Random Bits of Projects

May 16, 2009

Review of Donvier Yogurt Cheese Maker (whey drainer)

cheese drainer box englishItem Reviewed:

Donvier by Cuisipro, Yogurt Cheese Maker (fancy name for a yogurt drainer. You still have to make the yogurt and use an incubator.). For use with yogurt that does not have gelatin added as a thickener.

If you have been making your own yogurt and yogurt cheese you may be familiar with draining the whey from the yogurt to thicken it. The batch I am using for this post will be made into thick Tzatziki. Often people use linen sacks or fine cheese cloth to do this. I ran across this little device some time ago and finally decided to try it though I had some reservations. The linen bag works just fine, I just hate washing the thing and scraping the yogurt out. I tend to get covered in yogurt (but I am handicapped in the kitchen). I am also never sure if I get the bag clean enough, though so far it seems I do. I also cannot find a fine mesh strainer the right size around here to use, so I ordered this off of Amazon.com.

What is in the boxBefore ordering it I had read several reviews left by people who already tried it.drainer set up One of the most frequent criticisms of it was that the chamber that catches the whey is too small so the yogurt sits in the whey, defeating the purpose. So I held off for awhile. But curiosity got the best of me. I was in the throws of yogurt bliss at the time (bet you do not hear that one often-probably a good thing).

When I got it, I immediately found it to be much smaller than I expected. Not its fault, it did give dimensions. I just did not think about it. But it looked big enough to hold most, if not all of one of my typical batches of yogurt which are around 4 cups (for some reason I cannot get more than that to come out very well in one batch).

But the reviews were right. There is very little space for the whey to drain. (The picture to the right has the drainer sitting beside the container to give you an idea what space is left to catch whey.) My yogurt tends to fill that space size relation 2immediately when I use the bags. One would need to empty this thing several times. So rather than use it the way it was intended, I just skipped ahead and modified it. I took a IMG_0174mixing bowl and placed a small cooling rack over the top. Then I simply placed the drainer on top of that (picture to the left). Ta-da! Plenty of room for the whey and I can plop it down and forget about it for awhile. I like that the drainer has a flat bottom so I did not need to find a way to keep it upright. (I could have also put the rack over the container provided. It did drain tidy so I did not need a wide container for the splash zone like I need using a linen bag).

One of the ideas of this product is that the container not only is used to catch whey, but you can then store the yogurt in there when it is done. I am always suspicious of products that try to be several things at once. Something is often sacrificed. In this case, room for the whey. So basically you got a drainer, and a container. I have containers. I would rather have a larger, functioning strainer. A container to catch the whey without having to empty it constantly was more important to me.

Side view drainingAnother reason I thought to try this was the interesting shape. It does increase surface area for draining but I think having it drop down to a point would be better. I hang my bags so one point is hanging down. The other point I clip up so all of the yogurt is accumulated in the one point. This seems to work faster than having the flat bottom straight down. Also, the draining whey drains off one spot, making it easier to catch it.

over an hour later A little over an hour later the level of yogurt has noticeably dropped in the picture to the left. Here it is nice and creamy and can be used for a variety of things or just simply adding fruit and eating as is. Much less watery than when the yogurt first comes out of the incubator (I use fat-free milk with fat-free milk powder added as a thickener. My yogurt may be more runny that milk with fat in it).  For cheese or very thick yogurt, you want to let it go longer.

I let the yogurt drain for around 8 hours (picture lower rightit was pretty much finished) and then I had to leave the house. Here I discovered a nice thing about this product that won me over more than it had so far. I dropped the drainer and yogurt into its container like it was supposed to go, popped the lid around 8 hours later 2on, threw it into the refrigerator, and left. I forgot about it until the next morning. Since it was mostly drained when I put it in the refrigerator, I did not need to worry about it sitting in the whey. It was just fine the next day. So in the future, I will let it sit for a few hours on the rack like I did here and then put it in its container and leave it in the fridge if the dripping has slowed down enough. So maybe this thing does make things easier after all. The whey had more yogurt in it than what I get from using a bag. Most of it settled to the bottom so I poured the whey off of the top to keep. Yogurt without much thickener may run through the mesh more. Something to consider if yours tends to be very thin.

the next dayThe other thing I like about it was what I bought it for to begin with – easy emptying and cleaning. I just turned it over a container and tapped it a few times. All of the yogurt plopped out. The yogurt at this point was very thick (cheese-like). Less drained yogurt might be more messy but I doubt it. I recommend at least hosing it off with hot water if you do not clean it right away. This will keep you from having to scrub off dried yogurt in the mesh.

(The picture to the left shows the finished yogurt still in the drainer yet in its container.)

Note: Save some of your whey until you are completely done. If you have drained your yogurt more than you like, youthick on knife can stir in some whey to get it back to where you want it. I will probably do so here for my tzatziki sauce I plan to make with this batch.  The whey is also good to substitute for water in many recipes. Good vitamines!

