In the past couple of weeks my friend Bettina Borg Cardona has been raving about her homemade yoghurt and I couldn’t help but get intrigued by the process and wanting to try it out myself. She told me that she is currently getting experimental in the kitchen with natural foods and being particularly excited by the magic of fermentation. In this blog post she is going to explain how to go about making your own yoghurt, thus introducing this great food (which the French rave about) into your kitchen. Later in the week there will be a second guest post with more recipes on what you can make with your homemade yoghurt (hair conditioner! soup! ice cream!). It’s an exciting week at muchadoaboutnoting.
Back to our homemade yoghurt.. and a big thank you to Bettina for sharing the love!
our guest blogger Bettina Borg Cardona
Fermenting your own yoghurt is pretty exciting. It’s kind of magical to watch as tons of tiny bacteria get to work, transforming a particular substance into something quite different. It makes you feel like a veritable alchemist, churning out pots of yoghurt gold.
I first started fermenting yoghurt after learning that my digestive system was out of whack. Both the problem and the solution turned out to be bacteria. Bacteria’s a funny thing. People associate it with illness: it doesn’t sound like it should be in food, and most commercial yoghurt companies either pasteurise their products or, if they put bacteria back in, make up laughable names to make the stuff sound more palatable.
But there’s beneficial bacteria that’s vital to our system and most people aren’t eating nearly enough probiotic foods (containing good bacteria) to keep their digestive systems in good shape. Yoghurt is the perfect food to keep gut bacteria healthy.
Problem is, the ‘good stuff’ (probiotic, organic yoghurt with no additives, preservatives or artificial sweeteners) is pretty pricey – especially if you’re on a student budget. Luckily, lovely smooth, creamy yoghurt is ridiculously easy to make and pretty cost-effective. It generally takes about half an hour of my time to make a litre or two of yoghurt, and the cost can be as little as a couple of Euro. It’s also surprising that you can make so many things from this product, including ice-cream, cheese, beauty products and summer soups.
To start your own little yoghurt fermentation factory you’ll need a few basic items:
1) Milk: any full-fat variety will work (it makes for rich, creamy yoghurt, although skimmed works too). Also, better milk yields better yoghurt.
2) A kitchen thermometer: I bought a digital one from my local supermarket because you need to get the temperature right if you want your bacteria to do their thing.
3) Bacteria culture: save a little shop-bought probiotic yoghurt or use some of your previous homemade batch.
4) Pot to heat your milk in and a wooden spoon to stir it from time to time.
5) Glass jars to store your yoghurt in.
What to do:
Put the milk in the pot and heat to 83ᵒ C to kill off any harmful bacteria. Stir intermittently to avoid a ‘skin’ forming.
Then cool to the optimum temperature for bacteria growth, which is 45ᵒC. I usually fill the sink with cold water and dunk the pot into it.
While the milk’s cooling, sterilise your glass jars to remove harmful bacteria. I pour boiling water into the jars and lids, letting them stand for five to ten minutes.
Once your milk’s at 45ᵒ, you will need to add a tablespoon and a half of your bacteria culture for every litre of milk
Carefully pour the milk-yoghurt mix into the jars and screw on the lids tightly.
Find a warm corner for your jars to encourage fermentation. I like to keep them in the oven next to a closed jar of warm water, wrapped in a tea towel or two.
Next, walk away and allow the fermentation to happen (it’s important not to get too excited and disturb the process!). The recommended time varies from 10-24 hours. I generally leave mine in around 12, but it really depends how little lactose you want in it (24 will definitely allow all the lactose to be used up), and the desired tartness.
Finally put in the fridge to firm up for three hours before digging in