I have received a handful of requests for recommendations on yogurt machines so thought I’d share my yogurt making set-up with you. These are my essentials for making both cow’s milk and dairy-free yogurt.
You don’t necessarily need a machine to make yogurt. All that is required is a quiet, consistently warm spot (usually 100˚-110˚F). I just am partial to machines because they take the worry and guess-work out of yogurt making. You plug it in and forget about it. Pretty fool-proof if you ask me. There are two styles of machines; the single container and the multi-container.
My top pick for yogurt machines is the single container Yogourmet Multi Electric Yogurt Maker (pictured at top). I find making one 2-quart batch much more convenient than making several individual servings (less pouring, fewer dishes to wash). But it’s a personal choice.
If you are new to yogurt making and are not ready to make a $50 investment in a machine, swing by your local thrift shop. You just may find a nice, lightly used one. I picked up a second Yogourmet Multi for $2 at Goodwill which I loan out to friends.
The only drawback of the Yogourmet Multi is that the fermentation container is plastic. Now it’s probably safe and fine to use, but I take all precautions to avoid any leeching of chemicals into our food. So, I have replaced the plastic insert it ships with with a 2-quart (1/2 gallon) glass jar like this one:
You can purchase these 1/2 gallon glass inserts from Lucy’s Kitchen Shop for under $10 or check around locally. I saw them at Sprouts in the bulk food section once.
If you prefer individual servings, Cultures for Health recommends the Euro Cuisine which comes with seven 6-ounce glass jars and lids:
Now this is cool! This versatile yogurt maker can be used with the included seven 6 ounce glass jars, canning jars, or an optional 64 ounce (1/2 gallon) glass jar. Click here for info on this machine.
Live off the grid? Here’s a reliable way (that’s the manufactuer’s claim, not mine) to make yogurt without electricity. The insulated container maintains the appropriate temperature throughout the culturing process. Click here for more details.
There’s no rocket science that goes into yogurt machines. They really are just little incubators. The critical thing is that they maintain that consistent temperature (usually between 100˚-112˚F).
Whether you are working with cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or plant-based milk, you will be heating the mixture. It is essential that that mixture cool to a safe temperature (I am for 95-100˚F) before adding the yogurt starter. Too hot and the friendly bacteria that cultures the milk will die (this usually happens around 118˚F). I have gone through six thermometers and have learned that hard way that WATERPROOF and digital is the way to go. This one has performed like a champ!
Back in the day when I used to make cow’s milk yogurt, it was possible to culture the milk with a half cup or so of plain storebought yogurt. However, with non-dairy milk I have always used the direct-set (dried yogurt culture) method. In my research, most sources say that alternative milk yogurts (like almond, cashew, coconut and rice) are most succcessfully made using the direct-set method.
One tip I can provide when selecting a non-dairy yogurt starter or priobiotic capsule is to select one that includes the lactic acid-producing bacteria Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Thermophilus. In the United States, the USDA defines “yogurt” as containing these two strains of bacteria.
Cultures for Health™
Cultures for Health Vegan Yogurt Starter is a great yogurt starter that has proved itself a winner over and over again. Please beware that this starter may not be 100% t0p-8 allergen free and here’s why. Vegetal labeling reads that that “this product is produced in a facility that also manufactures soy, gluten and dairy.” In addition, barley (a gluten-containing grain) is used as a fermentation nutrient. The manufacturer has determined that “fermentation nutrients are outside the scope of US and EU food allergen labeling requirements.” Had I not dug around for, nor reviewed, the manufacturer’s spec sheet, this bit of knowledge would have gone unnoticed. So this is where I leave it up to you decide what that means to you. I am not a food scientist, and as great as this product is, if I were super sensitive to gluten, I would avoid it.
Lifetrients Child’s ProBio 25™
NourishLife, a sponsor of this site, makes a probiotic that is virtually comparable to Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Complete—the probiotic I have recommended in the past for culturing yogurt. The reason I switched to NourishLife’s Lifetrient Child’s ProBio25 probiotic is that anyone can order it.Klaire products continue to be sold exclusively through healthcare professionals and authorized dealers, making them a hassle to get.*
*You may purchase Ther-Biotic Complete off of Amazon, but please ensure that the product is shipped with an icepack—not all suppliers do.
GI ProHealth’s GI Prostart his is another nice starter but with one caveat. I like the company’s commitment to providing a hypoallergenic product, but do note that “the yogurt strains are recognized to have exposure to some dairy peptones (broken down molecular structures) during their fermentation. The final culture is filtered and has less then detectable levels of dairy proteins. Considered dairy-free yogurt based on the standards established in the nutritional industry. No gluten containing ingredients are used in the production of this product.”
Disclaimer: Manufacturing processes can change at any time and without notice. And because even minuscule amounts of dairy or gluten or other food allergens may pose a threat to some individuals, I must defer to you, the reader, to research and decide which yogurt culture or probiotic powder is safe for you and your family.
A Big Pot
I heat my milk in a 5-quart stainless steel pot, don’t use anything smaller. When heating milk, watch it carefully. Look away for a second and you could have a messy boil-over on your hands.
When adding the powdered culture to the cooled milk, you want to mix it in thoroughly to distribute evenly. A silicon-coated whisk comes in handy for this.
Links to yogurt recipes on this site:
Coconut Milk Yogurt – Easiest recipe!
Almond Milk Yogurt
Almond & Hemp Milk Yogurt (my first yogurt post and painfully long 🙂
Why Yogurt Can Fail
- Milk is too hot when the culture is added
- Dead, or partially dead, starter
- Unsanitized cooking tools
- Inconsistent temperature during fermentation
- Introduction of bad bacteria (from air and/or cross-contamination with unclean utensils). Tell-tale signs are pink, brownish or grayish mold on surface of yogurt.
