Tag Archives: Yogurt

Perfect Yogurt in a Magic Cooker

This is a long overdue tutorial that I promised when I wrote Yogurt Soaps and Notes, but then it hit me that my method involves using a special equipment that most people don’t have.  I was hesitating whether to write this post or not, but I hate breaking promises, and I honestly think it is one of the best and most reliable methods, especially if you make a lot of yogurt regularly.

Google How to Make Yogurt and you will find numerous ways to improvise if you don’t have a yogurt maker.  I have been there and done that with most methods, but results were not always very consistent, until my mom discovered the Magic Cooker. She used it for soups and stews, but I had other ideas for it.

The key to making yogurt is maintaining an ideal temperature of 110˚-120˚F (43˚- 49˚C) for the bacteria to grow, multiply, and do their thing.  This, the Magic Cooker does perfectly.

A Magic Cooker works like a slow cooker except that there is no electricity involved.  It consists of an inner pot which you use to cook food in, and an outer pot which holds the inner pot to continue the cooking using the stored energy.

making yogurt 3

Outer and inner pots of the Magic Cooker.

making yogurt 2

The inner pot nestled in the outer pot.

I  think my mom got hers from a friend of a friend, but I checked Amazon just for reference and found that they have the bigger unit.  The unit I use at home is an older model, and I think the capacity is 3 liters, although I use it for only 2 liters of milk at a time.   I am in no way paid to endorse the product, but here’s the link for those who are curious. It is kinda pricey, but since you can use it for so many things without the use of added electricity, I think it is worth the investment in the long run.

Pictured below are the things you will need to prepare.  For this recipe, I used 2 liters of raw milk. For every liter of milk, you will need about a tablespoon of yogurt for proper inoculation. You can use store-bought plain yogurt as your “mother” yogurt, and for succeeding batches, you just need to reserve a little bit of what you made.

making yogurt 1

Magic Cooker, milk, yogurt, thermometer, mixing spoon

By the way, the fuller you fill the Magic Cooker, the better it holds the temperature. At the very least, make it half full.

If you are using raw milk, you have to pasteurize or heat it up to a minimum temperature of 185˚F  (85˚C), otherwise it won’t work. It’s ok if your milk ends up hotter, like it did with me.

making yogurt 4

Next, place the pot of milk in a basin/bowl/sink with cold water to cool it down to 120˚F. Stir it from time to time to prevent skin from forming.

making yogurt 5

If you are using pasteurized or UHT milk, which I sometimes do, you just need to heat up the milk to 110˚-120˚F, and skip the whole cooling process, unless you accidentally overheated the milk.

If you don’t have a thermometer, you can use your finger (clean!) to gauge the temperature of the milk.  When you put your finger in, it should feel very warm and you should be able to leave your finger in the milk up to the count of ten without feeling like you are getting scalded.

When your milk is at the ideal temperature range of 110˚-120˚F  (I personally prefer to have my milk at the higher end of the range), add the mother yogurt and stir thoroughly.

making yogurt 6

Cover the inner pot with its glass lid and place it inside the outer pot. Close the lid of the outer pot and leave it undisturbed for 4-5 hours.

making yogurt 7

After the incubation period, check to see if the milk has thickened up by shaking it a bit. If it jiggles like jello, it is ready. If it still looks runny, give it another couple of hours before transferring the inner pot to the refrigerator.

Texture of chilled yogurt is like silken tofu. Since I used raw milk, the fat separates and forms a soft yellow layer. Yum!

Texture of chilled yogurt is like silken tofu. Since I used raw milk, you can see that the fat has separated and formed a soft yellow layer. Yum!

The whey separates naturally. You can mix everything with a wire whisk or scoop out the whey for a thicker yogurt.

The whey separates naturally. You can mix everything with a wire whisk or scoop out the whey for a thicker yogurt. To make yogurt cheese, place in a cheesecloth and allow the whey to drain.

I once forgot about the yogurt until after 12 hours.  I was expecting it to be spoiled already, but surprisingly, it was still fine and not even that sour!

I find that raw milk produces a thicker and richer yogurt, although technically, it’s no longer raw.  With pasteurized milk, some people add powdered milk to make a thicker yogurt, or you could also use milk fortified with calcium.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask, even if you’re using a different method. 🙂

Dandelion Zebra or Not?

October’s technique for the Soap Challenge Club is the Dandelion Zebra Swirl, created by the über talented Vinvela Ebony, author of the Dandelion SeiFee blog.

What makes the Dandelion Zebra Swirl unique is the use of a board that acts as a divider and as a “slide” for the zebra stripes that results in a suspended look.

Before I signed up for this month’s soap challenge, I was inspired to make a simpler version of the tilting technique described by Maja of Diva Soap in the comment section of her post,  Savanna  (in response to Kirppu’s query). A few days later, I signed up for October’s soap challenge and proceeded to follow the tutorial given by Amy Warden. When I looked at the results, I felt it was hard to differentiate which soap used which technique.

Here are three soaps I made and one did not use a board to achieve the stripes. Can you tell which one it is?

