Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Saint Benoît - a Wonderful Local Product

The Creamiest Yoghurt Ever?

News Just in March 2006: An Update about St Benoit Yoghurt can be read here.

photograph picture paper chef recipe

Until this month I was a Total Greek Yoghurt fanatic. I was particularly fond of the 0% fat version (only 80 calories a cup) and didn't feel comfortable whenever the supply in my fridge was dwindling. Yoghurt made in Greece, however, does not fit in with the Eat Local Challenge, so I determined to try and find a suitable local alternative.
French-run Saint Benoît, which I discovered at the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers' Market could not fit the model of eating local, sustainable food more perfectly:

"We hope to let our customers appreciate a simple locally produced food that embodies the qualities of the soil and ecology it comes from, as well as craftmanship involved in its making."

Saint Benoît celebrate 'terroir'. The yogurts are made in small batches on a farm in Bodega on the Sonoma coast. The creamy, jersey milk travels less than 2 miles from the farm to the kitchen, and is immediately turned into yogurt.

Saint Benoît support 'sustainability'. They use recyclable, returnable containers. I love this idea! The plain yoghurt costs a whopping $3.25 a pot, but when you return the pot you get $1.25 back. Suddenly, the yoghurt is cheaper than Total Greek Yoghurt. You also have a little smug feeling because you haven't thrown away any packaging. Saint Benoît also believe in cleaner transportation and use a Compressed Natural Gas vehicle for their yogurt business.

That a small, local company has built itself around such an admirable set of principals is heart-warming. The yoghurt tastes absolutely delicious too. How many other yoghurts have you tried that have a layer of yellow cream bits on the surface? I could almost pretend I am eating clotted cream. Maybe it's not 0% fat, but Saint Benoît is delicious all the same. I just eat half the amount a day, to keep the calories down. If you live in the Bay Area, check out stockists here.

Locavores August Eat Local Challenge 2005

PS. If you want to thicken your Saint Benoît yoghurt, so it is more like Greek Yoghurt, then just strain it overnight through a muslin cloth. Yoghurt is about 50% water so its volume will reduce by about a half if you take this step.

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Saint Benoît - a Wonderful Local Product


  • At 17/8/05 09:05, Blogger Jennifer said…

    Sam, I've been a Total Greek yogurt fan since I discovered it about 2 years ago. Then I too found Saint Benoit at the market and felt terribly excited... until I tasted it. It just didn't do it for me. Guess I could strain it, but would I really want to add that to my list of chores? Such a dilema! There is simply nothing like scooping out a carton of 2% Greek yogurt into a beautiful bowl and dressing it with a few swirls of wild honey and a scattering of freshly toasted pine nuts. What to do? :-)

  • At 17/8/05 10:03, Blogger Ced said…

    I think that what you are straining out of the yogurt is not water, but whey. You can discard it all the same, but I hear it's good for you.

  • At 17/8/05 10:38, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When my husband and I moved to the US from Australia in 1996 I was so disappointed with the yogurt sold in the stores here in Washington State. For years I had a yogurt-free refrigerator. But in 2003 I discovered Total Greek yogurt at Trader Joe's and I was a happy woman. Then last year I discovered Greek Style Yogurt by 3 Greek Gods (a Seattle firm) and I became an even happier woman!!!!!

  • At 17/8/05 10:45, Blogger Alice said…


    I love the drop-down menu you've got for your food blog links!!!

    I fell off of the yogurt horse a while back when I started drinking again. I have no idea what the connection is, though...

  • At 17/8/05 11:22, Blogger shuna fish lydon said…

    I love that the Benoit brothers are using Jersey milk exclusively, it is truly the cream of all cow's milk. I had the priveledge of visiting Bodega Goat Cheese (a 100% sustainable ranch) on an educational farm tour sponsored by CUESA and we all got to see how the Benoit yogurt is made. (The brothers are sharing the facilities.)

    Something to take note of is that they are importing a French culture. It is not the standard Acidopholus (sp?) of all our American yogurts.

    Another locally made (Non fat, dairy free) yogurt is Redwood Hill goat yogurt. It makes an amazing sorbet too!

  • At 17/8/05 13:41, Blogger Tana Butler said…

    Jersey cows are the be-all, end-all of cows. I wonder if we get this yogurt down here, because that Greek stuff is sooooooo gooooood.

  • At 17/8/05 17:13, Blogger Barbara Fisher said…

    Brown Cow brand has the cream on the top--but I don't know if it is available out west. It may be only an out East company.

    I am going to take to making my own yogurt...and will report on the results.

  • At 17/8/05 22:12, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    Well, Sam, I'm glad you finally blogged about the Saint Benoit, because I've been sitting on the beautiful little container in my fridge, knowing that you were planning on giving it a mention.
    Found mine at Woodlands Market in Kentfield.
    BTW, once this August thingie is over, you should try lebneh... and I suspect you already have.
    Me, I've got to try Total Greek -- it's new to me.

  • At 18/8/05 07:57, Blogger Sam said…

    Jennifer - i love greek yoghurt too. But there is something so satifying about St Benoit and their philosophy.
    Maybe we can persuade them to make a greek yoghurt.

    ced - hmm - maybe I should save it and add it to soup. Thanks for the info.

    Sandra - I am with you - I didn't eat yoghurt at all here for 2 years until they started importing the Fage. Lucky you have a local version too - that's what wee need in SF. I used to eat a local organic one called Rachael's in London.

    Alica - Yoghurt and drinking can go together. I am living proof :)

    Shuna - the tour souunds great - I need to go and do one of those sometime.

    Tana - have you ever hear of 'gold top' ?

    Barbara - good luck with making the yoghurt. You might like to check out 101 Cookbooks if you haven't already. Heidi and her man have done quite a bit of research on yoghurt making and now they have a forum where you can discuss it too.

    CC - what are you waiting for????? Dig in! Enjoy!

  • At 18/8/05 12:04, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam, have you tried the Straus Family Creamery Organic yogurt? They are also local to the Bay Area (they're in Marshall in Tomales Bay). Their website is The owners used to also come to the Ferry Plaza market and they're a really sweet family! I love their whole milk yogurt, in particular, but their non-fat is also yummy.


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