I’m not a fan of extreme diets.  I have been told by some people that if I stopped eating dairy that my Type 1 diabetes would be cured.  Same goes for meat and gluten…and the list goes on and that post is for another day. But when people tell me to not eat dairy I tend to get a horrified look on my face, adopt a southern accent and say something along the lines of ” not eat dairy, oh my word! What a simply terrible thing to suggest!”.

You see, I was lactose intolerant until around high school.  So I grew up on soy, almond and all things trying so hard to be as cool and good as dairy but always falling short.  And in the process of not only falling short taste wise, they come with plenty of processed additives and “fake” vitamins and minerals trying to provide what only animal fats can.  I also take up great issue with soy and try to stay away from it unless it is properly fermented and prepared.  Soy is as pervasive in our diet as corn and just as industrialized. But I digress.  As soon as I could eat dairy without spending the next 12 hours cursing every dairy cow from here to France, I ate dairy, a lot of dairy.  I had 16 years of cheese, cheese cake, ice cream, milk, cream, etc to catch up on.  But as I got older I started realizing that the dairy we eat in this country isn’t always dairy at all.  We have created fake dairy cheese to go along with the fake vegan cheese one aisle over.  Our cheese is over processed from milk full of hormones, from cows living in horrible conditions with their life literally being pumped out of them for our benefit of cheap cheese.  I will explain more about what is cheese and what isn’t when I post about how to make your own mozzarella and ricotta cheese.

Almost all dairy products you find in the store can be traced back to the industrialized dairy cow. Let me be very clear, I eat dairy.  I eat meat, I think both are fantastic.  What I don’t eat, nor advocate eating is industrialized dairy and meat.  If you are reading this and live around Iowa City, then you are very lucky.  Your access to real milk and grass fed meat is extraordinary.  There really is little excuse not to drink and eat good dairy and meat…if you think cost is an issue then talk with me, I will show you how to manage on a very tight budget.

There is only one type of milk I will buy until I get my own dairy cow (I’m pretty sure that judging from the controversy over urban chickens, urban dairy cows are far off in the future) and that is Kalona SuperNatural whole milk.  Their milk is from small local farms with an average herd size of 35 cows that aren’t given the drugs (medicines and hormones) that the industrialized dairy cow is given, they get to walk on grass and *GASP* eat grass! and simply put, are allowed to live their life as happily as the cleverly made commercials we see made by the dairy industry. I want to give their milk just cause and will when I write about my whole milk preference over skim.

I’m not going to put links on here to videos of what the life of a factory farm dairy cow is like.  You can easily google it and watch it on your own.  I have watched them, they are hard to watch, but if you are on the fence as to if paying a little more for Kalona Super Natural milk or products or buying dairy from grass fed cows then I do suggest watching them.   I am more than happy to sit down with you and have a dairy consultation and walk through all of the nuts and bolts of the industry.   I am going to repeat this multiple times with every dairy post and meat post.  You are not only what you eat, but also what the animal you are eating, ate and was injected with.

I love dairy.  But only the dairy that has been eaten for thousands of years and has been a nutritional backbone and support of traditional diets and cultures around the world.  I try to keep my cheese raw (raw cheese is legal to sell and buy in Iowa, raw milk is not) and from grass fed cows.  My milk is non-homogenized, whole and from grass fed cows, my butter from grass fed cows and my yogurt the same.  But here is where I ran into trouble.  My love for greek yogurt kept me from committing completely to what I just wrote.  While I could easily find greek yogurt that was organic and not from cows shot up with growth hormones, I couldn’t find ones from grassfed cows (organic is a label only, not an explanation of the quality of that animal’s life or living area.  Heck, if you could give a cow “organic” growth hormones then many large scale organic operations probably would in my opinion).  Kalona SuperNatural’s yogurt isn’t greek style and isn’t full fat.  So I decided that I had one last option.  It also was the cheapest option and easiest.  Make my own.

......side note..... I eat greek yogurt not only for the taste, but the high protein and high fat content keeps my blood sugars relatively stable so it makes for the perfect snack when I don't want to take extra insulin. I also can use the leftover whey to make fermented vegetables and use in other recipes. My options for insulin free snacking are extremely limited so that is another reason why I gasp in horror at the thought of going off of dairy.

