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Foolproof home-made yogurt

June 25th, 2009 by   (View Author Profile)

What could be nicer than always having a big bowl of fresh, organic probiotic yoghurt ready in the fridge.

Making it is easy-peasy and I usually do it while having breakfast. It’s half the price of commercial stuff, and because it has fewer ingredients, it has fewer ‘food miles’ as well.  What could be better.

If you’ve made yogurt before, you probably bought some commercial live yogurt to start, and then saved a fwe scoops from each batch to start the next until, after a few goes, it lost its potency and you had to start again with fresh shop-bought yogurt. All of which was costly and unpredictable.

Well, not any more.

My new, foolproof technique has one crucial ingredient: some probiotic “pixie dust”, aka commercial yoghurt culture.  In other words, the culture that commerical yogurt producers use.

I sourced a sachet from someone selling yoghurt at Dublin’s Temple Bar food-market; it cost €10, and is good for 200 litres of milk… two years later I’m still using it (just store it, sealed, in the freezer)

Or, you can buy a box of 10 sachets here, and sign-up nine friends to share the box with you!

To make 2-litres of yoghurt:

You need:
2-litres of milk (full-fat works best, and I like to use organic)
A pinch of  probiotic  culture (less than 1/8 of a teaspoon works fine)
A timer (essential, so that you don’t forget the heating/cooling milk while doing something else, such as eating breakfast!)
A large bowl & lid to culture the yoghurt
Somewhere warm (I’m currently using a ‘nest’ made out of a sleeping bag (!) in a draft-free cupboard; but I’ve also used a tea-cosy over the bowl, and a south-facing window on a sunny day; and in winter, the warming plate from an old wine-making kit)


1] heat the milk until nearly boiling (about to lift off!) about 10 minutes.
2] Cool the milk, until it drops to about 45° (so you can just bear to stick a (clean) finger in it and count to 10).   I sit the saucepan uncovered in a sink of cold water for about 10 minutes; remember, the timer!  (if it gets too cold,  just heat it up again a little)
3] Pour the warm milk into the bowl (plastic is best for staying warm; if using glass/metal, preheat the bowl).
4] Add a pinch of the culture, and stir well.
5] Cover, and place somewhere warm and undisturbed for about 10 hours, or over night.
6] Cool fully, before refrigerating
7] Enjoy!

While culturing, try not to disturb it, as this can upset the process.

The bacteria double in number every 20 minutes, so if the yoghurt hasn’t set even after 10 hours, it may just need another 20-40 minutes (happened to me just the once); because it has probably cooled by then, simply transport the bowl (carefully) and set it in a basin of boiling water for 20-40 minutes.

This may sound elaborate, but it really is very simple.  Once you get the hang of it, you can do it in the morning while having breakfast, and come home in the evening to a batch of fresh organic yoghurt, and for a fraction of the price of commercial stuff.

And no plastic rubbish!

And, if you like that, I have a 101 tips for saving time, money and resources in my new book, Drive like a Woman, Shop like a Man.

(c) Mary Mulvihill 2009

Posted in Farmers Markets, Food, Food and Drink, Green Tips, Nutrition, Organic, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Foolproof home-made yogurt”

  1. don says:

    this isnt foolproof, this just tells how yogurt is cultured, the tough part is getting it to stay in the right temp threshold long enough for enough cultures to thrive, thats the part thats not foolproof. I was expecting more.

  2. Mary Mulvihill says:

    Hello Don,

    I have to say, I’ve never had trouble keeping the culture warm while it develops, as I outlined in the description above (even just a tea cosy over the bowl has worked in summer; in winter I usually use the warming element from the home-brew kit).

    For me the hard part was always getting a reliable starter culture.
    Using shop-bought live yogurt was very hit and miss, which is why I was so pleased to discover the commercial one (which also makes it very cheap).. . and, well, foolproof.

    A thermometer and timer will also help make sure your milk doesn’t get too cool at the start


  3. zsuzsi says:

    Hi Mary,
    i looked up online where to buy yoghurt culture and found a place selling sachets for about 4 euros each, saying that the one sachet is enough for making one litre of yoghurt…the sachet seems to contain a lot more than just 1/8 of a tspoonful of ..i find that very confusing.of course they say that reserving some of the end result can do the inoculation of the next batch, but still..what do you think?i need to start making homemade probiotics for my kids as part of a diet to cure their eczema…..thanks so much if you can answer!

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