The 10 Best Yogurt Makers
Choosing The Best Yogurt Maker
Yogurt was actually an accidental discovery. Ancient herdsman started storing the milk from their flocks in bags made from animal stomachs. The enzymes in these stomachs broke down the milk, which created the first primitive yogurts. The process of making yogurt has evolved continuously since then, and the modern yogurt maker is a testament to that evolution. Not all yogurt makers are the same, however, and it is important to understand which yogurt maker will be the most beneficial before making a purchase.
One thing to consider before choosing a yogurt maker is the level of control the user wants in their batches. Some yogurt makers are designed for making one large batch of yogurt, which means an easier process and less to clean up after the yogurt is complete. On the other hand, yogurt makers that fit many smaller jars offer much more control with the batch itself. These yogurt makers allow the user to explore different flavor combinations and sugar levels, or add even more gut-friendly bacteria, without the risk of ruining an entire batch.
The other major consideration is the complexity of the machine. Some yogurt makers are designed solely for making yogurt. They may feature slots for their built in jars, and have straightforward incubation settings. Other yogurt makers can do additional tasks, such as making fresh cheese or Greek yogurt, and there are even models that double as slow cookers. Deciding how the product will get the most use will help make purchasing a yogurt maker simple and satisfying.
Making Homemade Yogurt In A Yogurt Maker
As simple as it seems, there is actually an art to making yogurt. A yogurt maker demystifies the process and makes yogurt accessible to everyone. The first step to using a yogurt maker is to prep and program the machine. The incubation time will vary depending on the kind of milk you are using. Yogurt made with whole milk will take about seven hours to incubate, whereas skim-milk yogurt will take up to 10 hours. Low-fat and two percent milk will usually take somewhere between eight and nine hours to incubate. Vegetable milks made from nuts or soy have their own production processes.
Once the yogurt maker is set to the proper incubation time, it is time to cook the milk. There should be enough milk to fill all of the jars in the yogurt maker, with a little left over in case of spills. Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to foam along the edges of the pan. It should not be allowed to boil, as this can break down some of the compounds in milk and cause the nutrients to degrade. You can now remove the foaming milk from the heat and let it cool. You should cool the milk at room temperature until it is slightly warmer than the body.
It is best to prepare the starter culture while the milk is cooling. In most cases, this means adding six to eight ounces of live yogurt to a large mixing bowl. This yogurt may come from an old batch made in a yogurt maker or from a store shelf. The important thing to note is that the yogurt must have live bacterial strains in it for it to properly inoculate the rest of the milk. Once the milk is cooled, gradually stir it into the yogurt until the texture is thick and smooth. This is the stage to add any additional fruits, sugars, or spices. You can now add the fully mixed batch to the jars in the yogurt maker for incubation. The result is a delicious, healthy, and cheap alternative to store bought yogurt.
Is Yogurt Actually Healthy?
Yogurt makers simplify the process of creating fresh yogurt, and put complete control in the hands of the user. Yet, with the confusion surrounding dairy products recently, it is difficult for some to understand which products are good and which should be avoided. Simply put, yogurt itself is very healthy, but not all yogurts are created equally.
Yogurt is one possible result of the bacterial fermentation of milk. Different bacteria will produce different end products, like cheese, cream cheese, and kefir. The specific bacteria used to create yogurt are called lactobacteria. The live cultures in yogurt are usually the strains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These bacteria consume the sugar in milk, which creates lactic acid. This lactic acid then breaks down the proteins in the milk, which gives yogurt its distinct tart flavor and texture.
Thanks in part to these bacteria, yogurt itself is an extremely healthy part of a balanced diet. Regular yogurt consumption can promote bone health, aid in digestion, and help relieve conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. Yogurt with added active cultures may offer even more health benefits, such as improved immune system function and microflora balance. This is because these cultures can thrive in the digestive system, and in turn empower the body to stay healthy.
The health conflict arises with the numerous things companies add to commercial yogurts to make them taste as good as possible and keep them selling. Additional sugar in yogurt is one such ingredient, as it adds unnecessary calories to an otherwise healthy snack. Too much sugar may also influence health conditions, like metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.
On the other hand, added artificial sweeteners may also cause more harm than good. The discussion over the safety of nonnutritive sweeteners is ongoing and inconclusive. Still, many companies use artificial sweeteners to add a sweet flavor without any of the calories associated with sugar. Additional ingredients, like thickeners and preservatives, are also questionable. Thickening agents such as carrageenan promote inflammation in the body. Preservatives may damage cells, and some may even promote cancer over long periods of use.
In addition to questionable ingredients, many companies pasteurize their yogurt, which kills off the live cultures while keeping the flavor of yogurt. This can severely limit the benefit of eating yogurt. The best way to avoid these risks and make healthy yogurt is by making it at home in a yogurt maker.