Friday, December 28, 2012

My Thoughts and Recommendations on Yogurt

 So you may be wondering what kind of yogurt I use in the delicious yogurt bowl pictured above.

I have used this recipe to make homemade yogurt a few times.  Homemade yogurt tastes exactly like yogurt should taste, but it will be much thinner...almost a runny consistency.  You could probably strain off some of the whey using cheesecloth, and it would be absolutely perfect.  You would definitely save some money and have total control over what ingredients are used and how your yogurt is made.  You could even try making a raw milk yogurt (something I have not yet attempted).

While frugality and thrift are very important to me and I like to do everything homemade as much as possible, I am in a season where I just don't have time for everything.  Some trade-offs have to be made.  If I can buy a descent store-bought version of something without paying an exorbitant premium, I use that to my advantage so my time can be freed up for something else.

In order of priority, what I look for in a plain, store-bought yogurt is that it:
  • Is organic, or even better, from grass-fed cows
  • Is whole milk (not low-fat or non-fat)
  • Contains as few ingredients as possible (ideally only whole milk/cream and living cultures - many brands, even organic ones, contain powdered milk and various gums, thickeners, and stabilizers which I try to avoid).
Regarding pasteurization: you will find that, even in most homemade yogurt recipes, the milk is first heated up and then cooled down before inoculating with the yogurt culture.  The reason is that this ensures the yogurt culture can thrive with no competition.  When making raw milk yogurt, the milk is only heated to about 110 degrees, thereby leaving much of the good bacteria and enzymes in raw milk in tact, but it's a very temperamental process.  So for me personally, it makes most sense to use my raw milk that's past its prime for making homemade kefir and to find a good pasteurized milk for homemade yogurt or a good pasteurized store-bought yogurt instead.  The yogurt cultures actually bring "dead" milk back to life.  It is relatively safe and healthy to eat yogurt made from pasteurized milk versus drinking straight pasteurized milk because the cultures do so much work to undo a lot of the damage that has been done in the heating process.

So now that you know what to look for, you are probably wondering if I can make it easy on you and tell you what the heck I use!

The above yogurt on the left is available at Trader Joe's for $2.99 for 32 ounces (2 pounds).  The above yogurt on the right is available at my local health food store for $4.29 for the same amount.

Would you believe me if I told you these are the exact. same. thing.?!

It's true!

The above photo is the back label on the Trader Joe's brand.  You can see the plant # is 06-93.  Using, I traced that plant number back to - you guessed it - Straus Family Creamery!

Straus Family Creamery is an excellent company.  Their only drawback, in my mind, is that they pasteurize (but not ultra-pasteurize) their products.  However, their cows are treated well and are mostly grass-fed, they are certified organic, and they are a small, family-owned company that cares about its people, its products, and the environmental impact of its business practices.  I have bought their cream-top milk (also a bargain under the Trader Joe's label) and have used that when our raw milk is unavailable due to recalls, for example.

So in short, a good, happy compromise for me is to stock up on "Trader Joe's" (i.e. Straus) European Style whole milk yogurt every time I'm there.  It is absolutely delicious, a great price, and I have complete confidence in the quality.  I pretty much only use the yogurt for yogurt bowls since it is much thicker and milder than our kefir.  I use the homemade kefir in smoothies where I can better mask the very tart flavor.  Both are excellent foods to include in our diet which supply us with good healthy fats and a plethora of immune-boosting pro-biotic bacteria.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Raw milk in my area is so rare and expensive so I do buy the TJ's cream top milk from time to time. I love TJ's European style yogurt and have been buying only that