Way back on page 1 of this thread and two years back in time, I mentioned that I occasionally used to make yogurt at home, on the stovetop. But as I said then, it was kind of messy and finicky and not really worth the trouble.
But, on the other hand, milk is cheap (sort of) while yogurt is expensive. And the people in my household seem to consume yogurt at a rate of about $1400 per year. Which is basically ridiculous.
So I was happy when someone recently gave us a yogurt maker. It's the same model that city2countrygal mentioned on the first page of this thread.
I've now been making 40-oz batches of yogurt 4x/week for the past month. Some observations:
(1) The first couple of attempts were so-so, then I figured out an algorithm that worked well, and now every batch is consistently good. (This is the same engineering approach I use with my bread machine -- figure out a good recipe, document it, repeat it exactly every time, and get predictably consistent results).
(2) Our consumption of store-bought yogurt has dropped by almost 90%. Most of that is being made up by the yogurt maker, but also our total consumption is down slightly. I think this is because the yogurt maker works with 6oz cups, whereas our typical serving size from the store-bought quarts was probably 8-10oz. Serving size matters!
(3) Since we're eating a little less yogurt overall, and since the ingredients we use in the yogurt maker (milk mostly, plus a little sugar and some powdered milk) cost much less than the commercial yogurt we used to buy, we've cut our yogurt budget by about 75%. If we keep doing this all year, it'll save something like a thousand bucks per year.
(4) I can control how sweet the yogurt is now. I used to find plain yogurt too sour for my taste, so we ate a lot of vanilla yogurt ... which had a *lot* of sugar in it. Now with the yogurt maker, I get a sort of lightly sweetened yogurt that's just right.
(5) This does add a bit more labor to my life, but not a lot. The procedure is pretty simple:
* Heat 36oz milk in microwave for 7 minutes, stir once, then heat for 5 min more. Should reach 180F.
* Cool to 110F.
* Mix 10oz of heated milk with 2 Tbsp plain commercial yogurt (this is my "starter"), then stir back into remaining heated milk.
* Pour into glass cups, place in yogurt maker, and press button. Cooks overnight.
That all takes ca. 20 minutes or so before it goes in the yogurt maker, but most of that is time in the microwave, or cooling on the counter. My actual involvement only takes about 2 minutes.
I'm still making bread, too, with the Zojirushi, 3 to 4 times per week. It's cheap (once you've paid for the bread machine), convenient, healthy, and delicious. The only downside is that my daughter -- who's basically grown up eating this homemade bread all her life -- can't stand the taste of supermarket bread.