Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yo yo yogurt! (Subtitle: When did I become so domestic?)

I love yogurt. Thankfully both of my kids like it too. Neither of them cares much for milk, so yogurt is a great way for me to get dairy into their growing bodies. I'd gotten in the habit of buying Dannon plain whole milk yogurt, which is all-natural. I add fruit to it (and often granola too), and no extra sweetener is needed. (Usually I use frozen berries, thawed in the microwave. During thawing a little juice is released and that sweetens the yogurt.)

I'd heard of how good homemade yogurt tastes, but was a little nervous to try making it--it needs to sit for long periods of time at a specific temperature range while it's culturing. So when a Yogourmet brand electric yogurt maker showed up on one of Amazon's 2-hour Lighting Deals, I snatched it up. (Normal price: $59.99, with 2 free packages of yogurt starter. Lightning Deal price without free starter: $37.88.)

Now, the yogurt maker doesn't take all of the work out of it. Here's how it works:

1. I put 2 quarts (half a gallon) of whole milk into a double boiler, and heat the milk to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, using the digital thermometer included with the yogurt maker. (I don't have a real double boiler, so I use a big pot with water in it, with a smaller pot set inside it.)

2. I take the milk off the heat, and when it's cooled a bit, I put the whole pot in a bath of cool water in the sink. I cool it to 110 degrees, and use a spoon to get the "skin" off the top.

3. I pour the lukewarm milk in the smaller chamber of the yogurt maker, and check the temp again. I add two ounces of Dannon yogurt, since it has the live and active cultures in it, and I stir well. (I froze a bunch of Dannon yogurt in one-ounce batches and can thaw it as needed.) The Yogourmet instructions suggest that you use their freeze-dried yogurt starter, but using Dannon is way cheaper.

4. I put a bit of water in the large yogurt maker chamber, then set the smaller chamber inside the larger. I plug it in and set my kitchen timer for four and a half hours.

5. When the timer goes off, I put the yogurt in the fridge and let it cool overnight before eating it. I store it right in the container I used to make it in.

So, really, all the yogurt maker does is keeps the milk at the right temperature so that the cultures can do their work. That is a pretty simple task for the price, so I'm glad I got it on sale! To me it's worth it. Other methods (which you can easily find in a Google search) require the yogurt be wrapped with towels, placed in an insulated cooler, etc. The yogurt maker helps take out the guesswork.

The yogurt is creamy and yummy. I like the smooth texture, and I may try using the included cotton bag to filter out some of the whey and make a thicker yogurt at some point.

Best of all, a quart of Dannon costs about $2.50. A quart of homemade yogurt costs about $0.91. That means when I've made 24 quarts of homemade yogurt, I'll break even, factoring in the cost of the yogurt maker. If we keep eating yogurt at the rate we're eating it now, that'll just take a few months.


Call Me Cate said...

You ARE all domestic! I've never made my own yogurt or granola. Things that are temperature sensitive scare me so I definitely can see where the yogurt maker would be useful.

I was raised on a very boring diet. Things like yogurt were considered 'exotic' so I love reading about the things you feed your kids that I never tried until so many years later in life.

Mike said...

Great idea! You can make a whole assortment of your own special yogourt flavours instead of being stuck with all the usual ones!

caryn said...

Sounds Yummy and add in the granola you tweeted about yesterday ~ Extra Yummy!

Dan & Hillary said...

I wonder if you used a Kitchen Aid ice-cream maker (or such), if you could actually make frozen yogurt?? Hmm. If you do, let me know. I'll be there in 4.2 hrs.

Bobbi said...

Very cool! I am a huge yogurt snob. I started eating Mountain High Yoghurt a year ago and won't even buy Dannon anymore. I like the plain, fat-free version... A friend has medical issues and Mountain High was recommended by him because of their large quantities of probiotics. You should try it for a yogurt starter... but FYI: its not available at HEB. Only Randall's.

Becky said...

I've never even heard of a yogurt maker! In fact, it never crossed my mind that you could make your own yogurt until I saw a crockpot recipe for it on A Year of Slowcooking ( I still haven't gotten any further than thinking about it. :-)

Glad yours turned out well! Not only is it a lot cheaper to do it yourself, but it's also a big plus to know exactly what's in your yogurt!

Special K said...

How fun! My husband has been watching the British version of the Apprentice and they had to pick products to sell on tv. This yogurt maker was one of them!

beckiwithani said...

I had thought of making my own, because it tastes so much better. And then I discovered all the Old World / Middle Eastern / Greek-style yogurts that you can get for a good price at Armenian and Middle Eastern stores around here. So-o-o good; Molly loves it and I've been eating some to try and gain some weight because the pure vegan diet gets me too small.

You can now use your homemade yogurt as a starter, yes?

Aubrey said...

That's a pretty neat kitchen item!

Coming by from SITS. Welcome aboard!

2cats said...

Homemade yogurt, homemade granola, with fresh fruit, what could be better?

C. Beth said...

Cate--Thank you so much! I really appreciate what you said--I like the thought that maybe I'm exposing my kids to a somewhat-decent array of foods.

Mike--Yes! And yogurt with fresh fruit (or frozen, thawed fruit) totally beats store-bought stuff with gelatinous fruit/syrup stuff!

Caryn--Yes, with the granola & fruit--so good!

Hillary--I have tried freezing the yogurt so that I could mix stuff in with it and have frozen yogurt--it didn't work. I don't know about using it in an ice cream maker though--maybe worth a try. Unfortunately I don't have an ice cream maker!

rainylakechick--Thank you so much! I'd love to try that yogurt...uh, that yoghurt, excuse me. :) I agree, great idea to use it as a starter.

Becky--Yes, I remember seeing that post! I think it was one of the things that interested me in making yogurt.

Special K--Oh, that's cool! Is the British Apprentice fun?

Becki--Greek-style yogurt is SOOOOOOO expensive here!! Yes, I can use the homemade as a starter but as you use more generations of it, it can get too weak. I'm using up the Dannon I had; then I may freeze some homemade. Actually I'll probably buy what Bobbi suggested first, then maybe switch between homemade and store-bought.

Aubrey--thank you for the welcome!

2cats--Yes, it's so yummy!!

Our Scoop said...

Ok, I realized that I am always a late commenter because I don't usually get a response to my comment! That's me pouting!!! :) ha ha Just kiddin- sometimes I'm more on the ball.

Anyway...I love this! You rock. You are a superstar wife/mother/homemaker!!! I love appliances too!! I think Paul would freak if I got another appliance though...despite how useful I might "sell" it! But I have had one of these on my amazon wishlist for quite some time. Hey, I know this has nothing to do with anything yogurt but Candace Cameron is coming to our church again (she came once before) to do a little testimony thing. She is a great speaker and she is gorgeous now. Wow! Check out for her pic!

Our Scoop said...

Ok, I realize how crazy I sounded in my comment. Sorry. You can delete it. I only mentioned the CCameron thing cuz you had that "Full House" comment the other day!! (Just so you don't think I am totally a looney tunes!)