OK, OK, I know, this just helps complete the cliché – beard (tick) sandals (tick) real ale (tick) bakes bread (tick) – but now I’ve gone and bought a yoghurt making kit from the wretched cash-drain that is Lakeland in Nottingham.
It’s partly the Food Programme’s fault – one weekend driving back from one of my increasingly erratic weekends away (have been absent every weekend in September and November, what with one thing or another) they had a programme about yoghurt, and how easy it was to make, with a bowl and a blanket, and then the next time I popped into Lakeland, I saw that the EasiYo kit was just £6! A teeny weeny six pounds! Bargain, I thought, and snapped it straight away.
Of course, it quickly became clear that EasiYo’s business plan is not dissimilar to some of the cheaper inkjet printers. Low startup costs, high maintenance costs. And to keep your yoghurt maker in branded yoghurt sachets is pretty pricey really.
The basic maker is a supersized thermos flask which you fill with boiling water up to its jolly red shelf. Then you open a sachet of powdered New Zealand milk pre-seeded with yoghurt germs, mix fully with a litre or so of tap water in the special jar, plonk it in the boiling water and leave it over night. The boiling water acts as a heat store in place of the blanket, and keeps the caboodle warm for long enough that the yoghurt bacteria mix get to work, and the following morning, the powdered milk mix has set.
Actually, the yoghurt you get out of it is pretty tasty.
But it’s £2 a sachet for yoghurt that is pretty much the same as shop yoghurt for half the price.
As I always do with a new toy, I’ve shopped around a bit for the full range of sachets, and all of the few providers in the UK are much of a muchness for cost. There’s QVC, Lakeland, Bakers and Larners and even Amazon. Oh, and I’ve just found YoghurtDirect too – they don’t pay for google ads and are harder to find.
Each has the same price, but they seem to have subtly different combinations of flavours, fruit squirts and products. Not to mention sneaky post and package surprises at checkout. Bakers and Larner seem to be the place to go to if you want to try the EasiYo frozen yoghurt ice-cream range, and QVC have good mixed multipacks (but bad delivery charges).
Anyway, presently, we’re working our way through a wide variety of different flavours of yoghurt. We’ve even had a go at the mousse sachets, which are surprisingly similar to sugar-free jelly sachets that you just whisk into yoghurt. Serves 6, it says. 2 more like. We’ve yet to try many of the flavours, or the drinking yoghurts, or the icecream ones.
We have already discovered you can eke out the value of the sachets. Making your own yoghurt is a bit like trying to keep sourdough alive or a ginger beer plant (neither of which I’ve ever done successfully…) – you can make a new pot of yoghurt with plain milk and a couple of large spoons of the previous yoghurt. You should sterilise the milk to kill off bad bacteria before adding good yoghurt bacteria, or you could just buy UHT milk which is already sterile. “Whitefiver” on the MoneySavingExpert forum suggests adding in some milk powder as well just to thicken it up a bit more.
I think this is a fad we will continue with, but after the multipacks and the flavours run out, I think we will be reverting to plain yoghurt and flavouring it ourselves with nature’s bounties: jam, honey, nuts, Nutella, sugar even.