Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why Do I Make Yogurt?

My blog bio reports that making yogurt is one of my forms of procrastination. This is partly true. But that's not the only reason I make yogurt. I mostly make yogurt because I'm cheap and picky. I have a favorite yogurt:  Stonyfield Farms. It's tasty, has lots of great yogurt cultures, and is low in sugar. Now if you know me well, or even just a little, you know that I like sugar. A lot. It's just that I try to segregate it. Sugar is wonderful in sugary foods:  chocolate, ice cream, cookies. I'm not a hug fan of it in foods that are supposed to be healthy:  yogurt, cereal, bread, etc. So I can control the amount of sugar the girls eat if I make my own yogurt. Because we can go through a quart of yogurt in a few days. If BestestHusband and I also eat it, we can polish off a quart in one sitting. Seriously.

Now, the problem with high-quality yogurt is that it's expensive. The yogurt is definitely worth $4 a quart. But that's a price point that makes me want to ration it. Which isn't ideal either, because yogurt is good, good for you, and one of those foods I WANT the girls to ask for. 

So let's do a little math. 
One quart of Stonyfield Farms yogurt = $3.99 at Stop and Shop. This seems to be a standard price.

The way I make yogurt, I use one gallon of milk, and sometimes a small container of yogurt to get my fresh cultures (I can use some leftover yogurt from a previous batch, but frequently it's all gone, and I have best luck with new stuff.)
One gallon of milk = $2.99
One 6oz. container of yogurt (for starter cultures) is usually $0.99, but can be on sale for less.
So milk + small container of yogurt = $3.98 for 4 quarts of yogurt.

So 4 quarts of store-bought yogurt = $15.96.
And 4 quarts of home-made yogurt = $3.98. 
That's about a $12 savings. For 15 minutes of active hands-on time. I don't count the 6 hours of culturing time, as I don't have to be home, or awake, or even thinking about the yogurt. Ok, so maybe I think about it and make sure it stays warm enough. But now that I have a system, I don't think about it too much. 

And I didn't bother buying a yogurt maker, I just use a big pot. I'm cheap like that. 

Big pot of culturing milk.
My tools:  whisk, thermometer, ladle, containers to put the finished product in.

And so now, I can feed my family healthy yogurt with wild abandon. We swirl honey into it (yes, I know that's sugar, but I can control it myself), stir chopped strawberries or blueberries into it, and use it for baking.

And yes, I make yogurt instead of cleaning. I like to have something to show for my efforts. So sue me. 


  1. Thanks for this topic. I haven't made any in awhile and should do so. I am a yogurtaholic, too, and go through a decent amount alone, but definitely not four quarts! So my cost savings doesn't feel as great per batch (i.e. less worth the trouble) but it's still nice to have something homemade and more sugar-controlled.

  2. how do you make yogurt without a maker thingy? I'd love to try although we are not big yogurt all. :)

  3. Sounds like my kind of treat! I've made yogurt at home, but usually use my parents' old 1970's yogurt maker with the individual cups. I usually leave it for closer to 8 or 10 hours, and also include some nonfat dry milk when I'm scalding the milk (slightly firmer set). For a real treat, I'll use whole milk. :) My favorite store-bought brand is Mountain High. And I agreee with Rachel your instructions for the big batch!

  4. never worked for me in my stay-at-home mom days. Of course we didn't have good organic stuff readily available then so maybe that's the difference.

  5. I'll post my technique tomorrow!

  6. I definitely want to see your stovetop technique! But I don't think my boys would eat plain yogurt. :-( Its worth a try though. I have heard that fresh yogurt tastes different.

    1. Shannon, if you put vanilla or honey in it (or both), you might be surprised. Fresh berries seem to convince the girls, too.

  7. Joy, you've inspired me. Just today, I came across this recipe, sent to me by another mommy. I'm sure you've seen it, but in case you havent:

    1. I hadn't seen that recipe, but it looks insanely decadent. Did you try it yet?

    2. ohmygoodness YES I HAVE, and I've been largely unsuccessful at trying to stay out of the fridge where this bowl of goodness lies in wait. It's ridiculous. I have it with strawberries, DELIGHTFUL!