Making fresh yoghurt is simple and easy. It is also much cheaper, fresher and dare I say better for you than the supermarket produce.
Fresh yoghurt has many properties - it is a good source of calcium and contains many vitamins, including vitamin B12 which promotes a healthy nervous and digestive system, as well as improving your hair, skin and nails. Yoghurt also has other hidden benefits to overall health. Many studies have shown it helps lower blood pressure, prevent osteoporosis and quicken weight loss. In addition, it is well known to encourage healthy bacteria in your gut, which consequently aids better absorption of nutrition leading to general improved health.
So with all these benefits to homemade yoghurt, I try not to buy it in stores for two reasons; firstly it can be made for a fraction of the cost and secondly, you can use the milk already in your fridge.
History as you know according to Ayurveda our bodies (for that matter all living things) are made of five elements - earth, fire, water, ether and air.
Yogurt is a naturally cooling food according to Ayurveda practices and therefore balances the Pitta (fire) element in your body. Excess Pitta causes extra heat in the body which can manifest itself in various ways, ranging from feeling hot at all times to dry skin to constipation. Eating fresh natural yoghurt can help in balancing and restoring individual doshas. Dosha is the Ayurvedic term for the three elements each human body consists of: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. According to Ayurveda our bodies, for that matter all living things, are made of five elements - earth, fire, water, ether and air. In order for good health these need to be in harmony and its their imbalance that causes poor health.
What you’ll need before you start the recipe:
You don’t need any special equipment although there are yoghurt-making machines now, but unless you have the discipline and room in your kitchen it is unlikely to be used regularly. Also, chances are you won’t need the machine in summer because the yoghurt can be left to set naturally on a warm day.
In order to continue making yoghurt all you need is a couple of tablespoons of natural yoghurt, preferably unsweetened and free from any other ingredients such as fruit. This small amount of natural yoghurt is a starter culture and is the essential ingredients to making homemade yoghurt. The culture can be borrowed from someone you know who has made their own yoghurt or buy a small carton of natural yoghurt from the supermarket. I remember when I was growing up in India if anyone had used all the homemade yoghurt they would go from house to house in their neighbourhood looking for a teaspoon of culture. If you’re stuck at this step please feel free to email me and I’ll post you some.
How much starter culture should you use?
How much you use depends on the weather and your tastes. If it’s summer you will only need a couple of teaspoons of natural culture as the warm weather will quickly turn the milk into yoghurt. Similarly in winter you may typically need a couple of tablespoons of starter culture. When it comes to taste, homemade yoghurt usually tends to be either slightly sweet or slightly sour If you only add a few teaspoons of starter culture the flavour of yoghurt will be sweeter, therefore if you add a few tablespoons you will get a more sour taste. We recommend for a fairly neutral taste to add one tablespoon.
Here’s a simple recipe you can follow to make your own yoghurt:
I prefer to use full fat milk as it makes a thicker yoghurt, but you can also use semi-skinned for a lighter option, as long as you don’t mind a runny final product (I don’t recommend this option for beginners though as it may put you off from making it again!)
Step 1: Tip three cups of full fat milk into a glass bowl or microwaveable bowl.
Step 2: Boil the milk. I tend to do this in the microwave but you can also do it on the hob. If in the microwave, turn the settings onto full power. Set the timer to 3 minutes, take out the bowl and stir. Place back into the microwave for another 2-3 minutes. Do keep an eye on it as it can boil over and make a mess in your microwave. On average, the time it takes to boil a pint of milk in a domestic microwave is 6 – 8 minutes. Once the milk has begun to boil, remove from the heat/microwave and leave to cool. It’ll probably take about 30-45 minutes for it to cool down. Once the temperature reaches about 45 degrees (you can either use a cooking thermometer to check this or a bit more naturally by dipping a finger in the milk. If you can withstand the heat the chances are it is at the right temperature.) Then you’re ready to add the starter culture.
Step 3: Mix roughly a tablespoon of starter culture yoghurt making sure you break down any lumps and stir it into the cooled milk in the bowl. Stir it well ensuring the mixture is even and smooth. Cover the bowl with a plate or a lid and place it overnight in your microwave with its door shut. You don’t need to run any programme on your microwave, it’s placed there because it offers an insulated place where the temperature for the yoghurt is kept reasonably warm therefore enabling the bacteria to multiply. The following morning you should find a beautifully set natural yoghurt ready to eat.
It can be chilled in the fridge before you eat it but I like it fresh and at room temperature. Once you cut into it, it’ll begin to loosen with cloudy liquid around it. This is normal and can be mixed in when you eat the yoghurt. Alternatively you can drain this by pouring the yoghurt into a jelly bag or improvise one by lining a sieve with a muslin cloth. Let it stand for a couple of hours where the yoghurt will thicken. It will become the consistency that we recognise as Greek yoghurt. If you leave it longer it can be used instead of cream cheese. Don’t throw away the drained liquid, either drink it as it is - I find it a very refreshing drink or use to make bread dough or nan bread dough. It gives excellent results.
Alternatives: If you can find some Buffalo milk (it is sold in some supermarkets) that makes really creamy and rich yoghurt. Goat’s milk can also be turned into yoghurt but I have not had success with soya or other milk yoghurts yet, I shall continue my experiments though.
Happy yoghurt making and sharing!