Saturday, 31 May 2008

Yoghurt making

Along with many people at the moment I am looking for ways minimise the effect of rising food prices on the household budget. We already grow some of our vegetables and fruit, keep the chickens for eggs, bake bread and eat more vegetarian meals than meat meals but still the food bills are rising. My latest project is making yoghurt.

I have made yoghurt before, putting a bowl of milk/yoghurt mixture wrapped in towels in the airing cupboard and have to say that the results were very variable. I decided to try again after reading this post about making yoghurt in a Thermos flask.

I've been doing this for a few weeks now and the yoghurt is great. I was also pleased to find a new use for the oldest kitchen utensil I own, this wonderful old Thermos flask.

My mother gave me this flask a few years ago, I always remember it being at home when I was small and I think it was passed to us from one of my grandmothers. I have no idea how old it is but would guess at over 60 years. The stopper is cork (no plastic used in flasks back then) and I cover it in foil so I can wipe it clean. It maintains the heat really well, far better than my modern flask.

Basic yoghurt making instructions,

  • I basically follow the instructions from the link above. The first step is to heat the milk to destroy the bacteria present in the milk. This step is important if using fresh milk and particularly so if like me you try to save money by using milk that is reduced in price at the end of its shelf life. (I have made yoghurt from longlife UHT milk and then this step can be left out as the milk will not contain any bacteria - just heat up to the temperature needed to add the yoghurt starter.)

  • The milk is then left to cool, I don't use a thermometer but test it by touch, if I can keep my finger in it for a few seconds but it is almost uncomfortably hot seems to indicate the right temperature!

  • I then mix in some commercial yoghurt. I usually use about a third of a small pot of Yeo Valley natural yoghurt - about 50 ml to a litre of milk. Make sure that the yogurt used is live yogurt.

  • The milk mixture is then poured into the flask which I have first scalded with boiling water and then left for around six hours.

  • We like thick yoghurt, so the next step is to strain it. I use a clean ironed tea towel (which would be virtually sterile) in a colander. It is worth watching this stage quite closely or it can over drain and become very thick, I find thirty minutes is about right.

  • We mostly eat our yoghurt with fruit and so at this stage I transfer it to a pot (bit messy this stage) and add honey to taste. After mixing in the honey, the yoghurt is ready to go in the fridge to cool.
A perfect combination, thick Greek style yoghurt with honey and rhubarb from the allotment.

A litre of milk makes just under half a litre of thick yoghurt. The savings are not high if full price milk is used but it is slightly cheaper, the real savings only come if I can find a bargain at the supermarket but it tastes brilliant so its worth making anyway.

I have also made soft cheese by accident when I forgot I had left some yoghurt draining. After a couple of hours it was very thick so I mixed some chopped chives and black pepper into it and it tasted fine. I will do that again and experiment with adding different ingredients.


Heather L. said...

Wow, I have never seen a flask like that! I need to make some yogurt myself -- I've been putting it off all week. If we are ever given extra milk from our cow share, that is what I do. We normally take 4 gallons a week of milk and that is what it takes to feed us all. However a week ago we got 6 gallons, so one or two gallons are waiting for yogurt! My method is basically the same as yours, except I incubate the yogurt in a gallon jar inside a big cooler with jugs of 120F water around it.

Candyce said...

This does look yummy. I can't wait to try it. I also looked up the blog you mentioned. Greek yogurt is terribly expensive here so I am hopeing it will be a success.


sounds wonderful! and looks it too. unfortunately i can't try that as we're still doing life without a fridge. a few years ago an old flatmate of mine was an albanian cellist who had a hobby of albanian yoghurt making, luscious, i tried it. i don't have a clue how he did it, but it was very fine indeed. it looks like yours, so yours must be very fine indeed too!

willow said...

Thanks for the comments.

I'm impressed Heather, making yoghurt by the gallon! Do you use batches of your previous yoghurt as a starter or do you always buy fresh. So far I've always started with a shop bought yoghurt but might try with some of the previous batch.

candyce, greek yoghurt is expensive, making it like this means we can have a bit of luxury more often.

nà, I admire you living without a fridge. I would find it very difficult with the amount of dairy that we use, though if I look in the fridge most of the other stuff could be stored in a cool cupboard, apart from meat.

alisa said...

Willow, I make my yogurt in the same method as yours, except I incubate 2 half liter jars wrapped in towels in a warm oven. In 24 hours my yogurt is congealed and ready for refrigeration.