Homemade yogurt

Homemade yogurt

I’m quite sure there will be those who could refute the following and, indeed, if you suffer from any allergy, sensitivity or intolerance absolutely don’t take my word for it – I know nothing!  Consult your own doctor, and get the appropriate tests for what ails you.  We are all different and I’m really only working on me.  So, what I think I’ve learned is this.  Lactose is a bit tricky isn’t it!  It is in milk (for sure) but not in butter (if they make it properly and don’t put ‘things’ back in).  Some cheese good (most matured types, cheddar, edam, parmesan, mozzarella) some cheese baaaaad (soft cheese, young cheese, most highly processed cheeses).  Yogurt (from cow’s milk specifically) is interesting.  It seems that (if the mighty interweb is to be believed) most commercially made yogurt is only cultured until it is just set, and therefore not long enough for all the lactose to be used up.  You can get around this problem and enjoy delicious, soft, fluffy yogurt if you make your own.  I remember my mum making it when I was a child using a funny insulated tub thingy, and in fact I’m still using the milk saver from that same set.  Family heirloom now!  I’m just using a kilner type jar, and the following method.  If you’re careful with germs, say by using jars straight out of the dishwasher and keeping your utensils scrupulously clean, you should be absolutely ok.  And remember, remember to save a heaped dessertspoonful of the yogurt you make for starting your next jar.  I decant mine into a teeny, tiny Tupperware box the first time I start a jar, or I forget.  Then the calm is disrupted as I have to go to the shop to buy small pots of other people’s yogurt to make more of my own yogurt.  Once you’ve done that a few times you’ll pack it in and remember, I promise!  I know you can buy soya yogurt with the cultures in, and indeed I do eat these too, but I don’t really like the taste of the plain ones on my muesli (though I prefer soya milk in coffee to cow’s – go figure).  Plus I eat the fruity ones every now and then, so I’m hedging my bets.  I do like the idea of the cultures though, if all the stuff about healthy bacteria, how it is that my insides seem broken, and what I might be able to do to help fix it is to be believed.  Anyway, if the truth be told I mostly make yogurt because I’m too scared to kombucha…

Homemade yogurt

Prep time around 30 minutes Cook time up to 12 hours (actually it is yogurt culturing time)

You’ll need a cooking thermometer – I use my sugar thermometer but a metal one would be better
Sterilise a ¾litre kilner type jar (straight out the dishwasher is fine)

  • 1 pint milk (full fat, semi, skimmed, it is your choice – I’ve not made dairy-free yogurt, sorry)
  • 1 heaped dessertspoonful of natural, unflavoured, live yogurt (it will say live on the tub), and thereafter 1 heaped dessertspoonful of your own yogurt – your starter

Pour the pint of milk into a saucepan and place on a low heat to slowly bring to the boil (I use a milk saver – a small ceramic disc in the bottom of the pan which stops it boiling over because I’m easily distracted by the child!).  Let it bubble briefly but don’t let it rise up to the top of the pan.  You can also use a clean whisk to stop the milk from catching on the bottom of the pan.  This takes about 10-15 minutes on my stove.  In the meantime take your starter yogurt out of the fridge to come up to room temperature.  When the milk has just started to reached boiling point, i.e. little bubbles form on the surface, turn it off and let it rest.  You are aiming to cool it to between 37ºC and 41ºC, and how long this will take depends on how cool your kitchen is.  Check regularly – too low and the yogurt won’t culture – too high and you will kill the bacteria you’re hoping to grow!  Also beware putting a cold glass thermometer into a pan of hot milk – let it cool a bit or better still, use a metal food thermometer if you have one.  And don’t pour hot milk into a cold jar, or cold milk into a hot jar as you risk shattering the glass which is both dangerous and messy!  When you’ve reached the right temperature range, pour your warm milk into your clean jar, gently stir in the dessertspoonful of starter yogurt and close.  Now you need to keep the temperature around the same.  In winter I have an excellent radiator that, with a tea towel underneath for stability and insulation, keeps the yogurt around this temperature until it is done.  In the summer it is actually a little trickier but I use the small oven of the two in my cooker, and turn it on to its lowest possible setting, e.g. the point at which the little orange light first comes on.  There is lots of advice online if you want to see other options.  The yogurt likes the heat and stillness, so don’t shake it about.  Check after 6 hours to see if it is set.  The longer you leave it the more lactose will be used, but the more tart the flavour will be.  It is your preference really.  Luckily I like it quite tart as I will leave it a long time (10-12 hours) to try and make it as digestible as possible for me.  If it doesn’t set, then there is more sage advice than I can give here on the net – mostly suggesting leaving it even longer.  Once it is as you want it, refrigerate for several hours before using (I usually cool mine overnight at the back of the fridge).  You may stir in the liquid that has settled on the top or you can remove it.  I remove it because I like thick yogurt and this part is more likely to contain lactose.  Don’t worry if this liquid is a greeny colour – clear through yellow to green-ish is all normal.  And don’t forget to save a starter for next time!


