Sunday, 21 December 2014

No Fail, Deliciously Thick and Creamy Thermomix Yoghurt

Perfect results every single time, with only two ingredients and yoghurt so thick you can stand your biggest, heaviest spoon up in it!

Are you fed up of playing 'yoghurt roulette'?

Disappointed with thin or sloppy home-made yoghurt? Getting grainy results, or finding you end up with more whey than yoghurt? 
Well here's how to get the perfect result every time with only two ingredients - just milk and a yoghurt starter!

Having a few yoghurt fails myself when I first started making my own in the Thermomix was what prompted me to do a bit of research on why, and then perfect my method in order to get the same result every time.

Served with fresh raspberries, a drizzle of honey and toasted almonds

This is my second post on making yoghurt, as the first one was quite long because it included reasons why your yoghurt could go wrong, and how to make it using various methods. So after being asked to provide some recipes to an e-magazine, I decided to blog a straightforward and short set of instructions (well, short for me!) of how to make it in the Thermomix - if you want to see the longer version, which includes how not to make it, straining it to make Greek style yoghurt (although the yoghurt you will get using this recipe is so thick, that step is unnecessary), and making it into 'yoghurt cheese' and some of the science-y stuff, have a look here.

The other equipment I recommend using for perfect, no-fail yoghurt every time, is an Easiyo to incubate it in, and some kind of thermometer or temperature probe to check when your milk has cooled down to the right temperature before adding your yoghurt starter. Both these things are pretty inexpensive, yet essential, and you will have saved the cost of them in making your own yoghurt after just a handful of batches, and continue to save - I save 80% on what I would pay for two 500g pots of my favourite brand of Greek yoghurt every time I make a litre, which is a lot! The bacteria are also incredibly good for your gut health, so it's well worth having a go on both counts. If you're counting calories, it will be pretty much the same as the calorie count per 100ml/g as the milk you use, give or take a calorie or two.

So, in brief, the three things which are essential for you achieving perfectly thick and creamy non-grainy yoghurt are temperature (a few degrees too high or low and you will get runny yoghurt which hasn't set, or yoghurt which leaks loads of whey, the watery stuff, as the protein strands are too thick and readily leak*, hence the need for a thermometer), very fresh milk (if it's at the end of its date, you're likely to get grainy, gritty yoghurt, so use it for something else, it's not worth it. If you use homogenised milk, you will get a smooth and uniform result. If you use non-homogenised, you will get the creamy part at the top of the yoghurt, a bit like you get the fat on top of clotted cream, but not so seperate. It's up to you which you prefer.) and a decent starter. My preference is for plain organic yoghurt to start off the first batch, and then I'll use my own home-yoghurt as a starter for maybe the next six batches, and then start off again with a bought yoghurt to try and keep the 'right' bacteria in the mix. You can keep going with your own once you've started, if you're happy with it, and just start again if things stop working properly. If you're in the UK, I recommend Yeo Valley (you can buy it in little 150g pots for a few pennies), and if you're in Australia, Jalna yoghurt comes well-recommended. Both are available organically produced.

OK, that pretty much covers everything you need, so here's how to make it!


1 litre full cream / whole milk*

50g plain organic yoghurt (or use 50g yoghurt from your previous batch - if buying yoghurt, make sure it is live or your yoghurt won't set. I use Yeo Valley Organic in the UK, if in Australia, Jalna is a good brand to use)

*This recipe works with semi-skimmed milk too, but the texture of the yoghurt is set but not as creamy, and more like a just set 'French-set' style yoghurt. If you're in the UK, go for Gold Top milk from Jersey and / or Guernsey cows, because it's richer, creamier and higher in protein than normal milk (it's around 5% fat, usually). Make sure your milk is not near the end of the use-by date.


My preference is to start this early evening, as you need about half an hour to cook the milk, plus potentially up to 2 and a half hours for it to cool if it's in a warm room on a hot summer's day, before you can add the starter and then leave it to set overnight. Alternatively you could start it first thing in the morning, to be chilled in the evening when it's ready.

  • Pour 1 litre / weigh 1,000g milk into the bowl.
  • Cook 10 minutes / 80C / Speed 2 / MC on. 
  • As soon as this has finished, cook again 15 minutes / 90C / Speed 2 / MC on.

When finished, remove the bowl from the base, and put into a cool place, replacing the MC (measuring cup) with an upside down sieve or internal steaming basket to allow the heat out, but prevent anything getting in, e.g. flying insects! (Yes, a moth got into mine once... tasty!). 

  • It now needs to cool down to 34-36C for perfect results, which will generally take a couple of hours in a cool room. While cooling, I recommend making sure your Easiyo pot is scrupulously clean. Being fresh from a hot dishwasher cycle should mean it's pretty sterile, providing there's no food debris left on it! If you're going to rinse it with boiling / very hot water, whatever you do, don't fill it up and turn it upside down, as you will most likely find that because it's plastic, the heat/pressure causes the boiling water to spray out from between the lid and container, even when screwed tight, and you risk burning yourself. (A word from the enlightened!).