Tangerine Tiger

Tangerine Tiger

Black Currant and Tangerine

Black Currant and Tangerine

Peppermint Sugar and Spice

Peppermint Sugar and Spice

For Him: Regatta and Beau Brummel

Last week, I made 2 soaps for men. The first one is a combination of gingered bergamot and tangerine f.o.s.  It smells fresh and clean, and with the blue and green colours, it reminds me of the sea. Italy perhaps? Positano? Amalfi? Capri? I looked up all the names of famous Italian beaches but didn’t find a perfect match. Sniff sniff again….it definitely smells sporty. And that’s when I had a light bulb moment. Regatta!  Yes, the sailing event sounds just perfect!

regatta 1 regatta 2regatta 3

The second soap I made is scented with Beau Brummel and Black Tea. Careless me, I forgot to put fragrance in the upper black part of the soap! Just recently also, I made a batch of honey patchouli soap with a “honeycomb” top.  I was supposed to put honey in the soap but I only remembered after pouring the soap into the mold!  Argh! I really want to kick myself sometimes. Have you experienced forgetting to put an ingredient in your soap?

Beau Brummel 1 Beau Brummel 2

Going Sweet and Fruity

Never say never.

When I started making soap, I thought I would never go into the sweet and fruity direction.  Citruses yes, but not the whole fruit basket and bakery scents.  But with the numerous delicious looking and sounding soaps that I see in other people’s blogs, I found myself slowly getting lured into this realm.  It does not help either that I got addicted to shopping for scents!

Before I got sick earlier this week, I made 5 batches of soap last Sunday and another 2 on Monday, using new fragrances.  I thought they all smelled great and I just kept on sniffing them whenever I had the chance.  But when I got sick, I was totally repulsed by the smells, most especially Monday’s 2 carrot batches scented with cranberry marmalade and orange peel/kumquat. It appears to be that I got some kind of stomach flu which is going around. I am much better now and I can’t wait to be able to fully enjoy my fragrances again!

I was able to take pictures of the soaps from last Sunday, but not the ones from last Monday.  I don’t know when I can bring myself to go near them to take photos because even from afar, I smell them. Everywhere! The spatulas, containers, notebook!

So here are the 5 that I was able to photograph.  If they appear hazy, it’s because I accidentally turned on a filter feature which my husband found out after I took the photos, and I just didn’t have the inclination to do a retake.

1. Orange Raspberry Sherbet – made with coconut, olive, palm and avocado oils with powdered goat’s milk, and scented with wild raspberry and tangerine f.o.’s.  I really like the fresh, tart scent.  It reminds me of childhood summers spent with cousins eating Baskin Robbins’ orange sherbet.  I wanted to do a Celine swirl but right after I added the raspberry f.o., the soap was setting up fast so I had to ditch my original plans.

Orange Berry Sherbet

2. Pear Almond Tart – This and the succeeding soaps below are all yogurt soaps with coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, rice bran oil, and cocoa butter. The smell reminds me of a pear frangipane tart that I make and love. The bottom part is scented with an almond pastry fragrance, and the top part with bartlett pear.

Pear Almond Tart

3. Apple Almond Tart – scented with tart apple and almond pastry fragrances, this smells strong! I think I will like it better when it has mellowed out. I’ve noticed that yogurt warps certain colours like blue, but I didn’t feel that it did with green chrome oxide.  However, this one turned bluish green, so it must be the tart apple fragrance.

Apple & Almond Tart

4.  Honey Bee – I finally got to use the bubble wrap design for my honey soap! This is certainly one of my favourites!


5.  Peppermint Vanilla Noel – It’s the first time I’ve achieved rich vibrant colors and I couldn’t be more thrilled!  I used brick red and green chrome oxides, using a scant 1/4 teaspoon per cup of soap batter following Amy Warden’s colouring guidelines. Of the 5 batches, my husband and I like this scent the best. The red, green and white top is scented with peppermint e.o., and the bottom part, which I left uncoloured thinking it would turn a darker brown, is scented with sweet smelling vanilla noel. This really smells like candy canes!

Peppermint Vanilla NoelWith this soap, I learned it is not a good thing to pre-empt soda ash.  Originally there was much less soda ash than what you see in the photo.  It was really just a slight sprinkling, so I thought I would arrest its development by steaming it.  It became worse instead!  I will have to observe if the soda ash thickens, and I will steam it again.

What are your favorite sweet and fruity scents? 🙂

Tomato Rosemary Soap

It’s really hard for me to make plain soap with just oil and water.  I always want to add something, whether it be a different liquid, dried herbs and spices, charcoal, clays, or fruits and vegetables.  Tomato has long been on my to-do list and last weekend I finally made soap with it!

I used a yogurt soap base made with olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, rice bran oil and cocoa butter.  I used tomato paste for the bottom layer, ground rosemary and green chrome oxide for the second, and a touch of titanium dioxide for the top layer (I think the cocoa butter and the rosemary oleoresin extract I use as an antioxidant for my oils give off a yellow tint).

