Yoghurt is an important food on the Greek table. In Cyprus it is on the table with almost every single meal. Not so in Greece, but it does accompany such dishes as vegetarian stuffed vine leaves. In Greece it is also popular served with honey on top or mixed with seasonal fruit, honey and sometimes also nuts.
Have you tried yoghurt mixed with honey and ripe figs? It’s the best breakfast, desert or snack – for rich and for poor.
The ‘yaourtas’ (the yoghurt man) was the man going around the streets selling his yoghurt in the Cyprus of our childhoods. We would rush out with our container and a few coins. He would spoon yoghurt into our containers, take our coins, cover his clay yoghurt pot with a towel and move on to the next customer. This is just one of the intense food memories that have stuck with me throughout my life.
To make your own yoghurt, follow this simple recipe and you won’t go wrong. It’s a recipe and method passed down through the generations, and is how shepherds would make yoghurt years ago after they’d return home with the day’s milk. There are no yoghurt-making gadgets or machines, no thermometers and no fuss. The whole process is simple, easy and homely. You only need good whole milk and some yoghurt.
The process of mixing the warm milk with a bit of leftover yoghurt does its trick and you can have lovely set yoghurt a few hours later.
- 6 cups whole milk
- 3 tablespoons plain live yoghurt
- First prepare a few basics: boil some water as you’ll need this later, get a warm blanket and a clean tea towel, a teapot and whichever jars or containers you want to store your yoghurt in.
- Put the milk in a large pot on the stove and gently heat it until it comes to the boil.
- Let it boil for a couple of minutes, stirring so it doesn’t froth up too much and overflow.
- Take it off the heat and let it cool to the point that your finger can stand its warmth.
- Add a little warm milk to a small bowl containing your plain live yoghurt. Stir well and slowly add more milk until it’s more or less the same temperature as the rest of your milk.
- With a wooden spoon start stirring the warm milk in the pot, gradually adding the contents of the bowl.
- Once mixed, pour your milk/yoghurt mix into clay pots or jars or simply drinking glasses.
- Fill your teapot with boiling water and place this on a table or kitchen counter with plenty of space around it.
- Arrange your yoghurt containers around the teapot.
- Cover with a clean tea towel.
- Cover the lot with a blanket.
- In a few hours (6-8hrs) your yoghurt will be ready.
- Making yoghurt last thing at night is a good idea as it’ll set overnight, perfect for breakfast!
- If left for too long outside the fridge, the yoghurt will lose its smooth, light flavour and will get more acidic.
- If you like the firmer, strained texture of yoghurt, place your yoghurt in a muslin cloth, tie it closed and either hang it or place it in a colander so any excess liquid can drip away and the yoghurt will become thicker. But keep an eye because if left for too long it will become soft cheese. If you do want soft cheese, you can add whatever flavours you wish to make the cheese more flavoursome. You can also roll the cheese into small balls and place these in a jar of olive oil to preserve them. Use when required or in sandwiches.