A hundred bucks may seem like a lot to spend on yogurt, even the kind with fruit on the bottom. But think of it this way: if food is fashion, yogurt’s the new black. Dairy shelves across America groan under the weight of added active bacterial cultures. The East Coast-West Coast froyo rivalry, mostly Pinkberry vs. Red Mango, rages on. Even that old social taboo, digestive health, has a celebrity spokeswoman (Jamie Lee Curtis, America’s sweetheart and proud face of Activia). Yogurt’s at the forefront of national nutrition, and it’s time to invest in a big-ticket item.
Fortunately, just about a hundred and thirty bucks—probably less than your annual Go-Gurt budget—buys you Cuisinart’s “Thermo-Electric Yogurt Maker.” Don’t let the name scare you off—the machine’s about as accessible as they come. Just choose your preferred milk or milk-substitute, i.e., soy milk, pour the liquid into the container and press “Start.”
No need to worry about dealing with lactobacillus or harvesting active cultures from your kitchen’s ambient micro-bacterial environment. The Thermo-Electric Yogurt Maker ferments the milk for you, and then chills the yogurt so it’s ready to serve, or store, as your appetite dictates. The best part? You control the flavors; but proceed with caution as mint and orange are testy companions. And because you’re buying the base materials, you choose the nutritional outcome. Milk and soy milk are already loaded with protein, but you can go low-fat or non-fat, or even organic, which is more cost-effective than buying organic yogurt in the grocery store. Bonus: it’s a great after-school snack, and if you’re ever inclined to up the indulgence factor—compelled by your kids or just in the mood—sprinkle on something sweet. You’ve earned it.
Naturally, once you’re a master of homemade yogurt, you’ll want to incorporate it into recipes. We’ve provided a few to get you started. Just don’t forget to bask in the afterglow when you tell your dinner guests the Yogurt Parfait is homemade. Oh yeah, you’re on-trend.
This simple parfait is the perfect starter vehicle for your first batch of homemade yogurt. First off, it’s a great way to exhibit—and experience—the simple flavor of the yogurt itself. But it’s also really easy, and the payoff is more sophisticated than you’d think. Invest in some good honey and spicy ginger snaps, since those are the only other components in the parfait. Layer, crumble, drizzle and dazzle.
Yogurt has many applications on the savory side of things. One early—and amazing—discovery: the tang of fresh yogurt is actually a great vehicle for curry. In this Curry Yogurt Dip, your homemade yogurt balances out some of the intensity of the curry, without dulling it’s natural radiance. The yogurt’s drained overnight first, resulting in a thicker spread. Epicurious opts for healthy steamed broccoli, but toasted homemade (you’re on a roll, why not?) pita chips would do just as well.
Since we're going on a bit of a creativity kick here, why not really push the envelope with some soup? The beauty of Chilled Cucumber, Avocado and Yogurt Soup is that you only need some low-fat homemade yogurt, one avocado, an English cucumber, and some fresh herbs. The rest is household stuff: garlic, cumin, and extra virgin olive oil. It may not be chilled soup season quite yet, but on a warmer day—or with a spicy meal indoors—this makes for a refreshing side dish. (Give yourself extra points if you grew the cucumber at home).