Can’t Find Your Favorite Yogurt? Make Your Own!
As the ongoing pandemic stretches on longer than any of us would like, we have all experienced the result of a common human frailty: Panic Buying. Fortunately, this has largely calmed and reverted toward equilibrium, but there are still lagging shortages.
The reasons for this are many. As we have learned, the global supply chain for all the things we take for granted, is enormously complex and interdependent on countless variables, many of which, have been severely disrupted from the fallout of Covid-19.
The result of this has been seemingly random shortages of various products, for which there seems to be no logical reason. One of those shortages, which has been sporadic, are dairy products, which have begun to re-stabilize but then there have also been shortages of other dairy products, such as yogurt.
With that in mind, we thought we’d show you just how easy it is to make your own yogurt (you must have an Instant Pot or similar product).
Instant Pot or similar device
A Gallon of Whole Milk (Lowfat or Nonfat can be used but we advise against it)
A pint of Half & Half (optional but adds a touch of incomparable richness)
Instant Read thermometer (or your clean finger if you’re good at estimating temperature)
(Optional) A strainer and Cheesecloth
Make sure your Instant Pot is thoroughly clean, especially the lid, which can hold odors from stews and such, which may impart off-flavor to yogurt. Pour in one gallon of Whole Milk and add the optional pint of Half & Half.
Press the “Yogurt” setting on the Instant Pot until the display reads: “boil”. This step is optional but highly recommended!
If you skip the boiling and start the yogurt process at this point, you will most likely regret it. Boiling the milk sterilizes it but more importantly, it denatures the proteins in the milk, making it easier for the yogurt culture to make more of the milk into yogurt.
Skipping the boiling will yield a much more watery yogurt which you will need to strain, (which is a waste), or you can stir it in to make a more ‘liquidy’, what’s often called “European Style” yogurt. Take it from us, do the “boil” step.
Close the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the Steam Release Handle to ‘venting’. Depending on the starting temperature of your milk, it will take an hour to two hours to complete the boiling process. When the boiling process is complete, the first thing that has to happen is that the milk needs to cool.
After the boiling process, remove the Instant Pot lid. The milk inside will be steaming hot! Let it cool a little for 5-10 minutes, then stretch plastic wrap over the top of the hot milk to make sure it stays sterile and to prevent the hot milk from scalding you when you remove it from the Instant Pot base.
You have a couple of choices here. If you’re busy and don’t have time, carefully put the pot of boiled milk in the fridge. Otherwise, using towels or hot pads, carefully pull the pot of boiled milk from the Instant Pot base and place it on the counter so it will cool faster. Because the milk is steaming hot, the plastic covering will expand and stretch into a huge bubble. As it cools, the plastic wrap covering will shrink back down. When you notice the plastic has reverted back to normal, you’re getting much closer to the ‘target’ temperature.
If you have an Instant Read IR Thermometer, it’s super easy. Aim it at the milk (right through the plastic!) and pull the trigger to get a temperature reading. Look for a target temperature somewhere around 110º F. If the milk is too hot, it will kill the yogurt culture starter that’s required to begin the yogurt-making process.
Taking a step back: If you had to put the hot milk in the fridge, put the inner Instant Pot (pot) back into the Instant Pot base and use any of the reheating modes to get the milk just barely warm. Stir often!
Remember, if the milk is too hot (over 115º F), it will kill the yogurt culture when you add it.
Once you have your previously boiled milk at the proper temperature, either take a sample of the last batch of yogurt you made or use a large spoonful of your favorite (unflavored!) live yogurt. Our yogurt starter culture was from a tub of Greek Gods® Plain Whole Milk Yogurt (which we carry at Scotts Valley Market!).
Stir your yogurt starter culture into the warm milk to get it to dissolve completely. Place the pot back into the Instant Pot and press the ‘Yogurt’ button. You have two options here: Either 8:00 hours or 24:00 hours. We strongly recommend using the 24:00 hour setting. It’s truly set and forget. (you can also set if for 24:00 hours and stop the process anytime after 8:00, which is the minimum time it takes to make the yogurt.)
After you select the 24:00 setting, (or however many hours but 8:00 is the minimum), the timer will set itself to 00:00 and begin advancing the timer at one-minute increments. Going the full 24:00 hours will yield a much thicker, sturdier, richer yogurt.
After the 24:00, (or what ever your desired timeframe is), open the top of the Instant Pot and be prepared to be amazed!
Voila! You’ll find what was, some hours ago, a big pot of lukewarm milk, is now a solid mass of thick, rich and very tasty yogurt that will last a couple of weeks!
There is one final optional step. If you want your yogurt to be the ultimate in richness, go Greek!
Take the yogurt from the pot and ladle it into a stainless-steel strainer with a thin layer of cheesecloth and a catch-bowl underneath and let it drain for a few hours.
It’s the ultimate in richness!!!