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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why I Tried to Make Homemade Yogurt Four Different Times

Look!  Homemade YOGURT!  I finally did it :o)  Also pictured: homemade applesauce (apples from our tree in the yard!) and homemade granola.  Holy Sally Homemaker!

Anyways I feel like successfully making homemade yogurt is a huge kitchen milestone for me so pardon my enthusiasm.  I started trying to make homemade yogurt almost two years ago.  I had read this post about all the amazing health benefits of yogurt.  And we didn't drink much pasteurized milk because I had learned that in the absence of all the good bacteria and enzymes (that pasteurization kills) it can be hard for your body (especially babies) to break down lactose.

So I was literally buying two big tubs of yogurt EACH WEEK just for Lily and myself!  We ate it every day... either for breakfast or lunch.  I sometimes used it to make salad dressing or dips for veggies.  Or chicken nuggets ;o)

But buying tub after tub of that stuff isn't cheap!  Especially when I learned it's *easy* to make it at home.  This really appealed to me because a) I like doing things cheap b) I love knowing exactly what's going in my food and c) I LOVED the idea of being able to make more yogurt as soon as we ran out instead of having to run to the store.  Oh, and I was drowning in yogurt cartons that I didn't want to just throw away (we didn't recyle at Keesler.  Bad hippie Jessica, bad hippie.)

Okay so moving on.  I found Katie's tutorial on making yogurt to be far from easy.  Or maybe, it was easy but I just kept doing something wrong.  Because I tried her method twice and all I ended up with in the morning was lumpy milk.  Which I turned into smoothies.  For what felt like weeks!

Then someone told me that crock pot yogurt was dummy-proof.  Which is apparently not true either... at least not for this dummy.  I gave up after that third attempt for awhile.  I was tired of sour milk smoothies and failed attempts.  For someone who's usually pretty good in the kitchen, I couldn't handle any more failure!  

But THEN we got to Germany and I encountered a yogurt dilemma that I've been struggling with for this whole year.  There is really really great quality yogurt in relatively large tubs on the economy (at the German stores).  I really prefer to buy in tubs since we eat so much of it... at least it's the cheapest way I can do it since I apparently can't make it, I thought.  But unfortunately, at the base Commissary, they only sold these weird Danish cartons of yogurt in the plain variety.

Now, plain is important to me.  We sweeten it up with granola or fruit.  No high fructose corn syrup or sugar for us, please!  Also, whole yogurt is important to me.  I think our bodies (even mine and Jesse's and yours!) need the full-fat version of things... it's closer to the way God made stuff!  Plus the girls need the fat for sure to grow strong.  Grow bones, grow!

I tried asking the Commissary to stock the large tubs of whole yogurt but they said they can't cause it's not in high enough demand here.  Pssssht.  Jerks.

So when I shopped on the economy, I bought two tubs.  When I shopped at the Commissary (which is the one I usually end up with) I grumpily bought the silly carton.

But THEN they got rid of the carton of plain!  Now they only sell banana and strawberry!  The only plain yogurt that's full fat at the Commi now is these tiny (expensive!) single serves of plain greek yogurt.  Grumble grumble.

When our friend Kyle told me he'd successfully made homemade yogurt recently I vowed to try yet again.  I wasn't buying any more of those stupid, expensive cups.  Which, by the way, are about a half serving compared to what the girls and I usually eat each day.  No good.

So I used this recipe that Kyle had success with.  Don't pick on Kyle for reading a blog called the frugal girl.  His girlfriend sent him the recipe.  Also don't pick on Kyle for making homemade yogurt.  He wants to open a restaurant someday and he's probably better in the kitchen than me.  I mean, we haven't had a cook-off, yet, but we do swap kitchen adventure stories, which is kind of fun.

Back to the yogurt.  I also used Annie's idea to incubate the yogurt in my oven.  Because I don't have a cooler.  And I figured my tiny German oven is about the same size as a cooler and just as well insulated.  I just preheated the oven with my baking stone in it and then turned it off.  I put the jars on top of towels and put a pot of hot water next to them.  Then I closed the oven door, went to sleep, and crossed my fingers all night.

And boom!  My fridge (and my children's tummies) will now have a never-ending supply of homemade yogurt!  The best part?  I used raw milk from Wasgau!  So it's like the healthiest, most expensive yogurt you can buy... except that I didn't have to!  WOOHOOOOO!

The end.


  1. congratulations Dil! great job- and success that you will enjoy ever day :) proud of you for persevering xoxoxoxo (can't wait to taste!)

  2. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. No prob! I thought of you cause I knew you were interested in the "why"

  3. Replies
    1. Did your crock pot yogurt ever turn out? I remember you saying you tried it.

    2. It did! Thanks for asking. I'm so glad it worked for you! :)

  4. Raw milk homemade yogurt?! I will be right over.

    1. I know, right? I'm especially glad it worked cause J doesn't like the taste of drinking the milk but he doesn't mind fruit and yogurt parfaits sent with him to work. Everyone wins ;o)

  5. Yay! Way to go! I was actually thinking of your yogurt attempts recently. It is impossible to find full fat plain yogurt here too! Argh! Maybe I'll have to give it a try...someday...maybe. :)

    1. I know I don't understand why it's so hard to find at the Commi. I guess it's because everyone's so gungho about lowfat. At Keesler I had to buy the organic plain full fat and THAT was definitely not cheap! If you do decide you want to do it let me know ahead of time and I can talk you through some of my mistakes ;o) so you don't have to make them yourself!

  6. yay! I just found a source of raw milk for $2 a gallon, and made a gallon of yogurt yesterday and FORGOT about it in the oven. Now I know what I'll be having for naptime snack!