(The picture to the right shows how thick the yogurt can get. It is clinging to the knife. Not the best picture).

Conclusions:

Pros:

  • Easier to clean and sanitize, dishwasher safe
  • Easy to get the yogurt out when done
  • Small size makes it easy to drain yogurt in the refrigerator (after letting the first of the whey drain off)
  • Storage container provided (if you care for one)
  • Everything you need is provided if you use it as is
  • Flat bottom lets you sit it on a platform like the cooling rack
  • Compact and easy to store when not needed
  • Cute
  • Instructions (such as they are) are in English and French
  • The yogurt drains very well and is comparable to the linen bag

Cons:

  • Container is too small to hold all of the whey you drain. Frequent emptying will be required at first.
  • The whey is cloudy with some yogurt that gets through. If you use the whey for anything, this may be a concern
  • Very thin yogurt may drain more through the mesh than in the bag
  • Slightly slower to drain. You cannot rush the draining. A linen bag can be squeezed periodically to push the whey out faster. But in a few hours it does have a nice creamy yogurt. For cheese, the wait is longer like with any other method.
  • If you make more than around 3 or 4 cups of yogurt at a time, this device will not hold it all. You would need to wait to finish the entire batch or get more than one drainer.
  • A little pricey for what it is (~ $17 US)
  • A reusable coffee filter with the fine gold mesh is about the same size and may work as well for less money (I have not personally tried this but have heard it works well)

This little device does drain yogurt well. It is also easy to clean. Its compact size makes it easy to drain yogurt in the refrigerator as well. Having already bought it I found all of this to be nice. Especially the cleaning. You can also forget about it in the fridge.

June, 2009: I tried it on runnier yogurt. I lost some through the mesh at first but then it evened out. So it works alright with runny though thicker is better.

If I had not bought it already, I may still consider it since I do not have to find a way to support it while suspending it over a bowl since it has a flat bottom. A good thing since you either have to drain the whey frequently at first or suspend it above a bowl without its container (or put the rack on top of the container). I do not always drain yogurt in the refrigerator so that was less of a concern for me. This is much easier than a bag.

But I probably would try a large, cone-shaped, reusable coffee filter with a fine mesh for less money instead. Or spend about the same money and order a large fine mesh drainer so it could hold more yogurt at a time (though it will take more room-not good if you want to put this in the fridge). I did not do this to begin with because I had to order it and I could never be sure it was the right fine mesh. I hated to get it and then find out the holes would be too big.

It depends what you are looking for in this product on whether it will suit you. Hopefully this will help you decide. I will definitely continue to use this over the linen bag from now on.

This device is also fairly self explanatory so the directions are more of a formality. It would be nice to have had tips on uses for yogurt drained different amounts (creamy vs. cheesy). They do have a few recipes though I think just so they can say they were included on the box. They are OK but vague on how much to drain the yogurt for these recipes. I could find these online so do not buy this thing for that.

plastic wrap cover I have found that laying plastic wrap across the surface of yogurt cheese helps keep it fresh longer. I also put the lid on the container too.

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4 Comments »

  1. I have one of these and it is a good size for me. The problem I have is what do you do with the cheese after it is made?

    Comment by Erin Clancy — July 18, 2009 @ 7:00 am | Reply

    • Hi! I know what you mean. Have cheese, now what? ha!
      I will use it as a plain spread sometimes. I also love to make Tzatziki sauce of which I have posting about. Or add a little whey back in to it is not so thick and a small dab of powdered sugar to sweeten it. Add chopped fruit and it is pretty tasty. There are several things that can be done of which I am still learning. So far I tend to make a lot of that Greek sauce ha. I tend to do the same thing over and over until I am sick of it then finally move to another thing to try. Add some chives, dill and such for a good chip dip too. There is a book called “The Book of Yogurt” that has several recipes as well though I find most are more involved than I want to do so I surf the net for ideas. Ok, here is a weird one….I sometimes add a few spoon fulls to spaghetti sauce from a jar to thicken it. It actually is good though it sounds gross. But if nothing else, adding a little whey back so it is not thick and then using it as a nice, thick yogurt instead of a cheese you may find more options.

      Comment by virtuallyamy — July 18, 2009 @ 10:04 am | Reply

  2. I have used a quadrupled up cheese cloth in a wire colander to make mine and have been looking at this, I use Dannon plain, seems thick and is cheap. I add minced green onion and use it on Bagels, I was thinking of adding some blue berries but anything with juice in it will loosen the cheese up. You are only limited with it by your imagination and taste buds. I dont use it to thicken anything, as Chia seeds work the best for that and have protein and fiber in them. I will purchase this drainer as I do not like leaving my hanging cheese cloth over night on the counter.

    Comment by Richard — February 4, 2011 @ 2:51 pm | Reply

  3. I truly appreciate your taking the time to give this very excellent review. I shall try the coffee filter which I already have first!! Thanks!

    Comment by Anonymous — January 27, 2012 @ 1:25 pm | Reply


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