I’m quite confident in the kitchen and really happy making lots of things from scratch: pastry, cakes, pies, jams and more. But when Yeo Valley challenged me to make my own yogurt for their blog, I was slightly perturbed – I mean, the masters of organic yogurt production challenging little old me to play them at their own game?
First of all, I felt at a distinct disadvantage – I don’t have the beautiful herds of British Friesians (all Yeo Valley born and bred – they haven’t bought a cow for over 20 years), neither do I have acres of lush organic pasture or the sparkling little stainless steel factory in the Mendips of which Yeo Valley are so rightly proud. Still, they gave me a little pot of their own yogurt to get me going and, being a gung-ho sort of gal, I set to work.
Yogurt making (on a very small scale) is actually quite easy. In the Yeo Valley Cookbook (The Great British Farmhouse Cookbook – out now), Sarah Mayor describes the process step by step. It’s basically heating milk, mixing in bio yogurt and waiting, but everything must be scrupulously clean and you do really need a thermometer to get it right.
And then the fun really begins. We got to choose our flavourings from what we had in the fridge and cupboards: honey and cinnamon, cherry and banana, honey and almond, cherry and almond, and my own creation: cherry and basil yogurt (no, don’t laugh, really, it works).
By this time of course, we were very very full up, but it’s a fab thing to do at home (kids will love it, watching how the milk thickens is like magic) and you can carry on and strain the yogurt more to make it thicker, or add salt, herbs and all sorts of other things to make a lovely soft cream cheese too (more details are in the book). Plus, of course, once you’ve made it, you can repeat the process and make more – meaning that – in principal – you’d never have to buy yogurt again (except, of course, I’m addicted to Yeo Valley’s Lemon Curd yogurt so that would never happen).
Now if only I can sell my cherry and coriander yogurt idea to Yeo Valley…