Trying a new yoghurt maker - success!

5 April 2018
I've made yoghurt in my kitchen for more years than I care to remember. I started making it using live cultures in fresh yoghurt and moved on to live powdered cultures about five years ago. When the yoghurt was made, I loaded the warm yogurt into a warm jar, wrapped the jar in warm towels and placed it in a pre-warmed oven.  Most of the time, the residual heat was enough to set the yoghurt.
Last week my new sponsor, Valerie at Green Living, sent me a yoghurt maker to try. I made my first batch yesterday and even though I thought there wouldn't be much difference, there was. Mixing the milk with the cultures was the same but instead of trying to keep it warm with a variety of measures, I poured the mix into the yoghurt maker, turned it on and walked away. Eight hours later I had a very nice firm yoghurt. The yoghurt maker heats up slightly to provide a consistently warm temperature at exactly the right temperature.

I made a litre of lactose-free yoghurt which was divided into two batches.  One was flavoured with two teaspoons of cherry jam to make a sweet yoghurt, which is much tastier than the shop bought flavoured yoghurts. It doesn't contain the dairy preservatives used in the flavoured yoghurts either.  It's just lactose-free milk, the yoghurt culture, a teaspoon of sugar to feed the bacteria (due to the absence of lactose in the milk), 2 drops of calcium chloride (for a firmer yoghurt) and the cherry jam. The other half batch is now sitting in the fridge, draining. I've put it into a cloth which is sitting on a strainer over a bowl. The whey is running off and tomorrow I'll add a small amount of finely chopped green onion, salt and pepper. This makes up a very simple cheese that Hanno loves and often has on his homemade rye bread. The green onion can be replaced with finely chopped cucumber, capsicum/pepper, chilli jam or parsley.

This half batch will drain overnight in the fridge and be made up in the morning.  I'll post a photo of it tomorrow.
You can use any type of milk - oat, almond, coconut, low fat, full cream, lactose-free - to make yoghurt this way. I'll make full cream A2 yoghurt next week and when my son comes visiting again I'll make a vegan-friendly yoghurt using coconut milk.  Yoghurt is such a versatile food so the next batch will be two litres so I have plenty on hand for cooking, cheese and yoghurt.

I'm happy to recommend the yoghurt maker to you. It did make the process easier and I didn't have to keep checking the temperature. I just filled the bucket, turned on the yoghurt maker and walked away for 8 hours. Valerie sent along very comprehensive instructions with the maker, information about culture storage, as well as a new bottle of calcium chloride and the yoghurt culture - enough to make 100 litres. Thanks Valerie! If yoghurt making is part of your regular kitchen tasks, it's worth thinking about adding this to your kitchen.  I'll be using mine a couple of times a week from now on.