I eat a lot of yogurt. Sometimes up to three of those little cup-ish packages from the store. However, like the price of everything else, the price of those little individual servings has gone way up. I am paying about 69 cents a piece (if I use 3 per day, this makes it over $14 per week. I know I can get the larger size (I think it’s a quart). The store brand in that size is about $4.89, but then I get stuck with one flavor. If I get extra things (fruit) to put into it, then I end up paying even more because I can’t usually buy just four strawberries or just 1/8 cup of blueberries. You get it, right?
Years ago, when I was first married, okay DECADES ago, my ex used to make his own yogurt and taught me. We’d make it a couple of times a week and add our own flavors or toppings to it. I could also use it for other recipes when I was cooking. We used to make it on the stove, with no “maker” just the milk and the yogurt starter, then we’d put it inside our gas oven and it would grow and set. Later, when times were a little better, we got an electric yogurt maker. By the time the kids came along, we were doing better financially and our lives got busier so making our own yogurt became a thing of the past. I had all but forgotten about it.
I’ve really been trying to eat healthy. I’m diabetic and at the last check up, my cholesterol was too high. Two weeks after the doctor told me I needed to reduce my cholesterol level, I gave up eating eggs. A week after that, I gave up eating meat. Well I almost gave up. My youngest daughter hasn’t eaten meat of any kind (not even fish) in about six years. Now when she is near meat, the smell of it upsets her stomach. If she wanted to start eating meat again, it would cause great physical discomfort. She would have to introduce it very gradually. According to articles I have read, when a person stops eating meat, their body will no longer produce the enzyme that breaks down the meat into nutrients and by-products. With this knowledge, when I gave up eating meat (in January of 2007), I decided to allow myself to eat meat once per week. After about six or seven months of that, I lost the appetite for meat so now I have it occasionally, perhaps once or twice a month. I do eat fish. That’s what keeps me going. One can only eat so much soy products! (Soy by the way, is great for menopausal women. Daily intake of soy does away with the need to take hormones!)
And so I get back to my yogurt. I decided that I would make my own yogurt so that I can use skim milk and no sugar or other flavors, adding only fresh fruit or granola when I eat it. By making my own, I would be eating healthier and cutting cost at the same time. Perfect. I had forgotten the exact amounts of milk and yogurt starter to use but I remembered the process. I seemed to remember that we used about a tablespoon of starter but I wasn’t sure. I looked it up online. I got the information I needed and also read that I had to heat the milk to at least 185 degrees then let it cool to 110. I was supposed to use a candy thermometer to insure that I had the temperatures right. Then came the incubation period. How was I going to maintain the 90 to 110 degrees for ten to twelve hours? My oven is electric, not gas, so there is no pilot light to keep it at the right temperature. The websites I looked at recommended a few set ups, all of which were way too complicated and I didn’t have the right equipment anyway. I would have to go out and get several things. Now we were back to the money issues. (I recently moved to a different state and am still recovering from the moving expenses so money is scarce at the moment.)
Freecycle. Have you ever heard of it? I’ve been using it for about five years. I decided to list the items I needed for making my own yogurt, hoping that someone would have the little individual jars or even larger wide mouth jars with lids. I also needed a candy thermometer. I also listed an electric yogurt maker as an alternative, thinking someone might have one lying around that they didn’t use any more. You know, like when someone gives you something as a gift and you have no use for it but you still keep it, stuck away in a closet or the garage for years and years! I posted the ad and waited. Nothing happened. No one had anything I needed. I waited some more. Then I got restless and decided to go out and buy an electric yogurt maker. I searched Target, Walmart, K-mart, Fred Meyer, and several other places. No one had one. They all list them on their websites but the stores near me (okay, within 100 miles of me) do not carry them. I never buy stuff online because of the added shipping so that was out. Plus I wanted it NOW!
So I did the next best thing. I started going to all the Goodwill stores, Salvation Army shops, and any other thrift shop I could find. The area I live in has a lot of thrift shops. I went every day. For two weeks I went everyday. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
On Saturday I didn’t feel well. I stayed in bed most of the day. I never went out of the house. My stomach was upset. This underscored the need for having yogurt. I hadn’t had any in over a week. Sunday came around and I dragged myself out of bed. I couldn’t stay in bed again because I could already feel myself getting depressed and that’s the last thing I need. So I pulled myself together and headed to the Goodwill Outlet, also known as the Bins. You must see this place. It’s a huge warehouse building with long bins full of stuff. Everything you can think of is there, mostly in pieces, but it’s there. One of the neat things is that they sell things by weight. For example, if you buy one to ten pounds of items, you pay $1.69 a pound. The more you buy, the lower the per pound price. They weight glass separately because it weighs so much more and they have a much lower price per pound for that (I think it’s about 39 cents per pound). It’s a fun thing to do. Even if you don’t need anything, a trip to the Bins is distracting and fun and some times will yield something neat for very little money. When my son was here a couple of weeks ago, he didn’t bring a jacket because he came here from 100+ degree weather. Here, he needed a jacket. We went to the Bins and he found a jacket exactly like the one he has at home that he paid $35 for. The Bin price? Less than $3! What a deal.
So as I walked into the Goodwill Outlet yesterday, I walked to one bin. The first bin. Yup. Guess what was there?! A yogurt maker. Brand new. In the box. Sealed. Yippee! I quickly grabbed it. Then I noticed that almost right next to it, in the same bin, there was a brand new candy thermometer. Yup, still in the package! I grabbed that too and headed for the register, paid less than $3 for the two items and walked out with the most hugest grin on my face! (Okay, I know that is horrible English but at the moment I don’t care.)
I’m now making my first batch of yogurt. I have a feeling it will be the best tasting yogurt I have had in a long, long time.
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