Homemade yogurt


I made this yogurt. If I can do it, so can you (I am not known for my technical expertise). It tastes wonderfully-different from anything I can buy in a plastic pot. And ’tis joy-supreme not to be adding to the plastic-pot recycling mountain in my hallway.

I stopped making yogurt after being diagnosed as lactose-intolerant last autumn, but I missed all those zillions of friendly bacteria in my gut. I know I could have made it with soya milk, which I do love (in tea and on oats) but somehow could not bring myself to embrace in yogurt.

So I figured I would experiment with my lactose-intolerant boundaries. For surely my fellow lactose-intolerant eastern-european/middle-eastern ancestors ate yogurt? As a fermented food, yogurt is pre-digested so must be easier to tolerate. Is there a nutritionist in the house? What do you think?

Anyway, on a gut level (so to speak) all I know is my intestines smile when yogurt comes its way, saying hi in a welcoming way. Unlike with milk, which feels too viscous and hard work for my sensitive insides.

Now let me introduce you to my friend, the yogurt-maker. This fairly low-tech device that costs about £20 to buy and pennies to run has enabled me to become yogurt-literate.


You can’t see from my pic but the plastic yogurt-maker has a plug. That’s how it works: switch it on and the yogurt-maker keeps the warmed-milk-that-will-be-yogurt at an even temperature.

Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall says a wide-mouthed warmed thermos flask does the trick and ditto, a towel to wrap it up in and a radiator – but it’s the nifty yogurt-maker for me.

I say low-tech because it does not switch itself off after the regulatory eight-hours. So it does take planning. I have to ask myself before starting: will I be here in eight-hours to turn off the device?

Here are the ingredients you need to make longevity-boosting yogurt:

1.5 pints (850 mls) of organic milk

2 teaspoons of of natural, bio-live, organic yogurt (or from your last yogurt batch)

You have to boil the milk until it bubbles to get rid of bad bacteria and then let it cool down to blood-temperature i.e. I stick a clean finger into the cooled-down milk  and it feels pleasant and warm – not scalding-hot or, at the other extreme, brrrrr on the chilly side.

I found this operation the most taxing because after the novelty of testing too-hot milk wore off, I then forgot all about the cooling milk and by the time I remembered, it was stone-cold again. So my top tip is: try to keep conscious of time as the milk cools.

Once the boiled milk has cooled to blood-temperature, I put it in the yogurt-maker (that I’ve switched on five minutes beforehand to warm up). Then I stir in two teaspoons of yogurt, which always seems too measly to do the job but that’s all it takes to start the fermentation process. Amazing.

I find yogurt very acceptable first thing in the morning because it is non-demanding and soothing. And I add freshly-ground health-giving spices, such as cinammon, cardammon and cloves for extra zing.

Now for my yogurt-award acceptance speech. Thank you, Martin Smith, ex-propriétaire of  Danescombe Valley Hotel, who demystified yogurt-making; my Indian food guru, Mallika, who has inspired me to use freshly-ground spices from scratch; Maninas, for adding cinammon bark and whole cloves to my repertoire. And finally thanks to Beccy and Hannah at the Spark for explaining how to use the grinder-attachment on my blender…

Who would you thank in your oscar-award speech?

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13 responses to “Homemade yogurt

  1. Pingback: Health Blog » Blog Archive » Homemade yogurt

  2. Many people who are milk intolerant can happily handle yogurt and other cultured milk products (sour cream, buttermilk, and cheese, to name a few), but can also stomach raw milk (if they can get their hands on it). That’s because these foods are full of the enzymes our body uses to digest them!

    I’m impressed by your yogurt success. I’ve tried and failed twice, but need to go back to it again. Everyone says it shouldn’t be rocket science, so who knows what I was doing wrong.


  3. Thank you, food renegade, very useful – and the raw milk tip. I have been a philosophical fan of raw milk for ages (the organic pioneers swore by its superior health benefits but got overruled by pasteurisation-bureaucracy). I have yet to get my hands on some but will redouble my efforts now I know about the enzymes. And yes, do try again with the yogurt. Honestly, if I can make it, you can.


  4. Like the yoghurt-award acceptance speech. All you need is a few Gwyneth or Kate-Winslet-style tears . . .

    Can’t really contribute any first hand experience to the lactose-tolerance or intolerance debate except to note that it seems to vary from person to person. Some can tolerate yoghurt and cheese when they can’t cope with milk, others not. My eldest daughter who suffers from lactose intolerance finds she can digest buffalo milk cheese but not sheep or goats’ milk but many others can

    Like the idea of making yoghurt from scratch though. That looks like a nifty gadget!


