People have been making (and eating) yogurt for thousands of years, probably because it’s so simple to make and an easy method of preserving dairy. Although the word ‘yogurt’ is Turkish in origin, yogurt is traditionally eaten worldwide with unique variants found in Europe, West Asia, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam.
It all starts with milk. Brought to a boil to kill off bacteria and to denature the proteins, the milk is then removed from the heat and allowed to cool. Completely sterile at this point, good bacteria is introduced to start the fermentation process. The mixture is kept warm a number of hours to allow fermentation to take place. During this process, the bacteria breaks down the lactose found in milk and turns it into lactic acid. The acid then acts on the milk protein which gives yogurt its distinctive tangy flavour and texture.
The bacteria used in making yogurt are often referred to as yogurt cultures or probiotics. They are totally safe for human consumption. In fact, you’ve already got them living inside your digestive tract to help your body digest food. If you are lactose intolerant, you may find yogurt easier to consume than milk. This is due to the reduced lactose content after the cultures have done their work.
Make your own
While you can buy yogurt at a store, you can easily start making your own yogurts at home! All you need is milk, some plain yogurt with live cultures, a large pot and sealable glass containers.
- Gently heat the milk in the pot until it is simmering.
- Remove the pot from the heat and allow the milk to cool to about 45°C.
- Add in the yogurt with live cultures and mix together thoroughly.
- Portion the mixture out into the glass containers, then seal.
- Keep the containers warm, between 40°C and 45°C, either with an oven light, keeping them in a warm water or covering them with thick towels for 4-12 hours.
- Store in your refrigerator and enjoy once it sets!
Remember to set some of your homemade yogurt aside to prepare for your next batch.
Try experimenting with different types of milk and different incubation times to find a result that best suits your tastebuds.