How to Make Your Own Natural Yogurt (Yoghurt)

Limousin is famous for beef cattle, but there is also a lot of dairy farming in this area.
Limousin is famous for beef cattle, but there is also a lot of dairy farming in this area. | Source

The no-fuss way to make yoghurt

I learned how to make yoghurt the 'no fuss' way while I was staying with my husband's family in Turkey. His mother made a large pan of natural yoghurt effortlessly and without any special pots, machines or equipment at all, so this is a huge money-saver all round!

I like to make my own homemade yoghurt to serve at breakfast with crunchy cereals and muesli, with curry, mixed with honey as a sweet sauce or just by itself in a bowl. This would normally be a very short article as it is so very easy to do, so I shall give you a little flavour of our life in Limousin as well as a step-by-step guide to making your own yoghurt.

One of our new-born kids. The goats have to give birth before they produce milk.
One of our new-born kids. The goats have to give birth before they produce milk. | Source

What is yoghurt?

Yoghurt is a product produced by bacterial fermentation of milk and cultures of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus bacteria are normally used. This thickens the milk and gives it a special taste; indeed the word Yogurt itself is derived from the Turkish word yoğurt and is related to the word yoğun meaning "dense" or "thick"

Active yoghurt is good for your health

You need only look at the many television adverts promoting active yoghurt as a means to improving the health of your digestive system to realise that the health-giving properties of live yoghurt is VERY big business.

It is generally acknowledged that live yoghurt can protect from diarrhoeal diseases and aid the immune system. Many studies show positive effects of live yoghurt on immune responses and it has also been suggested that live yoghurts can suppress the growth of the bacterium H. Pylori, and so have a role to play in the management of conditions such as peptic ulcer and possibly gastric cancer.1

Different strains of bacteria, however, may have different health benefits, so there is much to learn about yoghurt and health. I like to think that this delicious product is good for my bones (a source of calcium) and probably good for a few other things!

Interestingly though, when I first tried to make yoghurt in France, I chose a well-known brand name and it barely worked at all. I put this down to a low count of active bacteria, so I would be very dubious about choosing some of the best know brand names if I was hoping to improve my health. Changing tack, I bought my next pot of live youghurt from a local dairy farm, Ferme de Jabernac at Lésignac Durand, and this time fared much better, and produced a lovely, fairly firm and creamy yogurt with a nice, mild taste. Remember that you should try several yogurts as they are made with different cultures until you find one that suits you.

A (very) short history of yoghurt

Cultured milk products have been made as food for at least 4,500 years. The earliest yoghurts were probably spontaneously fermented by wild bacteria Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus.

Pliny the Elder wrote that barbarian tribes knew how to thicken the milk into a substance with an agreeable acidity and the use of yoghurt by nomadic medieval Turks is recorded in the books in the 11th century.

There is a story that Francis the 1st of France had diarrhea which was cured by Suleiman the Magnificent of Turkey by sending a doctor who gave him yoghurt.

Until the 1900s, yoghurt was a staple food of people in the Russian Empire, Asia, Eastern and Central Europe and India.

It was Isaac Carasso who industrialized the production of yoghurt. In 1919, Carasso, started a small yoghurt business in Barcelona and named the business Danone, meaning ‘little Daniel’, after his son. The brand later expanded to the United States under an Americanised version of the name: Dannon, however the first yoghurt to be made in the US was made in the Colombo and Sons Creamery in Andover, Massachusetts in 1929.

Yoghurt with added fruit jam was patented in 1933 by the Radlická Mlékárna dairy in Prague and it was introduced to the United States in 1947, by Dannon.2

Ferme de Jabernac. Farm-fresh milk, yoghurt and cheeses! (We often offer their produce for dinner and breakfast at Les Trois chenes)
Ferme de Jabernac. Farm-fresh milk, yoghurt and cheeses! (We often offer their produce for dinner and breakfast at Les Trois chenes) | Source

I buy raw milk straight from the producer

A farm from times gone by, but with a nice shop that sells local produce to local people.

This dairy farm sells absolutely fresh, unpasturised milk directly to the public and I buy two or three liters to make the yogurt. This milk must be boiled and then simmered to kill the bacteria in the milk so that you are sure not to cultivate the wrong cultures!


