Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Yogurt Makers Compared

 I began making yogurt about twenty years ago.  My first attempts were with the Salton yogurt maker, pictured to the right. I loved that this maker consistently produced yogurt that is perfect in texture.  I believe it has to do with the fact that the jars are nestled inside the cup holders in a way that keeps the heat relatively uniform throughout the yogurt.  However, the company has redesigned their maker, and now it's more of a flat warming tray under the cups.   This maker sells for approximately $30 and can often be found in thrift stores.  The only reason I quit using mine was that I started making yogurt in bulk, and these jars only produce about one quart together.

Then I switched to the Yogotherm yogurt maker.  It costs about $50 and makes two quarts at a time, which I love.  It does not use electricity (added bonus).  However (and this is HUGE for me), the container is plastic.  Yup, plastic.  The warm milk/starter solution is poured into a PLASTIC container which is then lowered into the Styrofoam holder.  I actually wrote to the manufacturer and begged them to produce a glass insert to replace the plastic one.  I'm waiting for a response.  I think I hear crickets chirping in the background while I wait.  :)
ANYway, it makes yogurt of a perfect consistency, but I cannot keep using it due to my horror of putting warm liquids in plastic. . . for hours on end.  Another negative aspect is that the plastic lid is fragile and breaks apart from the pressure build-up of the warm liquid.  Then the warm milk solution dribbles down between the Styrofoam and plastic.  Have you ever tried to clean up sour milk from Styrofoam?  Don't bother.

Now I'm using the YoLife yogurt maker.  It costs about $45-60 for the maker and a set of the small jars.  You'll have to shell out more money if you want the 64 oz jar, or you can use canning jars.  It makes fairly consistent yogurt.  I find that I have to begin over with new starter once a month.  On the plus side, it holds a lot of yogurt.  On the negative side, it's only heating the very bottom of the jars, which tends to overheat the bottom of the jars and create more of a chewy yogurt curd in whey if you incubate the yogurt for more than 12 hours.  What I've done to combat that is to place a thick piece of wool under the jars to minimize the over-heating of the bottom of the mixture.  Also, the maker emits quite a bit of heat beneath it, so if you're placing this on a wood surface, be sure to use an oven trivet.

So what if you don't have a yogurt maker?  You can always use a dehydrator.  I recommend using a thermometer to test the temperature in the dehydrator -- don't trust the dial on the dehydrator to tell you what the temperature will be.  The temperature should not go over 110 degrees.  On the plus side, you can use canning jars for your yogurt -- a lot of them!

My daughter places her yogurt canning jars on an electric heating pad, set on low.  She then wraps a towel around the jars and covers with an upside-down pot.  I have not mastered this technique.  I think my heating pad runs too hot, so I might try using wool fabric to separate the jars from the heating pad.

My dream yogurt maker is one that is under $100 and uses glass jars and a low heating method that heats evenly, not just the bottom of the jars.  If you have any other recommendations, please share in the comments section.

No comments:

Post a Comment