Monday, 7 February 2011

In which I knit my own yoghurt

When I was little my mum had a Bel Yoghurt maker. Once every six months or so this contraption would come out of the cupboard and it would be time for the trek to the health food shop to get a precious pot of live yoghurt as a starter. This was before bacteria was friendly, when 'live' yoghurt was the preserve of the hippies and spoon benders and would more often than not be made of goats milk.

What happened then is all a bit hazy. I seem to remember that she put the scary bacteria-infested yoghurt into the big white pot, added some milk (full fat was allowed in the house for only this purpose), and three weeks later I would be made to eat some revolting sour white goop that tasted nothing like Petit Filous. Child Poison.

Now that I am a grown up, I have forgiven natural yoghurt its sins and come to quite like it. I've also found out that the Bel Yoghurt maker was actually just a thermos flask with a thermometer hooked on the side.

So - my next project. I shall turn this unassuming pile of ingredients into a whole litre of delicious yoghurt. Yes, I know nobody needs a whole litre of yoghurt. But that's how much my thermos holds, so that's how much I'm getting.

What you put in

A litre (or so) of milk. I'm using half full fat and half skimmed, because that's what I have. Yes, our milk is in a jug. This is not because we are a family from a breakfast cereal advert, but because in an effort to be economical we use those 'Jug It' bags of milk from Sainsbury's, and the bloody things ALWAYS burst when we try to put them in the proper juggy thing. Anyway, that's a rant for another day.

A small pot of live yoghurt (you can get this in the supermarket now. I know, how progressive!)

A spoonful of powdered milk (this thickens it a bit, apparently)

What you do with it

Bring the milk to the boil. This evicts all the bad bacteria, making space for the good ones (or something)

Let it cool to 50C. You need a thermometer for this, ideally. I don't have one but have just remembered that there's one in the fish tank. Hmmm....

Add about a dessertspoonful of the live yoghurt to the milk and mix it in, trying not to lose too much heat.

Pour the lot into a wide-necked thermos and put in a warm place overnight.

Skip gaily down the stairs to the kitchen for breakfast, secure in the knowledge that the dairy alchemy has worked and you have outwitted the supermarkets yet again.

Pretend you like it because it's healthy. Then mix in loads of Nutella when nobody's looking.

Now, I've never done this before, but yoghurt is just gone-off milk with style, surely?

How hard can it be?

Off to make it now. I shall report back tomorrow....


  1. I'm sure my mother made yoghurt in the airing cupboard in an earthenware jar....

  2. That works too, you just have to have a reliably warm airing cupboard. And stop any socks falling in it.