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Build Your Ain Yogurt Maker, Sous-Vide Cooker, As Well As All-Purpose Fermenter For $40

I create a one-half gallon of yogurt, twice a month.  I similar making my ain yogurt for many reasons, but it's a combat of a pain.  Since I create large batches, I can't utilization a touchstone yogurt maker.  I oftentimes teach distracted as well as over-heat the milk, as well as the method I utilization to incubate the yogurt is wildly inefficient (my dear Excalibur dehydrator).  I also demand a constant warm temperature for diverse other fermentation projects, as well as that's oftentimes hard to accomplish amongst the tools I have.

I finally flora a ameliorate solution: a temperature controller that accurately regulates the temperature of a tiresome cooker past times turning an outlet on or off.  I precisely laid the temperature of the controller, identify the temperature probe into the tiresome cooker, as well as plug the tiresome cooker into the temperature controller outlet.  The tiresome cooker as well as then stays at whatever temperature I want.  Here's what the temperature controller looks like:


Once built, the temperature controller amongst or without the tiresome cooker tin live used for a diversity of other tasks (including regulating cooling devices).  Here are some ideas that come upward to mind:
  • Sous-vide cooker
  • High-capacity yogurt maker
  • Bread dough riser
  • All-purpose thermophilic fermenter (e.g., for tempeh, natto, koji)
  • Beer/cider/wine fermentation temperature controller
  • Kegerator controller
  • Freezer-to-fridge conversion
  • Egg incubator
  • Soil temperature controller for seed starting
Don't worry, I'm non turning into a nutrient blogger.  But this sous-vide-cooked
chicken I made amongst my DIY temperature controller was pretty tasty.
I used this recipe from NomNom Paleo.
You tin create the whole matter for virtually $40, including the tiresome cooker.

A few caveats earlier nosotros teach started:
  • If you're a sous-vide aficionado, this method may non satisfy you, because it doesn't circulate the H2O (requires occasional stirring) as well as it's tiresome to heat.
  • If you lot wishing to utilization it equally a sous vide cooker, you'll demand a vacuum sealer.  I similar my FoodSaver, but other brands volition presumably piece of job fine.  These are oftentimes available on Craig's List.
  • Did I advert it takes a long fourth dimension to rut up?  Slow cookers create like shooting fish in a barrel as well as efficiently.  You tin speed things upward past times starting amongst hot water.
  • The temperature controller is rated to 10 amperes (A) of current, which on a typical 120 volt circuit (United States) translates to 1,200 watts.  Everything except the temperature probe should live rated to 10 Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 or greater (you'll live fine if you lot follow my materials recommendations).  Don't utilization this setup to command appliances that depict to a greater extent than than 1,200 watts.  Slow cookers depict upward to 250 watts.  
  • This projection involves wiring, as well as I'm non an electrician.  If you lot receive got ANY concerns virtually the wiring, consult a licensed electrician.
Materials

For your convenience, I've provided links to Amazon.com production pages.  If you lot purchase using these links, you'll live supporting my piece of job at no additional cost to yourself.  If you lot scrounge them upward from your garage/kitchen or purchase them used, fifty-fifty better.

Here's what you'll demand to purchase or scrounge:
  • Temperature controller amongst sensor.
  • Plastic projection box (7" x 5" x 3").  Radio Shack sells them for $7.49.  You tin also utilization this one from Amazon, but it's a combat to a greater extent than expensive as well as you'll receive got to lay the temp controller inward the front end human face upward rather than the top because it's non deep enough.
  • 8+ pes long three-prong extension cord (rated to 10 Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 or more).
  • Wall outlet amongst 2 plugs (standard xv Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 duplex receptacle).  This is best purchased at a hardware shop as well as should cost less than a dollar.  Here's the Home Depot page for the receptacle I used.
  • Wall plate for the outlet.  This is also best purchased at a hardware shop as well as should cost less than 50 cents.  Here's the Home Depot page for the comprehend I used.
  • 3 twist-on wire connectors.
  • Electrical tape.
  • Rubber wiring grommets (one 1/4" as well as ane 3/8").  I purchased these from Home Depot.
  • Slow cooker.  It must receive got an actual manual on-off switch, non digital controls!  The $40 cost tag assumes you lot purchase ane used for nether $10 similar I did.  I got mine at Goodwill.  
These are the tools you'll need:
  • Screwdriver amongst modest Phillips-head bits
  • Drill amongst diverse sizes of bits
  • Wire cutter
  • Wire stripper
  • Rotary tool (e.g., Dremel) OR another agency to cutting rectangular windows into the plastic projection box.
  • Adhesive.  Preferably a mucilage gun, but whatever adhesive rated for prophylactic volition do.
Procedure

1.  Cut the extension cord as well as hollo back interior wires.  You wishing to leave of absence the manly somebody terminate intact because you'll live using it to plug inward your box.  Leave equally much intact cord attached to the manly somebody terminate equally you lot intend you'll demand for the finally production (I left 5 feet).

Next, take the 3 interior wires from a 5-foot department of the woman somebody terminate of the extension cord.  Typically, they volition live white (neutral), dark (hot), as well as dark-green (ground).  The wires are all functionally equivalent but it's best to utilization touchstone colouring coding inward your wiring hence it's to a greater extent than intuitive if you lot receive got to repair it later.  They should expect similar to the photograph on the left.


