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…
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!