Natural yoghurt is a probiotic rich food invaluable in assisting normal gut health. It also offers skincare benefits when used topically and can be used straight out of the jar as a facial wash or treatment. And yoghurt is not just for breakfast: It is delicious in cooking, baking, marinades, salad dressings and can even be used as a healthy replacement for oils and butters.
I have been making my own yoghurt on and off for years, and have recently done so with a new enthusiasm since the call to action to reduce plastic and make use of reusables instead of single use plastic containers which are the common packaging for supermarket yoghurt. And as it’s homemade by me, I know exactly what’s in there and can be assured of its wonderful healthy benefits and delicious taste. I try to make eco-wise choices when purchasing the milk that will eventually become my homemade yoghurt. Fresh milk from the Farmers Market is first prize, but this is not always possible. I often buy my milk in large 3 Litre (.793 gallon) containers from PicknPay or Woolworths, which translates into less plastic in the long run. I then dispense the milk into smaller glass bottles which I freeze until needed. (See my post here for more about freezing in glass).
My Homemade Yoghurt Recipe is adapted from this book on South African cookery which was my cooking bible when I first lived on my own in my early twenties:
Ingredients and Instructions: Heat 250 ml full cream milk to boiling, and remove from the heat when the froth starts to rise. Pour 1 tablespoon of the hot milk into the flask and stir for a few seconds to reduce the heat slightly. Add 1 tablespoon of shop bought or homemade yoghurt to the flask and stir in with the milk. This is now your yoghurt starter. Allow the remaining milk to cool to the correct temperature in one of two ways:
- A food thermometer to test to 45°C, OR..
- The ‘fingertip test’ as follows: by inserting the little finger for a count of 10, by which time the heat from the milk will ‘sting’ the finger. In my experience it takes at least 6 minutes for the milk to cool, depending on the surrounding temperature.
Now you are ready to add the milk to the yoghurt starter. First remove the skin that might have formed over the milk, pour the milk into the flask and stir it just a few times to blend with the starter. Screw the lid onto the thermos and leave the yoghurt to ‘brew’ for 7-9 hours, or till set. Once set, scoop your yoghurt into a glass jar and refrigerate.
The thermos that I use is this food flask below which I bought around twenty years ago when I lived in Cape Town and has been one of my most well utilized kitchen ‘appliances’ since that time. As you can see, it has a wide neck which is perfect for this recipe. I have not yet tried making yoghurt in a drinks flask (the type with a narrow neck), as I find that my food flask is easy to work with and easy to clean afterwards. My flask takes 750ml food or liquid, so I can double up the recipe above if I want a larger quantity.
Some ideas for cooking with yoghurt:
- One Yogurt Every Day: Cooking Tips and Recipes
- Wiki-How: no-cook Yoghurt Cheese ( In the interests of Eco-Wisdom: please pass on the suggestion to use plastic cling wrap at step 9!)
And its not just for eating... I use it as a facial wash: just use a you would a cleanser or liquid soap: a small handful rubbed gently over damp skin. The yoghurt has a mild abrasive action due to the presence of lactic acids, and is full of healthy proteins, oils and probiotics which benefit the skin. Also great as a conditioning hair treatment. See here for more ideas: Yoghurt for DIY skin and hair care.
Yoghurt is a naturally probiotic rich food. This site offers more information about the health benefits of probiotics and suggests some vegan alternatives to yoghurt.