Loving the BITE: High-Probiotic Yogurt
What can you get with $60? Turns out, in the healthy food world, not much. A few years back, I calculated how much of my grocery budget I spent on yogurt. Since my husband, I, and both my boys eat it every day, we were nearing $2.00 per day – $60.00 per month! On yogurt. Sure, I consider it a super food that’s a staple and a must in my household. Mixed with fruit and nuts, it’s a great breakfast, recovery-fuel, or snack. Mix it with other easy-to-digest carbs and you have a great pre-training snack (smoothies are my preferred pre-training/pre-racing fuel source as they are liquid, so they are digested quickly and easily, and you can pack a lot in them). But worth $60, really? Then, I discovered this recipe, and have been happily frugal ever since:
Recipe of the week: Homemade, High-Probiotic Yogurt
- 1 liter (32 oz.) milk
- ¼ cup starter yogurt (any fresh, plain yogurt with live & active cultures)
- candy thermometer
- glass jars with lids
Decisions, decisions. Either heat your oven to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (or its lowest possible setting) OR heat a slow cooker on “warm” or “low” uncovered OR set a heating pad to it medium heat setting OR locate a sunny warm place in your home.
Pour 1 L milk into a saucepan. Using a candy thermometer, bring milk up to 185 degrees and keep it there for 15 minutes (be careful not to let it boil-over, or you’ll have a mess). In the meantime, fill a large bowl (bigger than the saucepan) with ice. After the milk has been at 185 degrees for enough time, set the saucepan in the bowl of ice to begin cooling it quickly. Cool it down to 100-110 deg F. Place ¼ cup yogurt starter in a clean bowl. Once milk has cooled, pour ~1 cup into the bowl with the starter. Mix well (with whisk). Pour mixture back into the saucepan and mix all milk/yogurt well. Pour into small jars, leave in the large pot or pour into your slow cooker. Place in or on heating source – if in slow cooker or oven, turn off and cover or close.
Allow to ferment 24-29 hours. Then, refrigerate ~4-8 hours. Done.
For a thicker or Greek-style yogurt, strain in a coffee filter or paper towel over a strainer for a 1-2 hours.
$0.82 first batch/4 servings (8 oz each)
$0.70 subsequent batches/4 servings (8 oz. each)
But why do all this work (which is actually very fast and easy as far as actual work), when you could just bring some home from the grocery store. Sure, we all know yogurt contains healthy bacteria, and these bacteria actual fight bad bacteria, keep yeast at bay, and strengthen our immune systems. They help us digest foods, stay regular, and even fight infections.
But why homemade? There are lots of reasons, and as I’m sure you’re well aware, I would love to share all of them with you:
1) When yogurt is allowed to ferment for 24+ hours, it contains significantly more live bacteria than commercial yogurt, which only ferments for approximately 4 hours. We’re talking more bacteria, as in billions more. The amount in 1 cup of your homemade yogurt will put any supplement or commercial yogurt to shame.
2) Virtually lactose-free. Long fermentation means that virtually all the lactose is converted to galactose. Galactose is much easier to digest, lactose-intolerant or not.
3) Next, you control the additives. This recipe lists no sugar, no colorings, no artificial flavorings, just a starter amount of plain yogurt and milk. Next time you’re at the store, take a look at the ingredients in commercial yogurt. Even “plain” ones often have thickeners and additives. Flavored and non-organic ones, forget about it! Ten to 20 ingredients, most of which are not good for you. Ever looked at key lime Yoplait? Really, yogurt should not be that color.
4) Plain and simple, it will taste better. Plain commercial yogurt often has a sour taste. Not homemade. Who knows how long the commercial one has been setting? Your yogurt will be as fresh as your milk, and you’ll taste the difference. If you get milk fresh from the farm, you’ll have the freshest yogurt on the block.
5) You’ve got options. If you’re allergic to milk or eat dairy-free, you can play around with other milks such as soy, almond, and coconut. Although it will take some experimentation to get the right texture, you will come away with a healthy, bacteria-loaded fermented whole food you can tolerate.
6) You’ll save money over regular plain dairy yogurt, and especial over specialties yogurts. Due to my children’s intolerances (yes, I’m one of those parents), I’ve gone dairy-free and soy-free while nursing. Oh, and gluten-free. While training for a 100-mile 10,000+ feet elevation-gain mountain bike race, I ate anything allergen-free that I could get my hands on, including coconut milk yogurt. At $1.50 per 6 ounces, this indulgence didn’t last long. If only I’d had known how to be a happy yogurt-making hippy cyclist then.
You don’t have to live on the prairie or in a tree house to love homemade yogurt. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy, fun, and delicious. Give it a try. It doesn’t cost much and delivers big-time in the nutrition department.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.