I was first introduced to home making yoghurt from an orange and white plastic contraption in our family kitchen in the 1980’s. The yoghurt maker came after the orange plastic stacking mung bean sprouter, but before the orange plastic electric carving knife. I remember nothing of the taste, just the confusingly huge number of parts, and a lot of movement – and milk spillage – between stove and machine. In my mind pointless.
More recently Eastern European friends have reminisced about homemade yoghurts – milk, lemon juice, a radiator and a damp towel – through the simplicity of which I became a convert. This is a slightly longer winded version, but it does make the richest, creamiest, gentlest, loveliest yoghurt I’ve tasted. There is none of the sharpness that I was used to from bought yoghurt, and – though a great lover of honey – it really isn’t needed when serving.
The richness comes from evaporating half of the milk at the start, which also means there is no watery liquid to pour away when the yoghurt has set. I have called this a recipe, but as there are only two ingredients added together in fairly rough proportions, perhaps ‘method’ would be more appropriate?
4 pints of whole or semi-skimmed milk
150g pot of bio-live plain yoghurt
1. Bring the milk to boiling point. Turn off heat. Milk solids will have formed on the base of the pan, which may burn when you continue to evaporate the milk.
2. Pour milk into any other container that it’ll fit in, and scrub and rinse pan thoroughly. Pour milk back into pan, and start to heat again.
3. Keep over a low to medium heat until the milk is at a steady boil, and is reduced by roughly a third to a half. This takes well over an hour, however make sure you set a timer to check it every 10 minutes. A forgotten half hour, and there’ll be a deep orange, unrecoverable, sticky mess (I have done this twice already this week).
4. Pour milk into a bowl, and leave to cool.
5. Stir in small pot of yoghurt, and cover with clingfilm. Place in a very warm airing cupboard, or by a radiator, for 12-24 hours until set. It may need longer if it isn’t very warm. Move to the fridge when ready.
I enjoy the yoghurt with a banana, and home made muesli mix: oats, cashew nuts, raisins, mixed seeds, almonds, and lots and lots of cinnamon. When you have just a little left, the remaining yoghurt can be used as the ‘starter’ for your next batch.