Happy yogurt making. I hope this post has been helpful.
Hi Lexie. About a month or so ago I was looking around for one of those glass containers and not having a ton of luck. Then it hit me. Consistent temperature? Dehydrator sitting around? So I got out several small canning jars, preheated my the dehydrator when I started to heat the "milk" and stuck those suckers in it for 7 hours at the 115 degree mark. Perfect. I know lots of folks don't own a dehydrator, but if you do… 😀
Thanks for the great write-up on the yogurt machines. I was wondering if you can reccommend ice cream makers that are non-roxic and where rhe drum or main part of the maker does not leach. I wld be very appreciative to know which one(s) you think are safe.
Laurel … Thanks for that reminder. Dehydrators are great for making yogurt as long as the temp remains in that consistent 100-112˚F temp. I bought a dehydrator that claimed it was a steamer, dehydrator, yogurt maker, all in one. So dissappointed. Lost many batches of yogurt to that machine. I know there are thermometers you can buy for dehydrators … that may have been handy. xoLexie
Aw. I bet that Taylor Instant Read thermometer would have been handy too. I hope you can still steam in your "multi" purpose contraption. Poor Lexie. 🙁
P.S. Great write-up. xo
Hey Lexie – thanks for all the great recommendations. I've ordered the YoLife – fingers crossed for great yogurt! I'm going to order the vegan starter as well. Do you use it each time you make a batch of the coconut milk yogurt? Or make it once with the starter and then use some of the yogurt as a starter for new batches??
Nancy, non-dairy milk is not the same beast as dairy when it comes to culturing with say, a half cup of yogurt. I always use the direct-set method … adding of dried culture. All the sources I have read and the experimenting I have done have confirmed that using a starter each time for non-dairy milk is the way to go. xoLexie
Laurel, yeah, that'll teach me to think that there is an all-in-one that can even give the dog a bath! : ) xoLexie
Hannah, oooo, that's a tough one. With an ice cream maker I have to think that there isn't a ton of leeching going on as it's operating at a freezing temp. However, getting the ice cream out without scraping the sides can be tough. So I always use a silicon scraper. I don't know of any other style freezer canisiter out there. There are some items (like a non-stick) for occasional crepe making that I just can't give up : ) xoLexie
I have lots of appliances, but not a yogurt maker. I've been thinking of getting one so thank you for your review!
No, Lexie you post this now? I ought my yougurt maker a week ago. LOL
I am very satisfied I did buy a eurocuisine but i bought the 2 quart canister. Do to some umm help from another adult in the house the yogurt maker was unplugged too soon during my first batch and we ended up with somthing akin to kefir. Still yummy but the next two batchse were mch better. Thx sooo much for your coconut milk recipe!
Kendra … hooraayyyyy!! I have an outlet that shuts off at whim, so I know your grief : ) The Eurocuisine looks like a great machine. Good purchase!! xoLexie
Consider this a long overdue thank you for your yogurt recipes and all the work and careful testing that went into them. I make your almond milk yogurt every week without fail. In fact, I double the recipe and end up with a gallon of the stuff! I eat it for breakfast, as does my husband. I also put it my son's smoothies, have it for dessert with fruit, and use it in your totally addictive mini cheesecakes. It's lovely, lovely stuff. I followed your suggestion and get my starter from Cultures for Life.
I use my TSM dehydrator, which has a small hole in the front door that fits the stem of a thermometer. I find I can get the dehydrator to reliably stay between 100 and 108. I also put four glass jars filled with water behind the yogurt jars, which I think helps the temperature stay steady. (I use four quart sized glass jars for the yogurt mixture.) I've only lost one jar-worth of yogurt to a suspicious pink blotch, but since the others in that batch were fine, I imagine the jar itself had a contaminant.
Tamar, THANK YOU! It's always nice to hear from people like you who are making it and enjoying it. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to share. xoLexie
Recently I started making yogurt without first reading how to do it. It was very successful and tasty Greek yogurt.
I found a 2 qt electric plastic container, without a lid, bought Mt. High yogurt with 5 live cultures, took frig cooled skim milk, poured it into the container, added 2 tbls of chilled yogurt, plugged it in, covered it with a plastic lid from a jar.
10 hrs later delicious yogurt. I then put a dish towel into a calendar, put that into a larger plastic bowl, poured in the warm yogurt, and set the whole thing in the frig. an hr later, a bowl full of whey and great yogurt.
I am now looking for ways to use the whey.
I then started to research other methods. Why the sterilization? One site talked about dying from contaminated culture, sterilizing all utensils, bowls, etc. all used heating the milk first,
Why am I getting tasty yogurt???
I have gone through 3 gal of skim milk with great results. I started looking for recipes to add ingredients and here I am.
I was also looking for another machine as this old plastic thing has a loose container and I am afraid I will shock myself if I keep using it.
My mother made yogurt in the 1940's during the war, Just wrapped up a bowl of milk and starter and next morning we had yogurt
Why all the big whooptodo
Ralph, glad your method works for you 😉 … here I make nut milk and it's a slightly different beast. xoLexie
I am just starting to look into making yogurt at home. Can you tell me, is there a yogurt maker that is fully automatic? Or do you have to heat the milk on the stove & add the culture, for all yogurt makers?
Great question Julie, I have not come across a fully automatic machine 🙂 Maybe one needs to be invented, ha! xoLexie
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