Given the plethora of choices in the supermarket today, it may be difficult to understand why anyone would bother making yogurt at home, but those that do cite numerous benefits. Chief among them is taste. Many DIY yogurt enthusiast are emphatic that homemade yogurt tastes superior to commercial varieties.
This should come as no surprise. Yogurt stop tasting like yogurt some time ago. Perhaps in an attempt to satisfy our seemingly insatiable sweet tooth, food processors began to bury yogurt’s tangy goodness with sweeteners and flavorings. Gelatins and thickeners were also added, and what has resulted bears more of a resemblance to pudding than yogurt.
It’s actually quite simple to make yogurt at home. You don’t need a machine, but the promise of a good one is to take the guess work, and some of the babysitting, out of the equation. There are several yogurt makers on the market today. Some produce whole batches, while others make several individual servings at one time. But the Cuisinart Electronic Yogurt Maker (model CYM-100), with its automatic cooling, sets itself apart from the rest of the pack.
One of the critical steps in making yogurt is arresting the fermentation at the right time. Too soon, and your yogurt may not set-up well. Too late, and you could end up with something too tangy for your tastes. With other yogurt machines, you need to be present when the fermentation peaks and move the yogurt to the refrigerator, but the Cuisinart model has a refrigeration unit built into the machine. You simply set the timer for the number of hours to ferment, and when that time is up, the Cuisinart automatically begins refrigerating.
We tested the Cuisinart for several months and were quite pleased with the results. The machine is simple to set-up and is virtually silent when it runs. It comes with a plastic batch container that produces up to 48 ounces (1.4 liters) of yogurt at one time and conveniently goes from machine to refrigerator to dishwasher. The device is fairly compact, and the electrical cord detaches for storage inside the unit. The digital timer is easy to read and fermentation cycles can be set in one hour increments for up to 24 hours. Times can be increased or decreased while the machine is in operation, which allows you to set the timer for several hours and check it at different intervals to determine the right amount of fermentation to suit your own tastes.
Instead of making one large batch of yogurt, some models make several individual-size servings batches at one; a nice feature if your someone who like to grab a yogurt to go or pack one in your lunch. Given the Cuisinart’s price point, it would have been nice if it could have done both.
Once the machine transitions to the cooling mode, a “C” appears on the timer’s LED screen, and it will remain in that mode until the machine is turned off. The manufacturer recommends allowing batches to cool for 8-12 hours in the machine, but you can also move the batch container to the refrigerator.
Making a batch of yogurt couldn’t get any easier. A recipe booklet included in the box provides two methods for plain yogurt. The first requires a packet of dried yogurt culture, which can be purchased at health food stores and on the Internet. The second method uses 6 ounces (177 ml) of plain whole milk yogurt.
We made several 1-quart (~950 ml) batches of yogurt using both methods and varied fermentation cycles between 6 and 9 hours. We found both methods made a tasty batch of yogurt in about 8-9 hours, but the first approach created a thicker, slightly tangier batch. We were able to thicken the results with the second method by substituting the regular yogurt with 7 ounces (~200 ml) of plain Fage Total Classic Greek-style yogurt.
Still, one common complaint we heard from other owners was that their yogurt came out too runny. We found this was easily remedied by heating the milk before-hand to a temperature of about 185°F/85°C and holding it there for 5-10 minutes. This helps concentrate the proteins which will allow the milk to thicken when it cools. We then allowed the yogurt to cool to at least 105°F/40°C before adding the culture source. A fermentation period of 6-7 hours produced a consistently thick batch.
While this product does make delicious yogurt, all its conveniences come with a hefty price tag. The CYM-100 model retails for about $129, but we did find it online for as little as $100 excluding shipping. We also priced out a dozen other yogurt machines online and found the average price was only $35. That’s a chilly 300% premium for “automatic cooling”. Some readers will undoubtedly find it difficult to spend that much money in the pursuit of homemade yogurt, particularly when it can be made without any special equipment and for nothing more than the cost of the ingredients.
Still, for others, convenience is king. The ability to start the process in the morning before heading off to work and return in the evening to a chilled batch of homemade yogurt can be quite appealing.
So if you want a convenient care-free way to make yogurt right in your home and you don’t mind paying extra, the Cuisinart Yogurt Maker with Automatic Cooling makes excellent yogurt. We give it a score of 8.0 out of 10.
This product was originally evaluated based on Performance, Ease of Use, and Cost/Value, earning it a score of 7.7. To bring the review in line with our current evaluation methodology, we added an additional criterion, Quality & Design. (We also added additional comments regarding product features.) This increased the rating to 8.0.
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