5 thoughts on “Homemade yogurt

  1. The thing with that is that casein intolerance is starting to be more widespread that lactose intolerance, and that means you can`t have any cheeses, milk, or yogurt from cows, and most of the vegan options are firmed with casein so that`s out too. You can`t take a pill with casein intolerance like lactose intolerance, but I guess it is less confusing as far as sorting out which is good and which is bad: everything is just bad. I like this recipe as it gives me some ideas, though. I`ve bought almond and coconut yogurt before, and I`m going to try making it at home, so this is good background reading for me. Thank you!

    • Absolutely! I’m managing my symptoms without medication (at the moment) so I’m avoiding lactose when it’s added to things in various ways. It definitely makes being gluten-free more tricky, as the combination limits yet more an already limited selection of offerings out there! But a casein intolerance would be even more difficult to manage. I find quite a lot of vegan options, especially in restaurants, contain gluten so eating out is just hard work. Like with casein, there is no good gluten! (I’ve yet to test things like spelt because I’m so pleased to be well I’m a bit scared to try them). I feel lucky that I like cooking, and always have done, so I can view this a challenge. It seems perhaps you are as well? Good luck with your non-dairy yogurts and do let me know how it goes. I’d love to post more allergy aware options in the future, and you might just convince me to try producing a non-dairy yogurt myself!

      • I`m not willing to try spelt either. Why risk it if it could bring you back almost to square one? I take the gluten free in stride, though I`ve been a bit whimpy about sticking to dairy free, mainly because that feels almost impossible to keep up all the time. I`m trying, though! I think it was when I found paleo cheezes that really have no casein and don`t taste like dirt that I decided I might be able to do this. It`s all about taking a step at a time, right?

      • Ha! It’s true the crazy non-dairy cheeses can taste really weird. And the ‘cheese spreads’ made out of tofu have a texture like playdoh, which I can’t be doing with. And a popular dairy-free cheese here is called Sheese, which is a little too close to the exclamation ‘sheesh’ for my liking. Is that what I’m supposed to say when discovering what it tastes like I wonder! Hence, I’ve not plucked up the courage to try Sheese yet. I could well be missing out as it gets good reviews. One day at a time is the only way. You’re so right there.

      • I`ve done nut cheezes, and they are all right, just like cream cheese dip. I just wish one of the solid shaped cheezes were decent! I`m cautious about prepared cheezes, as the majority are firmed up with casein, which kind of ruins the whole no-dairy-to-avoid-casein thing. I wonder how they can call them vegan, though, if the casein in it came from milk? I`d like to try that sheese out someday, though it probably is to make you think that`s what you`ll say when you try it. I guess I just don`t want to do it because I`ve only been gluten free for two years or so, and I don`t want to go to fast and binge on dangerous foods. Thanks for the encouragement!

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