Yogurt is made of milk, cultures, warmth and time. It takes 8-12 hours for cultures to feed on lactose and transform it into a thick probiotic SuperFood that helps our metabolism.
What commercial yogurts add to their preparations now are thickening agents: gelatine, agar or other plant-sourced gums like locust bean gum (E410). By adding these gelling agents, commercial yogurt makers (and ice-cream makers too) can more than halve the amount of time it takes to make yogurt and they use less culture!!! That way, they can make several more batches of ‘yogurt’ in the time it would normally take to make one batch. Their ultimate aim is their bottom line, not your health.
I find this is cheating: the finished product is not longer loaded with probiotics (gelatine has close to no nutritional value). The selling price though received a copious inflation.
That discovery many years ago led me to systematically inspect food labels and ingredient lists and blanket-boycott any product that has fillers (gelatines, thickeners), emulsifiers, and other processed ingredients.
Simple living equates simple ingredients…
I also started making my own yogurt.
For some strange reasons, it always works better (read, the yogurt is thicker) with UHT milk, and even thicker with A2 milk. Don’t ask me why… I haven’t pushed the research any further. I have two methods.
1. The yogurt Maker
This rather inexpensive little machine runs on 15W and incubates nine pots of yogurt (one liter of milk). Each time, it costs two cents to run the machine for 12 hours at Off Peak charge of $0.099/kWh. (Sigh! we’re not yet on solar power… If I have to make yogurt during the day, then I opt for the other method… or I accept it will cost more to run during Peak hours.)
The milk costs $2.55/l. Add the cost of running the machine and one batch of yogurt costs $2.57/l. Or $0.257/100G. As means of comparison, plain Greek-style yogurt in shops usually sell at $0.55/100g.
The downside of doing yogurt this way is that it isn’t that convenient to find space in the fridge for these nine little pots of yogurt that won’t stack well. Plus, they each require thorough cleaning (some have grooves) and they take a lot of space in the dishwasher, or use more time if hand-washing. BUT, they’re great in lunch-boxes!
2. The Esky
I use this method when I need a large batch of yogurt or when the atmospheric temperature is above 28°C.
I prepare the yogurt mixture as per recipe and pour it into 500ml (or more) jars. I cover jars with a lid then place them inside the Esky (which I leave open to capture the heat), in full sun, for six to eight hours. I usually bring the esky back inside when the sun’s gone and close the esky lid for more incubation. The jars stay inside for another few hours. Once incubated, they go in the fridge.
Should the outside temperature not be warm enough, I place them on a sunny windowsill. Or I boil a kettle full of water and pour it inside the esky, then close the lid. That method costs six cents to run the kettle for 4 minutes at Peak charge of $0.4194/kWh. The milk cost me $2.55/l. So one large batch done in the esky either costs me $2.55/l (incubation in the sun) or $2.61/l (incubation in the sun).
- 1 litre of milk
- 6 tablespoons of yogurt (I buy Jalna full cream)
- Method: mix ingredients well and pour into jars. Incubate. Refrigerate. Enjoy! (Save one small pot -or 6 tablespoons of yogurt- to incubate the next batch)
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