Monday, October 13, 2008

Homemade Yoghurt

There are 3 different methods of making yoghurt at home that I have found. Using the Easiyo sachets, using a small amount of purchased live yoghurt and using the live organic cultures. Each way creates real yoghurt, and costs a fraction of buying it tubs. For all of these methods you will need an Easiyo thermos, a regular thermos or a small esky.

For the Easiyo thermos, you combine the cold ingredients in a plastic container, which then sits in the insulated thermos in boiling water. With a regular thermos you will need to heat the milk/water until just warm, then add the culture and pour it in. With an esky, use same method as regular thermos, but pack the esky with towels etc around the container to insulate it. You need to maintain a luke warm temp for the cultures to activate.

Easiyo Sachet Method
2 or 3 Tbs Easiyo Mix
1 cup milk powder

In the container, combine all the ingredients and stir up well. Add enough water to make about 600ml. You will see on the Easiyo sachet, they recommend using the whole sachet. You don't need to do this, and standing the mix for slightly longer will create the same product.

Purchased Live Yoghurt Method
2 or 3 Tbs ready made yoghurt with live cultures
500ml milk - fresh or powdered
1/4 cup powdered milk

Mix it all together and put into the container. The extra powdered milk is optional, but creates a thicker creamier yoghurt. Make sure the yoghurt you buy has live cultures and does not contain gelatine.

Live Culture Method
I haven't had the chance to order any live cultures yet, and so don't have the instructions. This is the most economical way to make yoghurt. It costs between $18 and $28 depending on type of starter you prefer from Cheeselinks for enough culture to make 250 litres of yoghurt!!! If anyone uses this method I'd love to hear from you to get some feedback. I cant wait to order some!

No matter which method you choose to use, you can use a couple of tablespoons from your homemade batch to start off the next batch (sub culturing). This will only work a couple of times, as the bacteria tend to die after a while. Some die before others and can affect the taste and texture of the yoghurt.

You can add pretty much anything to the finished yoghurt. Add it after it has finished incubating so it doesn't affect the bacteria. Sugar, honey, vanilla, jam, nuts, stewed fruit, dried fruit, fresh fruit, topping, mueslie, crumbles, cereal etc etc. I'd also love to hear of everyones favorite flavourings and suggestions.

Happy yoghurt making!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Making Labneh (Yoghurt Cheese)

I love making this cheese, it's easy, quick and so yummy. It's middle eastern in origin and traditionally served drizzled with olive oil and dried mint or zaatar and smeared onto toasted pita bread. It can also be used in place of philly cheese or cottage cheese on crackers or as part of a dip. Another way to serve it is rolled into small balls and covered with herbs. Great as part of a tapas plate.

Labneh is made from natural yoghurt, which has been drained through a cloth so all of the whey drains out. From each cup of yoghurt you will get about 1/2 cup of cheese. Try to get yoghurt with no gelatine, as this stops the whey separating from the cheese.

You'll need:
Cheesecloth or muslin (a clean tea towel will do)

Put a couple of pinches of salt in the yoghurt. Place the cheesecloth over a strainer or colander and empty the yoghurt into it. Gather up the edges of the cloth and tie with string or rubber band. It's best if you can suspend it so the whey drains out freely. Leave overnight or longer for a firmer cheese.

When it has finished draining, the cheese can be rolled into one large ball with a dimple in the middle to hold some good olive oil and sprinkled with fresh or dried herbs, or you can roll into small single serve balls, cover with olive and keep in the fridge.

The whey can be used for cooking in cakes, pancakes, biscuits etc. Try experimenting with different herbs and spices, garlic and other flavourings. Sweet things also work well - dried fruit, nuts and syrups.

Next post will be about making your own fresh yoghurt - it's so easy and much cheaper than buying it from the shop.