My lovely friend Tracey got me a yogurt maker for my birthday about a month ago. This is the one she got me.
I’d been wanting one for a while, since I overheard some people in line at the Co-op a few months ago raving about theirs. Well I will go ahead and rave about mine now… it’s great! We’re just finishing up our second batch of yogurt and I am amazed at how easy it is. Adam would like to add: “Especially when your husband does it for you.”
The best part about it is this: the per-ounce price is half that of regular yogurt. We have been buying the big 32 oz. containers of either Stonyfield or Brown Cow yogurt for quite some time (Note: did you know they are one and the same company? Figures.) and we were going through 5 or 6 of them a month. This got kinda spendy, and the other bummer about it is that Minneapolis does not recycle yogurt containers. We keep saving them, hoping we’ll figure out something to do with them, but jeez, we have like 100 now!
Our yogurt maker came with 7 6-oz. glass jars that are re-useable. There are two ways you can get the “culture” to make your milk into yogurt:
1) Use a 1/2 c. of commercial yogurt
2) Use some dried cultures that you can buy at some natural foods stores
The directions that came with the yogurt maker are pretty simple:
Bring 42 oz. of milk to a boil and boil 1 min. Let cool until about room temp. Apparently it is best to cool it quickly by setting your pot in a sinkful of cold water. Stir in 1/2 c. commercial yogurt. Ladle into the glass jars, insert into yogurt maker, and set the timer for 8-9 hours.
Then open up the yogurt maker, put on your lids, and move the containers into the fridge and chill for a while. That’s it. This will give you plain yogurt, which you can add fruit or honey to or just eat it plain if that’s your thing. Here’s Adam adding a dollop to some dal for one of the kids:
So yeah, I still have to buy a small amount of commercial yogurt, until I get the nerve to try buying just the cultures.
The only confusing thing about the directions is that it said you can use 1/2 c. of your previous batch of yogurt instead of commercial, but to never do this more than one time. (I.E., don’t keep on using your homemade stuff over and over.) What is up with that? Is that something that the yogurt maker manufacturer has to say for legal reasons, or does the culture somehow get watered down after a while?
The final cost breakdown:
32 oz. Brown Cow: $3.19
42 oz. homemade (with organic milk): $2.07
So the Brown Cow is $.10/oz and homemade is $.05/oz. And I’m now a convert. (OK, I’m easy to convert, it’s true.)
Update, 2 August 2009: several of my questions about culturing/fermenting foods were answered at a recent workshop that I attended. Click here to read all about it.
Update, February 23, 2011: Cookus Interruptus, one of my favorite cooking blogs, has posted a really great, thorough recipe for yogurt that does not require a yogurt maker. Check it out! (Much better than my recipe, in my opinion.)