2.  Cut the next wires:

White: 2 10" lengths
Black: v 10" lengths
Green: ane 10" length

Strip virtually 3/8" off each terminate of all wires.

3.  Cut windows into the lid of the projection box for the temperature controller as well as receptacle.  You wishing them both to live able to gibe into their slots snugly.  Before you lot cut, create certain your placement allows plenty infinite for both the wall plate as well as the controller (it's a tight fit).


The temperature controller has 2 orangish sliders that you lot should take earlier plumbing equipment it into its slot.  Disregard these for your measurements of window size.  Re-attach them after the controller is fitted as well as slide them upward to laid the controller into its slot.

Place the receptacle inward its slot.  Mark the lid where screws should become to laid the receptacle to the lid, as well as drill appropriately-sized holes.  If you lot used a 7" x 5" x 3" projection box, it should expect similar the photograph to the left when you're done.

Remove the protective plate on the dorsum of the controller, exposing the wiring hookups.

4.  Drill holes into the front end as well as dorsum of the projection box for the electrical wire as well as temperature probe.  These holes should live precisely large plenty for you lot to squelch inward your 1/4" as well as 3/8" prophylactic gaskets (which volition protect your wires from abrasion as well as give the box a finished look).

Insert your gaskets, verifying that they are broad plenty to adapt the sparse terminate of the electrical cord as well as the probe.

5.  Wire it.  My electrical skills are about nil, hence I relied on others to help me amongst the wiring.  There are many online tutorials on how to wire this temperature controller as well as similar units.  Here's the video I used.  His wiring works, although dissimilar him I would stick to touchstone colouring coding for the hot, neutral, as well as solid set down wires.

Here's how the wiring should expect ane time it's complete.










6.  Fix everything inward place.  Ideally, after everything is wired you lot should laid the powerfulness cord as well as temperature probe wires to the grommets equally they teach out the box on the inside.  This prevents them from tugging on your interior wiring.  A mucilage gun would piece of job perfectly for this, although whatever rubber-rated adhesive should work.

Use the orangish sliders to laid the temperature controller into its slot.  Screw the receptacle into its slot as well as screw the wall plate onto the receptacle.  Screw the lid onto the projection box.  You're done!

7.  Use it!  The educational activity manual explains how to switch betwixt Celsius as well as Fahrenheit, how to laid the temperature, as well as how to laid the temperature range.

You should at ane time receive got ane plug that turns on when the temperature drops below the desired make (heating), as well as ane that turns on when the temperature exceeds the desired make (cooling).  I recommend labeling each outlet accordingly.

You tin utilization this temperature controller for a broad diversity of projects.  Let me know inward the comments what you lot utilization it for!

A depository fiscal establishment complaint virtually sous-vide cooking

For sous-vide cooking, I recommend starting amongst hot H2O as well as using the organisation to regulate temperature from there.  You tin also pre-heat the ceramic of the crock pot past times putting a combat of hot H2O into it as well as dumping it earlier filling it amongst to a greater extent than hot water.  Crock pots rut slowly, fifty-fifty on high, hence if you lot firstly amongst mutual frigidity H2O you lot powerfulness receive got to hold back about for 2 hours earlier your H2O bathroom gets upward to temperature.

The larger your crock pot, the ameliorate it volition piece of job for sous-vide cooking, because the larger thermal volume of the H2O volition buffer the temperature hence that it doesn't driblet equally much when you lot add together your food.

Also, since the crock pot doesn't circulate H2O to keep fifty-fifty rut throughout the H2O bath, give it a stir as well as cheque the temperature earlier adding your food, as well as stir it periodically equally it's cooking.

A depository fiscal establishment complaint virtually yogurt making

You tin both scald as well as incubate your yogurt using this setup.  When scalding, I recommend filling the crock halfway amongst warm H2O as well as placing your jars into it (not likewise hot or the temperature contrast may crevice your glass) to speed upward the process.  After scalding at 180 F, precisely laid the controller to 110 F as well as allow it cool down.  Once it's reached 110 F, add together your starter*.

I'm even hence experimenting amongst probe placement.  Last time, I lay the probe inward the upper layer of the milk.  It worked all right, but the temperature tended to overshoot past times a few degrees sometimes, hence I had to laid it to 108 F.  It did terminate upward making first-class yogurt.  Next time, I'll endeavor putting the probe into the water.


* I receive got a piddling yogurt starter play a trick on to share.  Those starter packets (e.g., Yogourmet) are hence expensive that they essentially eliminate the fiscal incentive to create your ain yogurt.  There is a ameliorate way.  I purchase a quart of yogurt that I similar (e.g., Nancy's), as well as I freeze cubes of it using a touchstone H2O ice cube tray.  Each cube ( 2 tbsp) is plenty to firstly 1/2 gallon of yogurt.  The telephone substitution to maximizing the viability of the civilization is to freeze the cubes equally chop-chop equally possible, but thaw them slowly.  Once you've loaded your H2O ice cube tray, identify it into the refrigerator for xv minutes to chill it, as well as then identify it into the coldest freezer you lot have.  Once frozen, popular out the cubes as well as shop them inward a ziplock handbag inward the freezer.  When you lot wishing to utilization one, allow it thaw inward a piddling bowl on the counter at room temperature.
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