Saturday, 20 August 2011

Homemade Yoghurt

So I have finally cracked my homemade yoghurt recipe! I love it, it tastes yummy and the boys are enjoying smoothies again as I don't stress about how much it costs to make the smoothie (well apart from the frozen berries, going to check out the price of canned berries next time I'm shopping).  It tastes just gorgeous made into Labneh Cheese as well!  The benefits of pure natural yoghurt are great for oneself, all the beneficial bacteria that this yoghurt contains - well you can't get anything better!

You do not necessarily need a yoghurt maker for this, but if you can find one cheaply it is worth it.  Perhaps look in your local op-shop for one.  I have tried it 2 ways, one in the hot water cupboard wrapped in towels and also in the crockpot.  Both did not work out so flash.  My hot water cupboard isn't warm enough and as it's in there for a while I kept forgetting to reheat the wheat bag every now and then.  The crockpot might have worked, however I thought I was being fancy and left it on the keep warm function, however this was still to hot.  If I were to try it again in the crockpot I would heat it up on Low, put the yoghurt in (I put the yoghurt in a 900ml Jam Jar and just placed this into the crockpot) and turn it off.  Then probably every hour I would turn the crock back on low for 10mins or so to heat it back up.  So you could really only do it this way if your at home all day.  Using the crockpot also increases your energy consumption with the power to run it - not so frugal to make the yoghurt taking that into consideration.

I found in my local Pak N Save an Easi-Yo Yoghurt maker for $20NZ.  I hummed about this for a bit then decided I would use some grocery surplus and get one.  It is a very cheap layout for something that will be used almost daily in our house and apart from the initial boiling of the water it has no power consumption associated with it - Bonus!  I will however NEVER use one of the sachets that they make for them.  I make my yoghurt from scratch.  I merely use the convenience of my yoghurt maker to incubate it.  I will also use this to make sour cream when I get around to trying that.

Here is how I make 1 litre of natural yoghurt:

Put 1 litre of milk into a saucepan (pot), this milk can either be fresh milk, UHT milk or powdered, I myself use either powdered or my watered down full cream milk.

Heat this milk up, STIRRING CONSTANTLY.  If you have a candy/jam/milk thermometer then use this and heat the milk to 85degC. If you don't have one, heat the milk until it starts to really froth up and the smell of it being cooked is present, but don't let it boil (hopefully that makes sense).  You must remember to stir it the whole time or it will stick to the bottom of the saucepan.  Heating the milk kills off the bad bacteria in the milk, we only want the good bacteria to be present.  If using UHT milk then you can skip this step as it is already heat treated.

When it reaches sufficient temperature take it off the heat and let it cool down.  You can either just let it sit and cool on its own or place it into a bowl with cold water in it to cool it faster.  I give it a few stirs while it's cooling also.  As soon as you take your milk off the heat, take your starter out of the fridge to bring it closer to room temp so the cultures don't get such a shock.

For your yoghurt starter you can either use a store bought natural yoghurt or take it from a previous batch you have made.  If using store bought check the ingredients, you only want an unsweetened yoghurt, that has live cultures and no gelatine or anything else added to it.  I myself used the Slimmers range as it was the only one in the smallest pot I could find not containing gelatin.  It cost me $1.19 for the pot.  Of course once you have made a batch yourself you can then just take your starter from that.  You want about 3 tablespoons of starter.

Once your milk has cooled to around 40degC or you can hold your finger in the milk and swish it around, counting to 10 and its not uncomfortably hot, you can then add your starter.  If it is to hot you will kill the live cultures in the yoghurt.

I whisk in 1/2cup of straight milk powder as this helps to thicken the yoghurt (but this is optional) and then add my starter.  Give it a really good whisk around as you want to distribute it all thoroughly.  Pour into your container you are using to incubate it.  When I didn't have my easi-yo container I used a 900ml jam jar and just reduced the milk that I started with to just below 900mls.  In fact I am going to still use my jam jar inside my yoghurt maker when I want to make one batch of yoghurt directly after another.

You want to keep the incubation technique as constant in temperature as you can, and it needs to be warm.  So as mentioned before wrap it up in towels and place it in a warm place or try the crockpot technique.  It needs to stay here for around 8+ hours.  However if it is a really warm place, your yoghurt may be ready before then.  If you don't use a yoghurt maker check your yoghurt regularly.  Don't shake it but look to see if it is turning solid.  It can be incubating for as long as it needs to, it all depends on the temperature of where it is being kept.  It could take up to around 12hours to thicken into nice yoghurt.  A note to this though is the longer it incubates after it is 'ready' the tarter the flavour may be.  When it is done, put it into the fridge.  Once it has chilled for a few hours its ready to eat. 

The yoghurt will contain quite a bit of whey which is a greenish liquid, this is very beneficial so don't throw it away, use it in baking in place of milk.

If your yoghurt is a bit runny and you wanted it a bit thicker, you could drain it in a cheesecloth or some muslin over a bowl for an hour or so to remove some of the whey.  Your yoghurt will store for around a week in the fridge in a sealed jar or container.

If you wish to sweeten it, add some honey.  Berries or chopped soft fruit will go well in it, or make a smoothie in the blender.  Use some yoghurt, a banana and some frozen berries, my boys LOVE this!  It's also great to use in curries and making Raita.

This is a cheap way to make yoghurt.  It costs me $1.39 for the litre of powdered milk and I use my starter from a previous batch.  The only other cost is the milk powder which is around  60cents for a half cup.  I make 1 litre of natural very good for you yoghurt for approximately $2.00.  To buy only 500mls of natural unsweetened yoghurt is around $2.79 at the cheapest.  So the cost comparisons speak for themselves - this is a Frugal way to have yoghurt in your diet :) Enjoy

Heating to 85degC to kill off unwanted bacteria

Adding the starter
Adding the Milk Powder to help it thicken

My preferred way to incubate the yoghurt
Incubate the yoghurt for around 8-12 hours

Incubating in the crockpot - it was ready before I realised so stayed in there a bit longer than it should have
The end result, it still tasted good, and made a lovely Labneh Cheese

Labneh Cheese and Whey from 1 litre of yoghurt
MMM the best smoothies!

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Hiya, thanks for taking the time to comment on my post. I can't wait to read your comments and to share ideas, I am a busy mummy with 2 boys to run around after so I will try and get to comments as quickly as I can...if there is a delay in seeing them published this is why, not because I don't care, I'm just taking some time to smell the roses :)

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