Yoghurt starts with yoghurt. Just a spoon of it. Then all you need are a couple of pints of milk, a thermos flask and eight hours of no work whatsoever, to get you a whole big lot of it. Thick, tangy, creamy yoghurt. No effort, less plastic and a few quid saved. Here’s our guide to help you.
It might seem counterproductive to buy yoghurt to make yoghurt, but this is only necessary the first time. You can use the remaining yoghurt from your next batch to make the following one, and so on and so on. Most importantly, look for yoghurt that has the words ‘live’ or ‘active cultures’ on the packaging. This refers to the living organisms or ‘good’ bacterias which will convert your milk into yoghurt. One other thing to remember is to make sure it’s plain yoghurt – anything that’s flavoured will taste odd in your homemade batch.
You can use either raw or pasteurised milk, and semi-skimmed or whole milk. Whole milk will give you a thicker, creamier yoghurt.
You’ll need a thermos flask to keep your milk nice and cosy while the bacteria does its job turning it into yoghurt. A wide-mouthed flask is best. If you don’t have a thermos, use a heavy pot with a lid, and keeping it somewhere insulated and warm – an oven set at a very low temperature would work. You’ll also need a pan to heat the milk, a spoon or fork and some jars to store your finished batch.
5 easy steps to homemade yoghurt
Add 2 tablespoons of live yoghurt to a thermos flask.
Heat 2 pints (1.1 litres) of full-fat milk over a medium-low heat until almost bubbling (85ºC), stirring often so it doesn’t catch on the bottom. Leave it to cool so you can stick your finger in it but it’s still pretty hot (46ºC). If you want to get specific with this, use a thermometer.
Pour a good splash of the milk into the thermos and stir well to combine with the yoghurt, then pour in all of the remaining milk, stirring gently.
Put the lid on immediately, then set aside for at least 8 hours. It’s important it is not moved at all during this time, so keep it well out of the way.
And there you have it. Tangy, delicious, creamy yoghurt. Store in jars in the fridge. It’ll keep for as long as the regular store-bought stuff.
Discover how three generations of dairy farming and a fateful Tinder encounter led to Dorset’s award winning small-batch, strained yoghurt – Britain’s answer to the Greek stuff. Alex Rawe, co-founder of The Dorset Dairy Company reveals all.
Co-founders of The Dorset Dairy Company Alex Rawe and her fiancé Dan
What’s the story behind the Dorset Dairy Co?
It all started 60 years ago when Dan’s Grandad moved to Crib House Farm in Stalbridge and started producing milk with just 20 cows. Dan was 18 years old when he became the third generation of the family to work on the farm. Given that we had access to vast amounts of milk, we started looking into ways we could process it. We had a great time experimenting making cheddar, ricotta and kefir on the AGA, but the yoghurt, strained through muslin, was an immediate success. The more we looked into it, the more we realised there was a gap in the market for a healthy artisanal product.
Tell us a little about how you and Dan met.
My grandparents retired in Dorset and I would try to visit them once a month. One fateful Christmas my sister and I thought we’d check out Tinder…Next thing I know, a handsome farmer asks me out for dinner! Nine months later I quit my job and moved down to Dorset. It was quite the lifestyle change but I couldn’t be happier and we’re getting married next year.
Alex and Dan’s Greek-style strained yoghurt in action
What kind of yoghurts do you make?
We make two types of yoghurt, Whole Milk Dorset Strained Yoghurt and Fat Free Dorset Strained Yoghurt. The whole milk yoghurt is smooth and creamy, while the fat free yoghurt has a more tangy flavour. They both make a filling breakfast or snack, not to mention a handy cooking ingredient.
How do you make them?
Dan fills up the milk trolley with fresh morning milk, wheels it across the yard into the yoghurt room and pumps it into a vat. We don’t homogenise our milk or add thickeners, nor do we process the yoghurt to make it smoother – meaning each batch is unique. All we do is pasteurise it and add the live bio cultures required to make yoghurt. We then pour the mixture into cloth bags and hang them up to strain out the water and lactose, the old fashioned way. The result is a luxuriously creamy textured proper Dorset-style yoghurt, which is packed with protein and essential minerals and is also low in sugar.
We are very much an artisan producer: our product doesn’t have a complex food chain as the milk comes straight from the parlour to the yoghurt room, and our straining process isn’t mechanised. We use over 3 litres of milk to make 1 kilo of yoghurt. We’re yet to come across any other company in the UK who makes yoghurt this way.
What’s inspired you recently?
