No, I never thought I’d be making my own yogurt in the Bush of Sierra Leone. However, the absence of those things that I enjoy at home conjures up the ideas and initiative for alternative methods. There are quite a few Lebanese business owners in Sierra Leone and a Lebanese gentleman, named Joseph, runs Unique Supermarket, in Koidu. Alastair suggested that, for finding yogurt culture, he would be our best bet. When asked, Joseph confirmed that his family made their own yogurt and could give us some with the live culture to make our own as well. I was surprised at how easy yogurt making actually is and I think it is something I’d like to carry on doing even at home. You can get instructions online but here is the basic process I followed.
First I heated up milk (I used milk powder and water) to just under a boil to kill any unwanted bacteria. Then, I let it cool down to about 100 degrees F. A thermometer would have been useful here, but since I didn’t have one, I had to keep sticking my little finger in to test the temperature. It hurt.
I added the concoction that Joseph gave me.
Once mixed, I poured it all into a heated thermos, and stored in a warm place for about 8 hours. This is called the incubation process. MMMmmm, incubating bacteria.
After 8 hours, I transferred the mixture to a container and into the fridge it went. Don’t be put off by the smell, apparently the pungent sour milk smell is normal, and I let it refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, I bounced out of bed, eager to find..lovely thick yogurt! I was probably more enthusiastic than a container of yogurt called for, but I’ve missed this stuff.
If I wanted to make it even thicker, like greek yogurt, I could strain it in a coffee filter, but this time I’m leaving it as it is.
Besides, I had a bunch of bananas patiently waiting to take a yogurt bath for my breakfast!!
All in all, it was an exciting activity and I learned that making yogurt is easy and fun.
Lastly, I have realized that I have been in Africa for a while when I stopped running away from large bugs and started taking pictures of them.