Home-Made Yogurt

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Preparation info

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

Yogurt can be made from whole-fat milk or skimmed milk, by simply adding a tablespoon or two of already cultured natural yogurt and keeping it at the right temperature for the lactic streptococci and lactobacilli to become active. This must not vary more than a couple of degrees, or the bacteria become petulant and uncooperative.

The foolproof way to make yogurt at home is in a yogurt-maker, which is no more than a low-power heater with a thermostat, which keeps the milk at a constant 38-43°C/100—110°F while the culture thickens and sours the milk as it incubates. The yogurt-maker has a number of screw-topped plastic pots which sit in depressions in the heated base. These are filled with the milk and starter, then usually left overnight or for 12 hours. The night operation is preferable because you are not tempted to peek, a practice that the bacteria object to and that causes them to go on strike.


  • 1 litre/ pt milk (cows’, sheep’s or goats’, full-fat or skimmed)
  • 2 tbsp plain live yogurt (shop-bought or from a previous home-made batch)



Bring the milk almost to boiling point, turn off the heat and cool to 43°C/110°F. Add 1 heaped tablespoon of the live yogurt and whisk it in. Pour into the containers and screw on the lids tightly. Put them into the yogurt-maker and leave undisturbed for 8 hours. The keys to success are using absolutely clean, covered containers and maintaining the temperature without fluctuation.

Yogurt was made long before yogurt-makers came on the scene and if you don’t have one, try putting the mixture in a vacuum flask. Again, do not touch or move it during incubation because it is temperamental stuff and, if you inadvertently jog it, it will separate out of bacterial spite. An airing cupboard is likely to be too hot, but you might try checking the temperature of an oven with only its pilot light lit.

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