You can either check the temperature of the milk occasionally with a very clean thermometer, or if you have a food temperature probe, put this in through the hole in the lid, leave it there covered by the sieve, and check the reading every now and then. I pour boiling water over my clean probe before adding to the bowl. (If it gets too cold by accident, just remove the milk skin, then warm up in the Thermomix at 37C / Speed 2 until it comes back up to 34-36C and continue as below).

  • Once cool enough, shake off any condensation gathered on the underneath of the lid into the sink, if necessary, and set the lid aside in a clean place for a minute. 
  • Remove and discard the skin formed on the surface of the milk (e.g. using a clean slotted spoon to scoop it out). 
  • Add the 50g of yoghurt to the bowl and mix in for 1 minute / Speed 2.5. Meanwhile boil at least 600ml water, which you will need to add to the Easiyo thermos container shortly.
  • Pour the milk into the Easiyo pot, and carefully screw on the lid.
  • In a large jug, add 600ml cold water, and 600ml just-boiled water. Pour into the Easiyo thermos up to the very top of the red part in the middle (you'll have a little water left), and place the pot inside it. Screw the lid on, and place somewhere that it will not be disturbed or moved (very important for it to set!) 
  • Leave for 8 to 15 hours, depending on how mild or tangy you like your yoghurt. My preference is for 11+ hours. 15 hours will give you a really rich, thick, set yoghurt like Greek yoghurt.
  • Have a peek, and you should find a nice, set, firm and smooth yoghurt! If you don't mind lukewarm yoghurt, try a little spoonful, then do a happy dance because it's the best yoghurt you've ever made! Then put it into the fridge to chill and store. It should keep for a good week or more, providing you use a clean spoon each time you serve some.

Enjoy with pretty much everything sweet and savoury, and even just on it's own! I love it as a topping for fresh fruit, such as strawberries and raspberries, or chopped nectarines or mangoes drizzled with a teaspoon of raw honey, and scattered with some flaked almonds for a crunch, or used in place of sour cream, with a dollop on the side of desserts, or with spicy dishes like chilli con carne, curry or fajitas.

Serving suggestion - for a healthy dessert or snack, why not have a chopped nectarine (90g), 100g strawberries or 125g raspberries with 100g home made yoghurt, a teaspoon of honey and a sprinkle of slivered almonds for 136-156 calories, depending on which milk you've used.


You will notice that there is a very small separation of whey, once you have started to dig into the yoghurt (maybe a tsp to a tbsp each time you've had a serving and left it overnight). This is natural and you can just pour it off, and reserve for other uses, such as baking, or adding to soups or smoothies etc. or discard it if you don't want it. Your yoghurt should be set firm enough to just tip it out without losing any yoghurt!
Easiyo manual yoghurt maker**
(Click on picture for more details)
If you would like to get yourself an Easiyo, they're generally just over £10 including postage (although sometimes you can find them in Lakeland shops half price, so keep an eye out!), and you can find them on Amazon here**. I was very happy investing in one, as after 3 batches of home made yoghurt instead of buying expensive Greek yoghurt, I'd made my money back, plus a little bit more! 

If you want to go one stage further, you can now strain your yoghurt, to achieve an even thicker and creamier Greek-style yoghurt, or a spreadable soft cheese. This is also a brilliant rescue if you ever have yoghurt which turns out grainy or lumpy (which of course you won't, if you follow this method to the letter!).

Cuisipro® Soft Yoghurt Cheese Maker
For Greek-style yoghurt, all you need is a clean muslin cloth, cheese-cloth, a nut bag, or extremely fine mesh sieve. I will confess now, that I'm not a fan of using material for this kind of thing, or having them hanging around until the next wash once I've used them - plus I like to keep my yoghurt in the fridge in the minimal amount of space, while I strain it, so I have a little strainer (the same as this one) which fits above a box to catch the whey, with a lid on it, all in a compact cube which fits nicely in the fridge, and goes happily through the dishwasher too! You can also get larger models.

You can strain it for just an hour or two, to thicken up your yoghurt, or from two to eight hours to give a soft spreadable yoghurt smooth 'cheese', and add salt to taste, and optional fresh chopped herbs (e.g. chives), or garlic and parsley, black pepper, a little smoosh of sweet chilli sauce, anything you fancy really!

Make some blinis, and have it on top with smoked salmon, and a little sprinkle of fresh chopped chives or dill, if you're feeling indulgent! If you've strained it, due to a grainy cheese fail, just give it a bit of a vigorous stir with a fork, and you should find that it whips up into a nice smooth cheese (or thick Greek-style yoghurt), and you'd never know!

*McGee on Food and Cooking; McGee, H., 2004, Hodder and Stoughton, London.

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links for the Easiyo yoghurt maker and Cuisipro yoghurt cheese maker. Clicking on the links will simply take you to view the product on Amazon, and not cost you anything whatsoever. Should you decide to purchase the product from the link above, you will not pay a penny extra, but I may get a minute percentage of the proceeds from Amazon. Essentially, it makes no difference to you at all, but go Google them too if you're interested in buying them, to see what the best deal is for you! I only include the links, as I'd be giving you a link to Amazon anyway, as it's the easiest place to find things :)

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