Make your own yogurt?
The idea has probably never occurred to you. If it has, you maybe thought it involved the unappealing prospect of letting milk go bad in some corner of the kitchen. Or an expensive, bulky European machine you gradually stop using and feel guilty about.
The EasiYo Yogurt Maker ($44.95 at the helpful and well-edited shopping site Daily Grommet) is simple, unmessy, compact and movable, meaning it won't take up valuable real estate on your counter. It uses powdered milk from grass-fed, hormone-free cows in New Zealand, the home of EasiYo.
The yogurt it makes is rich, creamy, slightly tangy and as good or better than even premium stuff you buy at the market (Siggi's, Faye). It is free of preservatives and artificial colors. And it makes so much of it that you save money and time.
The Yogurt Maker looks and feels just like a medium-size thermos. It holds a smaller plastic jar, which is where the magic happens.
You half-fill the jar with cool water, then pour in the contents of a pouch of future yogurt (powdered milk plus live cultures). There are a lot of options: whole milk and low-fat; plain and with a fruit flavor; Greek-style, plain and with honey; with probiotic Acidophilus cultures, good for digestion; and more.
After shaking it, you fill the jar with more water, then shake again.
You put the sealed jar in the yogurt maker and pour boiling water in, which rises partway up and surrounds the jar. (The heat reawakens the freeze-dried lactic cultures and enables them to grow.) Finally, you cap the maker and let it sit overnight.
The next morning, the jar is full of yogurt. The first batch I made was standard whole milk strawberry. It was good. It was also quite sweet, as sweet as a container of Dannon would be (without the "fruit on the bottom," of course). It proved popular with my year-old twin daughters.
The next was Greek style yogurt, plain. The instructions suggest adding a couple of tablespoons of sugar to unsweetened pouches, which I did. It came out perfect: richly set in the Mediterranean-yogurt way, and just sweet enough to balance the pleasantly sour tang of yogurt. Just add fruit and granola.
Once you put the full jar of yogurt in the fridge, it lasts for two weeks.
That's a good thing, because the one challenge the EasiYo poses is how to enjoy all that yogurt without ODing on it or letting it spoil and go to waste.
EasiYo cleverly anticipated this challenge and includes its own Yogurt Cookbook with every maker. The book turns the challenge into an opportunity to join cultures around the world and across history and use yogurt in all sorts of dishes and ways -- "without going overboard on unwanted kilijoules," the jacket notes.
Take a break from guacamole and try the avocado yogurt dip. Skip the smoothie or milkshake and make a lassi, the Indian refresher perfect for soothing your tastebuds after a spicy dish ... like lamb curry, another dish in the book.
Indeed, yogurt can often substitute for cream, sour cream, cream cheese and mayonnaise. The result will be lower in fat, rich in protein and calcium and vitamins, and will likely provide a fresh, tangy twist on the original.
If yogurt is a once-in-a-while food, the EasiYo Yogurt Maker will be too much of a good thing. If you enjoy yogurt regularly -- and are open to using it beyond breakfast -- the EasiYo is simply a very good thing.