There are plenty of benefits of making common kitchen staples at home: an expertly whipped aioli is a great way to earn counter cred at dinner parties; the flavor and freshness of canned heirloom tomatoes can’t be touched by their supermarket counterparts; and pesto made with basil from your garden will save you a few bucks on your grocery bill. We’ll take any one of these aspects as reason enough to make something from scratch instead of heading to the store, but occasionally, you can achieve the trifecta with one homemade item.
Yogurt is one of those rare examples of a product that impresses your friends, tastes better, and saves you money. It’s not even very difficult to make—all you need is warmed milk, a yogurt culture, and time. You can use active yogurt you already have to make your first batch, and then save a little from each batch to start the next. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Just one bite of creamy homemade yogurt should be enough to convince you to ditch the commercial version, but we decided to crunch the numbers and find out just how much you can save with DIY yogurt.
If you’re just starting out making your own yogurt, you shouldn’t need to purchase any equipment. There are countless methods of yogurt making, and every, er, “yogi” swears by their own process. Follow your heart here, but you can opt to make yours with a Crock-Pot, a sous vide, a stovetop, a warm water bath, a kombucha heating mat, or even an oven with the light left on. Of course, you could also purchase a yogurt maker, but this will cut into your cost-savings a bit.
The simplest method is to use a little bit of plain yogurt you already have, whole milk, and any warming device available. Pro tip: make sure the yogurt you’re using has “live active cultures” listed as an ingredient. These are what will magically transform the milk into yogurt.
- First, heat your milk to 180 degrees F in a heavy pot. You can use any amount, but I usually like to make a quart, because that’s a manageable amount for a week. Whole milk will yield the creamiest results.
- Remove from heat and let the temperature drop to 115 degrees F.
- In a separate bowl, combine about ¼ cup of your leftover yogurt with a small amount of the warmed milk, and then add that mixture back into the pot and stir.
- Transfer the mixture to a (quart) jar, screw on the lid, and leave it in a warm place. You could put it near a heating vent, on a kombucha mat, or in the oven with just the light on. Wrapping the jar in a towel can also help keep some of the heat in. Alternatively, you could transfer the mixture to a yogurt maker at this point.
- Now, we wait! Let your yogurt sit, undisturbed, for 10 to 12 hours (or longer). The longer you leave it, the thicker and tangier it will be.
- Once your yogurt has thickened to your satisfaction, refrigerate it for several hours before you eat it.
- If you prefer Greek yogurt, you can simply strain your yogurt through a cheese cloth spread over a strainer and let it sit for several hours. The result will be a thick, creamy Greek yogurt and a pool of whey below, which can be used in smoothies, juices, and brines.
Now that you know how to pull this off in your own kitchen, let’s get down to business. How much do you stand to save by making your own yogurt?
Using equipment you already have, we figure that you’ll save between $130 and $340 per year, depending on how much yogurt you eat. We did our calculations based on organic products and average DMV prices.
A quart of Stonyfield Organic whole milk yogurt costs about $4.29, while a gallon of Horizon Organic whole milk costs about $6.59. It doesn’t take an accountant to work out that a gallon of milk will produce four quarts of yogurt, meaning that each quart you make at home will only cost you $1.65. That’s a savings of $2.64 per quart.
If you were previously buying an artisanal yogurt brand like Seven Stars Farm, which costs $4.99 a quart, you’ll save $3.34 per quart when you make the switch. And trust us—your homemade yogurt can totally compete with the taste and consistency of the most upscale products on the market.
Over a year, making yogurt at home will save you $137.41 if you eat a quart per week. For larger households that eat a half gallon per week, you’ll save $274.84 per year. In switching from an upscale brand, you’ll save $173.82 per year eating a quart per week and $347.66 per year eating a half gallon per week.
As an added bonus, the active time to your own yogurt is negligible. The majority of the process is spent waiting for the cultures to do their thang. So, when making yogurt provides a superior flavor, requires minimal effort, and saves you hundreds of dollars per year, why wouldn’t you give it a try?