Homemade yogurt: a cultured endeavour

I’ve recently decided to get Abel & Cole to deliver a small exotic veg box to me once a week. Their service is great and it has really got me out of a slump in terms of the total lack of inspiration I get whenever I walk into my local Tesco Express. I always have such high hopes when I walk into that Tesco, maybe I’ll get inspired and whip up something amazing. But after doing my zombie rounds, I always end up with a box of eggs; a courgette; some beetroot; and cherry tomatoes…without fail. So upon the arrival of my maiden veg box, brimming with fresh shiitake mushrooms; curly leaf kale; purple carrots; and rainbow chard…I could have cried tears of joy. What’s more amazing is that as well as getting a box of organic exotic veg – every other week I get something free. One week I got orange juice the next a litre of semi skimmed milk.

It is this bottle of milk that this post shall focus on. As much I have every intention to finish a litre of milk, I simply don’t eat enough cereal or drink enough tea to justify this amount of milk without it going off. And sad to say, I have in the past let a perfectly good amount of milk go off and had to lumpily pour it down the sink. So the other day when I checked the fridge and saw this gratis and completely unopened bottle of milk about to turn – I decided to do something about it.

Things you'll need to make yogurt:
1 litre of milk - any type is fine
2-3 tbsp plain yogurt with live cultures - your starter
large pot to heat milk - or slow cooker
sugar or jam thermometer
glass bowl big enough for your milk
whisk
sieve
Jam jars or a big enough glass container for your yogurt

So first you want to pasteurise your milk. Get it in a pot on your stove and heat it ever so slowly (to avoid burny milk) to 82°C – I actually did this in my slow cooker. Once it reaches that temp remove from heat and let it cool to 43°C. While cooling, put your jams jars in the sink and submerge them in hot water. Basically you don’t want cold jam jars for when you transfer your milk and yogurt mixture. Hot liquid and jars: friendly bacteria sexy times. Pour hot water into your glass bowl now too, you’ll need it for the next step.

When your milk has cooled enough get that hot water out of your bowl and pour your milk in. Add those tablespoons of yogurt starter and whisk up a bacillus party! When mixed thoroughly get your jam jars outta the sink and decant the milk mixture in through a sieve. Now place those jars in a warm place and don’t touch them for 8-12 hours – your bacteria like a bit of calm so they don’t die but multiply…I’m sure there’s a rap lyric in there somewhere…oh! Haha, brilliant. Pinoy hip hop. God, I love the internet. I’m just going to go ahead and let that play in the background while I continue to write this…Anyway, I put my yogurt vessel in the oven with the light on overnight.

The next day you should have made beautifully set yogurt! Now put it in the fridge until it’s cooled and ready for you to eat.

I was surprised at how light and creamy mine turned out. The yogurt I used as my starter was quite sharp and I sort of expected it to cultivate a similar flavour. Nope. I served my first ever batch of yogurt with mixed berries, some shredded basil and a drizzle of honey. Delish. If you want a Greek style thicker set yogurt, strain your yogurt over some muslin cloth and sieve for 2-3 hours in the fridge. Also, it turns out that the good bacteria doesn’t denature when you freeze it, so when you’re almost done eating don’t forget to put a few tablespoons in the freezer so you can use your own starter next time. Happy cultivating.

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