The popularity of yogurt has exploded over the past thirty years. Healthy, delicious, eaten as a snack, for breakfast, dessert, and as an ingredient in baking and cooking, yogurt is a household staple for many. While yogurt used to be found mainly in gourmet or health food stores, there are now hundreds of brands available at your local grocery store. This increase in availability also means that there is now a wide range of ingredients in yogurt, with many including high amounts of sugar and artificial flavors. If you are an avid fan of yogurt, consider buying a yogurt maker to use at home. You will be able to control the ingredients and make a batch of yogurt at your convenience for just pennies a serving. Prior to making your purchase, consider the following points to ensure you buy the best yogurt maker for your family.
Who are you Buying it For?
Yogurt makers generally come in two models. The first has one large compartment or vat.
The second has several (often seven) smaller containers for individual servings of yogurt.
If you have a family, the one compartment yogurt maker could be more convenient as it makes a large quantity with less work, but you will all have to enjoy plain yogurt or the same flavor. The individual containers can make different flavored yogurts by simply adding fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, or peaches to suit several different tastes. How much yogurt does your household consume? There are 1 quart and 2 quart yogurt makers on the market, so if you have a busy, large yogurt-eating family a 2 quart machine may be the way to go!
Cleaning Your Yogurt Maker
Yogurt makers are small kitchen appliances that plug in to the wall. They work by heating
the ingredients (dairy milk, soya milk, or alternatives, yogurt starter, and fruits or flavor additions) and basically “cooking” them at a constant temperature for a number of hours. This is a great option for those who want to make lactose-free yogurt inexpensively. Check the instructions of the model you are considering. Is the vat or individual containers dishwasher safe? Are they glass? (They should be.) If you plan to use your machine several times a week you may get tired of cleaning small containers over and over again.
Timer or Automatic Shut-off
Yogurt makers vary in the time it takes to complete a cycle, with models ranging from 6 to 12 hours. If you work outside the home, consider buying a model with an automatic shut-off or timer. The downside of this feature is that you may not be able to adjust the cooking time, which effects the consistency of the yogurt. A shorter cooking time means a shorter fermentation period, resulting in watery or thin yogurt. Some people prefer a thicker, more solid yogurt, in which case a longer fermentation period is needed.
The last few points to consider when purchasing an automatic yogurt maker: What does it come with? Some include a recipe book with recipes specifically developed for your machine. What about a pack of yogurt starter? One of the main ingredients in yogurt are bacterial cultures that are needed to get the fermentation process started. Yogurt starters contain a range of healthy bacteria. And finally, is there a warranty? Like many small kitchen appliances, yogurt makers can break down. As of April 2011, an automatic yogurt maker can range in price from $39.99 to $69.99 USD, so do a little research into the extras.
Finding the best yogurt machine depends on the size and make-up of your household, your family’s preference for flavor and amount of yogurt, your willingness to clean, and your lifestyle. Do your homework prior to buying a yogurt maker will save time, money, and frustration.