If you love yogurt and eat a lot of it, it’s a great idea to buy a yogurt maker. There are many models available so how do you choose the one that’s right for you? Let’s take a look at the features available to help you make the right decision.
What Is a Yogurt Machine?
Most yogurt makers have a heating unit. This is rather like an enclosed incubator and keeps the yogurt at an even temperature. This heating unit hold the jars in which you put the raw ingredients for the yogurt. The most common kind are simply plugged into a power source, although there are a few exceptions.
Some models require boiling water to be added to an insulated incubator at the beginning of the fermentation process. The insulation means that the boiling water retains its’ heat without the need for – or cost of – electricity.
How Many Jars?
You’ll need to think about how many jars your yogurt maker will hold. Some machines hold 6 or 8 small jars and others have one single, large container. The smaller jars are usually around 6 ounces each, which are a single serving and perfect for lunch boxes, snacks and trying to make different flavors of yogurt in one batch. It also means that you could use different starter cultures in one batch. This can be handy if the members of your family have favorite flavors, so that you can make several flavors instead of one. However, the reality is that most people with yogurt machines only make one flavor at a time. Making several becomes fiddly and negates the point of having a time-saving machine.
A problem often mentioned in review of yogurt makers that use smaller jars is that sometimes the heat is not maintained evenly across all of the jars. With a single container, this should be less of an issue.
If you’re not sure whether to go for a multi or single jar machine, you may like to look for a model that takes both 8 ounce and 16 ounce jars.
How Much Does It Make?
Most yogurt makers will churn out between one and two quarts per batch. Try to work out how much yogurt you or your family will realistically eat and also how frequently you will want to make it. This should help you to decide whether you need a large machine or a smaller one.
Time is of the essence…
If a machine features a timer, do be careful to check out exactly what sort of timer it is. Some have a digital timer which counts down through the fermentation time and then beeps when it is completed. This is a very useful feature as yogurt can take twelve hours or more to ferment, by which time you may well have forgotten about it!
However, others only have a dial or other system to allow you to set the time you put the yogurt on. With these machines, the timer is just a reminder and there is no countdown or alarm.
Automatic Shut Down…a pro or a con?
Some machines also have an automatic switch-off, which turns the machine off for you once the yogurt has fermented and is ‘finished’. This sounds like a good idea but in practice, you really need to be available once fermentation is completed so that you can put the yogurt into the refrigerator. Even with the power off, the machine would maintain the heat that it had already reached, which would mean that the yogurt would continue to ferment. This is not dangerous but may lead to the finished yogurt having a tart taste, which you may not enjoy.
The Big Freeze
If you love frozen yogurt, you will need to check if the containers in your new machine are freezer-safe. Quite a few models have this feature but you must always remember to let the containers cool before transferring them to the freezer.
Remember that the best yogurt maker is the one that will fit your needs and actually get used. Take your time choosing and then enjoy your own home-made yogurt!