Yoghurt report

April 28, 2009

OK, I’m sold. The end product was delicious and thick.

On the frugality front, I think on balance making your own yoghurt is a winner in several ways. (Yesterday’s post has links to instructions).

  1. The actual time investment appears to be in heating and then cooling the milk. Specifically, you need to keep an eye on the milk and stir it if you don’t want a boiling milk disaster. Depending on the texture you want, and whether you’re prepared to risk the dormant bugs in pasteurised milk taking over, it appears from my reading that you can get away with not heating the milk past 40C — which would save you the cooling time. Anyway, I put the milk on while I was prepping dinner, so the miracle of multi-tasking meant this wasn’t actually an issue.
  2. There is no need for special equipment beyond what I normally have in the house.
  3. A kilogram of plain yoghurt is about twice the price of a kilogram of low-fat milk. Specifically, one saves about $2. We go through a kg of yoghurt almost every week, so that’s $100 annually. I’d like to find $100 in the cutlery drawer, wouldn’t you?
  4. The end result could be considered superior to the bought one, so there’s an added win.

Today I had a little look at Woolworth’s online supermarket just to remind myself of costs. I found this instructive. It’s much easier to scan their page than it is to be in a supermarket and scan a shelf. Have you noticed how hard it is to concentrate and do mental arithmetic in a supermarket? I’m sure they’re designed that way.

Want bifidus or acidophilus? Just use the dregs of your last commercial yoghurt for your starter culture. The posh special culture yoghurt is about $6kg rather than $4.50 or so. We can culture the bacteria ourselves when we make our own yoghurt, so it interests me that we are to pay $1.50 for special bugs. Are they that special? I suspect that this is actually an example of segmentation. People who are into yoghurt for “inner health” reasons are people who are prepared to pay a premium, which the manufacturers obligingly charge. I tend to feel this is a racket, so expect to see Dr Judd’s Cultural Treasure yoghurt in the dairy chiller soon. (My Dad is distinguished looking and has an actual PhD, so we’ll put his portait on the back of the container.)



  1. Heating milk for yoghurt is one of the few things I use the microwave for. Once you’ve determined how long it takes to heat a litre of milk (8 mins for my microwave from fridge temperature), you can just set and forget. It then takes about 45 mins to cool to optimum temperature for adding the starter culture.

    Handy hint 1: use a sieve and a piece of muslin to strain the yoghurt to make it even thicker. If you forget about it, you get labneh cheese 🙂

    Handy hint 2: buttermilk is even easier to make. Just whisk together some fresh store-bought buttermilk and ordinary milk together in about a 1:4 ratio and leave out at room temperature until it thickens (clabbers) – can take a couple of days. No need to heat the milk first.



  2. Re commercial probiotic products (those marketed to improve intestinal health etc) – the problem with those that require refrigeration is that temperature abuse (eg the storeperson left them outside the back door of the supermarket for an hour in the sun before loading them into the chiller) can render them effectively useless. Not so sure if this is such a problem in NZ but when I was in the UK I read a couple of research articles that posited that in huge markets such as the UK and Europe, due to the greater food miles that many of these products travelled (and greater opportunity for incidences of temp abuse to occur) that the products were a total waste of time and money.

  3. the only crazy thing is that the yoghurt can vary every time you make it, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

    on average though, it’s a saving that mounts up during the year. after a awhile you find yourself increasing your dairy intake…

  4. I have an instant read thermometer, so I’m hoping the variability you note is due to temperature and therefore avoidable.

    But yes, it’s so delicious I am already tempted to eat more than is wise…

  5. if you find yourself eating just yoghurt and berry jam, or honey, you might need professional intervention.

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