Yogurt is one of those things that make life a lot more pleasant (and need I point out, tasty?). It’s a great drink to go with your breakfast or dinner, it makes every smoothie that much more nourishing, and paired with granola and fruit, it makes for the perfect early meal you won’t feel a shred of guilt about eating.
However, as I’ve already pointed out, store-bought yogurt may not be the best possible choice, as it can be full of sugar or additives, which makes making your own yogurt the best course of action.
If you are already the proud owner of a yogurt maker (or are in the market for one), here’s a bit of a guide on how to use this clever contraption:
Things You Need to Use Your Yogurt Maker
Obviously, you will need a yogurt maker, that goes without saying. You can also do it on the stove, if you first want to try your hand at home-made yogurt and see how you like the taste.
Also, you will need a liquid measuring cup, a saucepan, a mixing bowl or mug, a ladle, a spoon, a whisk and ideally a thermometer as well.
If this is your first batch, you will also need some milk and store-bought yogurt. If not, you can use the yogurt you have already made.
How to Make Yogurt Using a Yogurt Maker
Start by heating up your milk. You want to use full-fat milk, pour it into your saucepan and place it on the stove over a medium heat. You want to get it foaming around the edges, but not actually boiling, so you’re aiming for roughly 82 degrees Celsius at the point of not-boiling. Once the milk has been foaming for a bit, remove your pan from the stove.
You are then going to cool your milk to around 41 to 44 degrees (still Celsius). If you want to speed the process up, you can place your bowl of milk into a bowl filled with ice. However, I’d recommend doing it the old fashioned way and just waiting for it to cool on its own. It will take an hour or so, but make sure you keep checking with your trusty thermometer that you haven’t inadvertently left it out too long.
Now for the tricky bit. You want to add your yogurt starter, i.e. the good bacteria. Pour out one cup of the warm milk and either stir in an actual yogurt starter, or add 3 tablespoons of pre-made (or store-bought) yogurt.
Stir your yogurt mixture back in with the rest of the milk, and make sure it is completely combined. There won’t be any lumps, so what you want to make sure is that the good bacteria are spread evenly throughout.
Add your mixture to your jars and place them in your yogurt maker. Don’t place the lids on, but do put the machine’s cover on top.
Switch the yogurt maker on, and set it to your chosen programme. If you’ve used whole milk, it will take around 7 hours to get yogurt, whereas with skimmed milk, you will probably be looking at 10. Once the process starts, don’t interrupt it, just leave the yogurt maker to do its magic.
After the required amount of time has elapsed, take the jars out, place their lids on and keep them in the fridge for at least 3 hours. After that, all you have to do is figure out the recipe you want to sample it with, and prepare the next batch.
Reasons to Buy a Yogurt Maker
As I keep repeating, making your own yogurt has a whole lot of benefits.
For starters, you can choose the flavours you make on a daily basis, and always have a full-fat or low-fat yogurt available. You can also choose to add much less sugar (or no sugar at all), and keep your yogurt very healthy.
Making your own yogurt is also a more affordable option, so if you are an avid yogurt drinker or eater, investing in a yogurt maker can soon be much more profitable than adding several packets to your shopping cart every week.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Milk
The milk you use in your yogurt will determine what your yogurt is ultimately like. Most people use cow’s milk, as it produces the thickest yogurt, but you can also use goat’s milk or sheep’s milk. It will be on the thinner side, but the taste can still be quite amazing.
Plant-based milk is also an option, and coconut or soy milk can be used to make some very tasty yogurt. It can in fact be the healthiest (and potentially tastiest) option, so if you are in the mood to experiment, do try all kinds of different flavours. You might just hit upon an amazing, tailor-made recipe.
How to Make Your Yogurt Thicker
If you are looking to make your yogurt thicker, there are several things you can do.
For starters, you can bring your milk to a higher temperature – around 95 degrees Celsius – before adding in your yogurt starter. If you then also keep the milk at this higher temperature for around 20 minutes, a lot of the moisture will evaporate from it, and you will get a much thicker result.
You can also let the yogurt sit for longer before putting it into the fridge. Or, you can add ingredients that will promote thickness. Whole cream can help, as can milk powder. However, your best bet is simply to keep it on the stove for longer, as that will still ensure that smooth taste you are looking for, albeit in a thicker setting.
Yogurt Making Tips and Tricks
If you’ve never used a yogurt maker before, you will appreciate the following tips too:
- Choose your milk carefully. Full-fat whole milk will provide the best taste and the best thickness. UHT milk won’t be as fresh nor as tasty, so you might want to skip it.
- Make sure that the yogurt you are using contains live cultures, especially if you are using store-bought yogurt. A starter will naturally have plenty of good bacteria, but you still want to make sure they are the right ones. You are looking for Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus at the least, and Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis if you can get them as well.
- Make sure you always sterilise your yogurt containers and your yogurt maker jars before every use. Boiling water will do the trick.
- Avoid touching your yogurt while it’s incubating, as there is literally nothing you can do to speed the process up, it’s just a matter of time. The 7 to 10 hours required will always need to be 7 to 10 hours, and waiting it out is mandatory. Ideally, you want to leave the yogurt maker to do its thing overnight.
- Never use old milk, out-of-date milk or milk you are not sure about. Even if it tastes okay but has been sat in your fridge for a couple of days, don’t use it. Drink it by all means if it doesn’t taste funny, but don’t use it as a base for your yogurt.
Best Yogurt-Based Breakfast Recipes
And now for the fun part – some of my favourite recipes that you can have for breakfast (or for any other meal really) that include our friendly neighbourhood yogurt:
1 – Add some jam (I prefer raspberry, but that’s just me) and some chia seeds or almond flakes to your yogurt. If you’re adding chia, make sure to let it sit for a bit so that the seeds have enough time to soften.
2 – Throw some oats into a dish, pour your choice of milk over and add a healthy dollop of your home-made yogurt. Leave it in the fridge overnight, and then add your fav fresh fruit in the morning.
3 – Make some toast (using one of my recommended toasters) and throw your favourite nut butter over it. Add a glass of yogurt (preferably a smoother batch), and you’re good to go.
4 – You can also add the same nut butter to the actual yogurt (leave out the toast) and throw some granola or coconut shards on top for a bit of extra crunch.
5 – You can do chocolate chips or chocolate pieces, again with some granola, or perhaps with a Belvita biscuit.
6 – Yogurt also makes great smoothies. You can add some protein powder, a banana, some spinach, avocado, and your fav berry. Or your fav non-berry. Personally, I love a chocolate protein powder mixed in with a banana and some strawberries, laced with plenty of yogurt.
7 – Finally, you can also make some amazing, fluffy yogurt pancakes. All you will need is a pancake maker, some of your fresh yogurt, a bit of flour, some sugar, a couple of eggs, some butter – and well, just Google the recipe. Top it with some maple syrup, and you are good to go.
And Now, For Some Breakfast
If you’re not hungry by now, congratulations! I, on the other hand, am famished and really in the mood for a smoothie (or a pancake, whichever is quicker), so I’ll leave you now and head to the fridge. Or, I’ll perhaps try to entice Tom to make us something snackable?