Plain yoghurt makes a good topping for cereal, but it’s even nicer if you mix it with mashed banana and honey. It’s also handy for savoury dishes. Mix with cucumber and coriander to cool your mouth when you eat curry. I’ve even watered it down and added salt to make ayran to drink, I’d love to make it frothy like Turkish ayran though.
When I started making yoghurt I did a bit of experimentation to figure out a simple method. There are two things I found affected the result quite a lot.
The first factor is incubation. I started out trying to make yoghurt in slightly prewarmed oven, wrapped in a towel. I incubated it overnight, but I found the results were fairly inconsistent. The thickness if the yoghurt seemed to depend on the weather. It worked well in summer, but in winter it was so cold that the mix was still milky in the morning. If I left it for the day while I went to work it would turn into curds and whey by the time I got home. Unlike Little Miss Muffet I didn’t want to eat curds and whey, so I bought an incubator. Now I can put on the yoghurt at bedtime and have yoghurt for breakfast even in winter.
The second factor that affects the yoghurt is the starter culture. I start my culture using yoghurt from the supermarket, usually Jalna biodynamic yoghurt. I’ve used other brands as starters successfully too, and I find that my finished product tastes similar to the starter. Choose one you like.
I don’t tend to use my own yoghurt as a starter because I suspect that over time it could evolve a different balance of bacteria. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it would probably start to taste different.
There are dry starters you can buy, but I haven’t tried them.
¾ cup powdered milk (skim or whole)
3½ cups whole milk
½ cup yoghurt
- Combine the powdered and liquid milk in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. This should kill any environmental bacteria and make sure the only ones in the mix are from the starter.
- Cover the mixture and allow it to cool to touch temperature. I sometimes cheat and do this in the fridge, but you don’t want it to cool lower than room temperature.
- Put the starter yoghurt in a measuring cup and mix it with some of the cooled milk so it will mix in easily. Then combine the yoghurt starter and milk mix in a container that fits your incubator and incubate overnight.