For some reason I decided that learning to make cheese was a good thing to do. During my research I came across an excellent resource, Fankhauser’s Cheese Page. On his site he has a Beginning Cheese Making Course which starts with making yogurt and progresses to blue cheese. I followed Dr. Fankhauser’s instructions for making yogurt, pretty much to the tee, so I’m not going to repeat the instructions here.
I eat a little over a quart of yogurt a week. Primarily I eat it in the morning, before I leave for work, as a quick breakfast. I started wondering about the cost savings of making my own yogurt, roughly speaking I came up with $104.00 a year. I purchased Dannon plain All Natural Nonfat Yogurt as a starter, on sale for $2.50. The gallon of milk I used was $2.34 from Costco. The recipe makes 4 quarts and 8oz of yogurt. Since the yogurt I bought as starter was on sale and we sometimes pay $3.00 a quart for yogurt I set the price for my estimation at $2.75. Eating 1 quart a week that comes to $143.00 a year. From what I understand you can use the yogurt you make as a culture a couple times, before needing to resort to purchasing store bought yogurt. So only one third of the time is it necessary to purchase a starter; the rest of the time one is just buying milk. So 4 months of starter, plus milk comes to $20.36. The rest of the year total cost is $18.72. So total expenditure for making yogurt is $39.09 a year. That’s a savings of about $104.00 a year. This is a rough estimate, I didn’t figure in electricity, gasoline costs, the 8oz bits of yogurt, etc., but depending on how much yogurt you eat, making your own could really save a nice chunk of change. Time wise it took me two hours, from assembling the supplies to incubation. I’m pretty sure I can get that time down to one hour. So for one hours of work a month, I can save $104.00 a year.
Making the yogurt was quite easy. The only part I found a little tricky, was getting the water for incubating ready, at the same time the milk had cooled enough to add the inoculate. You want the milk to cool to 122 degrees, around the time the water for incubating is 130 degrees. This is how I handled it. Once I had pulled the milk off the stove and had it cooling in cold water, I put a gallon of hot tap water into a pot, covered and brought the temperature to 140 degrees; then pulled the pot off the heat, leaving it covered. At the same time I was changing out the cold water as it warmed from the hot milk. When the milk hit 122 degrees, I added the inoculate, filled the quart jars, and placed in the cooler. I turned to the incubation water which was still close to 140 degrees, I stirred cold water in 1/2 cup at a time until the temperature had dropped to 130 degrees.
So what is the yogurt like? I did a taste comparison between the homemade yogurt and the Dannon. The difference was pretty negligible. The homemade was a bit more acidic, a sharper taste. The Dannon seemed a bit more mellow. The texture was different, the Dannon containing pectin, was thicker. I have no problem with the texture of the homemade yogurt, which is a little looser. For those that do, by adding powdered milk a thicker yogurt can be made. Overall I found the homemade yogurt to be tasty and fun to make. I’m looking forward to experimenting with making yogurt with different types of milk.