Several have asked about the yogurt machine. And if it was easy and was it good.
The answer to both is a resounding YES! And cheaper. And healthier. And lower in sugar and fat.
Here's the deal. To make it is easy. You definitely need a candy thermometer. It was at that point in the making of the yogurt that I realized I had three meat thermometers and not a single candy therm. But I have since remedied that fly in the proverbial ointment.
My research showed me there were several features that vary on the major YMs. The top YM was the Salton at $189. And the #2 was the Waring Pro, which is what I found at that shop on deep discount! Yeah! You can make yogurt without a YM but you need a good heating pad and you can't disturb the culture for a long time. I wanted to be able to make Frank comfortable eating it. He is a really phobic guy when it comes to food and germs. He constantly thinks I am trying to kill him with some odd food thing or something that has been left out too long or even in the fridge too long. He is difficult sometimes. So with him it was well worht spending them money to get the real machine.
So first you need either a starter or the freeze dried yogurt culture. I started with the yogurt culture but will save some yogurt from the next batch to make the third batch. I wanted to have all 5 of the active cultures and not miss any. Most yogurts have two or three of the active cultures but they recommend Stoneybrook Organic to start your yogurt with.
And you need to decide on your milk. You can use soy, skim, whole or low fat, but the lower the fat the less thick the yogurt will be. I decided on whole for my first batch. You bring it up to just before boiling, and then cool it to add the cultures, and then put it into the YM. If you want creamier yogurt you can add some powdered milk but it will make the yogurt culture faster.
People do different things with their additives. Maple syrup or honey can be added when the cultures are added. If you put preserves, you can add them to the bottom of the jar before you add the milk mixture and not stir it up. Or you can add everything later when you eat it, like fresh fruit. I will add some of my expensive mexican vanilla into the warm mix next time. We live smack dab in the middle of giant strawberry country. I want some now just thinking about it.
If you like tart yogurt, you just leave it in the YM up to two hours longer and you will have thicker yogurt as well. And if you want Greek Yogurt you hang it in cheesecloth. Some people discard the whey but some cook with it.
There are lots and lots of recipes to make various flavors of yogurt but the best is the frozen yogurts. You will need an ice cream maker of some sort. I have one from my Kitchenaid mixer that I ordered from Direct Buy last week. I can't wait to have Almond Amaretto Cream Frozen Yogurt.
And you can make gelato in the Kitchenaid as well they say! When we were in Rome, we didn't get a chance to eat the gelato this time because we ran out of the necessary money to purchase it and it is so expensive to change money now. They want a 100% exchange rate in those small shops. And it was not going to happen no matter how badly I wanted gelato! Although it would have been nice.
I guess I will just have to make my own!