Dan’s reading The 4-Hour Chefby Tim Ferris and he’s constantly quoting from it. Personally, I was very impressed by one of our bulls eating a giant beetroot in one go.
As the temperature drops and the sun retreats, it’s tempting to reach for the foods we know and love to be unashamedly comforting – piles of spaghetti bolognese topped with cheese, dollops of creamy mash potato with bangers, and steaming hot chilli con carne. Whilst these dishes will never fail to please, it can be easy to get stuck in a bit of a red-meat-and-stodge rut.
To equip you ahead of the indulgence of the festive season, here are our fail-safe tips for injecting some healthy, nourishing, feel-good food into your daily diet – by way of simply mind-blowing flavour, tip top textures and deliciously satisfying seasonal fruits and vegetables. Simple.
1. Celebrate the power of peas and pulses
Never underestimate the potent protein-power of these glorious edible legumes. Pulses come in many shapes and sizes (there’s over 1000 types out there) as beans, peas and lentils including: ‘black badger’ carlin beans, fava beans, butter beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas, dark speckled and red split lentils. Low in calories, low in fat, and great source of protein, complex carbohydrates and fibre (which is why they keep you fuller for longer). Simple to prepare, great for any budget and their ability to take on tons of flavour makes them a bit of super food in our book. Throw into soups and stews (check on the packet if they require pre-soaking, trust us, it’s worth it) and make delicious one-pot dahls, squash-based curries, and one heck of an incredible meat-free chilli.
2. Shake your carbs up by going for grains
Mix up your usual carb repertoire with interesting grains such as quinoa, multicoloured wild rice and pearl barley. Not only do they bring a whole new variety of flavours to your plate, as each grain comes it’s own unique flavour characteristics – quinoa’s a little nutty (and is super-filling due to it’s high protein content), wild rice is fragrant, and pearl barley, creamy – but they also provide different kinds of vitamins and nutrients between them. Variety is definitely the spice of life when it comes to food, and especially when it comes to eating seasonally.
3. Crunch it up with nuts and seeds
Take your everyday dishes up a notch by sprinkling over toasted nuts and seeds for an instant protein hit and highly sought after crunch that keep things interesting. Lightly toast them in a frying pan on the hob or in a roasting tray in the oven to release more of their distinct flavours. Toasted pumpkins and sunflower seeds make a great topping for soups and stews and toasted, roughly chopped nuts bring texture to blanched greens (helped with a little herby yoghurt dressing, below), simple pasta dishes, roasted roots and to steaming porridge at breakfast time.
4. Yoghurt is your new mayonnaise
There are some things that can never be replaced (mayonnaise and hot chips, we salute you), but there’s no harm in changing things up a little. A dollop of yoghurt here and there in both savoury and sweet dishes is an easy way to add a little extra protein and some cooling contrast too. Try braising greens like kale, purple sprouting broccoli or brussel tops and topping with yoghurt blended with herbs, such as basil or parsley and a clove of black garlic as a dressing – add a sprinkle of toasted seeds or nuts too (naturally). Or top grilled pittas with dollops of minty yoghurt, fried eggs and chilli flakes in a Turkish inspired breakfast. Even add to pasta for a healthier take on a carbonara-style sauce by beating the egg with yoghurt instead of cream and use mushrooms instead of bacon. Boom.
5. Fresh herbs are your kitchen heroes
Fresh herbs are more than just a topping. Get used to using them like the fully-fledged hero ingredients they are and you’ll soon elevate the freshness and flavour factors in your dishes – with little effort and a lot of tasty return. Whip up fresh pestos by pulverising a bunch of any herb with about 50g of nuts, 4 tablespoons of oil, a tablespoon or two of something acidic like lemon juice or white wine vinegar for a sharp edge, and an additional flavour you fancy; try fresh chilli, garlic, hard cheese or anchovies. It’s not all about pine nuts either – try almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or pistachios, and kale works wonders too. Drizzle on salads, spiralised vegetables and even add to mash or yoghurt for a creamy dressing. If you don’t fancy the oil, you can always smother roasted veggies in a quick gremolata – a dry herb mix made with parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Which leads us nicely to…
6. Get zesty, it’ll change your life
Sprinklings of fresh citrus zest atop a dish encapsulates a holy trinity of deliciousness in a finishing touch – they add flavour, colour, and contrast to what sits underneath in one simple swoop. Go to town using a good quality zester that’ll make the job easy, and let your imagination run wild. Grate lime zest over roasted squash, orange zest and a little of its juice over roasted carrots, and any citrus zest (with a little juice in the dressing) over pretty much any salad you want to be proud of.