February 26, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Making time

By |2018-03-21T18:57:43+01:00October 28th, 2013|"In Provincia"|
Making your own yogurt is far less daunting than it might seem. Photos by Letizia Mattiacci.

any of our B&B guests marvel at our simple breakfast: homemade bread (still oven warm), jams made from the wild fruits that grow in our fields, elderflower jelly, creamy thick yogurt, which I make myself with my marvelous yogurt maker.

Some ask me for specific recipes, but just as many just sigh. They tell me love the food but just don’t have time to cook or make preserves. This usually comes with a story about how busy they are and their job.

Well, I also have a busy job.

I work seven months a year without weekend breaks. I have a one-week vacation in the middle of it all. I admittedly live in a place where work doesn’t mean traffic jams, and that’s a joy. But no traffic also means I’m at my job immediately. I don’t even have the time to be distracted.

Still, it’s a mystery to me how many people are convinced — or have convinced themselves — that they don’t have the time necessary to dedicate to their own nourishment. These, mind you, are often the same people who do seem to have enough time to drive to a local shopping center and buy inordinate amounts of plastics (in clothes, electronics, and food containers) as well as huge amounts of sugars, fats, preservatives and salt (most of them in prepackaged food). Or to take time out to browse and shop for hours online, something that always seems to take a “minute” but often has a way of lasting a lot longer.

Don’t get me wrong. My own Green tendencies are modest at best. I don’t make hand-knitted woolen socks. I like consumer goods. I have a smartphone, several computers, and enough kitchen gadgets to fill a small city apartment floor to ceiling.

And I use them to make real food. I find the time for it. I make the time for it. I embed the process into the fabric of my daily life. Which is something that seems to make everyone around me happy, a result you can’t purchase at a shopping center or online.

Now then, if you’re the kind of person who rushes off to the store to pick and choose from dozens of different yogurt brands, here’s a challenge. Make your own.

Is this difficult and time-consuming? You be the judge.

¶ Buy a yogurt maker (see photo). It’s an inexpensive plug-in, a kind of wide-mouthed thermos that’s widely available online.

¶ Add two tablespoon of plain, unflavored yogurt with live cultures into the main container.

¶ Top this off with 1 liter of UHT milk (in the U.S., most all milk, including organic brands, are UHT pasteurized). Stir well to distribute the yogurt starter.

If you prefer to use fresh milk, you need to bring it to a near boiling point to kill off the microorganisms that might compete with the starter. Afterward, let it cool to room temperature before using it.

¶ Plug in the thermos and go about your life for 6-to-8 hours. The length of time depends on your preference for thickness. Longer means thicker.

¶ After several hours, the creamy mixture will warm up considerably. In my experience, yogurt has better structure if it’s allowed to cool off in the container in which it’s been made.

Remove the container from the thermos and let it reach room temperature. When it does, transfer it to the refrigerator. Pour into a jar only when the yogurt is fridge cold.

Though yogurt keeps well for about a week, you’ll need to finish it up beforehand. It is naturally delicate and delicious and doesn’t require additional sugar. Don’t forget to keep the last two tablespoons to start the next yogurt.

If you don’t count the time it takes to order and receive the yogurt maker, the whole process takes:

— 2 minutes, for each time you fill up the thermos;

— 5 minutes, the total for the cooling procedure.

That’s faster than taking a picture and posting it on Facebook.

About the Author:

Letizia Mattiacci wrote the "In Provincia" column from 2011 through 2019.