In Cheese and Dairy Made at Home (Firefly Books, 2012) by Dick and James Strawbridge, readers will find tips and tricks for handling dairy products at home, as well as a number of recipes for cheese, yogurts, butter and more. This excerpt can be found in chapter 3, “Yogurt.”
We see homemade yogurt as a great way to learn about bacteria and starter cultures before moving on to more complex methods in making cheese. Yogurt can be made using any milk – goat’s milk will create a softer consistency and different flavor to cow’s milk. The benefit of making your own is that it is far cheaper than buying yogurt, even when you use organic milk.
Start by buying a container of plain yogurt with live cultures, or ordering some envelopes of yogurt starter culture online. The freeze-dried cultures will probably include at least two of the three main yogurt bacteria: Lactobacillus bulgaricus, L. acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These give yogurt with live cultures its distinctive taste and texture.
Goat’s milk makes much runnier yogurt than cow’s milk, more of a drinking yogurt, so you can add a drop of rennet to goat’s milk yogurt if you want a firmer texture.
Before you start you also need to sterilize your equipment.
Making yogurt is all about maintaining the right temperature for the bacteria to thrive for a number of hours, so they can sour the milk and develop that delicious taste and texture. One simple solution is an old-fashion vacuum-style bottle such as a Thermos. This can be placed in a warm part of the kitchen and is ideal for making small batches of yogurt. If you don’t have a vacuum bottle, wrap the container with the yogurt in a thick towel and let stand somewhere warm.
There is another more high-tech option in the form of a commercial yogurt maker. These simple machines are convenient and affordable and they are excellent at maintaining the correct temperature while the bacteria work their magic. Some yogurt makers are like vacuum bottles and require the milk to be heated first, other electric machines do this for you.
Store yogurt in the refrigerator at less than 4°C (39°F) and consume within 10 days. Alternatively, make into frozen yogurt.
For everyday yogurts, we usually just add a swirl of honey with some nuts or fresh fruit. Here, we have transformed our cool and creamy yogurt into enticing individual gourmet treats by adding some more unusual flavorings.
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