I love yogurt and eat it so much on a weekly basis (calcium for my healing bones!) that it was probably worth looking into making my own to save some money. I always buy tubs of plain 2% Greek or regular yogurt and add my own flavourings (fruits, nuts, granola, etc.). I don’t bother with the tiny cups of flavoured, sweetened yogurt.

After watching this video, I was sold.

My husband, however, was hesitant on the idea. He said it likely wasn’t worth the trouble. I gave it a rest.

We both welcomed the idea again when he saw one of his friends at school eating his own homemade yogurt. His friend explained how it worked out for him, and so we gave it a go.

Trial 1

We followed this recipe/method from The Kitchn exactly.

The basic idea:

  1. Heat milk to 200°F. We used 3.5% milk. We had a candy/deep-fry thermometer to measure the temperature.
  2. Cool milk to about 115°F.
  3. Add some yogurt (acts as a starter of active bacterial cultures).
  4. Wait for the yogurt to set for at least four hours, maintaining a temperature 115°F. How we did it: We pre-heated our oven to 350ºF for ONE MINUTE and then TURNED IT OFF. We placed the pot of milk in the warm oven for four hours WITH THE OVEN LIGHT ON (for a bit more heat).
  5. Strain water (whey) from the yogurt.

My husband doesn’t like cheese and was scared that if we let the yogurt set for too long (Step 4), it would turn into a cheese-like product. Okay, fine. We checked the yogurt immediately at the four-hour mark. We totally felt like scientists.

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The result: It was incredibly sour. I’ve been having plain yogurt for years and it surely didn’t taste the same. My husband could even smell how sour it was and didn’t even want to taste it!

Possible reason: Perhaps our starter yogurt was too old. Although it was sitting in our fridge for a week before we used it, it was still unopened and totally fine as far as the expiry date went. We couldn’t find a good block of time to make the yogurt so it had to wait for that long.

And so we literally had to throw away half a gallon of milk down the drain. Boo. We obviously didn’t save any money there.

Trial 2

We weren’t giving up so easily. We gave it a go again using the same recipe/method, with a brand new tub of starter yogurt.

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Checking the yogurt after four hours

The result: It tasted just the way it should this time! Success!

We STRUGGLED with straining it though. Petty arguments and spilled whey were involved…

We first started using a fine mesh strain but nearly everything went through it. We then used a cloth stretched on top of a bowl to drain the whey.

Though we wanted to make some Greek yogurt, we didn’t have time to check it after two to four hours of straining. Because of poor planning, we started making the yogurt at 7:00 pm and we therefore finished around midnight. We weren’t going to wake up at 2:00 am just for yogurt.

After straining the yogurt, we got something in between the consistency of regular and Greek yogurt.

While heating the milk, some milk on the bottom of the pot got a little burnt so we ended up having few little light brown bits in our yogurt. Wah.

The verdict

Does homemade yogurt taste better?

No. I didn’t find a big difference in taste. My husband found it slightly more tart compared to commercial yogurt though.

Is homemade yogurt cheaper to make?

Not surprisingly, yes.

A 750g tub of plain 2% yogurt costs approximately $4 CAD. $2.50 when on sale.

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A 4L bag of 3.5% or 2% milk costs around $6.50 in Québec.

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In Trial 2, we used 5 cups of milk (instead of the recipe’s half gallon; we were running out of milk then but we really had to use the starter culture) which yielded 3 cups of yogurt (coincidentally the amount of yogurt in a 750g tub). At $6.50 for 4L of milk, 5 cups of milk or 3 cups/750g of homemade yogurt costs $1.92 to make yourself.

If you’re like us who buys yogurt on sale, you end up saving $0.58 per 750g of yogurt. For a couple like ourselves, who buys 750g of yogurt about once a week, that means a savings of around $30 per year.

Otherwise, at the regular price of $4 vs. the homemade price of $1.92 for 750g of yogurt, you can save a whopping $2.08 per tub!

Is it worth the time and effort to make?

Considering the time, effort, and cost, we’re still not convinced. Since Trial 2, we haven’t made our own yogurt again.

While yogurt in our local grocery store usually goes on sale, the price of milk always stays the same. If milk could go on sale, then it would definitely be worth it. But it doesn’t. For $0.58 of savings per week on reduced-priced yogurt… it’s not really worth it. Perhaps the electricity used in heating the milk on the stove already costs that much.

I also prefer Greek yogurt and we also still need to see if we can be successful in making that ourselves, how much yogurt this would yield, and how much money we can save.

But we do plan to make yogurt occasionally to benefit from the savings (especially on regular-priced yogurt). We realistically don’t have the time and patience to make yogurt EVERY SINGLE WEEK, but if we have a good block of time on a weekend to do it, why not? The actual active time of checking the milk and setting it up for straining amounts to only about an hour, and the waiting time is about six to seven hours.

We can also try exploring other less laborious and finicky methods out there. We’ve barely touched the surface of the world of homemade yogurt.

Other articles on DIY yogurt:

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