So, Little Boy Green is determined to learn to ride a bicycle. We got him a bicycle a few weeks back, after months of him talking about learning to ride a bicycle with pedals. He wants to learn and is determined to, but - unhelpfully - does not want to be taught, not to ride a bicycle, and not anything else, at least not by his parents. He bats away our protecting arms holding the bicycle up, shouts “not you, me!” at Mrs Green’s gentle coaxing and, falling over in trying to pedal, steer and balance, cries in frustration at the effort and time learning takes. At bedtime, he mutters, half asleep, “I know how to ride a bicycle with pedals”. He doesn’t. But in his heart he already does. So it’s up to us to get him there, without him realising, letting him be and feel in control. Mrs Green is reading a new parenting book, feeling a little at a loss at this new stage when he no longer looks to mummy for support and unwavering devotion. Apparently, she tells me in a gloomy moment, things will get harder still until, one day, they leave home.
Raising children is hard work. So I have decided to try my hand at raising cultures, store bought, but nurtured and cared for by me at home. What is particularly exciting is that all you need to do with these little dudes is to feed them, all it takes is a spoon full of sugar to make the medicine do its work, warm them, give them time to grow (pretty much neglected at this stage) and then - unlike with our human offspring - eat them!
In fact making yogurt at home is so rewarding and satisfying that I am a little ashamed of not having tried it before. Truth be told, I have tried to make yogurt at home on more than one occasion and have failed at every attempt. I once received a very much asked for, “please, please buy me a yoghurt maker” gift, that just did not do the job. I gave up on homemade yogurt very quickly and it is not until very recently that I have given it another try. This newfound aspiration for homemade yoghurt arose mainly from the feeling of guilty embarrassment looking at the quantity of empty store bought yogurt pots that, although now recyclable in our borough, still produce a lot of waste (think of the energy it takes to make them and how much it then takes to convert them). The brands that we usually buy are also either really expensive or contain ingredients that leave us feeling uneasy about offering them to Little Boy Green.
The “homemade” insistence was made so easy by the ‘Yogurt’ function on our newly purchased and much loved, Instant Pot. I have resisted sharing the results until I could come up with a "recipe" that most folk could use with an appliance that is very accessible: the oven.
Not much more is required. The only forward planning is sourcing some vegan yogurt culture, we have only been able to find it online and sent from the USA, the brand we used is Bella + Bella Non Dairy Yogurt Starter. It comes in sachets that are conveniently portioned for this recipe. They are not expensive, around a pound a pop. You will need a carton (1 litre) of the most basic soya milk you can find, nothing added, ingredients should only contain soya beans and water, and it should be UHT (long life). Otherwise a tablespoon of any sugar (to feed the culture), a large bowl for mixing and some glass storage jars should do the trick.
Why UHT soya milk? So that you do not have to go through the whole, heat it up, cool it down, wash the pot process... (the germs are dead)
I haven’t ventured into flavouring our yogurts, but we have used the Raw Chia Jam recipe to feel as if we can compete with our industrial heroes. Other than store bought soya and almond milk (a total failure) we have not experimented with many milks, though I imagine coconut milk would work.
- 1 litre soya milk
- 1 sachet yogurt probiotics
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Preheat oven (empty other than one rack) to 110c/230f
- Mix the ingredients gently in a blender or in a bowl with a whisk
- Pour the “milk” into individual glass jars (with lids, but do not cover/close till later)
- Once oven has reached 110c, turn off and place jars inside
- Close the door and do not open for 16 hours
- Seal jars and place in fridge and eat within a week.