I never really used to like yogurt, although I’ve eaten it for as long as I can remember. But I used to eat it because it was good for me, whether I liked it or not. As it’s a ‘health food’, obviously you should seek out the healthiest version of it, right?
So I’ve tried all kinds of yogurt in my time: yogurt with fruit mixed in, or with fruit on the bottom, with separate lids or ‘corners’ of things to stir in, diet yogurt, low-fat yogurt, no-fat yogurt, brand-name yogurt, store-brand yogurt, no-name yogurt (as found in huge bowls in breakfast buffets).
It did the job, and some were nicer than others, but some of it was positively awful and chemically tasting. (Especially the diet yogurts.) And mostly it came in single-serving, single-use packaging that was destined for landfill, either because of when or where I was living, or where I used it (How many of us really bring home recyclables at the end of the work day?). Yes, I could have bought larger reusable containers, but I never ate it fast enough to prevent it going off.
Then, one day I saw some Rachel’s plain organic yogurt in the store. I was looking for a way to cut costs, and thinking about those yogurts where you stir in some vaguely fruity stuff at the last minute. I figured if I put plain yogurt in a re-usable dish for my lunch, I could add a spoon or two of my own jam, which had to taste better than that unidentifiable stuff provided by the big corporations. And although we think of organic foods as being expensive, on the spot calculations suggested that a modest sized pot (about 12 ounces) would not cost any more than buying the individual-sized servings I had been using. My plan worked, and, better yet, I discovered that I actually liked the taste of this yogurt even without jam. True to form, I experimented with a variety of styles of ‘plain’ yogurt, and have settled on full-fat natural yogurt. (My waistline seems as content with this choice as my tastebuds, too.)
Not long afterwards, I happened to make baked potatoes, and wanted some sour cream to go on them, but had run out. I remembered the slightly tangy taste of my plain yogurt and thought that might work as a substitute. You bet! I haven’t bothered to buy sour cream again. (And if you have it, Greek-style yogurt is a bit thicker, closer to the texture of sour cream.)
Next thing you know, I was preparing a creamy pasta sauce that called for cottage cheese, another one of those foods that’s good for you but I don’t like very much, and so didn’t have in the house. Remembering that mashed cottage cheese was an old-fashioned substitute for sour cream, and yogurt made a good substitute for sour cream, why not use yogurt instead of cottage cheese? It was going to be whizzed up in the blender anyway. The sauce turned out fine.
I was on a roll. Cake recipe calls for cream? Yogurt to the rescue! Light cream, single cream, double cream? Yogurt!
Now, I use yogurt without hesitation in any recipe to substitute for an ingredient using the word ‘cream’ unless it’s going to be whipped. I also continue to substitute it for some soft cheeses, but more selectively. This translates into fewer specialty items that have to be purchased for cooking, and fewer things in the fridge that might go off before they’re used up. And easier planning for the shopping list. My tentative venture into buying that apparently expensive pot of organic yogurt nearly ten years ago has turned into a real money-saver.
It’s not so easy for me to get Rachel’s yogurt anymore, but we are very happy with Yeo Valley, getting through about 3 pots a week, and enjoying every bite:
What yogurt do you eat, and why?