6 June 2008

Making yoghurt

I noticed in the delicatessen the other day that quark is now selling for $19.50 a kilo. Naturally I didn't buy any as I make my own but nevertheless, I was shocked by the price. Of course, any food linked to cattle - beef, milk and cheese - has increased a lot recently. I heard on the news the other day that food prices have doubled in the past couple of years. The price of the quark drove that fact home dramatically.

When my sons were little they drank a lot of milk and I wonder now how young families manage to supply milk to their children. I think if I had young children now, I'd mix powdered milk in with fresh milk to make a saving while still giving the kids a healthy drink. I noticed in Aldi last week their 3 litre (quart) milk is $3.19 - $1.06 a litre. Their UDL milk is $1.09 a litre, so there is not much of a saving there. Aldi powdered milk is $5.99 for 1 kg and you will get 7 litres of milk from 1 kg. That makes each litre 85 cents.

I buy milk from our local diary so I can support local business. Their milk is far superior to Aldi milk in taste and freshness and I usually buy 2 litres a week. It is from guernsey cows and is A2 milk. Last week I bought their 3 litre non-homogenised milk for $4.90 ($1.63 a litre), it's about 70 cents cheaper buying at the diary. We drink this milk, I have a glass occasionally, Hanno has a regular hot chocolate at night. I use powdered milk for everything else - in cooking, to make yoghurt and quark cheese and in all my baking. Using the powdered milk saves me 78 cents for every litre I use.

Last week I made yoghurt using powdered milk and a small tub of natural yoghurt I bought from the diary for $1. So 1 litre or 1 kg of yoghurt cost $1.85 to make. I've just checked online an the equivalent amount of Dairy Farmers traditional yoghurt cost $5.38 at Woolworths, a saving of $3.53.

I've written before about making yoghurt but it's timely now so here I am again trying to convince my younger and newer readers to try this. I've modified the way I make yoghurt and it's REALLY easy. All I did was make a litre - 4 cups - of powdered milk up according to the instructions on the milk packet. Heat this milk up until you see little bubbles appearing on the side of the saucepan, then take it off the heat and allow it to cool. When it's lukewarm add about 100 grams (about 3 tablespoons) of natural yoghurt and stir it in well. Put a lid on your container and put it in a warm oven. I used the oven about an hour after the bread had baked. Don't open the oven door again until the next morning. Then it should look like the photo below. If it's too runny, warm the oven up again and put it in for another eight hours.

The yoghurt may be eaten at this point. To sweeten it, add a little honey or jam. Adding plain yoghurt to your cakes and pancakes will give them a fabulous moistness and texture.

I am making this into quark cheese so I need to remove as much of the whey from the yoghurt as I can. Whey is the liquid part of milk. When the whey is removed, I use it in my baking. To remove the whey, place a strainer over a jug and line the strainer with a piece of moist cotton cloth.

Add the yoghurt to the strainer and cover it with the side pieces of cloth.

Put a small plate or saucer over the top and add a heavy jar or tin to press it down.

Place this in the fridge and leave for 3 or 4 days. When mine is ready, I'll take more photos. Toria has just posted another way to make yoghurt at home, here is her link.

And finally, this is what we had for dinner last night - vegetarian tacos. I also make this with flour tortillas but I needed to use these taco shells.

Take one tin of baked beans and one tin of borlotti beans - or any combination of beans - and mash them with a potato masher. If your beans have no tomato sauce on them, add a tablespoon of tomato paste and a little water. In a saucepan, gently fry one chopped onion, half a capsicum (sweet pepper) and some chilli. Add the beans, salt and pepper to taste, mix well and simmer for five minutes.

Add the bean mix to the shell or tortilla, then add whatever your heart desires. I added tomato and lettuce from our garden and a chopped avocado from a local tree (at work), with some homemade tomato relish and a dollop of light sour cream. Delish!


  1. Your tacos look delicious. Now I know why you had all those cans of baked beans in your pantry. I wondered, because I didn't see you as a baked beans on toast sort of gal :-) I now await with interest a recipe that includes canned spaghetti...
    Seriously though, thanks for this recipe - it had never occurred to me to make my own "refried beans". Simple sharing opens one's eyes to so many possibilities.
    Have you ever investigated how to start yoghurt from scratch - i.e. without the bought starter? Can it be done in a similar way to creating sourdough starter or mother of vinegar?

