(note you don't have to have the Easiyo containers, see recipe below).
NB in Brisbane I recommend Barambah Organic Full Cream Milk, or Food Connect Herd Share milk. Because I'm in Victoria now I'm buying beautiful grass fed milk produced locally in the Western District where we live. You will also need a kettle. One this size (about 1.7 litres) produces just the right amount of boiled water.
The actual recipe is:
"Scald 2 litres (4.25 pints) of milk (preferably whole milk; can even be powdered) and cool to just hot enough to hold a hand in a basin-full to the count of ten. Add 3 heaped tablespoons of yoghurt (or yoghurt starter) beaten with some of the milk, and cover the basin with a plate. Wrap the basin in an old blanket or sleeping bag to retain heat, and set it somewhere where it will not get disturbed for 8-10 hours. Flavours can be added before and after the ferment. A thick wooden calabash is used in India and Africa, and even this is wrapped in winter.
For yoghurt starters, equal ratios of Str. thermophilus and Lac. bulgaricus are used almost universally; pH is 4.0 - 4.4. Yoghurts may differ a great deal depending on substrate (goat, buffalo or cows' milk) and the amount of fats left in or added to the milk."
I find just a simple glass jug wrapped in towel on a sunny windowsill is sufficient insulation in Brisbane - and don't leave it out during the day, it can overcook. Best done at night and rescued first thing in the morning before it gets hot.
I've found a new thing though, which makes it all kind of foolproof. There's an insulated yoghurt maker available in Safeway supermarkets - called the Easi-YO. It cost about $20, and it comes with a powdered yoghurt sachet (which does indeed make perfect yoghurt, just add water), which you can buy refills of to keep yourself supplied with yoghurt. The problem is, though, this powered stuff is full of all sorts of extra 'food science' things (a.k.a. petrol), which I don't particularly want to eat. Also if you bought these packets to make yoghurt, the resulting product would actually be pretty much on a par with buying supermarket yoghurt anyway, price-wise. So there's no real win there.
The insulating thingo, though, is gold.
Here's how it works:
You need to make smaller quantities if you're using the EasiYO insulator - it only takes 800ml of liquid. So I used 800ml of milk, and added 2 heaped tablespoons of yoghurt.
Heat your milk to scalding point (i.e. to the point where a skin will form, but don't boil it)
You can see the milk has partly congealed on top. There should be steam coming off the milk and bubbles round the edges. (Soak the saucepan immediately afterwards to help with clean up.)
Cool the milk down for about a minute. Take some milk out in a little cup (wood is good so it doesn't absorb heat) and when you can just hold your pinky in it for ten seconds it's ready (it will still be quite hot).
Put two heaped tablespoons of yoghurt into your measuring jug. Mix in a little bit of the milk. Pour the rest of the milk into the yoghurt container and add the yoghurt mix from the jug. Put the lid on and invert a few times to mix.
NB Make sure your yoghurt container is very well washed/ sterilised between batches!
A note on which yoghurts to use as a starter. You need to pick a store bought yoghurt that has been set in the container - Jalna is very good, especially the Biodynamic one and the red container full cream one - not sure about this blue one I've tried here, the yoghurt comes out a little bit ropy). Once you've got your yogurt making going, you can make a fresh batch from the last few tablespoons of the previous batch - but any stray bacteria will grow as well, so it only usually lasts about three batches at most before it will turn out strange (usually sour or ropy), in which case you need to buy fresh starter yoghurt from the store. Note that there are plenty of cultures that eat fermented milk products that are sour, mouldy and/ or ropy! Apparently it's quite good for you!? You need to know what mould you have though. If it looks mouldy or smells bad, throw it out to be safe I reckon. I've tried the ropy milks, and nothing happens - no bad tummy, no adverse effects, it's just a texture that takes some getting used to... I've never persisted with the bubbly ferment type milks. I'll be interested to give that a go some day. Probably once I go vegetarian again after the kids have finished growing.
Billl Mollison has included recipes for Kefir, Koumiss, Matzoon, Madzoon, Laban, Mast, Kishk, Kurut, Lassi, Buttermilk, Filmjolk, Lattfil, Langfil, Ymer, Skyr and Villi in his amazing book. These are all fermented, cultured and/ or hand processed milk products from all over the world, many of them in use for absolutely eons.
This is the EasiYO insulating container. It's like a big thermos with a baffle inside it.
You put the baffle inside, with the 'this side up' facing you, funnily enough ;)
Boil the kettle, and fill the container to the top of the red baffle.
Pop your yoghurt container inside, resting on the baffle. The boiling water comes up the sides round the container, about half way up.
Pop the lid on, and put it somewhere to incubate undisturbed for about 8-10 hours (overnight works well).
In the morning, open it up!
This one set well. That's solid, and the whey hasn't separated out (which will happen when you have too much starter). If it doesn't set solid enough, try more starter yoghurt, hotter temperature milk, or you can add some powdered milk if you think your milk might be a little watery (use good quality milk for this - not supermarket brand milk which has been padded out with 'permeate').
Here it is. This is before I mixed it all up in the container, so it's still curdy on the top and slooshy underneath, but once you mix it in it's just normal yoghurt. Just like store bought :)
Cost wise, it's what, maybe $1.30 - $2 worth of milk (800ml). You'll generally pay $4-5 per kg for yoghurt from the shops - so it costs you about 1/3 of what storebought yoghurt costs.
Plus it's kind of fun - especially that moment when you open it up to see how well it has or hasn't set. Almost as good as pulling up carrots :)
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