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Yoghurt making for beginners (written by a beginner!)

Smoothies, cereals, lunchboxes... we go through a LOT of yoghurt in our house... like around 2 litres per week! We even use plain yoghurt instead of sour cream.

As you'll know, a lot of yoghurt can also be a lot of waste.

So how can we enjoy the yoghurt without the waste? Two ways. The first is by looking for more recyclable or reusable packaging options, like glass jars, or 'desirable' plastics - namely #1 and #2. The second way is much more effective, satisfying and budget-friendly, but also takes a bit of time and effort...making your own!

I've been dipping my toes into the world of yoghurt making, and I'm now ready to dive in! In this article I'm look at three different ways to make your own yoghurt.

1. Packet yoghurt

This is probably the most common way of making yoghurt - because a lot of the work is done for you.

What you need:

You need a yoghurt maker (the most common is Easiyo - around $20 but you can easily pick them up second hand), and then you buy the sachets from the supermarket (around $4-4.50) each, which make a litre of yoghurt. They come in lots of flavours, as well as plain, Greek and unsweetened.

How to:

You fill the plastic jar from the maker half way with water, add the contents of the sachet, put the lid on and shake it up, then fill it the rest of the way with water. Then in the Easiyo insulated maker, you pour boiling water up to the line, pop the plastic jar inside and screw the lid on. You leave it for around 8 hours before taking the yoghurt container out and chilling it.

My thoughts:

We used an Easiyo for about three years before I decided to look at alternatives. It was easy to make and the cost was a tiny bit less than buying the plastic punnets at the supermarket. The flavours are very sweet - although I've since heard that you can mix a flavoured sachet with a plain, unsweetened sachet to get a less sickly result.

Image from Country Trading Co

2. Make your own yoghurt with a yoghurt maker

I’ve been doing this for around 2 months now, so am still a bit of a novice, but I’m getting the hang of it, and finding it strangely satisfying!

What you need:

You need a yoghurt maker to incubate the yoghurt. I am using a Culture Cupboard Stainless Steel one, which comes with a glass jar. But you could also use the Easiyo-type maker as your incubator. Then you really just need milk, yoghurt and a pot for the stove top, or a microwave. If you don't have yoghurt to start with, or want to make a fresh batch (apparently over time the yoghurt can get a bit thin), the culture sachets are also useful.

Optional: I use a thermometer too.

Tip from a friend: To make sure you always have some yoghurt to make the next batch, put a few tablespoons of a fresh batch in a container and pop it in your freezer.

How to:

Heat a litre of milk to 95° (microwave or stove top), then allow it to cool down to 45°. Add a few tablespoons of your previous batch of yoghurt (or a culture sachet) and mix well. Pour into jar, and then place jar into the yoghurt maker (the stainless steel one you warm with hot water and then empty before putting the jar of yoghurt in it, but for the easiyo-type, you need to have boiling water in it). Leave for around 8 hours before taking the yoghurt jar out and chilling it. You can naturally flavour it once it's chilled. So far we have tried puréed berries and honey.

You can also make a huge range of plant based yoghurts, as well as sour cream! I’ve only tried coconut yoghurt so far (using 2 cans of coconut milk and the sachets from culture cupboard, but you can also do this using coconut yoghurt.)

My thoughts:

As I said earlier... strangely satisfying! The first time I did it I hovered over the milk with my thermometer, but now that I've got used to the heating + cooling part, I find that it's pretty easy. It takes a lot longer than getting the easiyo running, but it isn't labour intensive - although make sure that milk doesn't burn to the pot cause getting the burnt milk off IS labour intensive! The part that takes the longest is leaving the milk to cool, but you can also speed this up by placing the pot in a sink with a bit of cold water around it.

Price-wise this is a winner!

Supermarket: 1 litre of yoghurt: around $5

Homemade: less that $2

Supermarket: 1 litre of coconut yoghurt: $11 and upwards.

Homemade: Depending on the coconut milk you use, anywhere from $2.40 - $8.00.

I also like understanding the process, and knowing what's in the yoghurt.

3. Oven

Yup - you can actually make yoghurt without any 'yoghurt maker'! I have not tried this, but have spoken to others who have.

What you need:

An oven.

Milk, yoghurt and a pot for the stove top, or a microwave.

Optional: thermometer

You heat and cool the milk as explained in method 2. When the milk is cooled to 45°, add the yoghurt and mix well. Put it in a jar.

How to:

Heat your oven to the lowest temperature possible, then turn it off but leave the light on. If your oven has a bread-raising setting (around 40°) then that's perfect. Put the jar of milk and yoghurt in here for around 8 hours. Take it out of the oven and pop in the fridge to chill completely. Alternatively you can put the pot in the oven, and transfer it to a storage container afterwards.

But wait, there's more!

The world of yoghurt-making never stops surprising me! Apparently you can use a slow-cooker, or the hot water cupboard to make yoghurt! A couple of people have told me that they make coconut yoghurt by just leaving the container on the bench!

This is my first jaunt into the world of dairy-product making (ok, I've breast-fed three children but that's just a tad different) It's fair to say that I'm hooked on yoghurt making. And guess what? My sister bought me a cheese-making kit for my birthday...

I'm sensing a part two to this blog...

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Emma Jenkins
Emma Jenkins
28 aug. 2021

Loving this post thank you. I’ve used an Easiyo yoghurt maker for years and have been toying with the idea for some time of making my own. I’ll have to give it a crack. Any idea where to get the starter pack from if you need one? Otherwise I’ll just try with some leftovers. Also a food thermometer? Or can you just guess the temperature of the milk?!!!

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