  2. Interesting coincidence - I was going to put up a recipe for homemade yoghurt on my blog this weekend, I have a wonderfully detailed recipe given to by a friend, the way her mother has always made it.

    We were out shopping together once, and she found 2L milk reduced to $0.99 as it was within a few days of expiry date. So, she grabbed 2 of them, and said it was perfect for making up yoghurt. Then she gave me her recipe :-). It's cheaper than buying yoghurt even at full price, but if you are lucky with timing at the shops, but can make a really cheap batch!

    I think I'll put my recipe up now, you're welcome to come over to read it. I think it's basically the same, I just like all of the handy little hints she added to the recipe, just like having your mum there to show you how to do it.

  3. Hi marg! LOL @ the baked beans and spaghetti. I'm not sure what I could do with our spaghetti, of which I have about half a carton. My sons eat it sometimes when they visit. Oh, I do like baked beans on toast, it's one of my favorite breakfasts but at the moment I'm obsessed with oats and have eaten a porridge breakfast for about three weeks straight.

    You can buy yoghurt starter from any cheese or yoghurt maker. I sometimes have it but when I run out it takes me ages to rememeber to buy it again. You can buy it online here, but only in large size:

  4. Hi toria, let me know when you post your recipe and I'll link to it. I'll be interested to read it and I'm sure the others will too.

  5. I've just put it up.

    BTW: it was mainly your blog which inspired the previous post as well - my first knitted dishcloth :-).

  6. I have been draining the whey from my yogurt for a while as my kids like yogurt that way with honey or preserves on top. I didnt know it was called quark, as it was just the way the kids will eat the yogurt and me too :) I can still get a gallon of milk here for about $2.70 but i am sure it will go up very soon. I can get powdered milk for about $5.30 to make 2 gallons so it isnt a big savings for me but it is very handy to have.

  7. Hi Rhonda,
    Thank you for these ideas and recipes. I particularly thought that using powdered milk in my cooking was a fabulous idea and a great saving to be made. I am not sure if the family will convert to drinking it though! And your yoghurt looks so easy to make. Am I correct in reading that you don't leave the oven on low - you simply put it in after having used the oven but turn it off. Sorry if that is a silly question...
    Thanks Tamara

  8. Rhonda I make yoghurt and quark each week and cannot use all of the whey in my cooking so I feed the residue to the chooks - they love it. I buy the 99C packets of rolled oats from Aldi and mix them up porridge with the whey as a treat on weekend mornings when I am home. Am going to try your taco recipe - I too wondered about all the baked beans. I thought my husband was a big eater of them until I saw YOUR stockpile! LOL. Take care

  9. I didn't know what quark was, or rather I hadn't heard it called that. I just call it yogurt cheese. I've made it many times and it's real yummy if anyone is thinking of trying it. I may try the making yogurt part. That looks pretty easy but I never did that before. Thanks Rhonda. :-)

  10. I have five children and a few years ago I thought about the milk issue a lot. In fact my husband discourages the girls not to drink too much milk, which is a shame. We buy boxes of UHT, when we lived near Coles it was cheaper that way. Now we get it from Murray Goulburn and they have just started with 2 litres cartons. In American low income people get their milk supplied. I forget how it works, my online friend told me.

  11. I have a very simple method for making yoghurt which I have just written out at

    I can't wait to try making quark, which I remember very fondly from staying with friends in Germany many years ago.

  12. I had to look up quark as I had no clue what you were talking about (German cottage cheese?).

    I've been pleased to find a local natural foods market carrying the organic milk we buy at 20 cents cheaper per half gallon than we were paying at the chain natural foods market. I also have a large supply of $1 off coupons that are good until Aug. 31 so that is a big help. With the costs of everything else going up though, I've had to limit my oldest to one glass a day. We're still going through it faster than I like though. Surprisingly, buying the organic powdered milk isn't cheaper for us. I sure wish we had a dairy around here, but raw milk is illegal for human consumption in FL (although many people do it anyway). I'd love to get dairy goats, especially since our zoning allows for livestock, but we don't have the funds to get that underway right now. Maybe someday.

