I have tried to do regular food posts here since almost the start of this incarnation of the blog, but something always comes up. Initially I posted recipes based on the organic food deliveries we received, then we joined a foraging group, and I started posting about that. We then went to South Africa and all foraging stopped, but when we returned last year, we started foraging for food again.
Then I became ill, and that stopped too. I’d love to start it up again, but I know that I won’t be able to keep up a weekly foraging post, what with a baby coming and all, so I thought I might combine the two – recipes we use as we explore healthier, organic and seasonal food, and those we come up with when we find ourselves able to forage.
One of my big ‘to-dos’, which I’ve been planning for a while now is making our own yoghurt. I know – it’s about as crazy as making your own mayonnaise, right? But the thing is home-made mayo is exceptionally good and ridiculously easy. So, I thought, perhaps yoghurt would be too?
I want to do it for cost, environmental and health reasons: Ameli has a pot of yoghurt every morning. I don’t like buying her the ‘children’s’ versions, because they’re jam packed with sugar. So we buy an organic yoghurt – which, of course, costs more. Each yoghurt comes in a pot, which ends up in landfill (or in our recycling) , but either way it’s not good for the environment. And then there’s all the sugar.
I managed to pick up a yoghurt maker on Freecycle – I can well imagine it’s one of those things people buy with all the best intentions in the world, then never use – and have been having a blast with it. We make a basic, plain yoghurt – and when I say make, I mean, I add the milk and the culture and stir well, and leave it for 10 – 15 hours – before sweetening it with honey and adding any of the following for a gorgeous, tasty, nutrious, healthy breakfast options:
- Nuts and honey
- Raisins and grated apple
- Pureed apple and cinnamon
- 1/2 a pureed banana and 1/2 banana slices
- Pureed berries
- Vanilla pods or essence (buy the proper stuff though, not artificial flavouring)
- Crushed pineapple and coconut
- Chopped and dried mixed fruit
- Sliced or pureed banana
- Chocolate buttons or chips with a squirt of chocolate ice cream sauce or melted chocolate (for a treat)
- Lemon zest (lemon juice might curdle your yoghurt)
- Nuts, raisins, honey and chopped mint
There are a multitude of toppings we’ve not discovered or tried yet, and I’m considering trying yoghurt with different milks too – goat’s perhaps – and seeing where it goes. (We do use whole milk, as children really need healthy fats in their diets and current guidelines say ‘children under two are still growing and shouldn’t have semi-skimmed milk’. Far as I can see, my child over two is still growing too, and as we don’t eat a lot of meat I’m happy for her to still have full cream milk.)
Another bonus of making a batch of plain yoghurt which lasts about a week in the fridge and mixing different toppings into it each day is that we have a huge variety and never get bored of the same flavours over and over again.
I add the fruit each day as fruit added before hand can go mouldy without the sugar to preserve it. If sugar doesn’t bother you, you can also stir in a spoon or two of jam.
Home made yoghurt is also more runny than store-bought, because they add pectin, gelatin or other additives to make it firm. You can add these, but we found that just running it through a cheese-cloth, muslin or paper filter removes enough whey to make it a lovely consistency.
For the record, you don’t have to buy a yoghurt maker, or spend any money on setting up costs. A natural parenting friend, Abbie, wrote this fantastic tutorial on how to make yoghurt in a thermos flask using regular yoghurt as your starting culture.
Do you have a favourite yoghurt topping? What would you add to your bowl tomorrow morning?