It’s no secret in my community that fermented foods are something I get excited about. I often bring ferments to gatherings and hand them out to neighbors at regular and irregular intervals. I’ve also been known to offer up fermented carrots to visitors who ask if I dabble in homemade yogurt. That’s how I learned that while some are familiar with homemade yogurt, that doesn’t mean fermented carrots are up their alley. So when my neighbor asked if I was interested in using his yogurt maker (he wasn’t utilizing it) I jumped at the opportunity. He very generously gave it to us and I hope to return the favor with batches of creamy homemade goat yogurt. My first batch of raw milk yogurt didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but I’m not easily deterred by rogue batches of yogurt; it’s happened before. Instead, I was interested in the history of this yogurt maker, and the fact that I could incubate thermophilic yogurt without electricity.
It turns out that his yogurt maker was the Yogotherm and he dated it to approximately 1980, making it three years older than me. While botching that batch of yogurt wasn’t all that surprising or disappointing (we used it in smoothies), I was disappointed that the inner pail cracked when I tried to wash it. My guess is that it was just brittle from years of usage because I barely touched the thing and it busted right open. I was trying to devise ways I could still use the yogurt maker without the inner pail. The quart jar was too tall and I didn’t have another vessel that fit inside the inner thermal lining. So I headed over to the main Cultures for Health site to dig up some info on the Yogotherm and low and behold, they carry a fermentation containers for an inner pail replacement! So now I’ll be able to replace the broken piece to this heirloom yogurt maker and try my hand again at yogurt. (I think I’ll try heating it up a little better this time.) What I love about the Yogotherm is that it is essentially a thermos which keeps your yogurt warm without the need for electricity. Since we live off-grid and our solar system is limited, this is a huge boon. There is another option for making yogurt without electricity and that is mesophilic yogurt starters. These are made right on your kitchen counter and do not require a consistent temperature of about 110 degrees to culture. So, that is my backup plan in case I break another piece of this new-to-me yogurt maker.