  13. Hi Rhonda Jean :) We will be trying this one of these days (after baby and when a bit of sanity returns - lol).

    A quick question... we love cheeses- can you compare the taste of quark to anything else in the cheese family? I'd never heard of it before visiting with you here.
    Love, Q

    1. I reckon it tastes quite a lot like philadelphia cream cheese. Beautiful creamy texture with a fresh sort of yoghurty tang and easily spreadable. Delicious!

  14. Does your yogurt ever got that furry taste? I believe it is from 'cooking' for too long, I maybe incorrect. We love yogurt but have stopped making it as it always tastes furry and very bitter/ sour.
    Have you ever tried it with soy milk? I am lactose intolerant so it would be great to have soy yogurt, I won't mention the price it is in the shops!
    Thanks for all your wonderful posts

    1. It sounds like you need a fresh starter. Yoghurt usually starts to go bitter after a few generations. Using fresh culture fixes the problem.

  15. Hi Rhonda,

    Thanks for opening my eyes yet again. What a simple way to make yoghurt. I always thought you needed to put it in a box with a lightbulb and wait for ages....no way would I bother. But I'm definitely going to try your way.

    Oh, and, I made soap today! After reading your tutorial a few weeks ago, I carefully and somewhat timidly gathered all the ingredients and then promptly sat back and looked at them. Well, today I re-read the tutorial, realised it wasn't going to be that hard and then I DID IT!! yay! Thank you so much.

    Your blogs never fail to amuse, entertain, inspire and motivate me. Your my first point of call in the mornings (after my babies of course) My Mum was a career woman in the eighties when I was growing up. Thanks for showing me there is another way!


  16. here in the UK, my family get "milk vouchers" - well thats what they used to be called. Now they are called "healthy start" vouchers and can be used to by fresh fruit and veg too. You can get them if you are on a low income. The number of vouchers you get depends on how many children you have under 4 years of age. I have 1 child under 4 and receive 4 tokens even 4 weeks. Each token is worth £3.00. Our milk price varies according to the store but my most recent milk purchase was 3 litres for £1.99 - I bought and after the £3.00 came off the bill I only had 98 pence to pay for th 6 litres of milk. That will probably last us a week - so 98p for a week of milk is ok for us. Thats how I afford milk for my family . :-)

    My family - Me (don't use a lot of milk as I find it bothers my IBS), Leigh (doesn't use a lot of milk as he also has problems with digestion), Teagan (daughter aged almost 5) and Savannah (daughter aged almost 3) are the big milk consumers in the house. :-)

    I used to have an electric yoghurt maker which was basically just a heated plate with a cover where you could put jars of the milky mix into warm for the time required. I tried it a few times but unfortunately the kids weren't fans.

    Your Tacos look yummy!

  17. Wow! Thanks so much for such a great post. I've heard of quark before, but had no idea how to make it. I love that you can use powdered milk! Now I know what I'm going to do with that tin that has been sitting at the back of my cupboard!

  18. This is not a very frugal thing to say, but I have no idea what the milk costs these days. My guess is about 1,05 euros per litre for the organic milk we buy. There have been strikes by milkfarmers this week, so the prices are probably going up here too, I haven't quite followed that news.
    I've made yoghurt a few times in the past, but instead of putting it in the oven I wrapped it in a towel and quilt and left it overnight. It worked really well too. Nobody ate it though, we all felt is was still too liquid, we like the creamy yoghurt. So I stopped making it. But I did like trying and knowing how it's done.
    By the way, I have never looked at powdered milk before. Isn't that less healthy (although it can be debated how healthy milk is anyway)?

    Christine from the NL

  19. You have inspired me to share my yogurt recipe too! Mine is mixed in a blender - no need to scald the milk! Otherwise, it is very similar. I have posted it here, if you are interested:


    :-) Laura

  20. I never would've thought of using powdered milk for recipes, thanks for the idea! Milkfat prices in the states are inching upward again too, and my husband and I are both big milk drinkers. Haven't been able to find a local dairy yet, so that's a neat idea for some small saving. Thanks again!

