In my design for the ‘Preserve-a-thon’ project, I have set myself the challenge of making one new preserved thing per month. January’s is yoghurt. It’s a pretty easy one to start off with, and that was on purpose. I didn’t want to start off with a project that required loads of equipment and skills and essentially hobble myself before I started.
I used Hugh F-W’s yoghurt recipe, but frankly it was so easy that you don’t need a recipe at all. The way to make yoghurt is heat some milk in a pan until it steams and starts to bubble at the edges. Let it cool down until you can stick your (very clean) finger in it for 20 seconds without dancing in pain. Add three tablespoons of live yoghurt for each 500ml of milk. Leave in a warm place over night to turn into yoghurt.
Because it’s so easy to do, I think yoghurt making could be easily integrated into my life, as bread baking has been. The only ingredients you need are milk and starter (live yoghurt). If you keep the final bit of the previous batch’s yoghurt, this can act as a starter for the next one. It can be done with any kind of milk, so when I get my dreamed about dwarf dairy goats it can easily be done with their milk. In terms of equipment, it didn’t require anything that you wouldn’t find in even the most basic kitchen – a pan, a bowl and a wooden spoon. I used a ceramic mixing bowl which worked well because when I put it in a warm place (in front of the new wood burner – hooray) it held the heat well because of the thermal mass.
It took about a day and a half to get the yoghurt to the standard that I wanted it. When I tried it early in the morning the yoghurt was thick, but didn’t have that yoghurty acidity that I like, so I left it for another few hours. I’m sure this was because of fluctuating temperatures – the woodburner went out before morning so the yoghurt would have cooled down considerably.
My yoghurt is in the fridge in a Kilner jar, but it would be interesting to see how long it could be kept out of the fridge in a cool place. The problem is finding a cool place in a modern house – especially one that has just had a wood-burner installed. I’m getting fascinated by the cold storage rooms that used to exist in modern pantries – they’re just so sensible. At some point I’d like to do an experiment of living without a fridge for a year. It must be easier that eating within 100 miles for a year!