Comments: We asked the Waring folks why people purchase a yogurt maker – after all, there is a certain amount of effort involved. You heat milk up to 180°F (82°C), cool it to 110°F (43°C), add a small amount of live yogurt or a dried yogurt culture, and put it in containers in the yogurt maker, which cooks it at about 154°F (68°C) for 8 or 10 or 12 hours, after which you cool the containers in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours more. Only then do you have your yogurt. Plain yogurt.
You could have made about 30 trips to the store and bought at least one of each type, brand, and flavor of yogurt on the shelves in that amount of time!
But the Waring folks make some great arguments. First, there are no commercial additives or preservatives in your home-made yogurt. You have total control over any ingredients you add. Second, you can make any flavor you dream up, including peppermint, carrot, maple-nut, cinnamon-granola, and many others that will never show up in your supermarket. Third, you can make soy, Greek-style, goat-milk, low-fat, and no-fat yogurts, by adjusting the type of milk used. Fourth, you may also be able to save some money – even factoring in the cost of the yogurt maker – especially if you are making soy or organic yogurts, which tend to be quite expensive in the supermarket.
Thank you, Waring folks, for that helpful information. We can only add this (which the Waring folks were apparently too modest to add) – oh my gosh, is it ever delicious!
The whole milk, lowfat, and nonfat plain yogurts we made were tasty and tangy. It was when we started adding flavorings that we swooned*. One of us kept making strawberry yogurts with Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves from France, and we thought we would have to get another yogurt maker just to keep up production. Another Ocheffer, who was delighted when tangy frozen yogurt first came on the market, but severely disappointed when manufacturers jacked up the amount of sugar to make it taste more like ice cream, is delighted she can now make a frozen yogurt as tangy as she wants.
This Waring yogurt maker is simplicity itself. You turn it on and it's default setting is 8 hours (for whole milk yogurt). Increase the time to 10 hours if you use lowfat milk or 12 hours if you use skim milk. If you choose to skip the initial heating and cooling steps, you can double the amount of time the milk stays in the yogurt maker (the timer goes up to 19 hours). You can also add powdered milk to help thicken the yogurt in less time. Thickness and acidity are functions of how long the yogurt "cooks."
The yogurt maker includes the heating unit and clear plastic lid and two 16-ounce plastic jars with lids and six 8-ounce jars with lids. You can make either the two large jars of yogurt at a time or the six small ones. Presumably you would keep them in rotation, so that you always have fresh yogurt in the refrigerator.
You must add a live starter to the milk to produce yogurt. You can add a few ounces of store-bought plain yogurt (as long as it has live culture), a freeze-dried yogurt starter, or a starter powder. You can use yogurt from your last batch of home-made yogurt as a starter, but the Waring folks recommend using store-bought starter every other batch, to be sure your yogurt has plenty of life.
We found batches made with the specified amount of powdered yogurt culture to be excessively sour. Even a batch made with half the amount of culture was sour-sour-sour. Possibly other starters would produce different results, but, again, a little added Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves, and that ultra-sour yogurt was gone in no time. Although we had no trouble when we used a smaller amount of powdered starter, the Waring folks say it could yield a yogurt that is too thin and could cause the whey to separate from the yogurt. Even without commercial preservatives, we found some batches of home-made yogurt were still fresh after two weeks.
Clearly, if you make the commitment to put this yogurt maker on your counter – and it does take up some room – you'll wind up doing a lot of experimenting, both with the plain yogurt bases you make, and with the flavors, textures, and temperatures at your disposal once the yogurt is made.
*OK, we never swoon, but we were, like, one notch down….