The shop is a step back in time, but with all modern hygene standards.
The shop is a step back in time, but with all modern hygene standards. | Source
I use half a pot with every 1 - 2 litres of milk.
I use half a pot with every 1 - 2 litres of milk. | Source
Boil the milk
Boil the milk | Source

Method

  • Bring the milk to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes, in order to kill the germs. (In these illustrations I used about 1.5 liters of milk and half a 125g pot of plain, live yogurt.
  • Cover and let the milk stand until it reaches blood temperature. Dip your CLEAN little finger in - it should be nice and warm like a bath.
  • For 1 - 2 liters of milk I use half to a whole standard pot of yoghurt.
  • Take some of the warm milk and stir it into the yoghurt so that the yoghurt will be easier to distribute evenly in the milk.
  • Then stir in the yoghurt with a clean spoon (you can put it into boiling water if you like).
  • Cover the pan quickly to avoid bacteria from the air getting in.
  • Wrap up the pan warmly. I use a clean tea towel, then two of my son's winter jackets! The aim is to keep the yoghurt at this temperature for as long as possible.
  • Put in a warm place overnight. I put mine next to the central heating boiler, but if you have an airing cupboard that would be ideal. Do the best you can.
  • Next morning you should have delicious yogurt. There will be a little clear liquid on top which you can drain off if you like.
  • Then Î put the whole pan into the fridge where it will keep for several, if not many days and use as I need it.

Cover with the lid and wrap up warmly. Put in a warm place.
Cover with the lid and wrap up warmly. Put in a warm place. | Source
Next morning perfect yoghurt.
Next morning perfect yoghurt. | Source
Red fruits for yogurt making
Red fruits for yogurt making | Source
Mix fruit and sugar to make your own fruit yogurt
Mix fruit and sugar to make your own fruit yogurt | Source

What could be easier? And to make fruit Yoghurts ...

Simply add fresh fruit or stewed fruit with sugar to taste. I collected raspberries and blackcurrants and just crushed them with a potato masher. I added a little of our home produced honey but sugar would be fine. I finished off the dessert by putting it into a glass and topping with fresh raspberries and blackcurrants and a lemon balm leaf and then dusted it with white sugar. It was gorgeous.

Have you made your own yogurt?

Have you tried to make your own yogurt?

  • Yes, it worked a treat - delicious
  • Yes, but it didn't work. Help!
  • No, not yet
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© 2010 Les Trois Chenes

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Share your homemade yogurt tips and thoughts 10 comments

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 4 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Thank you so much for these kind words. Much appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment.


linda 4 years ago

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Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Hi, ILikeIcecream, many thanks for your question. I'm not really sure how to answer. I just checked a commercial pot of yogurt and it is 125grams or 125ml. The problem is that I'm a 'real person', not a celebrity cook, and the beauty of my methods of cooking is that they really work, you don't needs lots of equipment etc - it is NO FUSS. I've never measured anything - until now. I've filled the pan with water and there must have been about 1.5 litres of milk and for this I'd use half a commercial sized pot of yoghurt. The trouble is, it's difficult to judge the amount of live bacteria in the starter yoghurt. All I can say is try it and see. I failed with well-known commercial brands of yoghurt, but managed with farm made pots. After that the milk must be a nice, blood-warm temperature when you put the starter in, and then you must wrap it up well and keep that temperature nice and warm and constant for several hours, overnight. Good luck!


ILikeIcecream 5 years ago

How much would an average pot of yogurt be ? How many ml ? Cuz i really want to make the perfect pot of homemade yogurt .


Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Summergirl2 Many thanks for the tip. We have lots of real berries in Limousin, blackberries, strawberries, black currants, red currants, raspberries. Would adding these give the same or better flavour? Should they be cooked or raw? I haven't yet tried to do fruit yoghurts. Next step. Any other ideas and techniques very welcome.


Summergirl2 5 years ago

Great recipe, thanks very much! In our family we are huge yogurt eaters. A small tip: To give flavour to plain yogurt, you can add some natural berry powder. We use Finnish berry powders from a Canadian company The Nordic Spirit. There are certainly other similar companies as well. These berry powders are made of wild non-sprayed berries, they have no chemicals or additives, not even sugar. They are extremely nutritious, full of fibre, and low in calories.


Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 6 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Lyndsey, Loren and Lamme, many thanks for your comments. Do follow the advice carefully for good results. A Twitter follower tried wrapping it in a duvet and putting it against a dodgy radiator in a cold room. It didn't work. But it could also have been a poor starter or putting the yogurt into milk that was too hot, or too cool. It is worth getting the knack - Good luck!


Lamme profile image

Lamme 6 years ago

Now I want some yogurt, LOL Excellent hub, looks like a lovely place where you live!


Loren's Gem profile image

Loren's Gem 6 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

Great hub! I enjoyed reading your ways on how to make yo?urt coz here in Turkey, people love to eat yo?urt may it be with a meal, with a dessert, or as a healthy drink - the Ayran! And making our own yo?urt is not uncommon here is as well. Thanks for sharing this hub to everyone! :-)


LyndseyDavis profile image

LyndseyDavis 6 years ago from California, USA

Oh boy, this looks delicious! Thanks for sharing this recipe of how to make my own fresh yogurt easily-- with all your personal anecdotes as well.

I love yogurt.

Lyn

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