Making Homemade Yogurt

So I got my Instant Pot Ultra 60 and now I am making homemade yogurt. Making it for the first time was a bit confusing. The pot itself is awesome but the paper manual leaves something to be desired. Luckily, their support was great when I called them and they pointed me to the online manual that seems to be updated much more than the paper manual I got with my pot. Today, I made a second batch of yogurt and it turned out much nicer. Not only is it thicker and creamier but making it was much easier and went much smoother. This time I strained the yogurt in the strainer for 3 hours in the fridge and it made a difference. Not that the recommended hour and a half wasn’t good. It just wasn’t as thick as I like it. I know that the commercially made yogurt has xanthan gum and other additives to make it thicker but I do like that smooth texture and thickness with my yogurt and I wanted to get a little closer to that. The taste of the homemade yogurt is absolutely heavenly! So much better than the commercial and store bought yogurt! I just added about a teaspoon of honey and some blueberries to an 8 oz jar and oh my, my my! It tasted nothing like stuff from the store!  I will never again eat store bought yogurt! Here is how I made it. I use the Instant Pot Ultra 60 model.

I poured 1/2 gallon of whole milk into the IP inner pot and put the cover in place. I turned the knob clockwise until “Yogurt” on the LED panel flashed on and off and pressed the knob to choose the yogurt cycle. I then chose 02:00 for two minutes, turning the knob clockwise and pushed the knob again to verify. Then I turned the knob clockwise, one more time until I read Boil on the LED Panel and clicked the knob to confirm one more time and clicked the “Start” button. The instant pot quickly heated the milk up to 181° F. and then beeped and the LED said Yogt when the cycle was done. I removed the inner pot and set in in a sink of cold water to cool the milk down to 115° F. (I use a professional food thermometer) I then mixed 1/2 Cup of starter in with 1/2 cup of the warm milk and poured the mixture back into the inner pot, mixing well with the rest of the warm milk, inserted the inner pot back into the Instant Pot and reset the Yogurt setting one more time. This time, all I had to do was click the knob and then the start button when the LED flashed “Yogurt”. It was already set to medium heat and 8 hours.

After 8 hours, the pot beeped pretty loudly and the center screen again said Yogt, indicating that the cycle was done. I then removed the inner pot and poured my yogurt into a Euro Cuisine Greek Yogurt Maker with Stainless Steel Strainer (Some people use cheesecloth and others use a regular strainer with a coffee filter and there are other ways of straining it as well. You will find your own way.) I prefer the yogurt strainer as I can easily wash it and dry it and put it away until the next batch and it’s made for just that purpose. I’m finding it works very well and it comes with a container for the whey to drain into and a lid. You can pour it into the strainer and cover and put in the refrigerator. Today I strained mine for 3 hours. Most of the recipes say 1 to 1 1/2 hours and I did the latter the first time around, but it wasn’t really that thick, so today I tried 3 hours and I will see when I actually have one of them how well it worked to strain it for that long. All I had to do then was spoon the yogurt into 8 oz. jelly jars, leaving enough room for a little sweetener and some fruit. It made seven 8 oz jelly jars and a half one for starter for the next batch. I’ve heard the starter can be frozen and the live cultures will still be alive when using in the next batch. I haven’t tried it yet but will try with this last starter from this batch of yogurt.

Tip: To make your first batch, you do not need to buy expensive starters from the store. Just buy a small container of plain yogurt with active cultures and use about half a cup of starter to a gallon of milk.  It’s up to you, but I suggest either starting your yogurt early in the day so you can finish it during the day or starting it in the evening so the second cycle can be run while you are sleeping and if you have everything ready, when the timer goes off indicating the end of the second cycle, you can strain your yogurt, have it in jars or containers and have it in the fridge before leaving for work the next day. You can also set the second cycle to 12 hours if you want your yogurt a little more tart. I prefer it less tart so only use the pre-programmed 8 hour second cycle.

Tips I got from my friends; I’m hearing from some of my more experienced, yogurt making friends, that some of them freeze their yogurt in jelly jars, but have warned me to make sure I use wide mouth jars as the others seem to have more of a problem with breakage when freezing and break easily when trying to remove the yogurt from the jars.

I will add to these tips as I learn more about yogurt making, but these are the things I have learned so far. It’s been quite an adventure making yogurt for the first few times and I’m really happy that I decided to take the plunge and give it a try. I eat a lot of yogurt and I figure with all of the money I spend on yogurt, Ricotta cheese and other stuff, not including the time I put into cooking, my Instant Pot and accessories should pay for themselves within a year to a year and a half.

Tomorrow I am going to try making Ricotta cheese from the whey left from straining my yogurt. Wish me luck!

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