I kept on find posts about making your own yogurt and since I LOVE to cook and I LOVE to save money – I thought hey, I could totally make my own yogurt too!
So Tuesday I took the plunge and did it. It was way easier than I thought it would be. It may take hours to be done, but I put in maybe 5 minutes of effort (honest)! I decided to make the recipe from Nourishing Days that I could make in my crock pot, recommended from Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking, who promised that she had made it and it was as easy as 1, 2, 3. I also found a good recipe at The Frugal Girl, which I think looks good as well.
Wednesday morning I uncovered the yogurt that had been culturing away all night and put it in containers. I added strawberries to one container, blueberries to the other container, left one container plain, and put chocolate in the last container (which I then poured into plastic popsicle containers and froze to make yogurt pops for the kids). In my excitement for waiting for the yogurt to get cold, I even decided to make some cinnamon almond granola to sprinkle over top.
So afternoon snack time came and I tried some blueberry yogurt with granola – and it was good! Okay, normally I am not surprised when what I make turns out well (I am actually sort of amazed and grouchy when things don’t turn out like expected – not that I am a gourmet cook or anything, I just have high expectations of things always going well in the kitchen). But this was one recipe that I was leery about, random thoughts kept entering my head…what if it has spoiled and I put in my mouth…what if nothing happens and it just looks like milk…what actually is “live active cultures” and if I don’t know what it is then how do I know I got the right stuff…
The yogurt is not as creamy and thick as I would normally like, but the fact that it costs way less and I know exactly what I put into it (which I deem healthier) makes it taste all the better (yes Tyler I am that FRUGAL, which is not the same thing as cheap!!!)! This morning my eldest son made everyone smoothies with the plain yogurt – peanut butter and banana, his favorite. I think it sounds yucky, but all the kids like it and it was a good and healthy way to start their day.
I am still planning on fooling around with the recipe, like trying whole milk next time to see if it ends up thicker, and maybe making a fruit sauce to add that will add a bit more sweetness on top of some fresh fruit, my rhubarb will be growing soon so I will make sauce for my son Justin who is waiting (not so patiently) so that will also make a nice addition. We will see what I come up with, but if you have any recipes and ideas for me that you already do I would love to hear them!
There are a lot of benefits to making your own yogurt. Some store bought yogurts are heat-treated to increase shelf life, which kills the bacteria and its healthful attributes. Often flavoured yogurts often contain additional ingredients; as well as sugar and fruit, they may contain everything from artificial dyes to preservatives and sweeteners (natural or artificial), to ingredients that enhance flavour. Thickeners or stabilizers such as gelatin are commonly added to create a thicker texture and increase shelf life. While not harmful, thickeners and stabilizers are used instead of more nutritious (and costly) dairy ingredients such as milk powder, which can also thicken yogurt and increase its shelf life.
The health benefit for eating yogurt are abundant. Yogurt is a rich source of calcium, causing strong teeth and gums, further, the calcium works with the live cultures found in yogurt to increase absorption by the bones, which reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis. Calcium also encourages weight loss and weight maintenance. It is the active live cultures that give us such a powerful nutritional punch. These "live cultures" are the good bacteria our bodies need to fight infections and disease. Good bacteria has a lot of health benefits:
- Helps to keep your colon clean and free of wastes, reducing the risk of colon cancer.
- Aids in total digestive health.
- Prevents imbalances in the body’s yeast levels, preventing yeast infections.
- Help you to absorb the nutrients in other foods, further boosting your immune system.
Regardless of whether you buy or make, yogurt should be a staple in your diet. So here is the recipe so if you are brave, frugal and are Passionate about cooking you can give it a try!
Pour 2 L of milk in your slow cooker and put it on low. Heat on low for 2 ½ hours.
Unplug your slow cooker and let cool in the pot for 3 hours.
Remove between 1 – 2 cups of the warm milk and sir in ½ cup of yogurt with live active cultures (I found one at my local grocery store that was all natural with pro-biotic cultures). Mix well.
Put the mixture in the slow cooker and mix well.
Wrap the entire pot in a blanket or thick towels and let culture over night for 8 – 12 hours.
Store in jars in the fridge. The yogurt will take 6 – 8 hours to become cold and good to eat.