How to make live yoghurt at home
- 1 litre whole (full-fat) organic milk
- 1 tsp powdered milk
- 50g natural 'live' yoghurt (your starter culture)
- A cook's thermometer
- 1 litre sterilised sealable jar
Freshly made live yoghurt is one of my favourite things to have to hand in the kitchen. With so many uses – swirled into soups or spooned over muesli, a delicious dip with chopped fresh herbs and crushed garlic, a low fat substitute for cream in all manner of savoury and sweet dishes – the list is endless. Steeped in mystery surrounding its legendary beneficial Bifidus bacteria, making your own yoghurt actually couldn’t be easier, and I always try to have a batch on the go. If you use milk from pasture-fed cows, it’s another great way to enjoy more of the healthy omega-3 fats and health-protecting CLA (conjugated linolenic acid – reputed to help prevent weight gain) that grass-fed milk is so enriched with.
Yoghurt is an excellent source of calcium needed for healthy bones and vitamin B12 needed for a healthy blood supply, and the process of culturing (or lacto-fermenting) dairy helps break down casein – a protein in milk and one of the most difficult proteins to digest. This can be very helpful to those unable to tolerate many dairy products, as they sometimes find yoghurt much more easily digestible. Live yoghurt also contains countless ‘friendly’ lactobacillus bacteria which help our digestive system run smoothly by aiding the breakdown of food, the absorption of nutrients and fighting against ‘unfriendly’ organisms that are often the cause of stomach upsets.
Making your own is easy – you just need a good quality organic starter culture (plain live yoghurt) to pass on the health benefits – a bit like a beneficial chain letter. I especially like Yeo Valley plain live organic yoghurt for its creamy texture and no trace of acidic sharpness.
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- Pour the milk into a pan and heat gently to 45°C – do not boil. If the milk gets too hot it will kill off all the friendly bacteria.
- Stir in the powdered milk and yoghurt, then spoon it into the jar, seal, cover with a tea towel and put somewhere warm overnight.
- It should now have thickened into a creamy yoghurt, and the longer you leave it the tangier it will become. Put it in the fridge and leave it to chill before eating. It will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge.
Liz’s Tip: Add the contents of a good probiotic capsule to your starter culture to enrich the yoghurt. Remember to always retain a little of your yoghurt to make the next batch and keep the microbes going
If you’re lactose intolerant and looking for a dairy free alternative to this homemade yoghurt recipe, you can try substituting the ingredients for non-dairy alternatives. Many milks, such as legume, nut, seed, grain, or coconut milk, can be cultured and you can also find non-dairy milk powders too. Non-dairy live yoghurts and yoghurt starter culture packs can be used in place of the natural live yoghurt, and can still contain those beneficial probiotics when grown, for example, from lactobacillus acidophilus and related bacteria from the lactobacillae family.
While the starter cultures are just the good bacteria, and don’t contain any dairy ingredients, there is still a chance they may have been grown using dairy products. This should be fine for most, but if you are severely allergic, worry about trace dairy or are strictly vegan do check for a dairy-free or vegan label, and then contact the company to verify their processes
You may also find a non-dairy homemade yoghurt to be a little runnier in consistency, so a thickener such as agar flakes, gelatin (not suitable vegans/vegetarians), or starch may be necessary.
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- Grass-fed milk contains healthy omega-3 fats and health-protecting CLA (conjugated linolenic acid – reputed to help prevent weight gain)
- Yoghurt is an excellent source of calcium needed for healthy bones and vitamin B12 needed for a healthy blood supply
- Live yoghurt is also an excellent probiotic for a healthy gut