Making yoghurt from scratch is actually far easier than most people realise. The trickiest part is figuring out how to keep your yoghurt at an even temperature (of around 40 degrees Celsius) while it is forming.
And that’s where the Easiyo comes into it’s own.
Now, the Easiyo Yogurt Maker is sold with the assumption that you will buy the Easiyo sachets to make your yoghurt with, not make it from scratch, but there is absolutely no reason you need to do it that way.
What I tend to do is to keep a couple of their flavoured sachets in the cupboard for special treats (for flavours that I haven’t figured out how to make myself), or for when I run out of yoghurt for my starter or have no milk (or milk powder) to spare.
The rest of the time I make my yoghurt from scratch, using one of the following methods. My kids go through a lot of yoghurt, so making it from scratch saves me a lot of money, plus I like being in control of exactly what goes into it. (Note: I’ve now added a Making Yoghurt at Home FAQ & Troubleshooting guide.)
Making yoghurt from scratch using fresh milk
- Heat 1 litre of milk almost (but not quite) to boiling – look for the point when it is just slightly frothy on top but not yet foaming up (or use a milk thermometer if you have one). Organic milk is of course best, but not essential, and you can use anything from fat free milk to full cream (4%) milk. Heating the milk changes the protein to make it more conducive to making yoghurt with. It also kills off any bacteria that is growing in the milk and might compete with the yoghurt starter culture.
- Cool the milk in the fridge until it is completely cold. Note, this is different to other methods of making yoghurt from scratch.* I tend to heat the milk before bed and leave it in the fridge overnight.
- When the milk is completely cold, pour half of it into an Easiyo 1 litre container and add 1/2 cup of milk powder. This is not essential, but makes for a thicker yoghurt. Put the lid on tightly. Shake until mixed, the same way you would using an Easiyo sachet.
- Take about half a cup of the milk and mix it with 2-3 tbsp of yoghurt, until they are well blended. Make sure the yoghurt is not too old, as your starter bacteria may have died. Tip: If you don’t have any yoghurt left, you can use 2-3 tablespoons of any Easiyo packet as your yoghurt starter. I keep a packet in the cupboard for this purpose, and just keep it in a glass jar once it’s open. If you use a flavoured packet you will get a very mild flavour through your yoghurt.
- Add this mix and the rest of the milk to the yoghurt container and shake some more to mix thoroughly.
- Fill the Easiyo with boiling water, up to the top of the red baffle, just as for the usual Easiyo instructions.
- Put the container of milk into the Easiyo and leave for about 10 hours, depending how tangy and how well set you like your yoghurt (the longer you leave it the tangier and better set it gets). Then take it out and put it in the fridge to finish setting, for 6 hours (this will stop the culturing process).
Variation 1: Making yoghurt from scratch using powdered milk
This is basically the same as above, except without steps 1 & 2, and instead of 1/2 cup of milk powder, I use 1&1/3 to 1&1/2 cups of milk powder, 1 litre of cold water from the tap.
This is much quicker and also doesn’t involve me having to buy yet another litre of milk every two days (my family goes through a LOT of milk already!), but I can understand that food purists might prefer to use fresh milk.
Variation 2: Making yoghurt from scratch using UHT milk
In response to questions in the comments, I have now tried making yoghurt using UHT milk, and I have to confess, this is now my favourite option. It is exactly the same as option 1, without the heating and cooling of the milk, and works perfectly.
You can easily keep a litre or two of UHT milk in the cupboard, without having to clutter up your fridge. It’s probably not as economical as using powdered milk, but still far cheaper than buying ready made yoghurt or Easiyo sachets. And you can buy organic UHT milk at Aldi in Australia (usually). I know you can get organic powered milk, but I haven’t sourced any yet.
Flavouring your Yoghurt
There are different ways of flavouring your yoghurt, which can be done either before setting or afterwards, when serving. One common method is to stir in some jam or some fresh fruit when serving. Unfortunately, half of my family won’t eat yoghurt this way, having gotten too use to the store bought extra sweet stuff. So for them, I sweeten before setting. The two preferred flavours I’ve made this way are lemon (which I love) and vanilla.
For either one of these you just added 2 tablespoons of sugar or honey and 1 teaspoon of vanilla or lemon essence. When I make the yoghurt with milk I stir in the sugar or honey when the milk is hot so as to dissolve it effectively. If I’m using water and milk powder I just heat up a couple of table spoons of water and dissolve the sugar in that, before mixing in the milk powder and yoghurt. The essence can be added at the same time.
Experiment with the amount of sweetener you like to use. Two tablespoons is much less sweet than store bought yoghurt usually is, but still sweeter than some people like. Honey gives a quite different flavour compared to sugar. Do not use Xylitol, which seems to inhibit the bacteria from growing. I believe Stevia is the same. You can use them afterwards if you like.
You can also use a few tablespoons of one of the Easiyo sachets as your starter culture, to create a very mild flavour, or more for a stronger, sweeter flavour.
When adding berries or other fruit it is better to add it when serving, as the fruit will just sink to the bottom of the milk before the yoghurt sets (and could curdle your milk, depending on the fruit).
More questions? See my Yogurt FAQ and Troubleshooting page.
*Updated to add: The reason for cooling the milk all the way to cold is to ensure the heat from the boiling water is not enough to kill off the starter culture. However, my mother has reported only cooling to 40°C (which is the usual practice for making yogurt at home) with no issues.
Updated (again) to add: I’ve changed the instructions for making the powdered milk version from one and a quarter, to one and a third or a half cups of milk powder, because – in response to a comment below – I’ve started using more milk powder and found I prefer the consistency. I’ve also changed the instructions from 1-2 tbsp, to 2-3 tbsp of starter, because this seems to give a more consistent result, presumably because of the life cycle of the starter bacteria – if the yoghurt is a bit old, there won’t be as much left. On the other hand, two much culture doesn’t work – there’s too much competition for the “food” (milk sugars), so that it’s all gone before the yoghurt sets. So don’t overdo it.
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