a stockpot full of water, which acts as a water bath for the yoghurt at 35C or 45C.
From 30C to about 35C makes a fuller flavoured European style yoghurt that takes about six to 12 hours to mature. And made at 41C to 45C, the yoghurt is much milder.
To make thicker yoghurt you can add milk powder. But we are purists – kitchen minimalists – and wanted to make a yoghurt without adding anything extra.
Here are the steps:
1. Sterilise the jar with boiling water. Here we are doing it in the make shift water bath. Preheating the jar can also help prevent cracking (it later broke when sterilized from cold)
2. Heat up the milk to 85C for 30 minutes or 95C for 10 minutes. This helps restructure lactoglobulin proteins into a matrix which makes the yoghurt set.
3. Allow the yoghurt to cool down to below 45C before adding a tablespoon of yoghurt (for 1.5 litres in this case) and stir or whisk in.
4. Pour yoghurt into sterilized pot and place in water bath for the required time. for a water bath at 35C we left it about 12 hours. For 45C we did just six. The only blip was that the goats’ yoghurt, which was a bright white colour, made at 45C was fairly runny while both the #5C and 45C cows’ milk were quite firm.
5. Remove yoghurt from water bath and allow to cool in the fridge. Eat, served with fruit, muesli or whatever you fancy.
Don’t worry, next I return to drinking and smoking.