Top critical review
498 of 513 people found this helpful
Good and bad features; overpriced for what it is
on November 18, 2008
1. Large capacity, can make two batch sizes.
2. Water bath for even heating.
3. Digital thermometer.
4. Cheesecloth bag included for making yogurt-cheese.
5. Avoids the hassle of little single-serving containers.
1. No way to view the yogurt's progress without significantly disturbing it. When you're dealing with incubation periods anywhere from 4 hours to 24 hours, a window would be nice to give you an idea.
2. Exploding lid. I've actually had both lids blow off while incubating from the gases created by the culture, as others have mentioned, and found them halfway across the counter. At best, you have to be careful when removing the lid even when you're ready. When you lift the jar out of the machine, you have to catch the edge of the lid to lift it out -- and that can cause problems and mess if it pops too easily.
3. No time indicator, nor any other kind of indicator. I also have the Donvier maker with small serving cups, and it has a digital timer with automatic shutoff. Not necessary, but would be a nice feature for this price. You need to actually be there to shut it off (and make sure the lid doesn't blow off midway through).
4. The batch jar it comes with is plastic instead of glass. It does have a tight seal, however, and keeps the yogurt fresh for weeks.
5. It does get very hot. I don't incubate more than 8 hours, but have tested the water and found it at 123 degrees at around 3 hours.
6. For this price, you basically get a plastic vat that heats up and has a light to indicate it's on. That's it. This machine does not remove any of the guesswork. I've been making yogurt for years, and I've still screwed up many batches with this one. When you're growing bacteria, there's little room for error. Also, you still have to go through the process of heating to sterilize, cooling, etc., as you would with any machine.
Recommended? Maybe. I use it more than the Donvier simply because of the container size.
A couple of tips:
1. Soy-based yogurt is very difficult to get right. If you're like me and you don't mind eating dairy, but you want to eat more soy and prefer to avoid saturated fat, try using a quart of creamy soy milk (not light!) and adding 1/2 cup dry dairy milk powder to it, plus sugar and any flavor extracts. It makes an absolutely thick and creamy, delicious yogurt that sets up properly and has no weird flavor. I have experimented with pectin and do not like it -- adding additional milk powder thickens the yogurt nicely.
2. Honey is naturally antibacterial, and therefore will impede your culture. Don't sweeten with honey before culturing -- use it afterward if you like it.
3. Do not use a starter yogurt that contains a lot of gelatin. It's very difficult to get it to mix evenly with your warm milk, even if you pour the warm milk into the starter a little at a time.
4. Unfortunately, almond milk and hazelnut milk do not work, even if mixed with some cow's milk. However, coconut milk (full fat) or coconut cream make an incredible, rich silky yogurt when mixed with dairy milk.