The Sad Tale of the Broken Yogurt Maker (and a bonus yogurt recipe)

>> Saturday, November 1, 2008

While unpacking boxes after our move (back in July), I dropped the lid to my yogurt maker, and it cracked in half. This was terrible because I was in the habit of making one or two batches of yogurt a week to satisfy my family's smoothie needs. I would have to start buying yogurt. (aargh) In nonrecyclable containers. (double aargh)

I had the option of trying to repair my yogurt maker or buying a new one, and being the thrifty, environmentally-conscious person that I am, I chose repair.

So I emailed the company that made my yogurt maker, and received a reply back that they didn't have the part I was looking for and I would need to contact another company. I called the second company, where a costumer service representative informed me that they did indeed have the part, and it would cost $15.

My original yogurt maker only cost me $25. (aargh aargh aargh)

Still $15 was an infuriating yet small price to pay to save an otherwise perfectly fine yogurt maker from the landfill.

A month later, my new lid arrived...with a small problem. It was the wrong lid. My particular style of yogurt maker has an inner lid for the quart container and an outer lid for the incubator. It was the outer lid that I needed, and the inner lid that I got.

Now by this point, most people would have given up. To be honest, the amount of yogurt containers we had gone through by now was probably going to take up more space in the landfill than if I'd just thrown out my yogurt maker. But it was the principal that drove me on.

It makes me crazy that we live in such a throw-away culture. Most people, when faced with the option of trying to track down a replacement part that costs minimally less than a brand new item, would choose to buy the new item.But that's not the way it should be. Products should be made to last, and when they break, we should be able to get them fixed.

Remember back in the old days on Sesame Street when Maria ran a Fix-It shop? Characters on the show would bring in their old blenders and toasters and TVs, and Maria would fix them. Well, guess what. Maria doesn't run a Fix-It shop anymore. She runs a Mail-It shop. Our kids don't know what a Fix-It shop is. Let's face it, the grown-ups my age don't know what a Fix-It shop is. If something breaks, we toss it.

So in defiance of this attitude of disposable consumption, I went through the whole song and dance again, this time carefully explaining exactly which lid I wanted (and I was pleased to hear that the cost of the lid would be waved since I'd already purchased one replacement lid). Another month later, I'm making yogurt again, using my three-year-old yogurt maker, which still works perfectly fine.

(And for the record, I've actually saved all of my yogurt containers with the hope of eventually finding a TerraCycle yogurt container recycling location.)

How to Have Homemade Yogurt of Your Very Own

(Cost: Depends on the cost of the milk you use, but for me using organic whole milk, it's roughly $1.50, compared to $3.99 for a quart of Stoneyfield Farms yogurt.)
  1. Buy a container of yogurt from the grocery store with the words "live active cultures" on the package. Set aside 1/4 cup of this yogurt to be used as your starter.
  2. Before you start making yogurt, set your starter out on the counter to warm up to room temperature and plug in your yogurt maker if you're using one.
  3. Start with a quart of milk. Whole milk works best. If you're using skim milk, you may want to add 1/3 cup of powdered milk to thicken it.
  4. Sterilize the milk by heating it to almost boiling, about 180 degrees. (I generally do this in the microwave, but if you plan to use the stove, I advise using a double boiler so you don't scald the milk.)
  5. Put the milk in the fridge and cool down to about 110 degrees. (This takes about 30 minutes. Set a timer so you won't get caught up doing something else and forget that you were making yogurt. Been there...)
  6. Stir in the starter.
  7. Incubate your yogurt anywhere from 6-12 hours, depending on how tangy you like it. You can incubate it in a yogurt maker (the foolproof method I prefer), in an oven with the pilot light on, or even in a thermos. The trick is to maintain a temperature of about 110 degrees.
  8. Save 1/4 cup of yogurt to use for your next starter. You need to use this starter within 5-7 days or it will not work and you'll have to buy a new starter. But otherwise, you can use your own yogurt starter almost indefinitely.


ChicChick November 1, 2008 at 8:35 PM  

Good for you for your persistance! I have a nearly brand new food processor which was supposed to do four other things. It's missing this teeny, tiny part. I wrote to the manufacturer who said that they don't make this unit anymore and I can't get the part. UGH! It's been sitting in the basement for years now because I don't know what to do with it...

Green Resolutions February 10, 2009 at 10:13 AM  

Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

If you by any chance still have the yogurt containers, you should check out the company's web site. Stonyfield will accept their containers back and send them to Preserve to be recycled into toothbrushes.

Other companies might have similar programs.

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