Waste not ... Natural yoghurt
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
Set a sieve over a bowl and line with a clean tea towel. Season some live yoghurt with a touch of salt, pour into the sieve and leave overnight at room temperature, or until it is set and very firm. (Drink the whey, which will have separated into the bowl, or use it to make soda bread farls.) Serve the labneh as a dip, or roll it into balls and store in olive oil where it will keep for a month or longer. Coat the balls in different herbs and spices to serve.