Blogpost: Why I Make My Own Yogurt (Part Two)
A quick note before this BlogPost: As I mentioned in my tech bloopers post, you can expect some changes to this Fox Kitchen blog as I upgrade to the latest version of WordPress. Did you notice I changed the colour of my Navigation Bar? I wanted to try on a different colour scheme before committing to a permanent change.
As I mentioned in Why I Make My Own Yogurt (Part One) I’m loving my homemade yogurt.
In the first installment of this series, I talked about how easy it is to make homemade yogurt and how good it is for you. I spoke about my concerns over food additives and the added sweeteners in commercially produced yogurt. I also believe it’s debatable whether commercial yogurt retains much if any of the nutritional properties and live natural bacteria (probiotic) that homemade yogurt can have (more about that later).
You would be surprised at how darned easy it is to make homemade yogurt. Like many things made from scratch, it tastes better and is better for you than its commercial counterpart. It has more good for the gut, natural bacteria (probiotic), without the food additives and sugars.
Did you know that the most common additive in commercial yogurt, is for solely for appearance purposes? The most popular brands of yogurt are ones that have been artificially thickened with powdered milk.
After I started paying closer attention to the ingredients in commercial yogurt, I thought powdered milk was there to boost the nutritional benefits. It’s not. The powdered milk is simply a thickener. An artificial ingredient added for the purpose of changing the natural appearance of yogurt. Why? Because in North America we like a thicker than natural yogurt.
The other thing we want, is a lower fat yogurt. There is a direct connection between the thickness of yogurt and milk fat (M.F.) content. I’m not a trained professional, but my understanding is that you cannot have low-fat yogurt that is also thick, unless you doctor it a bit. To make yogurt, you introduce bacteria that feeds off the natural sugars in milk fat. The bacteria multiply until the sugars in the M.F. have been displaced. Once the bacteria are out of food, they begin to die off. In milk with a lower percentage of M.F., the die off starts earlier than it does in milk with a higher percentage of M.F. It is possible to make yogurt from skim milk, or 1% milk but because the die off starts sooner, it will result in a yogurt that is thinner than one that made from 3.25% M.F. Homogenized milk. Therefore, the higher the M.F. content, the more natural sugar for bacteria to feed on. If you want to see a naturally thick and creamy yogurt, you should try making it out of whipping cream! I’m thinking it sure would be nice if the bacteria in yogurt could feed off the fat as well as the sugars in the M.F. Now wouldn’t that be a perfect food? Thick, creamy, low in both sugar and fat, without adding powdered milk!
With yogurt, as with all foods that are homemade, you have complete control over added sweeteners. I found it shocking to discover that a product I considered a health food, will sometimes have as much sweetener in it as a serving of soda pop does and we all know that soda pop is not good for us, don’t we? As I mentioned, homemade yogurt tastes better and can have high nutritional properties, as well as, good for your gut, live natural bacteria (probiotic). To ensure a good outcome, you do have to be careful of a few things when you make your own yogurt. I don’t mean to scare you, after all I did say it is pretty darned easy but don’t be discouraged if you get a few duds when first starting out. Take it slowly and make small batches in the beginning. Once you get the hang of it and get yourself a system, you should get good results each time.
Now, let’s take a look at the money side of making your own yogurt. Before making homemade yogurt, I found the most economical way for me to get my favourite Greek style yogurt, was to buy it from Costco. A two pack of 500ml, or one litre, or about one quart in total, cost about $8. If I wanted to make a thick Greek style yogurt, I buy a litre, or about one quart, of Half and Half 10% M.F. for $2. Add to that the cost of a starter. Homemade yogurt will only be as good as the starter you use. In the beginning, I used a powder starter (as pictured above) but the finished product was sometimes bitter-tasting and I didn’t think I needed the additives found in the powder starters. These days, I buy a small tub of plain organic yogurt for about $1.50. That small tub is enough to act as a starter for about 3 liters of yogurt. So let’s say the starter costs about 50 cents for every litre of yogurt I make. That brings us to a total cost of about $2.50 per litre of yogurt. I’m not going to bother to add in the cost of electricity to incubate the yogurt. From reading other accounts online, I believe that cost is minimal. Somewhere around 10 cents to run a heating pad for 24 hours. Whether you’re making one litre or four liters, the cost of the electricity used will remain the same. I generally make three liters of yogurt at a time. Therefore, for me, the cost of the electricity used, is probably less than 5 cents per litre. So, it costs me about $2.50 to make 1 litre of yogurt, or enough to fill a quart jar, but it used to cost $8 to buy that amount of my favourite yogurt from Costco. That is a savings of roughly $5.50 cents per litre!!
In the Fox Household, we have become big consumers of yogurt, or at least I have. Mister Fox thinks he doesn’t like yogurt but I add it to my smoothies, most of my baking and all of my dips, etc. I use it in place of Sour Cream and mix it in with mayonnaise for cream based salads. I have even used it in place of Cream Cheese. It has been months since I have bought any of those other dairy products. My homemade yogurt is healthier and I’m happy with the dollars saved! I would say that on average, we use between 2 to 3 liters of yogurt a week. The way I see it, that’s an inexpensive, yummy tasting, healthy supply of beneficial gut pleasing probiotic! For some easy to understand info on probiotics, checkout this page SCD Probiotics – What You Really Need to Know by Jordan Reasoner
If you are just not into making your own yogurt, I strongly suggest you take an extra moment and read nutrition labels before buying yogurt. Go for the most natural one you can find. The one with the lowest sugar content and the fewest number of ingredients added.
I couldn’t resist slipping in one more picture of my cat “Ben” helping me with my yogurt making. This will be the last picture of him in that position. We had to fire him for sleeping on the job I will leave you to contemplate whether you would like to try your hand at making yogurt. I will be back in a week or two with details on how I make my yogurt without an expensive machine. A machine that would serve as a container for the scalded milk but other than that, it does nothing more than act as a heating pad. Here’s to achieving wellness through frugal, natural, wholesome and nourishing foods!
Some recipes made with my homemade yogurt:
- Caramelized French Onion Dip
- Creamy Potato Salad w/ Surprise Ingredient
- Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
- GF Chicken Enchiladas With Green Chile White Sauce
To see a text listing of Laureen’s gluten free recipes, click here
For dairy, egg, nut and gluten free flour substitutions, click here
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