I love how this soap turned out! Now I know tomato paste is the key to a natural orange color.  I used annatto before, and while the powder is a deep orange, the outcome in soap is yellow.  The tomato paste sets the soap batter quickly once poured into the mold, so it’s just perfect for a layered design with straight lines.  I scented this with rosemary and litsea cubeba essential oils.  It smells like fresh lemongrass to me.

Tomato rosemary 1tomato rosemary 2

tomato rosemary 3

Left to right: charcoal green tea, tomato rosemary, rosemary eucalyptus

Discovering the Celine Swirl

Last week, as I was going through Jenny’s I’d Lather Be Soaping blog roll, I clicked on Summerfield Soaps and found this stunning creation.  Apparently, the technique used was invented by Celine Blacow, a very talented soaper from Dublin, Ireland, who’s also known as the swirl queen! I’ve stumbled upon her blog before (check out her dazzling soaps!) but had never watched any of her Youtube videos until the one in Summerfield’s post.

I have not done a whole lot of swirling, and the few times I did, most of them fell flat because either the batter was too thin or too thick.  An exception would probably be my entry to last month’s Soap Challenge Club featuring the Holly Swirl.  I tried the technique 3 times, and got lucky with my second try.

It seems like the Celine Swirl has been around for some time, but since I just started making soap a little bit shy of 5 months, it is totally new to me.  After doing some research on the Celine Swirl, I also learned that Celine started the popular hanger swirl.  Again, I’ve come across mentions of it but never really paid attention to it. At the same time I was learning about the Celine Swirl, I also finally saw a video of the hanger swirl.  The results are so cool!  But that’s for another time, and today it’s all about the Celine Swirl.

The first one I made was with my favourite ingredients, charcoal and yogurt, and scented with neroli f.o.  I really love how this turned out!

yogurt charcoal

yogurt charcoal 1

Buoyed by the success of my first Celine Swirl, I made a second one with the same yogurt soap base.  This time I made it with ground rosemary and green chrome oxide, and scented it with lavender and eucalyptus.

Rosemary eucalyptus 1rosemary eucalyptusI don’t see any recent activity over at Celine’s blog, Soaperstar, but I would like to shout out a big thank you, wherever you are, for generously sharing your swirling technique.  I think I will be stuck here for a while since I am simply having too much fun with it!


Charcoal and Safflower Petal Yogurt Soaps

As you can see, I’m all about yogurt these days. I just love the way it feels in soap, it’s great at moisturising and refining the skin, and because of the lactic acid that turns into sodium lactate when mixed with lye, the resulting soap is hard and does not melt easily in the shower. What’s not to like about this amazing ingredient?

1. Yogurt and Safflower – I saw little bags of these dried safflower petals in the spice section while grocery shopping and thought it would look pretty in soap.  (Since I started making soap, going to the grocery has never been the same!)  Safflower petals are primarily used as a natural colorant in food, sometimes called the poor man’s saffron.

I steeped the petals in a small amount of hot water to draw out the colour. The liquid turned orange, but obviously I didn’t use enough petals – I can barely see them – and the color didn’t stand a chance in the high ph environment. I still like the way it came out very natural looking. Fragrances used were lemongrass for the safflower portion and grapefruit for the top.

Safflower Yogurt 1

Safflower yogurt 2

2. Yogurt and Charcoal – What could be better than pairing 2 of my favorite soap ingredients? This would be great for oily and pimple-prone skins.  Charcoal draws out toxins while the AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and zinc in yogurt act as a natural skin exfoliant and pimple treatment, respectively.  But you don’t need to have oily skin to use this soap. It is very moisturizing and hydrating because of the whole milk yogurt. I scented this with Soapy Clean – a moderate trace accelerator.  Smells really fresh and clean!

yogurt charcoal

yogurt charcoal 4

yogurt charcoal 2



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Oatmeal Yogurt & Honey Soap

I have made oatmeal & honey and oatmeal & milk soaps, but never the OMH trinity.  Since I have a lot of yogurt and I am on a yogurt soap ride, I decided to make an OYH instead of the classic OMH.  I also don’t have OMH fragrance, something that seems to be a staple in most people’s f.o. collection, so I just concocted my own blend of lavender, lemongrass, neroli and honey.  I know it sounds confusing but the result is actually very nice, light and fresh.

Breakfast: Inspiration behind OYH soap

Breakfast: Inspiration behind OYH soap

My husband just gave me his old Fuji X100 (love you! 🙂 ) Wow, I am just having a blast using it!  I have always enjoyed taking photos for my blog, but with my old point and shoot, sometimes it was really a challenge especially when it’s dark and grey outside.  With the “new” camera, I am inspired to take photos more than ever.  The weather too has been very cooperative!


Oatmeal Yogurt Honey Soap


Surface view. Very little soda ash.

OYH soap on top of plain yogurt soap.

Homemade yogurt and OYH on top of plain yogurt soaps.

OYH and plain yogurt soap

OYH and plain yogurt soap, side by side, up close.