I read a story a long time ago about a family that wanted to put a house somewhere, but they needed a source of water there. They immediately thought of a well. They went to considerable trouble and expense trying to get a well on their property. And then found out that they couldn't for whatever reason. It simply wasn't possible. They were devastated. And almost didn't build on the property at all. Then someone in the family realized that they didn't NEED a well. They needed water. And with that simple realization, they found an alternate way to get water there (which I don't remember...and I've probably butchered the story anyway, but you get the point)
This post today is specifically about how I make my own homemade, frugal yogurt. But it's generally about something more broad. I found a long time ago that many of the things I buy at the store are things that I can duplicate at home with little to no trouble. And usually for much less cost. It just takes some looking around.
As an example, I can remember a time when I made a special trip to the grocery store to buy a single pack of taco seasoning for dinner that night. I have always had a huge cabinet full of various spices, but never knew that you can throw a few together and make your own taco seasoning for pennies. What a waste!
The thing is, I didn't need a taco pack. I needed a seasoning on the meat that would taste similar to a taco pack.
Simple but profound difference.
So with that said, let's get to the yogurt. A few years back I would have never *thought* of making yogurt. But it's no secret that I like to have things well stocked, but with much variety. And I like paying the least I can pay for the quality I want. Like most of us do!
Homemade yogurt is really simple (even without a yogurt maker- this is actually the first time I'd ever used one!). I start with a quart of store bought, plain, whole fat, yogurt. (I like to get organic when possible, but it's really hard to find here most of the time.) I take out appr. 3 tablespoons and put that into a bowl. The rest I freeze in an old ice cube tray. Whenever I need to make homemade yogurt again, I can pop out 3 of the cubes and have the perfect amount of yogurt "starter".
Next I heat 4 cups of whole milk (this I *can* find organic) on the stove top. Using a candy thermometer, I heat to 180 degrees.
Once it reaches 180F, I pull it off the heat and allow it to cool to 115F. Here I was testing the new spoon thermometer that I got with the frugal yogurt maker and it worked perfectly!
When it reaches 115F, I skim off the top layer of "skin" that is on the milk and discard it. Then I take about half a cup of the milk and stir it into the 3 tablespoons of store bought yogurt (which is your "starter") to temper it.
Then this starter mixture goes back in the pot and is mixed well.
This I pour into the glasses that came with the yogurt maker.*
I incubate for 8 to 10 hours.
And this is what I end up with! (Which is to be refrigerated right away, of course.)
*As I mentioned earlier, this is the first time I'd ever used a yogurt maker. I made it many, many times before I found this yogurt maker at a terrific price. The goal is to simply keep the freshly mixed yogurt a pretty constant temperature of around 110-115F for several hours.
There are many different ways to do this, but the way that was the easiest to me was with a cooler and a heating pad. I put the heating pad on low** in the bottom of the cooler and laid a towel on top if it. Then I set the yogurt on top of the towel (I used a quart mason jar, with lid) and kinda wrapped the towel around the yogurt. The top of the cooler was then closed AND LEFT CLOSED for at least 5-6 hours. Sometimes it would take just 5 hours and sometimes up to 8 or 9. I would check by tilting the jar and once "soft set" it's done and I refrigerated right away.
**(Heating pad temperatures may vary. When I changed heating pads I had a batch of yogurt that took a long time to set up. I learned with any changes to always check the temperature of the cooler/heating pad "incubator" with a candy thermometer by laying it on the towel for several minutes and adjusting the heating pad to get the temperature at a pretty stable 115F)
***As an aside, I've read that you can make yogurt from any kind of milk (even reconstituted powdered), though I've never tried it.
A quart of organic yogurt here can run as much as $4 or more. One quart will make ten or more quarts of homemade yogurt. So at most I use 40¢ worth of organic yogurt as "starter". I can get a quart of organic milk for $1.50. Adding 10¢ for electricity, I can make my own whole fat, organic yogurt for half the price I can buy it at the store. Plus, I can have it without going to the store. Which is another huge bonus for me.
I am posting this for my own information, not as any how-to guide. Though I have made it for months now, I am no expert. There are many, many places on the web that you can find information on making yogurt at home. I suggest that you check out them out before trying to make yogurt on your own.
I got my recipe here.
For more frugal inspiration, be sure to check out Frugal Friday hosted by Biblical Womanhood.
1 hour ago