The more I learn about the world around me, the more I realize how important it is to become as self-sufficient as possible. I’ve been making more things from scratch, and one that I make on a regular basis is yoghurt.
When I first started making yoghurt at home, I was absolutely terrified. The idea of creating “good” bacteria rather than the “bad” seemed like something best left to the professionals. But when I learned how non-healthy the store-bought versions are and I watched my brother-in-law making it, I immediately wanted to try my hand at it, too. And so, he taught me!
Yoghurt is super nutritious because it is fermented, and therefore feeds our gut with a lot of probiotics (good bacteria). Good bacteria play many roles in the body, and one of its essential roles is to take up space so that there isn’t room for the bad guys to move in.
Imagine that you want your gut to be inhabited by a beautiful garden, rather than overgrown with a bunch of weeds…
Even though I try not to eat much dairy, yoghurt tends to remain a staple in my diet. I have it in the morning with frozen berries, in a smoothie, or sprinkled with seeds and honey. I also add a few spoonfuls to stews or salad dressing.
Store-bought yoghurts aren’t nearly as nutritious as the homemade kind for a number of reasons:
- unless organic, the milk is typically derived from cows that have been fed GMOs, hormones and antibiotics
- store-bought yoghurt is flavoured with sugars, additives and artificial sweeteners (which feed the bad bacteria and therefore sort of defeats the purpose of eating yoghurt for its nutritional value in the first place!)
- homemade yoghurt is richer in probiotics because it is incubated for a much longer period of time. In fact, store-bought yoghurt is often incubated for such short periods that it requires additives, like pectin, to give it its thickness
The first few times I made yoghurt at home, I was a nervous wreck, but now it’s become so second nature that I get it done in between doing the dishes or preparing dinner. I also realized in the process that it’s not as easy to mess up as I originally thought.
I’ve been making homemade yoghurt for well over a year now, and I absolutely love the process of warming the milk (smells like my childhood), incubating it overnight (I wrap it up in a bunch of blankets, kiss it goodnight and wish it good luck!), and checking up on it in the morning to see if it was a success (which it has been except for once). Making yoghurt at home also means that you know exactly how the yoghurt is made and with what ingredients. Plus, you end up saving money because quality store-bought yoghurt isn’t exactly cheap!
What you’ll need to make yoghurt at home:
- Milk: I always make goat yoghurt and purchase goat’s milk.* If you choose cow’s milk, please purchase grass-fed organic
- Three tablespoons of yoghurt starter for every litre of milk
- A cooking thermometre so you can monitor the temperature of the milk
- A clean pot with a lid to contain the yoghurt
- A wooden spoon
- Blankets to keep the pot warm
How to make yoghurt:
(Please read through all of the instructions a few times before getting started)
In a nutshell, making yoghurt is all about heating the milk to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, then reducing it to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, adding the starter, and incubating it for up to 24 hours. Here’s how to do it:
- Remove your yoghurt starter from the fridge and leave it on the counter to become room temperature
- Pour the milk into a pot and heat it on the stove at medium heat. I stir the milk with a wooden spoon to ensure the heat is being distributed evenly
- Heat the milk to 180 degrees Fahrenheit (use the cooking thermometre to monitor the temperature!)
(While the milk is heating, prepare a cold bath in the sink. I plug the sink with a stopper and fill it up a couple of inches of cold water, as well as add a tray of ice cubes)
- You can either take it off the stove once it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, or, if you’d like thicker yoghurt, reduce the temperature to low and keep the milk hovering between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 30 minutes
- Remove the milk from the stove and place it in the cold bath. When the milk reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit, remove from the stove and place on the counter
- Add the yoghurt starter to the milk. Stir it in with the wooden spoon.
- Place the lid on the pot and carefully bundle the pot in a bunch of blankets to keep its temperature at 120 degrees. (Place the bundle somewhere that’s warm, and won’t be in the way of family members or in reach of pets!)
- Incubate for at least 10 hours (but if you like a tangier yoghurt that’s also richer in probiotics, then incubate for up to 24 hours!). I incubate my yoghurt overnight and then check it when I wake in the morning.
- When the incubation time has passed, remove the pot from the blankets and stir with a spoon to see if you have yoghurt – which you likely do! Do a happy dance, and store your yoghurt in the fridge!
- Remember to reserve 3 tablespoons per litre for your next batch!
*Why goat’s milk?
The benefit of goat’s milk over cow’s milk is that the makeup of goat milk is more similar to human than cow, and therefore tends to be easier for our bodies to assimilate. Also, the goat industry is still fairly small and therefore the goats aren’t raised in confined areas, or fed antibiotics and hormones.
Photos by Josh Asselstine.