Thursday, 12 February 2015

Lactose Free Thick and Creamy Yoghurt - with Thermomix and Easiyo method

Delicious lactose free yoghurt without the hefty price tag and with only two ingredients!

If you'd like to make your own lactose free yoghurt (if you're catering for lactose intolerance - this is not the same as dairy free though), it's no more difficult that making normal dairy yoghurt - you just need to get hold of a lactose (or dairy) free yoghurt with live bacteria in it, to start it off.

Having a few dairy 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. Then I met someone who used lactose free products to cater for one of their children and was interested in making their own lactose free yoghurt, so decided to give that a go, after a little reading as to whether lactose free milk was viable to make yoghurt with (it is!).

This is my third 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 if you don't have a Thermomix or an Easiyo, have a look here for other ways to make it - the methods are the same, it's just the ingredients which are different (see below), although without the temperature controls you have with the Thermomix, and by using an Easiyo as per my method, you're not necessarily guaranteed success every time, as this method has proved to be foolproof (although if you have a yoghurt-making machine I'm sure that will do the job!). For regular, no-fail thick and creamy dairy yoghurt in the Thermomix, see here.

The equipment I prefer using for perfect, no-fail yoghurt every time, is an Easiyo to incubate it in, and a thermometer or temperature probe to check when your milk has cooled down to the right temperature before adding your yoghurt starter (plus if you want to heat your milk on the hob first, you'll need it to monitor the temperature). Both these things are pretty inexpensive, yet essential for me (see tips below), 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 - and that's not even lacto-free! The bacteria are also said to be incredibly good for your gut health, so it's well worth having a go on both counts.

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 - it HAS to have live bacteria in it, or it won't work. I used plain 'CoYo' (dairy free yoghurt made from coconut milk - reasonably readily available in the UK from some supermarkets and Australia) to start off the first batch, and then after this you can use your own home-yoghurt as a starter for as long you're happy with it, and just start again if things stop working properly.

Using coconut yoghurt does mean that your first batch will have a nice hint of coconut about it, although I found that the resulting home-made yoghurt from it had a milder flavour than the 'tang' of the CoYo, which I much prefered.

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


  • 1 litre lactose free whole milk*

  • 70g plain lactose free yoghurt with live bacteria in it (or use 50g yoghurt from your previous batch - if buying yoghurt, make sure it is live or your yoghurt won't set. I use CoYo plain dairy free yoghurt, and will update with other yoghurts I find which work well - I have soy yoghurt waiting to be used next - Update: Provamel plain soy yoghurt does NOT work as a starter.)

*I used 'Arla' brand lactofree milk, which is widely available. I don't recommend using semi-skimmed or less, as with lactose free milk I got a less thick set using whole milk than with ordinary whole milk, and I find semi-skimmed ordinary milk makes a much less firm set. 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 (unless you have room in your fridge, for quicker cooling!), 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 after it's set.

  • 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 70g of yoghurt to the bowl and mix in for 30 seconds / 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 10 to 15 hours, depending on how mild or tangy you like your yoghurt. My preference is for 11+ hours. Lactose free yoghurt seems to come out more mildly flavoured than dairy yoghurt.
  • Have a peek, and you should find a nice, lightly set, thick and creamy 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 around 156 calories.


If you have a small separation of whey, once you have started to dig into the yoghurt 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!

For a decent digital food thermometer / probe which I find invaluable in the kitchen, that costs very little (around the same as an Easiyo!), I recommend the Polder probes - I've had mine for a while, and always use it to check my milk temperatures for yoghurt, to check roast (or Varoma!) chicken is cooked through, and for all large joints of meat or fish to tell me when they're perfectly cooked - it even has an alarm to beep to tell you when to take things out of the oven when they reach the perfect temperature so no more dried out dinners or undercooked disasters. You can find the one I use here on Amazon.

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 will get a minute percentage of the proceeds from Amazon, which helps fund developping recipes for my blog. 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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