All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016
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I don’t hawk products very often – if at all – but this fucking yogurt is so amazing, I just had to give them a shout out.
As a person who eats vegan about 90% of the time (vegetarian always) – I very seldom eat yogurt. Typically, I am underwhelmed by it anyway & can think of more fun ways to eat those calories. But – I am a sucker for yogurt in glass packaging. I spotted this stuff on the shelf at the Hollywood Gelson’s yesterday & both the glass & the red “grass fed” caught my eye.
So – I bought that big jar of vanilla & a baby jar of the Meyer lemon & took them home. I opened the vanilla after dinner & was immediately blown away. First of all – there seemed to be a thicker cream layer on the top – which I mixed in. The yogurt is pretty thick but insanely creamy. And the taste! So subtle! Almost like eating clotted cream or a very sweet, soft butter. Unlike any yogurt I have ever had. Absolutely the height of quality.
Curious – I about the “grass-fed” claim & more detail about the company – I looked up Saint Benoit Creamery.
It seems to be owned by the man below & his family. Gorgeous photos and – if you can believe what they show you – happy cows in a gorgeous, green & rolling environment. (Photos below from their site.)
Their philosophy is “terroir.”
“Terroir” is a French word describing food “of a place”, food that reflects the character of the land from which it came. By extension, it defines a lifestyle that emphasizes the benefits of using local products.
Saint Benoît’s ‘terroir’ is Sonoma County. From this coastal land’s unique climate, geography, history, traditions and diverse population comes some of the best wine and food on the West Coast.
In western Sonoma County, we found a family dairy of many generations that produces the richest and healthiest milk we have ever tasted. This exceptional Jersey cows’ milk is the key element to the unique flavor of Saint Benoît yogurts.
We also found fruit orchards and fruit growers who hand make fruit preserves. The preserves we use in our yogurts are made with organic tree-ripened fruit using significantly less sugar than commercial jams.
Last but not least, we make Saint Benoît yogurt in small batches right on the farm. It is indeed food “of a place” – its freshness is exceptional!
Here is their posted story:
“I wanted to make a product I could feel good about giving my children.”
When my brother David and I started our company back in 2004, we were on a mission to: “create healthy, “terroir”, gourmet products from the San Francisco Bay Area in order to satisfy consumers’ curiosity for local artisanal products and for new food experiences.” We created a unique package for our product, the ceramic brown container featured in our logo, and brought our French-style yogurts to Bay Area farmer’s markets. Our small batch approach to yogurt making was well received by our local audience.
Today, here we are ten years later, and our small batch creamery has scaled to provide a low-heat, vat pasteurized, organic, whole milk, as well as an entirely new series of yogurt packaged for national distribution.
We still sell our products at many Farmer’s Markets in Northern California, and we love engaging with our customers and hearing how they are using our products.
While our original ceramic container and ball jar packages are now retired, we remain steadfast in our efforts to keep plastic out of our landfills and have designed new glass containers to support standard recycling programs around the U.S.
In 2008 we began our renovations to build a clean room, sustainably and for future product development. We’re really proud of the green approach we were able to take with our partners.
Doing things right
We have always been located in Sonoma, but initially were unable to produce the yogurt on the farm which meant we had to haul the milk a short distance to make the yogurt. In July of 2008, we began transforming an old milking parlor on the Mattos farm into our new creamery. With a little help from people like Whole Foods and John Mattos (dairy partner) who believed in us, some ingenuity, many months of planning and forethought, our seeds have grown into a thriving and sustainable creamery. Uncle Bill helped bring the project to fruition, making sure the creamery reflected our mission and philosophy of respecting the land and food shed we cherish. He helped us design a system that reuses water from yogurt production for irrigation and reduces energy costs. He repurposed old materials from building sites such as doors and windows that he hand fitted into the existing building. Together we chose a new type of wall covering that is not only state of the art, it also just happens to be made from recycled plastic milk bottles. We kept the old cement walls that conserve the cool air, which will help us save energy when we install our new walk-in cooler. And best yet, the milk is right there… the girls are creating it from those lush organic pastures beneath our very eyes, every day, right outside the new-old windows of our new-old creamery.
There is a very interesting video at the bottom of THIS PAGE talks about the fact that they use environmentally-friendly packaging & process their products as little as they can & keep it within regulations. Watch the video – it is really interesting.
Here is what they say about the yogurt:
Saint Benoît Creamery is excited to introduce a new line of yogurt featuring glass packaging. The new glass package is recyclable, much lighter than our ceramic jars, which will help us significantly reduce carbon emissions during transportation, and offers a better seal, which will help us deliver our high-quality yogurts nationwide.
Unfortunately, this means an end to our returnable yogurt program. While we are sad to see it go (and say goodbye to our ceramic containers), we’re excited about our new packages and hope you are as well.
Our Yogurt is made solely from Jersey cow’s whole milk and is cultured with Bulgaricus, Thermophilus, Acidophilus and Bifidus, the yogurt making bacteria. We use wholesome pasture-fed organic cow’s milk from John Mattos’ family farm in Two Rock in Sonoma county. Our Yogurt culture comes from France where it has been used for decades to produce sweet, mild and smooth yogurts. Unlike most producers, we add no thickeners, stabilizers or preservatives. Just milk and culture, that’s it!
All of our fruit-spreads are made from whole, locally-grown organic fruit and handcrafted for us by our partner farm Lagier Ranches. We use the whole fruit peel and all, so look for the little bits of zest floating around in the Meyer lemon. The fruit is at the bottom, so just mix—or dig! We do not use imported fruits, frozen purées, or commercial “yogurt jams.” This guarantees the freshest tastiest product with the least amount of waste. It also means that the flavor, texture, and color may vary according to the season. We never change the recipe, but good old Mother Nature has to have her say in how it turns out!
The Four Seasons
The cows’ milk naturally varies according to the season. For example, at some points of the year the cows’ milk contains more carotene and therefore the cream layer is a buttery yellow color. At other times of the year, the cream is whiter. Because the lovely ladies are pasture-fed, this greatly affects their milk. In the hot summer months, the girls get quite thirsty and drink more. This means their milk may also contain more water and make the yogurt slightly thinner. January also brings this about, but it’s because the grass in the fields is so rich, green, and waterlogged that they get more water from the grass itself. The same processes can affect the cream content. Because we do not remove the fat and re-inject it into the yogurt (as most companies do) and do not add milk powder to thicken it, our yogurt has a seasonal quality to it. Two benefits are that you have a product that is closer to the original state of the ingredient, and that delightful new mixtures occur. For example, when the milk contains more water and the bees are buzzing away in heavy-pollen season, all the factors align to give a whole new twist to our honey yogurt. The milk flavor is slightly less prominent, the rich honey comes through even more, and you can even find a slight dusting of pollen on the cream layer!
Seriously. This looks to be as close to an old-fashioned & humane farm as a company could hope to be. Look HERE to see where you can buy it near you. And if it is available & you eat yogurt – you simply MUST try this stuff at least once!