If you get through a lot of yoghurt in your family, it might be worth making your own: as well as saving you money, it will also ensure that your yoghurt contains exactly the combination of fruits that you want it to!
I have already hinted that flavour is one reason for making your own yoghurt at home, but there are others. For one thing it is a great saving on the household bill (especially if you have a family that likes yoghurt), since the cost of making it at home is a third or a quarter of the shop version. You can also be sure that the ingredients you use – and the flavours you add – are pure and natural. And equally important, it is so easy.
After quite a number of hit-and-miss yoghurt-making sessions (involving airing cupboards, warm blankets and the like), I was lucky enough to come across a method of making it at home – adapted by a man called Peter Bradford from the various methods he had studied in the Middle East – which involves just three items of equipment; a milk saver to prevent the milk boiling over, a cooking thermometer and a wide-necked insulated jar.
These items of equipment can now be purchased at good kitchen shops.
No electricity is needed, no warm cupboards and, best of all, after the initial stages, no effort on your part. The process works all by itself! The only ingredients required are 1 pint (570 ml)of milk and 1 teaspoon of natural yoghurt (as a 'starter' on the first occasion).
This is the method:
Place 1 pint (570 ml)of milk in a fairly large, wide saucepan along with the milk saver (basically a small glass disc). Bring it up to the boil, then let it simmer very gently for about 30 minutes, or until the milk has reduced to about 14 fl oz (400 ml), or roughly two-thirds of its original volume. Now tip the reduced milk into a clean jug and place the jug in a bowl of cold water. Let the milk cool for 5 minutes, then place a clean dry thermometer in the milk.
If you're using a special yoghurt kit thermometer, wait until the mark reaches the red line: if you're using an ordinary cooking thermometer, wait until the temperature falls to 120°F (49°C).
Now place 1 teaspoon of natural unsweetened yoghurt – a commercial brand will be all right – in the insulated jar, add a little of the milk, stir well, then add the rest of the milk, still stirring. Next place the lid on the jar, and leave it like that for not less than 6 hours (or longer won't hurt). Unscrew the lid, and inside you will have almost 15 oz (425 g) of delicious natural yoghurt for the price of 1 pint (570 ml) of milk.
Replace the inner lid and store in the refigerator.
Some important points:
* Everything must be as clean as possible. And when you are washing out the jar before use, make sure it isn't still warm from the washing water: it must be room temperature.
* Never use sweetened or flavoured yoghurt as a starter: it must be natural yoghurt (you can use the low-fat variety).
* If you're making yoghurt continuously, you can in fact set aside 1 teaspoon of the prevoius batch to start the next, but every three months or so it is best to start with commercially made yoghurt (as this will have the right balance of culture).
* Home-made yoghurt can be made with long-life, skimmed or even powdered milk, but I think whole fresh milk makes the best.
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