By making my own yogurt I have complete control over what is in it.  Since the rest of my family enjoyed the fruit flavored yogurts which if you buy them from the store that means only one thing- a heck of a lot of sugar with fruit like components- I love that I can now make sure the flavors and fruits in their yogurt are real and not concentrated fruit juices.  My girls love watching the milk turn from liquid to yogurt from morning to evening and then strain it for a few hours or less or more, to make either greek yogurt or cream cheese.  We even make pink yogurt by adding in some beet powder.P1030483

Want to save money?  Love yogurt?  Let me tell you how you can shave dollars off your food costs each month.  A half gallon of Kalona Super Natural milk is $3.79 at the New Pioneer Co op.  Using about 3/4ths of that produces enough greek yogurt to fill the large ( 24oz) container of my old favorite greek yogurt that cost around $5 and wasn’t even organic.  We go through maybe $6 worth of my homemade yogurt a week.  That is for my family of 4.  Before I was spending at least double, if not triple that on yogurt per week.  I was also buying yogurt that wasn’t full fat.  When you eat good, full fat yogurt, you will find that you are eating much smaller servings and feeling more satisfied than with a fat free yogurt.  The same goes with drinking whole milk.  The fat allows your body to utilize the protein efficiently which aids in you feeling satisfied and maximizing what the yogurt can offer you nutrient and health wise.  So that is my story of how I came to make my own yogurt and why I won’t be buying it from the store again.   Enjoy!

Organic greek yogurt (or regular)
Print Recipe
Yogurt is easy to make. You get complete control over what is in your yogurt. You will save a ton of money. It is win, win, win. Feel free to dress up your yogurt however you like. I always make plain greek yogurt and then add fresh fruit and raw honey as a topping with chopped pecans or almonds. You can also flavor your yogurt before it incubates with jelly, spices, coffee, chocolate, the options are endless. Once you start making your own yogurt you can bypass the yogurt section of the store completely knowing that at home you have your own yogurt straining, making delicious greek yogurt for a fraction of the cost of those sitting on the shelf. I chose to buy a $25 yogurt maker which allows me to plug it in and leave for 8 hours at a time without wondering at all about if the temperature is staying at the right level. You can also use a crock pot or a warm oven. Just like my dehydrator, I like to keep my oven free and because I make yogurt so often, I like having something smaller than a crockpot on my counter.
Organic greek yogurt (or regular)
Print Recipe
Yogurt is easy to make. You get complete control over what is in your yogurt. You will save a ton of money. It is win, win, win. Feel free to dress up your yogurt however you like. I always make plain greek yogurt and then add fresh fruit and raw honey as a topping with chopped pecans or almonds. You can also flavor your yogurt before it incubates with jelly, spices, coffee, chocolate, the options are endless. Once you start making your own yogurt you can bypass the yogurt section of the store completely knowing that at home you have your own yogurt straining, making delicious greek yogurt for a fraction of the cost of those sitting on the shelf. I chose to buy a $25 yogurt maker which allows me to plug it in and leave for 8 hours at a time without wondering at all about if the temperature is staying at the right level. You can also use a crock pot or a warm oven. Just like my dehydrator, I like to keep my oven free and because I make yogurt so often, I like having something smaller than a crockpot on my counter.
Instructions
  1. My yogurt maker and candy thermometer, you want a thermometer that will clip to your pot. This also goes for making ricotta cheese, mozzarella, etc...a good thermometer is great to have.
  2. The milk makes a huge difference in taste. I go with Kalona SuperNatural whole milk.
  3. So here's the deal, my yogurt maker came with 7, 6oz glass jars, those jars are now spice jars. If you want to make different flavors of yogurts, those individual jars are perfect. If you plan on straining your yogurt to make greek yogurt then those 7 jars are going to be a pain in the butt and extra work to clean. So I use my 7 cup pyrex glass bowl and use that amount of milk. But if you are using a different method or found a larger bowl that fits than just pour your desired amount of milk into a pot and slowly heat it to 110-180 degrees or when it just starts to boil. If you are lucky enough to have raw milk on hand thanks to a family cow or live where you can legally buy raw milk, only heat the milk to 110 degrees. The milk just needs to be at room temp. The same goes for nonraw milk too. I keep meaning to play around with different temps but usually I forget to check the milk until it is around 180.
  4. Cool the milk to 110 degrees and stir in your 4-6oz of plain yogurt. The yogurt needs to be plain, best if organic and whole milk, it has to contain active cultures. I try to keep a 1/2 cup from a previous batch to use in the next batch. Place in your yogurt maker, crockpot or oven and leave it alone for at least 8 hours.
  5. When the yogurt has set (may take up to 10 hours for nonfat yogurt...another reason to always use whole milk!) then remove, cover and cool for at least 3 hours. You are done at this step for regular creamy yogurt. If you want greek yogurt you just have one more step! NOTE: FOR LACTOSE FREE YOGURT AND IN MY OPINION THE HEALTHIEST YOGURT- FERMENT FOR 24 HOURS AND CHILL FOR 5 HOURS.
  6. Place the yogurt in a cheese cloth, or nonfuzzy kitchen towel lined strainer and place over a bowl to let the whey run out.
  7. Whenever your yogurt is at your desired consistency then simply transfer it to a container and enjoy. If you leave it overnight and it has turned into cream cheese then just stir back in some of the whey.
  8. I use my leftover whey to ferment vegetables and make things just as sauerkraut, pickled ginger, breads...the list goes on.
  9. Enjoy!!!
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