I am a firm believer that almost anything can thrive with LOVE & SUNSHINE. You see, I’m having one of those days when I may as well be drowning in toddlerhood. The little one wants to potty train herself, yet wants to scream bloody murder when poop comes out.
(Is this even an appropriate convo to start a post on yogurt?). Probably not…
Sorry friends. It’s all poop and potty talk in this house today. And I’m trying my hardest to get rolling on this blog again. We’ve been soaking in these days of summer – as much pool time as we can squeeze in, mixed with a beautiful hike in the woods yesterday and bike riding and tree climbing. I love when Pippa asks me to spend “Mommy-Pippa time” with her up high in the branches of the Magnolia tree. That is the best spot EVER to spy on neighbors as they stroll by our home! Ha!
And then those glorious weekend days fade back into the school week, and here I am with the fussy toddler trying to tread water. And potty train. And meal plan. And sort of clean up the house. And pay bills. And get back to this blog, dang it, because I enjoy writing about life.
Just as the gardens (and weeds!) are thriving with love and sunshine, so do we all. We soak it in and become happier people. On days like this I must remind myself that even my babies just need more time in the sun and grass between their toes. More eating raspberries off the bush. More hugs. More snuggles. For it’s the only way to keep from drowning sometimes.
Do you know what else thrives on love and sunshine? Food. The cows thrive on sun-fattened grasses and give luxurious milk. I make it into yogurt and nourish my family (and save money!). Win-win. Nothing but love and sunshine.
Grassfed Yogurt – How to Save Money while Making the Best
Back when I first quit my job to stay home with my then 1-year old (with #2 on the way) we were cutting corners wherever possible to save money. As we grew to a family of four and both kids and I ate yogurt every day for lunch, it was getting expensive. We would go through 2-3 quarts of yogurt a week! This equated to anywhere from $10-$15/week of our total grocery budget for yogurt (I think we were budgeting $70 at the time, yikes!) So I did some research and started making our own homemade yogurt using whole grass fed milk, and discovered that even by using the best quality dairy available we were saving money!
When we eat dairy we try to always eat it in fermented form: cheese or yogurt. This cuts down on sugar consumption from the naturally occurring Galactose in plain milk. Not only do we try to get a significant amount of calcium from yogurt, but we only eat whole milk products, and when it’s in the budget we aim to purchase grass-fed dairy such as Grass Milk for our yogurt making. Have you checked the price of grass-fed dairy lately? Around us it clocks in at around $5.99 per half gallon. Not cheap, but definitely the best choice (unless you’re in the raw milk camp, which we are not).
For that price I can make a gallon (4 quarts) of yogurt for $12. If we go with just organic whole milk, the total cost is about $7. Grass fed whole milk yogurt in the grocery store is notoriously hard to come by (unless you frequent a Whole Foods), and the typical Dannon or Chiobani whole milk yogurt with probiotics runs on average $4-$5 a quart.
Why spend $16-$20 per gallon on store bought yogurt when I can make it for half that price?
It’s surprisingly easy to make if you dedicate about 3 hours to being at home (most of that is just wait time) every two weeks. Here’s our fail-proof recipe:
Homemade Grass Fed Yogurt Recipe
*I’ve included links to ingredients I use and love. When you purchase something via one of these affiliate links, I receive a small commission but the price is the same for you*
Makes: 4 quarts of yogurt Time required: 3 hours total (about 15 minutes hands on)
- 4 glass Mason jars with lids and rings
- A large stock pot that will fit all jars and is at least as tall as the jars
- One washcloth (to set on the bottom of the pot and keep the jars from rattling as the water boils).
- Yogurt. *If this is your first batch, purchase a small container of store bought yogurt that has the strains of probiotics you want. I use Dannon for mine, but be sure to check the label. After your first batch you can use starter cultures from your existing yogurt.
- 1 gallon of milk. I use organic whole milk, grass fed when possible.
- Place a small washcloth on the bottom of a tall pot. I use our 10 gallon stock pot. Set 4 quart sized mason jars in the pot.
- Fill the mason jars to about 1 inch below the top with the milk of your choice. We use whole milk, grass fed when possible.
- Fill the pot to about 1.5 inches below the top of the yogurt containers with HOT water. I’ve found that if I fill it with cold and heat the pot too quickly, I’ll occasionally get a broken jar from the temperature difference.
- Place on the stove over medium heat with a thermometer (I use a candy thermometer so it can hook on the edge of the glass). If it begins to boil, turn down the heat so that the water doesn’t “jump” into your yogurt.
- Heat for about 30 minutes, or until the milk reaches 185 degrees F.
- CAREFULLY with an oven mitt lift the jars out of the water bath. Occasionally one will have broken during the heating, so I always do this part slowly and let it drip over the pot for a few seconds. Better to have it break over the pot than your stove (trust me!). Place jars on a heat proof surface (or stovetop) to cool. Place a lid on top to keep dust out and set a timer for roughly 2 hours. If this is your first batch, you’ll want to check the temperature sooner so that it does not cool too quickly.
- When the milk has cooled to between 100-110 degrees, take a spoon and skim off the layer that has formed on top of each jar.
- Scoop 2 Tbsp of your starter yogurt (either store bought with probiotics or from your last batch of homemade yogurt) into each jar. Stir gently, being careful not to overstep. Place the lid and ring back on each jar.
- Place jars into a cooler. I always heat up a rice sock in the oven (200 degrees for 10 minutes) to help the yogurt maintain a slightly above room temp for a bit during fermentation. Leave it for 20-24 hours and then refrigerate. It will be set at this point, but you will get a much nicer consistency once it has had a chance to sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so.
Plain yogurt is amazing with some unsweetened applesauce mixed in (I’m personally in love with Trader Joe’s version), or with Homemade Paleo Granola on top.
How about you, what are your favorite yogurt toppings?
Love and sunshine, my friends. Love and sunshine.