Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Homemade Yogurt {Nourishing AND Frugal}

Want to go on a fun little trip with me?!  A trip down break-even-point lane.  This is gonna be fun.  Well, only if you like math and/or accounting.  Maybe it will be fun if you like seeing how making traditional and yummy foods can be better for you AND save you money!

Homemade yogurt is great for your health and your grocery budget, especially if you eat close to how we eat.  Buying properly raised, healthy, amazing meat and eggs and fresh grass fed milk and raw honey and tons and tons of vegetables and things like ghee and coconut oil and nuts and cod liver oil and probiotics...all that can add up...so it's things like this that help so very much.  Knowing our yogurt is not only extremely good for us but also frugal is so encouraging when I feel like I am spending all our income on food.

It is also so much better for you than store bought yogurt.  Store bought yogurt is only cultured/fermented about 6 hours from what I've read (sorry, don't have sources, just gonna have to believe me!  Actually, I read that in GAPS from Dr NCM.).  Therefore, there's no way all the lactose is gone from the milk.  Also, it is pasteurized.  Need I say more?  You also don't know how those cows were raised - on pasture or grain in confinement.  Ah, beautiful isn't it?  Here's a great summary about what kind of milk is best.  Here is a great website with great information. 

So, when you make homemade yogurt, you should culture it for 24 hours (I usually do about 26 in my dehydrator because the milk starts off cold from the fridge, so I give it a little extra time to warm up).  This allows the good bacterial culture to eat up all the lactose.  Tons of good bacteria for your gut and little lactose = amazing food, great nutrition, easy to digest.  People who are sensitive to milk can usually handle this kind of yogurt well, especially if you have healed through something like the GAPS diet. 

Here's my simple yogurt making process...
Homemade Raw Milk Yogurt {Process/Method}
  •  Get yourself some jars.  I do 4 quarts at a time, and if I don't have 4 quart jars clean, I just use whatever I have (applesauce jars, pint jars).  Any size 1 quart or less is fine. 
  •  Put PLAIN yogurt in the jars (look for a brand with the best ingredients - just milk and cultures if possible) in this ratio: 1 Tbsp per cup of milk.  
    • So, if you are doing a quart jar, you will put about 4 Tbsp or 1/4 cup of yogurt into each jar. 
    • If you use a pint jar, do about 2 Tbsp. 
  •  Give it a little stir - you don't have to go crazy.  :-)
  •  Put it in your dehydrator (um, heavy on the tray...maybe I should get some plywood cut to be a strong tray?)
  •  Close it up, thank God for a machine like this, set it to anywhere from 95-105 degrees (NOT over 110!!) for 24+ hours.  I usually do 95 or 100 degrees for 26 hours. 
  •  Stick it in the fridge to firm up afterwards.  You can eat the cultured cream off the top (YUM).  You can stir the yogurt really really well and get nice creamy yogurt (won't be nearly as thick as the store bought, though).  You can also strain your yogurt in cheesecloth for a few hours to get greek style yogurt that is nice and thick.  Mmmmm....Enjoy!  See, isn't that easy peasy?! 
  • Other options without a dehydrator: cooler method, seedling heating mat, oven with light on (you can google these things to find out more.  also try searching for gaps yogurt methods if you want to find more information on doing it a different way.)
So now back to the nerd/fun/budget part...

I had a little fun figuring out how much the yogurt we make costs us.  Then I thought, wouldn't it be fun to see how much yogurt we would need to make and eat to pay for our amazing dehydrator?!  I know, I'm weird.  So, here you go...on to the fun part! 

Cost of making homemade, 24 hr cultured, raw grass-fed milk yogurt! 
  • Raw Milk: $7/gallon --> $1.75/quart
  • Yogurt at Store: ~$3.50/quart --> provides starter for 16 quarts of homemade yogurt --> $.22/quart
  • Cost to run Dehydrator: $.04/hour --> $1 for 26 hours, make 4 quarts at a time --> $.25/quart
Total Cost for 1 quart of Raw, Grass-fed Jersey milk 24 hour cultured yogurt --> $2.22

If I stopped there, that would be amazing in itself.  Just over $2 for that quality of yogurt?!  Are you wondering why you don't make your own at home yet?  It's not hard, I promise! 

Savings and break even point (I am such a nerd) 
  • $3.49 (store bought...and sometimes it costs $3.99) - $2.22 (my cost of homemade) = $1.25 savings per quart
  • $1.25 * x# of homemade quarts = $220 cost of dehydrator (to solve for "x")
  • x = 176 quarts to break even (pay the cost of the dehydrator)
  • If we eat/drink 2 quarts per day for our family (not hard if you replace milk with yogurt, use it in soups and on foods almost like sour cream), it takes...
  • 88 days to pay for the dehydrator
  • That's less than 3 months!
  • If we eat/drink only 1 quart per day for our family, it takes...
  • 176 days to pay for the dehydrator 
  • That's less than 6 months!
That was much less time to pay for it than I expected.  And we use our dehydrator for lots of other things - dehydrating nuts - making them still have the great benefits of raw nuts but soaked for easier digestion and better nutrition, dehydrating fruits and vegetables, and I will soon dive into making beef jerky, maybe pemmican, and fruit leathers.  But really, just to use it for yogurt is worth it to me!

So, go start making your own yogurt!! 

Hope you had fun with me! I shared this on frugal days sustainable ways!   :-) 

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