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If you own an Instant Pot or are thinking about getting one it's probably because at some level you were intrigued with this workhorse of an appliance and the various things you can do with it (read about why I love this appliance in my article "Yes, the Instant Pot is Worth it").
If you haven't yet tried making yogurt, or if you've tried unsuccessfully, this post is for you.
First, let's talk about why you'd want to make your own yogurt at home. Here are my top reasons, in no particular order:
It tastes amazing. I know, you think yogurt is yogurt is yogurt but until you make it at home you might not realize how good it can really taste when its made fresh. It practically doesn't even need sweetener (and that's saying a lot coming from me)
Your stack of quart containers is through the roof. If you eat as much yogurt as we do in this house, and if you want to do your best to re-use, you just find find yourself with a towering stack of quart-sized yogurt containers that way outnumber the batches of broth you are going to make to re-fill them. Make your own yogurt in mason jars and those days are over!
It saves money. One quart of yogurt = one quart of milk plus some starter, which can either be the yogurt you made last or a packet of starter. Depending on the milk you buy this means you can cut the cost of yogurt consumption about in half. Plus, if you buy your milk in glass jars you've basically just eliminated the waste associated with your yogurt habit.
Its easy. I promise. Read on to learn more.
Ok, so I've inspired you and you turn to your Instant Pot user manual to follow the directions for yogurt. Let me stop you right there. While those directions are a good starting point they don't exactly get you there in a foolproof way. First, they don't really tell you how long its going to take. Second (at least in my version) they give two options but don't tell you which is better. Third, they leave out a couple of steps that, in my opinion, get you closer to that nice thick consistency we're all looking for.
After making yogurt dozens of times without the Instant Pot, then switching to this method and trying a few times for success, I've finally landed on what I think is the best combination of methods for a pleasing result every time.
Warning: my choice method is the longer method, but most of the time is passive, so don't give up yet. I thought I would like doing it in the bowl of the Instant Pot cause the process can be faster, but every time I tried that it turned out kind of cottage cheesy instead of nice and creamy thick.
Here's a hint - start the process right after you finish dinner, then let the milk pasteurize (phase one in the Instant Pot) while you clean up and get the kids ready for bed; then, take it out and let it cool while you're actually getting the kids to bed (at least that's how it works in my house!), then let it ferment overnight. You'll get a rhythm down.
The Method: Fool Proof Instant Pot Yogurt
Supplies: 1 quart-sized mason jar; 1 quart of milk; 1 packet yogurt starter OR 2 T greek yogurt (or the yogurt you made the last time around)
Grab a quart size mason jar and fill it about 90% full with the milk of your choosing (you can use any fat percentage; we prefer 1%).
Place the mason jar on the rack that comes with your Instant Pot. Put about 1 cup of water in the bottom of the Instant Pot. Close the top, set to the sealing position.
Select the STEAM setting and set the time for 2 minutes.
When the pressure has been reached and the 2 minutes are up, let the steam release naturally (here's where you'll be tempted to rush things and let the steam out, but trust me its better to wait the 10 minutes or so for the float valve to drop - it allows the container to cool down naturally, which you'll need for the next step anyway).
Remove the jar of milk from the Instant Pot using canning jar lifter and place onto a wire rack. If it's cold outside, consider placing the jar on your cool porch or front step to help aid in the cooling process. Do NOT be tempted to place the jar in cold water (or snow) as you might do if you were making yogurt in metal (it will crack).
Wait. You need to wait, now, for the yogurt to get down to 108 degrees (my Instant Pot directions say 115, but I find it works better to let it cool down just a bit more). This is probably going to take 20-30 minutes depending on how cool your environment is. Set your timer for 10 minute intervals and check the yogurt with a meat or candy thermometer. Alternatively, you can go with Jamie Oliver's suggestion and wait for it to reach "body temperature." Get some other stuff done while it cools!
Once your milk is down to about 108 degrees, pour a small portion of the milk into another container. Into this milk add either 2 Tablespoons of yogurt you've made previously (we also find that a nice thick Greek Yogurt does the trick) OR one package of yogurt starter. Mix this thoroughly into your "sample" then gently stir the separated milk back into the jar. My Instant Pot skips this step and has you add the starter directly to the whole mix, but I find that mixing it separately lets you get it better integrated and temperature adjusted without disturbing the whole quart of milk.
Now, place your quart container back into the Instant Pot and select the Yogurt program for the maximum amount of time (about 7.5 hours or overnight).
Wake up in the morning, take the yogurt out of the Instant Pot, and put it in the fridge to set. You'll be able to eat it by that afternoon.
Yes, you can double this recipe and make two quarts at once. Very efficient thinking of you.
Tell us how it works for you!