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the plastic wars: part 2 (and a recipe for yogurt)

January 16, 2011

Once we had got rid of the evil plastic milk bottles, I started to notice the yogurt pots. Piles and piles of them. With two teenagers eating at least one yogurt a day, that’s 14 per week, perhaps over 50 in a month. I didn’t want to stop buying the stuff but felt sure there was a way to consume it that used less plastic.

I started to investigate glass jars and found an excellent online store. In fact, five minutes on the site had me longing for the time to make oceans of marmalade, jam and pickles and then arrange the neatly labelled jars on wooden shelves in the cellar. Funny how attractive fantasy housekeeping can be.

Back in the real world, I ordered a pack of 120ml jars and then wondered how to fill them. The teenagers in question are particularly fond of those rather expensive, vanilla-flavoured yogurts that come in square pots with a large triangle of yogurt and a smaller one of fruit puree.

So for my first effort, I defrosted and pureed half a bag of frozen mixed fruits from the supermarket, carefully put a layer in the bottom of the jars and then topped up with shop-bought plain yogurt to which I had added a few drops of pure vanilla extract.

Of course the plain yogurt comes in plastic pots too, so I have now progressed to making my own. This basic method comes from my tattered and bespattered copy of the Cranks Recipe Book and involves no pesky thermometers or heated airing cupboards.

Joanna’s favourite yogurt recipe

1 pint milk (I usually use skimmed, but it works with any kind)

I tablespoon natural yogurt

You also need a thermos flask with a wide neck.

  • Heat the milk in a saucepan until it is just beginning to boil. Remove from the heat.
  • Fill your thermos flask with boiling water. Put the tablespoon of yogurt in a bowl.
  • Allow the milk to cool until it is just above blood heat. I dip my (clean) finger in: it should feel just warm.
  • Add a little of the warm milk to the yogurt in the bowl and stir very well.
  • Whisk this yogurt mixture into the milk in the pan.
  • Empty the hot water out of the thermos and replace with the contents of the pan.
  • Screw the lid on your thermos, leave overnight and in the morning you will have a pint of yogurt!


The teenagers love the mixed fruit puree, but stewed apple works well as a base layer, too.




2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2011 3:27 am

    Fantastic! I loved reading your alternative method to yogurt-making! I have an actual yogurt maker, which probably does essentially the same thing as what you’ve described here. I received it as a Christmas gift years ago, and it’s really just a convenience thing: it comes with seven small screw-top jars, and a base that keeps the milk/yogurt at a constant temp. I love making homemade yogurt, too! It’s so much more economical! Mostly, we sweeten with honey, but my kids, too, love vanilla flavored yogurt. So, I ended up buying a vanilla bean, cutting it into small pieces, and putting it in a container with some granulated sugar. Occasionally we now sweeten our plain yogurt with vanilla sugar. Once you’ve made homemade, it seems crazy to buy store-bought, no? Not only for the expense, but like you said, for environmental reasons as well. (My jars are glass, and therefore reusable!)
    Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    • Joanna permalink*
      January 19, 2011 7:38 am

      Honey sounds lovely – I’ll try it on the teenagers!

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