What Is The Best Yogurt Maker For Your Needs?

In this article I'll discuss some of the factors you'll need to consider when choosing the best yogurt maker for your individual requirements. As with most things, there is no universal 'one size fits all' solution. But you'll find a long list of manufacturers lining up to sell you their product. Brands like Salton, Yogourmet, Donvier, Easiyo, Waring, Yolife, Yogotherm and Euro Cuisine, among others, are all vying for your consumer dollar as they strive to convince you their product offers to clearest path the home made yogurt nirvana.

So, what should you look at as you compare yogurt maker features?

One Quart Or Two?

One of the first things you'll need to consider is how much yogurt you need to make in each batch. This will obviously depend on how much you consume. How many people live in your household? Does the whole family eat yogurt? You'll also want to think about how fresh you like it and how often you want to make it.

Consumer level yogurt making machines on the market right now vary in capacity anywhere between 1 quart and 2 quarts with most being towards the lower end of that range. I recently wrote about the Yogourmet Multi yogurt maker which has a capacity of up to 2 quarts.

Individual Jars Or Single Container?

Closely related to the capity question is that of configuration. That is, how many containers are used for fermentation and how big are they? The most common configurations are either 6 to 8 single serve jars or a single larger capacity container.

The benefits of the smaller containers (normally 6 ounce jars) are that you can use different ingredients or different starter cultures all within the same batch. This can be handy if you need to cater to different family members with different tastes.

But just keep in mind that the practicality of using different ingredients may be another matter entirely. You may find it too much mess and fuss to mix up two or more different mixtures every time you want to make yogurt.

The other advantage of individual small containers is that most are designed to go straight into the refrigerator and come with lids so that they can be packed into lunches or taken with you for a healthy ready-made snack.

However, if you just want to make one type per batch then a single larger container might be for you. One of the problems reported by some buyers of yogurt makers which use smaller jars is that sometimes the heat is not maintained consistently across all of the jars. With a single container, this should be less of an issue.

But if you want the best of both worlds, Waring may be the answer you're looking for. The Waring YM350 Professional Yogurt Maker comes with jars in both 8 ounce and 16 ounce capacities.

And for something different again, you could try the Miracle Milk Carton yogurt maker. As the name suggests, fermentation takes place directly within the milk carton. You can read more about this model at the link above.

Frozen Yogurt Anyone?

The last thing to consider before we leave the topic of fermentation and storage containers is whether they are freezer-safe. The Salton YM9 Yogurt Maker, for example, ships with an internal fermentation vessel which is rated as freezer safe. This means that you can transfer the container straight from the incubator to the refrigerator or the freezer (after allowing the contents to cool a little of course). A number of other models also offer this feature.

Do You Want An Electric Yogurt Maker?

In order to ferment milk safely and with good results, the incubator needs to maintain a constant and consistent temperature throughout the milk and other ingredients during fermentation. Most of the manufacturers use electricity to create and maintain the heat required, however the Easiyo unit is a notable exception to this rule.

The Easiyo yogurt maker instead uses boiling water added once at the beginning to maintain heat throughout fermentation. Because the incubator is insulated, the heat from the boiling water maintains the temperature without the need for electricity. I haven't worked out what the cost of running an electric yogurt machine is for 10 - 12 hours so I don't know what the potential cost savings are, but it may be worth considering.

One of the features offered by some of the electronic yogurt makers is a timer (with or without automatic shutoff). The timer is a useful option as it reminds you that incubation is complete and the finished product is ready. However, be aware that while some models offer a proper digital timer which counts down then beeps at the end of the set time, others just have a dial or other system which lets you set the time you put it on just as a reminder. There is no countdown or alarm.

While the auto-shutoff feature offered on some of the best rated yogurt maker models seems like quite a practical feature, in reality some consumers don't find it that useful. Because the machine stays warm even after the power is switched off and because the milk continues to ferment during this time, some people find they need to remove the yogurt immediately anyway. Otherwise the result not to their liking - too tart in flavor.

Hopefully by now you'll have an appreciation of some of the bells and whistles you can expect to find and which ones really matter. Remember, the best yogurt maker is the one which suits your needs.