Further yoghurt report

May 24, 2009

Since I first blogged about making yoghurt at home, I have made a couple of discoveries.

  1. You can use skim milk powder instead of fresh milk. This is a win on two fronts. It saves even more money, and it saves time, because you don’t have to waste time simmering the milk — you can just make it up with hot water.
  2. Cheesecloth costs about $4 per metre, and with half a metre you  have enough to strain your own Greek yoghurt, which is my favourite kind. You can use the whey that’s left in pancakes or scones or what have you.

In my unscientific way, I’ve noticed that the yoghurt mix sachet section in the supermarket has grown substantially recently. I theorise that yoghurty thriftiness is in the air, so to speak. Anyway, I don’t know what you get in a sachet that maes them better than using milk powder and old yoghurt starter. Enlighten me.



  1. i dunno what’s in those starters, but i can tell you what’s in the yoplait “yoghurts”.

    no actual yoghurt for starters.

    i had a job in a factory back in the day, and most of those pottle yoghurts are actually just a sugar syrup, a fruit syrup, and milk solids.

    not so healthy or awesome.

    this way is far, far better.

  2. FWIW, the ingredients of EasiYo’s Slimmers Unsweetened “Real Base and Culture” are as follows:

    – Pasteurised skim milk solids (98%) from free range cows (“contains natural lecithin derived from soybean”)
    – Live lactic culture (l. bulgaricus, s. thermophilus, l.acidophilus)

    So, to answer Stephen’s question, not a lot. That said, in this commentators opinion, this low-fat option makes the best yoghurt from EasiYo’s range.

  3. Been meaning to ask if you’d seen the Slate.com article about the cost-effectiveness of making various foods at home. Yoghurt was one food featured and you won’t be surprised to hear it is both better and cheaper to make yourself. Results for other foods were not so clear cut.

    Unfortunately very US-oriented in terms of brands etc, but that doesn’t change the main points.

    It’s here, in case you haven’t seen it already:


  4. No, that passed me by — thanks!

    I tend to agree with the author that virtually all home-produced foods are better, at least with practice. Where we part company I think is in the time invested. Eg, I know I can make really good bagels, and from time to time I do, but there is no denying it takes most of a morning to produce baked goods that don’t keep in a minumum batch size that’s much bigger than we can eat without help. Which is fine if I had nothing planned anyway, but I don’t see that as a helpful saving for the average punter.

  5. I started off using sachets for convenience, but recently they’ve gone up in price and aren’t the bargain they’ve used to be. Stephen, when I use old yoghurt and milk as a starter it always ends up super runny! Could there be a difference in using milk and milk powder?

    As an aside I make yoghurt because I can’t bear the thought of all the cartons piling up in the landfill.

    • I can’t say for sure, because I’m not exactly a specialist, but I think there are a few factors in play.

      1. How hot the milk gets. Supposedly, the hotter and longer you heat it, the thicker the end product, partly on account of evaporation, and partly because of the effect of heating on the milk protein.

      2. How quickly the yoghurt ferments. Supposedly, the more quickly it ferments, the thicker it will be. So this in turn implies that the culture is introduced with the milk is quite warm (40 odd degrees) and that it stays that warm for as long as possible (ie it doesn’t sit in a cold kitchen overnight).

      So two things I would try would be measuring the temperature in the heating phase to make sure you’re getting it hot enough, and insulating the container where it ferments or finding a really nice warm spot for it. Eg, if you put hot water in chilly bin, it will stay hot for hours, so that’s a good place if you don’t have a hot water cupboard.

  6. I use whole milk (blue top) and a starter (originally) based on Cyclops Greek yoghurt (the one with the green top). I can keep it going for months and only need to start again with a new starter occassionally, usually when I’ve been neglecting it and letting the yoghurt get old.

    My recipe is 1 litre of milk in the microwave for 8 mins (YMMV), then cool for 45 mins. Whisk in the last dregs from the old batch (anything from a couple of tablespoons to a quarter cup), and pour it into an agee jar (that’s been run through the dishwasher – I don’t bother sterilizing it specially). I have an old plug-in yoghurt maker to keep it warm for 8-10 hours.

    When yoghurt is cooking it is very fragile, so don’t move it or bump it (and definitely don’t stir it) until after it’s cooled in the fridge.

    I never bother with milk powder these days. If it ends up a bit thin (happens sometimes for no good reason), I just strain it through some muslin.

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