  5. This is great. Thanks for the recipe. I think I will try it out this weekend.


  6. Hi Elisabeth, Thanks for the comments. I had no idea about the farmed prawns. What about if you buy the Organic ones, are they ok?
    At the moment I cannot afford to buy all organic so I prioritize with meat, eggs, milk and some fruit and veg (especially apples and pears). So my focus with the blog is mainly getting people to cook first off, with whatever ingrediants they have.
    As for the idea about ‘How I taught my boyfriend how to cook.. and survived’, it’s brilliant. Although you shouldn’t underestimate just how bad Will is at cooking (or even just assembling ingrediants). But you’re right, if he can do it anyone can. I have asked him and he seems up for it. Wait and see!!
    PS Very impressive making your own yogurt, I bet it is delicious. I can’t think of anything more calming on the stomach than creamy organic yogurt.


  7. I love homemade yogurt. After making my own for so long, I just can’t go back to the other stuff. I have that same yogurt maker, too. Isn’t it great?


  8. My friend Ian says yogurt made from non-homogenised milk is OK and does not give him lactose-intolerant symptoms.

    I buy Manor Farm or Somerset Dairy organic milk for yogurt-making. Indeed they are both non-homogenised. Ah ha. Maybe that’s why my yogurt gets on with my gut.

    Is it because the homogenisation process forces the lactose-in-fat-globules into tiny particles? This high-tech process may make milk store longer and suit supermarkets – but is it also harder for our bodies to digest? Ponder, ponder.


  9. Elisabeth you have inspired me ….. all the additional flavours sound super too …. Ikea sell timers for sockets they are really cheap something like £3 for 2 and you can use them so switch things on and off – like your yogurt machine…. I bought a bread maker when i got tired of waiting up till 2am to put bread in or out the oven.


  10. Hi,
    I learnt this really low tech way of making yoghurt from a Turkish dorm mate.
    Use a heavy bottom pot and heat the milk (any quantity)until it just boils. Turn off the heat and put the pot to cool in a basin of water. Test to see if the milk is cooled down enough by spooning a bit of milk on your hand/arm (or you can dip a clean finger into the milk). It is ready when it feels warm (just like mothers test the milk for babies).
    Put two or three dessert spoons of store-bought PLAIN yoghurt into a clean container and spoon in equal amounts of the warmed milk. Stir gently to mix, then add this mixture to the rest of the warm milk. Pour into a clean container. If you live in a cold country wrap the container with a blanket and leave it under your bed or a draft free warm room for 6 hours or more eg kitchen.If you do it at night it will be ready when you wake up the next morning. It will set. Store it in the fridge (up to two weeks).
    If there is any yellowish liquid don’t worry about it. That’s whey and you can either pour it away or mix it into the yoghurt.
    If you save some of the homemde yoghurt you can use it as a starter for the next batch (no need to buy store yoghurt)
    Happy eating.


  11. Top Tip alert!

    If you use UHT milk, you don’t need to do the laborious task of heating and cooling the milk … and, if you add some milk powder you get a thicker yog … add Hipp Organic Baby Formula, if you have some lying around, and you have a sweeter, thicker yog which wee ‘uns gobble up! You can get a greek-style thickness from straining it through a muslin jelly bag.

    My top lunch box tip is to freeze your fav. homemade fruit coulis in ice cube trays, a mini pot of fresh yog made overnight is still warm, bung in a iced fruit cube & hey presto: cooled, fruity yoghurt for lunch.

    I am never organised enough to turn off my yoghurt maker during the day. I make it overnight and place it in front of the espresso machine, then I don’t have to remember in the morning!

    Oh, and if you do use fresh milk, you can infuse it with rose or lavender during the heating process.

    Hello, my name is Becca & I’m a Compulsive Tipster. It’s been 3 seconds since my last tip.



  12. Hi Elisabeth,

    Sorry, I haven’t been doing any blog writing or reading for ages. I just graduated from the university – I spent the last 6 months doing my thesis on meat consumption – which I’m putting up on my blog.

    On the question of yoghurt, I’d go for the cow’s milk if you can tolerate it – there are a lot of worrying health questions about Western soya use. Felicity Lawrence has an interesting chapter on soya in her new book “Eat your heart out: Why the food business is bad for the planet and your health”.

    Maybe we can meet up this year.


  13. very inspiring


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