When Jesse got a yogurt maker here in Sacramento to make homemade yogurt, I was immediately suspicious. Given, I’m usually suspicious about most things. My temperament pushes me to argue about anything and everything new, even if I agree with it. In my mind, this assures the group that we are thinking through our decisions, though perhaps that is just rationalizing a trait that most find annoying. (Jesse puts up with this rather well.)
I was suspicious about a yogurt maker for a number of reasons. The first being that most yogurt makers require you to purchase the yogurt cultures. By my cost estimation, this creates yogurt that is more expensive than store bought. Second, I figured that the amount of yogurt generated had to be similar to the amount of ricotta cheese generated from milk. This would mean that I would have to purchase an entire gallon of milk to generate a week’s worth of yogurt. Where I shop, Straus organic milk costs $5 per the gallon. Straus organic yogurt costs $5 for a delicious container of pomegranate blueberry yogurt. Thus, no savings, and no delicious flavorings either.
Turns out that half the homemade yogurt industry is full of crap. No, you do not need to buy yogurt cultures. All you have to do is purchase either a small cup of your favorite yogurt, or use a cup of your own homemade yogurt, as your starter. Much like a Kumbucha skoby, you cultivate your own home grown culture, developing a yogurt that is all your own.
Also, a half-gallon of yogurt makes 7 standard sized yogurt cups. The input volume to output volume is exactly the same. Isn’t that AMAZING? Some heat and bacteria turn a liquid into a solid. How much added nutrition is that?
Turns out that through the fermentation process, the calories are about doubled, the protein becomes more easily digestible (though it is not increased), and you gain all the benefits of healthy bacteria being added to your gut. For a person on a budget, the ability to double your calories for no or low cost magically is pretty amazing.
This is the yogurt maker Jesse bought, that I now use. It comes with handy dandy instructions, though I like to ferment for 10-12 hours for whole milk as opposed to 8 like it says. Also note the wonderful little glass jars! The milk I buy is also in glass jars, so I just went from purchasing a plastic container every week, to a glass jar that is re-used every week! If you buy tiny yogurt cups, the environmental implications are even greater. For this reason alone, everyone should consider making their own homemade yogurt.
So what is the price comparison between what I used to pay for yogurt and what I pay now? Well, I used to pay $5/week for yogurt. Now I pay $3/week for the milk, though every 8 weeks or so I like to restart my culture and purchase my favorite brand of yogurt cups for $2. So assuming a month is 4.5 weeks…..
Original cost = 5*4.5= $22.5
New cost = 3*4.5+1=$14.50.
Savings per month = 22.5-14.5=$8/month.
This may not seem like a lot, but when an extra $2 per week is the difference between whether you can buy more deodorant or not? Yeah, I think both I and my friends appreciate these savings. Furthermore, if you are a family who all eat yogurt every day, your savings are greatly intensified. Three people would be 8*3=$24 a month, enough for a meal out, a tank of gas, or some much needed socks!
If you want to try making your own yogurt, without the yogurt maker first, you can use your oven light. To make yogurt, melt an ice cube in the bottom of a pan (this is an important step, trust me. It stops the milk from burning). Pour 1/2 gallon milk into the pan, heating on medium to medium high until it starts to boil. Remove from heat and let cool until warm, but not hot. Whisk in one cup of already made plane yogurt. Pour into jars and leave in the yogurt maker or oven from 8-12 hours. I highly recommend leaving it in for 12, and using whole milk. This will give you a more firm yogurt. Freshly made yogurt keeps for about a week.
This week in updates: Dad Visit
I’ll be talking about it a little more next week, as the Dad’s bucket list trip to Yosemite provided me with the perfect opportunity to review my new Keen made in USA hiking boots. It also gave me the opportunity to show off all my new on a budget cooking skills. No buying excessive pre-made hiking snacks here! Combining our bread skills together, we made some wonderful and inexpensive rye caraway loaves. They went wonderfully with pumpkin butter, and also with cream cheese, apples, and chard. We splurged and used my leftover butter to make chocolate fig biscuits, and some lime and avocados made guacamole for dipping potato chips in. All in all, we had a successful three days of travel with very little extra food purchased. Quite a success when you are hiking all day if you ask me! Especially since in Yosemite, the hiking is not easy. There is a lot of UP.
The Recipe: One Hour Rye Caraway Bread
This recipe is based off of the one from Cravings of a Lunatic. However, a few added ingredients and changing up the flour results in a very different taste, and a lot of added nutrition!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup warm water (not hot)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon or 1 package yeast
1.5 cups rye flour
1.5 cups high gluten flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons caraway seeds (bulk section for about $1)
To make sure your yeast is good, mix it with the warm water and sugar, then let sit until foamy. If it doesn’t foam, your yeast is bad, do it again. Combine all ingredients together and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough no longer sticks to your hand. If the dough is still sticky, knead in a little bit more flour. Put the finished dough in a bowl, cover it, and let it rise for 30 minutes-2 hours. Obviously, the longer you can let it rise, the better. Grease a bread pan with olive oil (bread pans help cook the bread all the way through) and place the dough inside of it. Cook at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes. Bread should be toasty brown and have a hollow sound to it when tapped. Wait until it cools a little to slice. Enjoy!