If you leave natural yoghurt at room temperature, it won’t go off. It will start to ferment and thicken into a happy colony of yeast and bacteria that can be used to make your own, thereby turning one pot of yoghurt into a self-perpetuating culture.
Buy live yoghurt without any additives or sugar if you want all of its nutritional benefits, including healthy strains of probiotics such as lactobacillus and bifidus, bacteria essential for our digestive system. Ignore the use-by date. Instead, smell or taste it to see if it’s souring and, if it is, don’t throw it away. Bake it into cakes, use as a sour dressing for cooked vegetables, or strain to make labneh, a creamy dip that’s delectable served with olive oil or rolled into balls and coated with spices such as sumac or za’atar.
To make your own yoghurt, bring one pint of unhomogenised whole milk to a boil, leave to cool to 45-50C, then stir in 50ml live yoghurt, pour into a flask and leave overnight to thicken. Eat while it’s fresh, setting aside 50ml to make your next batch.
Strained yoghurt (labneh) balls
Homemade labneh is a creamy and decadent treat that is very simple to make. Take it a step further with these balls rolled in exotic herbs and spices, for a fun starter or party snack. Makes about 15.
500g live yoghurt
Herbs and spices – nigella seeds, za’atar, sumac, rose petals, corn flowers, aleppo pepper, urfa chilli flakes
Olive oil, to store
Put a sieve over a bowl and line it with a cheesecloth or clean tea towel. Season some live yoghurt with a touch of salt, then pour into the sieve. Leave at room temperature overnight, or until the yoghurt has become set and very firm. Drink the whey, which will have separated into the bowl, or use to make my soda bread farls. You can serve the strained yoghurt just as it is, as a creamy dip or roll into balls and store in olive oil for a month or longer. The olive oil can be used for dressings after use. Coat the balls in different herbs and spices to serve.