Favorite Yogurt Maker?
September 6, 2006 9:12 AM   Subscribe

For those of you that make own yogurt, do you have a favorite yogurt maker? Which work best? Favorite recipes? Tips? Is it better to get a single, quart jobbie, or is it better to get the one with the individual containers? I'd like to start making my own yogurt, but I want to make it as easy as possible.
posted by GernBlandston to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
When I did this, I found that the best approach was a large container, and I made it in a warm oven. The little individual jars were more trouble than it was worth. I don't recall the recipe, darn it, but I did enrich the milk with some powdered milk.
posted by LeisureGuy at 9:19 AM on September 6, 2006

Okay, this is off topic, but I gotta say, I am a convert to lady yogurt aka Activia. Homemade yogurt probably has the same good bugs, yes?
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:21 AM on September 6, 2006

As easy as possible? A jar on top of the hot water heater overnight.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:21 AM on September 6, 2006

About ten years ago, I did try one of those electric doodads with the little individual plastic cups.

The experiment was not a success. It may have been a case of my own culinary ineptitude but then again, people have been making yogurt for thousands of years without using electric kitchen toys. So simpler methods are probably better.
posted by jason's_planet at 9:27 AM on September 6, 2006

You don't need a yogurt making machine to make yogurt. In fact, all you need is a starter, milk, a heat-proof container, and a warm spot to incubate the mixture.

What I do is heat the milk (any kind is fine, but whole milk makes a superior yogurt) to approximately 140 degrees F and let it cool to about 100 degrees F before mixing in a tablespoon or so of the starter. You can use commercially made plain yogurt for this, or you can use a spoonful from a previous batch.

I use my oven to incubate my yogurt for about 8 hours. If you have a electric oven, turn it on for 1 minute or so and then turn it off before placing in the yogurt mixture.

You can leave it in longer for a thicker, tarter yogurt, or you can reduce the time for a thinner, milder yogurt. Keep in refrigerator.

The flavorings (honey, fruit purees, etc) go in at the very end, and I would recommend storing the yogurt plain, and then adding the extras in later so it doesn't contaminate the yogurt and introduce harmful fungal or mold spores or bacteria which can accelerate spoilage.
posted by scalespace at 9:29 AM on September 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

You can just use a jar and any kind of mild heat source from an electric blanket to an insulated cooler and hot water to the top of your cable box, but I like the convenience of reliable temperature.

I've had an old Donvier system with individual cups, and that was great, but I was going through a batch every day or two. Now I have the Yogourmet system that makes half a gallon at a time. Both work fine, and having a dedicated incubator takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process. If you make yours with whole milk or anything lighter, the Yogourmet won't make it as thick as you're used to, even if you let it incubate for 24 hours. It's still good, just kind of soupy. I make mine with half and half, and it's divine.

One other thing that makes yogurt making more convenient is a probe thermometer. You set the high temperature to 190, the low to 118, and then you don't have to hang around the kitchen waiting for your milk to heat and cool.

The easiest of all, though, is kefir. Just get some grains, then put them in a jar, fill it with milk, and leave it on the counter. Depending on the ratio of grains to milk, and the ambient temperature, you'll have finished kefir in a couple of hours to a day or two. Strain it off, add more milk, put it back on the counter. Easy peasy.

Kefir's got even more beneficial bacteria than yogurt. It's fascinating stuff.
posted by bink at 10:02 AM on September 6, 2006

My mother for years made yogurt by adding the 'culture' usually about a table spoon from left over yogurt, to a container of lukewarm milk, and cover the whole thing with a blanket, leave it overnight and voila. If the culture was not 'sweet' enough the whole batch will sour very quickly.
BTW, if you want "activia" use some as your culture!

If you want to take it a step further, put your yogurt in a cheese cloth and put some weight over it to extract the water out, leave it overnight in the fridge, you will end up with a cream cheese consistency spread, tastes great with a drizzle of olive oil, mint, thyme, and tomatoes... Okay am done.
posted by convex at 10:06 AM on September 6, 2006

I have the Donvier system with the 8 little cups and I like it just fine. I would, however, recommend using more milk than the recipe calls for, as the portions tend to fill the cup about halfway.

I have not yet added any flavor to the yougurt and would love to hear others' experiences with making the yogurt tastier. I'm kind of over the tartness of the plain yogurt. Chocolate, anyone?
posted by hsoltz at 10:08 AM on September 6, 2006

Okay, this is off topic, but I gotta say, I am a convert to lady yogurt aka Activia. Homemade yogurt probably has the same good bugs, yes?

Some of the same good bugs, but products like Activia contain probiotics added after the fact. Yogurt and other dairy products are used because thy're good for storing these good bugs and keeping them alive.
posted by SteveInMaine at 10:15 AM on September 6, 2006

I don't like chocolate in yogurt for some reason, though I do like vanilla. I'm partial to flavors that complement the tanginess of yogurt: most fruit flavors, of course (add jelly, add DaVinci syrup, add fruit itself).

A tip I learned from my Atkins friends: add Jello pudding mix. The cheesecake flavor is terrifically addictive.

As a young sprout my favorite addition was honey and wheatgerm. Now it's usually flaxmeal and protein powder.

Oh, you know what else is good: maple syrup.

And peanut butter. Definitely peanut butter.

And scalespace posts wise: always add flavors to the individual portions, not the whole batch.
posted by bink at 10:16 AM on September 6, 2006

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