Thursday, June 2, 2011

Culture club

Now that I have a large, cabinet-space-rich kitchen, I find myself unavoidably drawn to food making gadgets. While barely begun, this summer has nearly convinced me to buy an ice cream maker, as summers so often do. However, before I could get that far, I became convinced (and this is what reading food blogs gets me) that what I really needed was a yogurtmaker. And with the ease and efficiently of online shopping, I was soon able to price check, compare reviews on Amazon, and have a model (specifically this one) shipped before even really thinking through the idea.

I should preface this post by saying (for those of you who might be questioning why a person would need to make their own yogurt) that I eat a lot of yogurt. In fact, I usually eat at least one single serving size Greek yogurt a day. And at city prices, each of those easily-portable, fruit-on-the-bottom cups goes for around $1.50. Plus there's the environmental cost of throwing out all those plastic yogurt cups. I quickly became convinced that the Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker would pay for itself in no time. A stance I still, having now made yogurt, stand by.

After receiving my yogurt maker on Tuesday, I immediately went out and bought whole milk to try her out. I've gotten in the habit of buying fat free yogurt lately, but I went with whole milk because I wanted my maiden yogurt-making voyage to be rich and delicious. Also, whole milk only takes 8 hours to transform into yogurty deliciousness, whereas skim milk takes about 12, so my natural impatience was a factor. According to the directions, you can use soy milk as well, and I'm considering experimenting with out options (almond milk? rice milk?) in the future. But for now, I'm recording the fermentation of my very first batch of yogurt made with plain, boring dairy.
Step 1: Boil a quart of milk. Then Step 2 is to let it cool it to room temperature, which is what is actually pictured here. Naturally, I put it in an ice bath because I was too impatient to let the cooling process happen organically.

Next, I added 5 T of yogurt. You have to have yogurt to make yogurt? You might ask. The yogurt machine directions state that you should routinely set aside one of the 7 containers from each batch of your yogurt and use that to start the culture for your next batch. Of course, for the inaugural batch, this simply isn't possible, so I had to also buy yogurt. May this be my last yogurt purchase for some time!

Step 4(?): I decided to make strawberry yogurt for my first time out because strawberries are finally starting to come into season in New York, so I have a bunch of them. The yogurt recipe suggested cooking them prior to adding them to the milk mixture. It'll probably be at least two batches in before I start cutting corners and skipping Euro Cuisine sanctioned steps, so cook them I did.

Step 5: Decant pre-yogurt into the 7 glass jars of the yogurt maker. I took this picture before I put the glass lid on top and turned it on. I have no idea why this photo is shrouded in darkness.

Step 6: After leaving the yogurt overnight to allow the bacteria to mature, I awoke to find 7 jaws of nicely thickened yogurt. Alas, they were quite warm, so I had to abide by the yogurt maker's recommendation to let them cool in the fridge for at least 3 hours before eating.

Step 7: Enjoy! Here is my finished product. Slightly blurry because I can't maintain a steady hand while in the presence of such lactose greatness.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the way it came out. It had the perfect yogurt tang with just a slight sweetness from the berries. It was also far more rich than the yogurt I'm used to, but that's probably more due to the addition of fatty milk as opposed to a sign of my yogurt-making prowess. I brought one of these little guys in my lunch today. While I felt a little like an adult baby eating out of a small glass jar, it's nice to be able to re-use it for many lunch-time yogurts to come.

Of course, now I'm pretty sure I really do need that ice cream maker, so I can perfect the fine art of frozen yogurt.


  1. I used to have a yogurt maker, but it only did plain. I like the idea of having it pre-fruited.

    Careful, or you end up with a rice cooker and a hot-dog roaster.

  2. Exciting! I just got a pasta maker on loan, I'll let you know how it turns out!

  3. Since I hardly ever eat rice or hot dogs. Those shouldn't be a major temptation. I'd love a pasta maker though! I keep seeing really fun recipes that require one. Let me know how it goes!

  4. Ooo this looks fun! Maybe I should get one and try to make some with almond milk or something, since non-dairy yogurts are hard to find. And I love my rice maker, but we eat a lot of rice. :)

  5. That looks really tasty! If we get another batch of strawberries tonight, I am going to try this recipe.

  6. wow! you got a yogurt maker! april and i had thought about investing in one but we never did. i love yogurt.