Thursday, 30 April 2009

It's Not A Lefty, Organic-Veg-Growing, Make-It-Yourself Blog Without One Post About Yoghurt (or cat photo's)

Since the relentless downpour outside is keeping me from potting on the courgettes*, I will blog about yoghurt instead.

Okay, so yoghurt is a bit lumbered with the whole hairshirt-wearing, bean-eating, hand wringing liberal brigade (uh. Such as myself), but making your own yoghurt is really easy, and the results are delicious.
So, on to the technical stuff.

Yoghurt (or yogurt, youghurt or any number of spellings containing an unnerving amount of vowels) is a dairy product made by adding a bacterial culture (usually lactobacillus bulgaricus or streptococcus thermophilous, great words for playing Hangman), Bio yoghurts contain extra bacteria to help keep your digestive system healthy (so if you've been on antibiotics taking bio yoghurt will restore the lost essential bacteria). Yoghurt is rich in protein, calcium and vitamins B6 & B12

Making your own yoghurt is really easy, and doesn't need lots of equipment (people have been managing to make it for 4,500 years). You can buy a yoghurt maker, which does all the work for you, but since I'm a cheapskate, I use a thermos flask. To make yogurt you need a starter culture, which is a fancy term for 1 tablespoon of live yoghurt (live meaning that the yoghurt hasn't been pasturised, and still contains active cultures, not that it's getting frisky.), most plain yoghurts you can buy are live yoghurts, and will state if they are on the label. You'll also need some milk (preferably fresh), what milk you use is up to you, full fat, skimmed, cow's milk, goat's milk, whatever takes your fancy.

Fill your thermos with milk, and pour into a saucepan (if you're doing this in the microwave, pour into a suitable container), and bring to the boil (making sure it doesn't boil over). this will kill off any beasties that might spoil the milk. remove from the heat and allow to cool to 43-50°C (110-122°F). I use my old sugar thermometer, but any thermometer will do. If you don't have a thermometer, stick a clean finger in the milk, it should feel slightly hotter than is comfortable, but won't burn you. Add 1tbs of live yoghurt to the hot milk & stir or whisk in. Pour the mixture back into the thermos (if you don't have a thermos, cover the bowl with cling film & wrap in several layers of dishcloths, and place in a warm airing cupboard), seal the top & put it somewhere a cat won't knock it over for 10-12 hours (I usually make it in the evening, so it's ready in the morning). After the wait, you should have yoghurt! Woo!
You can pour it into a container & bung it in the fridge (hot yoghurt is a bit unpleasant), or you can make some strained (Greek) yoghurt, or yoghurt cheese. To strain your yoghurt, place a colander over a bowl & line with some muslin. Pour the yoghurt into the muslin & leave for 2 hours. If you leave the yoghurt straining for a couple more hours, you'll get yoghurt cheese. Add a pich of salt, a dash of pepper and maybe a few chopped herbs & you'll have a soft, creamy cheese. Yum.

*Oh great tentacled cephalopody beastie, please protect these little green leafy things from mine enemy, the vile gastropod, and smite its squishy body with your many tentacles, so that I may one day know the terror and joy of a courgette glut.

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