Make your own...

Photo by Sherelle Christensen

I'm starting an occasional series where I share some recipes for making your own stuff... like your own bread, household cleaner, cured meat, cheese, potato crisps, skin toner etc. I feel these are skills long lost, but ones we need to embrace again, for the better of our health and our future. Learning these nanna skills, returning the production of these staples back to our kitchens, I feel, will mean we'll have healthier, safer versions of them (because we'll be in control of what goes in). For me anyway, there's a certain pleasure in making my own and breaking my reliance on some faceless, impersonal company that would've otherwise done it for me (but done it badly and with little care for my health or our environment).

First up, how to make your own yoghurt. I've mentioned the benefits of yoghurt before here. What spurred me to make my own was the sheer number of plastic containers tied up in my yoghurt-eating fetish. Between my husband and I, the tally was two tubs a week - that's 104 plastic containers over the course of a year. Just one household. Simply because we like yoghurt. That didn't feel right to me.

The good news is yoghurt is stupidly easy to make, and costs about as much as a bottle of milk (which is half the price of a tub of store-bought yoghurt).

Making yoghurt helps you to understand exactly what it is - a creamy, tasty vehicle for getting good bacteria into your gut. I know, it doesn't sound so 'french for yum' put that way, but that's actually why yoghurt is one of the healthiest foods around. Yoghurt is also one of those foods where when you learn how it's made, you realise that the first person to ever make it did so completely by accident.

Here's what you'll need:

2 litres of full cream unhomogenised milk
3 tablespoons of full-fat live yoghurt (make sure it's plain, no fruit or sugar, and it's live)
A food thermometer
3 sterilised glass jars and lids

You need yoghurt to make yoghurt. So for the first batch, save about 3 tablespoons of your store-bought yoghurt for making your own. From then on you can just use a few tablespoons of your own yoghurt to make the next batch. I use biodynamic cows milk because the cows and farm are managed sustainably, meaning the cows and land are happier (click here and here if you're wondering what I'm on about). You can use goats milk or sheeps milk if you prefer.

Here's what to do:

First up, heat the milk in a pot to 92°C. Some people use a double-boiler for this but I put it straight on the heat and just keep stirring so it doesn't burn. Once the milk has reached 92°C, remove the pot from the heat and quickly reduce the temperature to 35-40°C. I do this by placing the pot of hot milk straight into an ice bath (I use the kitchen sink for this).

Once the milk reaches 38°C, add your live yoghurt and stir really well. Then pour the yoghurty milk into sterilised jars, filling all the way to the top, and seal (you don't want a big layer of air caught in there because this will make the yoghurt go off).

The next step is to incubate your mixture so it goes all thick and creamy (which is a nicer way of saying, until it 'coagulates'). I incubate mine for around 12 hours at around 35°C (I'm precise, aren't I).

Place the sealed jars in a warm place for approximately 12 hours. I use an old eski for this. I fill it with hot water, pop the jars in, seal it up and leave it the whole thing in a warm place overnight (that works for me every time). It's good to check the water temperature every few hours, replacing with hot water to keep the temperature around 35°C. You can leave the yoghurt to incubate for up to 18 hours if you like a stronger taste.

So you go up to 92°C, down to 38°C, stay at 35°C. 

Once the incubation time is up, remove the jars from the eski and sit them on the kitchen bench for at least 1 hour. It's during this time that the flavour develops. The longer you leave it on the bench, the stronger the taste.

You're done! The yoghurt keeps in the fridge for about 1 week.

You can add spices or fruit to flavour the yoghurt (vanilla bean is great) but do so after the incubation process is complete.


  1. This is awesome because I'm all about this right now. I've made my own nut milk, sweet chili sauce, bread and jam. Yoghurt is next on my list because I consume SO MUCH OF IT and in Mexico there's only one place to buy it where it isn't jammed full of sugar. So I need to start doing this. I just need to find a food thermometer!

    Also, I'm about to embark on a shampoo free life. Exciting :)

    Love the site!

  2. P.S I hear this book is great. I don't own it, but I'm thinking of buying it... thought you might like the look of it too!

  3. I have recently discovered the joys of yoghurt making, although it took me a while to perfect the technique. I wish I had read your post, as this is exactly how I make it now. The important part I had not been doing was cooling it down quickly in cold water. This made all the difference and now my yoghurt is great!

  4. Hi Maria, a few of my friends have been making their own kefir. Have you tried making your own?

    1. Well, funny you should ask. I did recently try to make my own kefir. I made myself sick! Really sick! So there you go. Don't let that deter you though, I have friends who successfully make their own kefir without any troubles at all! I have no idea why mine turned out bad. :(



Flickr Photostream

Twitter Updates

Meet The Author