Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Homemade Yogurt

       Yogurt is a staple in our home. We use it in snacks, smoothies, breakfast parfaits, and as an ingredient substitution. There are many nutritional benefits to eating yogurt. When comprised of only the two basic components of milk and yogurt starter, you’re getting the nutritional offering of the milk plus the good bacteria found in the yogurt. Yogurt purchased in the stores is often times loaded with preservatives and sugars. There is also the issue of purchasing and throwing away all those plastic cups. My husband and I have since learned how to make a large batch of yogurt for a fraction of the cost. We initially used a slow-cooker method. My slow-cooker tended to get hotter in certain places and would scorch the milk leaving a mess of the milk and pot. So, we moved on from this method to the stovetop method. It does take some time to make yogurt at home. It probably takes me an hour from start to putting it away to culture, but I’m not standing over the pot the entire time. Now, let me show you why it may be worth finding an hour each week:
Cost to Purchase Ingredients: $4.73
Milk: $3.39/gallon & Yogurt starter: $1.34/6oz

Per Batch Cost: $1.07
Milk: $0.85/quart
Yogurt starter: $0.22/oz/2T

Purchased Yogurt: $1.34/6oz container

Unit cost
Homemade: $0.03/oz
Purchased: $0.22/oz

     In summary, we make one quart of yogurt for $1.07! If we purchased the near equivalent in 6oz cups we would need to buy 5-6 packages (@$1.34 each) which would total $6.70-8.04! I don’t know about you, but that’s a big difference for my grocery budget!

     I've found that the key to regularly including certain homemade foods is to make them part of your weekly routine. Pick a day of the week and make a particular food item that day. Keeping granola, breads, and yogurt on hand is much easier when I make making those items a part of life instead of setting aside life to make them. For instance, my hubby makes all our breads for the week on Sundays (he is amazing  at making breads). Finding time to do yogurt is similar. 

(Keep in mind we're making only a quart for just my husband and I for a week. If you have a larger family, then adjust the amounts to fit your needs)

You will need: quart jar with lid, thermometer, whisk, 2 pots, 1 qt. milk (whole milk works best), and 2 T plain yogurt with active cultures (we like Chobani brand best). 

The first order of business is to sterilize your jar and lid. Simply place your jar and lid in the larger pot with water and heat to a boil. Allow to boil for a bit and then remove to a towel to cool. 

Next, heat your milk. This step is essentially re-pasteurizing the milk to make sure the only bacteria present to culture are those found in the yogurt starter. Heat the milk to 185˚F, and then hold it here for about 5 minutes. Then, cool the milk to 115˚F.

Add 2 tablespoons of yogurt to your jar. Add 1/2 c. of milk to the jar. Gently shake or stir to combine.  Then, add the remaining milk. This two step process allows your yogurt cultures to slowly rise in temperature to be able to safely tolerate the high temperature of the milk, so don't skip on this step. 

Replace the water in the large pot with as much cold water necessary to bring the temperature of the water to between  
90-100˚F. Place the filled quart jar in the water until submerged.  Leave the pot in the oven with the oven light on overnight to culture, approximately 8-10 hours. 

The next day, you have a quart of cultured yogurt! If you would like you can strain the yogurt at this point to have thicker, Greek-style yogurt with leftover whey or you can leave it as is. Sometimes I strain mine and sometimes I don't. If I'm going to be making a batch of granola then I might strain it to have whey to soak the oats. 

     We currently use yogurt in making breakfast parfaits, smoothies (freeze the yogurt in cubes for a better smoothie result), snacks (add a spoonful of fruit preserves or fresh fruit for flavors), and as a partial mayonnaise substitution. My husband detests mayo. so I use half mayo and half yogurt in any recipe that calls for mayo. 

     Using yogurt as a substitution is also a good way to make the grocery budget stretch as it's cost is usually much less than the ingredient it's replacing. You can actually use yogurt in specific proportions in place of butter, oil, sour cream, mayonnaise, cream cheese, and buttermilk! Chobani's website has a lovely infograph conversion table of these substitutions.

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not an affiliate of Chobani and has not been asked or persuaded in anyway to promote this brand. It's simply a brand that I have been pleased with in my own experience, and therefore wish to share with others. 

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  1. Interesting! I am not sure if I'll be trying to make yogurt but I am very interested to hear about your husband making bread for the week and how you all keep it fresh? I've made homemade bread once. It was much easier than I thought it would be, even without a breadmaker, and it was delicious but by day 3 it was very dry and crumbly. I was quite disappointed and we wasted about 1/4 of the loaf. I'd love to see a post all about breadmaking tips and how y'all keep it fresh!

    1. Stephanie, thanks for the post suggestion! I'll get a post together for next week on this topic. :)

  2. Awesome! I am looking forward to it. I would love nothing more than to make homemade bread on the weekends and have it for the week. Could you include in the post whether you freeze loafs? I usually like to have a loaf of bread in the pantry and one in the freezer. Thank you!

  3. Thanks for the easy recipe Whitney! I started my batch this morning and just finished straining it. I added 2 tsp of Real Vanilla extract and a little confectioners sugar and the finger taste test was amazing.

    1. You're welcome!I'll have to try adding the vanilla and sugar in my next batch! :)

  4. Once you make your first batch you can save a bit out as your starter for your next batch. You don't ever need to buy a starter again. You can also put your starter in the freezer until next time. The cultures will still be alive and perfect for your next batch of yogurt.

    If you want to make it more like Greek Style Yogurt, add some powered milk, it helps to make it thicker and adds the calcium like you get in Greek yogurt. I add about 1 cup powdered milk to about 1/2 gallon of yogurt when I make it.

    If you time your yogurt, you can process it longer for more sour flavor...great for dips etc. Or less, for more mild yogurt. Anywhere between 5-12 hours. See what you like best.
    Have fun!

    1. Thanks for the ideas, Carolyn! We also use a portion of the previous batch as the starter for the next batch. I've not heard adding powdered milk for Greek-style. I keep it simple by just straining the whey to get Greek-style. The difference between Greek-style and regular yogurt is essentially the presence of the whey. Whatever works, works though! :)


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