What you should NEVER do when making yoghurt at home + coconut yoghurt recipe

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Ever since my good friend Jac told me about her favourite coconut yoghurt, I’ve been a little obsessed with figuring out how to make my own. Actually, thinking about it, yoghurt making has been on my radar for a lot longer than that.

You see, I love fermented foods (and beverages). At uni I majored in food microbiology and for my honours thesis delved into the bacterial populations of blue vein and camembert cheeses. Partially so I could play around with bacteria but mostly so I had an excuse to eat more cheese.

Then there were a few wayward years as a wine maker where I got up close and personal with more strains of yeast and lactic acid bacteria than I’d bargained for.

But I digress. Back to yoghurt.

Making yoghurt is something I always knew I’d do, one day.

And that day has come!

Over the last few months I’ve been perfecting my yoghurt making skills of both regular milk based yoghurt, and the more exotic coconut yoghurt.

The thing is, it’s no where near as complicated as you’d imagine. I’m kicking myself a little for not starting sooner.

So what should you NEVER do when making yoghurt at home?

Simple. You should never be tricked into thinking you need to go out and buy any specific equipment.

No ‘yoghurt makers’ need apply.

What do you need?

1. A Thermometer.
Yoghurt making bacteria are delicate souls, a bit like Goldilocks, they need their temperature to be ‘just right’ and the only way to tell if it’s OK is to measure. My Irishman recently purchased a fast reading digital thermometer for testing meat on the BBQ and it works a treat moonlighting as a yoghurt thermometer.

2. Some clean jars.
I prefer glass but plastic containers are fine too. Just make sure they’re clean. Fresh from the dishwasher is ideal.

3. A chiller bag or esky.
We need to keep our yoghurt nice and cosy for 8 hours or so. This used to put me off making yoghurt as I was worried about keeping the temperature constant. The thing is, it doesn’t need to be exact. I have a small insulated ‘cooler’ bag that does the job nicely. At a stretch you could just wrap your jars in some foil and then bundle them up in towels.

4. A starter culture.
I’ve been using a powdered culture that I picked up at my health food store. Or you could try using a few tablespoons of commercial natural yoghurt – but there’s a risk the bacteria won’t be still alive. So I haven’t tried that yet.

UPDATE: I’ve had lots of success with using my previous batch of yoghurt as a culture for my new yoghurt. And the yoghurt tends to set more quickly than when using dried culture. And it’s much cheaper! I use about 4-6 tablespoons in a 2L batch of yoghurt.

I’ve also read that you can use the powder in probiotic capsules but haven’t experimented with them yet either.

5. Milk.
Cows or coconut milk work well. Although there’s no reason why you couldn’t use goat’s milk, sheep milk or even buffalo if you have it at your disposal.

UPDATE: I had some failure using A2 milk, the yoghurt just didn’t thicken properly. I’m now sticking to regular milk.

I haven’t tried soy, rice or almond milk but if there’s enough protein they should work. Or you could try them using the coconut yoghurt recipe below. I’d love to hear how you get on if you do!

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coconut yoghurt
makes a little over 3 cups

Coconut milks and creams vary hugely in their fat content which really tells you how much water has been added. I’ve used unsweetened coconut ‘cream’ that has about 20% fat. Higher fat coconut cream will give a thicker, richer yoghurt. And of course you’ll get a less thick yoghurt with a lower fat coconut milk.

Don’t stress about it too much but you might need to try a few different brands before you find one you’re happy with.

2 cans coconut milk or cream (400g / 14oz), approx 20% fat
40g (1.5oz) egg white powder
1 teaspoon yoghurt culture

1. Combine coconut milk/cream and egg white powder in a medium saucepan. You’ll have some lumps.

2. Gently heat to 43C (110F).

3. Place 1 tablespoon coconut mixture in a clean cup. Add the culture powder and stir until it forms a (lumpy) paste. Add a little more coconut milk then stir the culture into the main saucepan.

4. Pour into glass jars and top with a lid.

5. Place in a chiller bag or esky and leave in a warm place for about 12 hours.

6. Pop in the fridge and leave for another day before eating.

VARIATIONS
no egg white powder? – You should be able to find it online or a cake decorating supplier. Whole egg powder would be fine, although it will change the flavour. Don’t use fresh egg whites as they may contain salmonella. The yoghurt is still lovely without it, just a lot less thick.

vegan – skip the egg white powder and be prepared for a runnier (but still delicious!) yoghurt

short on time? – the yoghurt can be eaten after the first 12 hours, but the flavour and texture are thicker and more yoghurty after the extra day in the fridge.

using powdered coconut milk? – mix it up with boiling water then cool to 43C (110F). Then add the egg white powder and proceed as per the recipe.

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video version of the recipe

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cows milk yoghurt
makes 8 cups

This may seem like a lot of yoghurt but it will keep for a month or so in the fridge. Even though there are only 2 of us, we haven’t had any problems eating it up!

I’ve found that adding a little full cream milk powder gives a much nicer, creamier yoghurt and is totally worth the hassle. If using fresh milk, you’ll need to ‘sterilise’ it before adding the culture. This involves heating to 83C (180F) and holding for 5 minutes. UPDATE: I’ve been experimenting with skipping the sterilising step and haven’t had any failures yet, so feel free to skip it if you aren’t worried about possible contamination in your milk.

2L (8 cups) full fat milk
100g (3.5oz) full cream milk powder, optional
2 teaspoons yoghurt culture

1. Whisk together milk and milk powder in a medium saucepan. Don’t stress if there are lumps.

2. Place over a medium heat and warm, stirring frequently until the temperature reaches 83C (180F). Hold at that temp for about 5 minutes. Or skip this step and go to step 3.

3. Cool to 43C (110F). I pop the saucepan in a baking dish filled with cold water and a chiller brick or ice.

3. Place 1 tablespoon of the tepid milk in a cup. Add the culture powder and stir until it forms a (lumpy) paste. Add a little more milk then stir the culture into the main saucepan.

4. Pour into glass jars and top with a lid.

5. Place in a chiller bag or esky and leave in a warm place for about 12 hours.

6. Refrigerate.

VARIATIONS
no full cream milk powder? – Regular milk will work.

vegan – see the coconut yoghurt recipe above.

short on time? – see the head note for how to use UHT milk and skip the heating step.

super creamy – add in a cup of whipping cream or double the milk powder.

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video version of the recipe

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Recently on The Stonesoup Diaries

:: the simplest sauce, ever
:: giant, scary vegetables

Looking for super quick, healthy dinner recipes?

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Then the ‘Tired & Hungry Cook’s Companion’ could be just what you need!
For more details go to:
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Cheers
Jules x

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