But thinking of what I was going to write today got me all excited again, giving me a reason to cook or make something really nice that I could talk to you about. That's always the hardest decision really, as there are so many things I love to cook.
But today was my first practice at making homemade yoghurt in the way I was recently taught at The School of Artisan Food, where nothing is cheated! I spent a glorious full day there, on a cheese-making course, part of which was to show us how to make butter and yoghurt too.
Now as a nutritionist I would not normally recommend an abundance of dairy in a diet - there is the suggestion that as humans we were never supposed to consume dairy products once we were taken off our mother’s milk. Lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, which is the the sugar in milk, may not be present in enough numbers to be able to break down the lactose as we get older (past 2 years old to be more precise). There are also studies that show a racial difference in the incidence of lactase deficiency, with a recent study showing that lactase deficiency is a common genetic trait in the American Indian that becomes manifest in early childhood.
So are you dairy intolerant? How do you know? If you are suffering with bloating, diarrhoea, flatulence or stomach cramps after consuming food or drink that contains lactose, such as dairy products, then this may apply to you.The best way of testing whether it is dairy products that are causing your symptoms (as there are other things that may be the cause) is to avoid all dairy for at least two weeks and see if the symptoms improve.
The use of fermented dairy foods is common in areas of the world where lactase deficiency is prevalent. Yoghurt appears to be well tolerated by lactase-deficient people, resulting in little or no gastrointestinal distress, which is apparently due to an enzyme in the yoghurt that causes ‘lactase activity’ in the gastrointestinal tract. And that is my scientific reason for making this thick, creamy, puddinging yoghurt!
I have to admit to not really sticking to a recipe as I wanted to see how easy it is to make without having to think about it too much (my favourite way of cooking!). So treat this purely as a guideline then experiment yourself and just see what happens!
- Place 2 litres of milk in a stainless steel saucepan (I used creamy Gold Top milk, but on the course we were also told you could use raw if you live near a farmer that would sell it to you!). Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until it has reduced by about a third - just tell by eye.
- Pour the milk into a bowl and stir in 300ml single or double cream (depending on how thick and creamy you really want it to be - I found double cream to be just a little too much). Leave it to cool until it is around 40-42°C (if you don't have a thermometer I would say you need to leave it for about 15-20 minutes).
- Stir in 250g fresh, natural yoghurt and mix well. Pour into a container and place in a warm place - I no longer have an airing cupboard (does anybody?!), so I put my oven on as low as it would go (the thermometer was below 50°C) and left the door slightly ajar. I didn't cover the yoghurt as I wanted to see if I could get a lovely skin on top. (If you have a constantly warm Aga you have absolutely no excuse for not making yoghurt and bread every week!)
- It takes anything between 5-8 hours - the slower and longer the better apparently. And it is so worth the wait!