Thursday, September 4, 2008

Save money.... make yogurt!

Today I'm working up a batch of yogurt. Yogurt is a pretty popular item at our house.
It's versatility is only limited by our imagination. It can be eaten as is out of the cup, mixed in a smoothie, topped with granola, mixed in with fruit, frozen for a cool snack, or even used to baste a chicken in a roaster to add a unique flavor. It can even be used as a face mask!

If I let them, my girls would eat three or four cups of it a day. They love it.

When we are out and about on errand day I will stop at Braums and our lunch will be from the mini grocery store: yogurt, fruit , cheese, sunflower nuts, and water or milk. (Healthy fast food for under $15.00 for all of us!)
Braums has their yogurt for about $.59 for a 6 oz flavored portion or an 8 oz plain unflavored portion.

Needless to say, if I bought all the yogurt we ate from the store it could really add up cost wise.
This is one area that making it yourself could free up some extra dollars to be used elsewhere.
All you need to make yogurt is:
  • A yogurt incubator or a makeshift yogurt incubator
  • Milk
  • Dry non fat instant milk powder (optional)
  • Sweetener (optional)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup plain non fat yogurt for your "starter"
  • Vanilla extract of flavoring of choice (optional)
  • A candy thermometor
  • A pan to heat the milk in
  • Time to scald milk, cool milk, and pour into an incubator

I picked up two Salton yogurt incubators from a thrift store for about $5.00. They work great and each one makes 5 6 oz portions. If you don't have an incubator you can use glass pint or quart size mason jars and come up with a makeshift incubator.

My milk comes from Swan's Dairy in Claremore. Each gallon is $3.75 and it is raw, organic, unhomogenized milk. I have tried recipes that use only reconstituted dry milk but I didn't like the taste and consistency. If I have dry milk on hand I'll add some to my batch for some extra protien, but if I don't I don't worry about it. The yogurt comes out fine without it.

I like to use honey, stevia, or sucralose (Splenda) for sweetener, but will use sugar if I'm in a pinch.

Your starter can be store bought plain yogurt or it can be yogurt from your last batch. If you use store bought yogurt for your starter be sure the label says it has live active cultures.

Lets add up the cost of home made yogurt and compare it to the cost of store bought yogurt.

1 gallon milk can make 4 batches of 5 6oz portions of plain yogurt (20 portions over all). 2 cups store bought yogurt can be starter for 4 batches, or you can use yogurt from prior batches. 1 1/3 cups dry milk is optional but I'll include it here. Sweetener is optional as well... but what the hey... let's include that cost too.

  • Milk $3.75 per gallon
  • $1.20 for 2 cups starter yogurt
  • Estimating $2.00 for the dry milk
  • Estimation $2.00 for the honey or sucralose used for sweetener
  • $9.00 approx total cost for 20 portions

Each 6 oz portion is approximately .49. Now that's adding in the cost for the dry milk, the store bought starter if you didn't have a prior batch to use, and the cost of honey. Omitting the dry milk and swetener would of course reduce the cost of each portion.

But even with that factored in, $.49 cents versus $.59 cents per portion looks better for me! Over 20 portions I will save about $3.00. I'll take that thank you very much!

It doesn't look like much but that will add up even if you just stick it in you kids piggy banks. Plus the fact that home made yogurt is fresher and I know what went into it makes it even more worth it.

There are plenty of home made yogurt recipes out there... so I won't regurgitate one by typing it all out here. But I'll give you plenty of links to information on how to make your own. And hey... some even have pictures!!!,1625,149188-255198,00.html

This one has techniques to make yogurt without a yogurt incubator:

These two are the recipes I use:

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