Posts Tagged ‘yoghurt’

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Mammoth insecurity

January 12, 2011

Apart from being cheap, we here at Frugal Me are sound feminists,so we’d like to draw your attention to Maia at The Hand Mirror having a crack at “Mammoth Supply Company[1]” Yoghurt.

So how do you sell the idea that the official food of woman in apricot and manuka honey flavour is manly? Silly question – all you need is to emphasise misogyny, homophobia and the extreme danger of girl germs.

I have nothing in particular to say about her take on this other than “hear hear.” (A while ago though, I did think about this on the other channel — is there something about Fonterra and the elusive insecure male? Is it just that milk is irretrievably coded as feminine? I think we could have a psychoanalytic field day here.) However, I would like to relate a curious incident today at the New World Metro on Willis Street, where I often buy lunch ingredients when I’m caught short.

I like Greek yoghurt in my lunch, and I haven’t been very good about making it at home in recent weeks, and so I was perusing the dairy fridge. In principle I applaud this supermarket for displaying unit prices along with the actual price — their labels tell you the price per gram, or millilitre or whatever. I looked at the unit prices for yoghurt and I was struck by how very cheap Mammoth yoghurt seemed. “Why, it’s almost an order of magnitude cheaper” I thought to myself.

Well no. Very close inspection showed that every other yoghurt was showing the price per kilogram, but the Mammoth labels were showing the price per 100 grams. Odd. Once I figured this out, I realised that at $14/kg, it was not only no bargain but about 50% more expensive than comparable yoghurts that weren’t investing $$$ assuring me that they wouldn’t turn me into a girl. Perhaps the target market is not only insecure about their masculinity, but also bad at maths.

I think that could be a rule of thumb. If a product’s notional appeal is based on the consumer having but fragile confidence in their sexuality, it’s probably over-priced, or low quality (think Tui beer), or both.

[1] FFS, how stupid do you think we are, Fonterra? I happen to know that mammoths are extinct, and even if they weren’t, they would be quite difficult to milk.

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Making your own cottage cheese

October 12, 2009

Following hard on the heels of Stephen’s now-famous yoghurt-making antics, I thought I’d try out making cottage cheese, and see if the savings were enough to get me into the paper as well. I didn’t think that one would work twice, and thought I’d make do with the kind of crazy google hits were going to get off the frequent use of the word cottage.

If there is anything that makes me think of the 1970s it is cottage cheese. That and bean sprouts. But because around here we mostly stick to seasonal vegetables, getting greens for sandwiches is tricky, so sprouts it is. Likewise, with cheese being at times unreasonably expensive, cottage cheese is a good fat-and-protein addition to liven up lunches.

So how to make it? Easy. Put a litre of milk into a pot and apply heat, when it’s tipping 80-odd degrees, put one 1/4 cup of white vinegar into the mix and stir gently. The milk will curdle, and you strain the hot mixture through a muslin. And…. voila. Cottage cheese, or paneer, depending on your background.

I keep the whey and continually try to find uses for it, but let the curds cool in the fridge, mash it with a fork, and moisten it with some of that home-made yoghurt (you can’t use the whey, doesn’t work well). This makes it, to coin a phrase, just like the bought one.

And the savings. Well, I bought a litre of milk for this costing $2.09, and made 250g of cheese. 250g at the supermarket cost $2.35 the last time I checked. We’ll call that one “not a substantial saving”.

However, there are some key differences. My cottage cheese is incredibly simple to make, and is not time consuming. It is also without unnecessary packaging, and hasn’t been transported half-way across the country or world to my fridge (ignoring the packaging/transport of the milk, which I buy in bulk). Also, I know exactly what’s in it, something the me who has worked in food manufacturing knows is very, very important.

All in all you’d need decent access to a ready supply of cheap or free milk to make this one work well. But, there is satisfaction in making your own food, and in knowing that it has a low carbon-cost. Plus, you get to try celery sticks stuffed with raisins, and topped with cottage cheese! 1978 par excellence.

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Further yoghurt report

May 24, 2009

Since I first blogged about making yoghurt at home, I have made a couple of discoveries.

  1. You can use skim milk powder instead of fresh milk. This is a win on two fronts. It saves even more money, and it saves time, because you don’t have to waste time simmering the milk — you can just make it up with hot water.
  2. Cheesecloth costs about $4 per metre, and with half a metre you  have enough to strain your own Greek yoghurt, which is my favourite kind. You can use the whey that’s left in pancakes or scones or what have you.

In my unscientific way, I’ve noticed that the yoghurt mix sachet section in the supermarket has grown substantially recently. I theorise that yoghurty thriftiness is in the air, so to speak. Anyway, I don’t know what you get in a sachet that maes them better than using milk powder and old yoghurt starter. Enlighten me.

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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.)

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Yoghurt

April 26, 2009

Made batch of yoghurt just now, partly following the Tibby Method ™ and partly Harold McGee at the NYT. Full report tomorrow.

I’m not sure this is really that frugal, since yoghurt is basically only twice the price of milk and it takes a while, but I have high hopes anyway.