  21. @Christine from Holland,
    Here in the Netherlands, milkpowder is far more expensive then fresh milk. There is a brand named 'Elk' who has it.

    @ Emilyb,
    When you make yoghurt in a yoghurtmaker and you let it in for more hours then usual, the lactose will dissapear. You can find more about it when you 'google' on the word 'sce diet'.
    For me no yoghurt either. I've intolerance for all kinds of animal protein.
    I've read about making soy yoghurt in a yoghurtmaker, but that wasn't really does the job well.
    Since i know that i have the intolerance i stopped with desserts after a while and don't miss it anymore. Sometimes i make banana icecream from frozen bananas, soymilk (vanille is best) and some maplesyrup. Yummie!

    Annikka from Holland

  22. tamara, that's right, you use the stored heat in the oven. To make yoghurt you need to have the temperature at a warm heat for the bacteria to grow. If your house is warm enough, keeping the yoghurt on a bench is enough. There is no need to buy an appliance to do this, use what you have on hand.

    Robbie, my chooks love whey too.

    Quinne, it's like a sharp cottage cheese.

    Emily, the longer you leave yoghurt to develop the stronger the taste will be. Putting it in the fridge stops that. You could try making it in the shortest amount of time and then putting it in the fridge. That may be more to your taste.

    I have never tried soy yoghurt but I believe people so make it.

  23. Hello Rhonda !
    Because of you, I made yogurt, all by myself ! I'm so happy ! And it smells and tastes so good !
    I used powdered milk for the first time in my life, too. It would not have come to my mind that it would be cheaper than liquid milk...
    Next step, cheeeeeese ! Thank you very much for your advices.
    Lucie ( from Qu├ębec, Canada )
    P.S. The chooks have not laid yet... And they are still afraid of the outside world... Pour things.

  24. Hi Rhonda,

    While i'm writing this the suns shining in Melbourne. Still slightly chilly but a lovely day so far. Soon i will go down to my community garden in Forest Hill to pick a few cauliflowers and share with my neighbour, i get homemade jam and cake in return.

    Great site, keep up the good work, i'm a regular viewer seeking inspiration, great links to follow as well.

    I did not know a lot about blogging until i found your site while surfing around. Now i'm a dedicated blog lurker.Some great information around, could spend my life looking around.

    Just been reading this article that came via the Permaculture mailing list on how people in the UK and US are starting to plant because they need to tighten their belts for financial reasons.


    I must say i got into yogurt making via your instructions on ALS, the only difference is i use the crock pot to finish the process off.

    Once the mix leaves the stove then it's poured into the pre-warmed crockpot with a timer that comes on for 15 minutes every hour, over a three hour period.

    Then it's into the fridge for the night, in the morning its ready.


  25. I just found your blog and am excited to see an older adult writing about living simply. I am a retired teacher, working part time at a small contract job and living a simple, yet satisfying life in Austin, TX.

    Thanks for writing!

  26. I forgot to say that if I have my own blog now (just one week old) it is because of you. Reading you gave me the confidence I needed. Thanks a lot.

  27. Hi Rhonda
    I have some plain yoghurt i made last night so will pop it in a strainer and make quark. Just one thing about your blog- milk in cardboard boxes is UHT- alcohol premixes in cans are called UDL. Had a chuckle at that. Love reading your blog.

  28. Hi Rhonda,
    I too have made my own yogurt many times, not lately though. I used to put the scalded milk/starter into the oven with the light on for 4-6 hours and it worked well. To make it a bit thicker you can use fresh milk and mix in about 1/4cup of milk powder as well. Another option to thicken it is to mix a packet of unflavoured gelatin with 1/4 cup cold water, warm slightly to dissolve and stir well into 1 quart of yogurt. You save 1/4 cup of your homemade yogurt to use as the starter for the next batch.
    We sometimes mix a tablespoon or so of homemade jam into a bowl of yogurt for sweetening and flavour. I don't put a lot of sugar in my jam.

  29. Thank you for the directions on making yogurt. It is on my list of things to try soon!


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