Yoghurt piracy

You will need a wide-mouthed insulated flask (actually, a normal one will do, but you might have trouble getting the yoghurt out afterwards), a saucepan, some milk, and a small sample of the yoghurt you wish to pirate.

Warm the flask by filling it with freshly-boiled water.

Heat milk to just below boiling, then allow it to cool to about 40C. If you don’t have a thermometer, just let it cool to the point at which you can comfortably hold a (clean!) finger in the milk.

Mix in a spoonful of the source yoghurt—a whisk works well.

Empty the flask of boiling water, fill it with the milk and yoghurt mixture, and screw on the cap.

Leave the flask for six to eight hours; I prepare it before bed and it’s done by breakfast time.

Although this is an analogue process, there’s very little generational loss: you can use the second-generation yoghurt to inoculate the third, and so on yea unto the N+1th generation.

Incidentally, if you think describing this as ‘piracy’ is ridiculous (and it is), you should read about seed piracy.


  1. Lee

    Wrote at 2014-04-16 21:50 UTC using Chrome 33.0.1750.152 on Mac OS X:

    Does the milk need to have a particular fat percentage?
    We normally buy 1% fat milk but I’d like to pirate some full fat Greek style yoghurt.
    If I have to buy a full fat pint for 89p just to make yoghurt then I’m only saving 11p on the price of just buying the yoghurt.
    If, however there was a way of finishing off a 4pt 1%er with a dash of Elmlea that was going to go off anyway that might be a goer.
  2. Paul Battley

    Wrote at 2014-04-17 17:53 UTC using Firefox 28.0 on Linux:

    Lee, I don’t think it matters, but I use full-fat milk. I’m sure you could add cream back into low-fat milk.

    Are you sure you have the right price for milk, though? 89p is the cost for a 2 pint jug, making 500g of yoghurt cost about 39p. You can get low-fat value yoghurt for not much more, but round here full-fat yoghurt is nearer £1 (and quite scarce), which makes it much more compelling to make at home.

    To make Greek yoghurt, you just need to strain regular yoghurt: put a sheet of kitchen roll or muslin in a colander, pour the yoghurt on top, and leave it in the fridge for a few hours while the whey drains out. In fact, I’m already using a culture from Fage.
  3. Lee

    Wrote at 2014-04-19 12:04 UTC using Chrome 33.0.1750.152 on Mac OS X:

    It’s possible I read the wrong price label for the single pints as I normally only buy the biggest I can and was just scanning the shelves in case I needed to get full fat.
    I hate the fact that 99% of yoghurt is “low fat” (read high sugar). That and the fact you can’t buy buckets of yoghurt in this country as easily as you can overseas. What’s with all the tiny pots?
    Thanks for the tips on making Greek Yoghurt. We’re coming near the end of a 4pt of milk and have some dregs of cream left so I should be in a position to give this a go by tomorrow.
  4. Lee

    Wrote at 2014-04-20 10:37 UTC using Chrome 33.0.1750.152 on Mac OS X:

    It worked! Not that I had any reason to doubt that it would. It needs to chill though, there’s something a little unpalatable about warm bacteria.