Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Making Your Own Yogurt

I love yogurt. It's been one of my favorite treats since I was a little kid, it's tasty and satisfying, and being loaded with protein makes it good for you. The best yogurts also promote the growth of good bacteria in your digestive tract.

Unfortunately, it's also quite expensive. Fortunately, yogurt making is a fairly straightforward process. As I mentioned last week, making yogurt is one of the neatest uses of an Instant Pot. It requires strong attention to detail and a bit of a time commitment, but the actual doing is fairly simple. Additionally, it is far less expensive than buying yogurt in the store: a gallon of whole milk costs $3 or less here, and 32 oz of live culture yogurt is about $4. Yes, you have to have yogurt to make yogurt! You need roughly 1 tablespoon of yogurt per quart of milk to provide the bacteria that makes yogurt work. After your first batch, you can keep recycling your own yogurt to start the next batch, but you have to buy your first round.

As I mentioned above, you're dealing with bacteria. Pay particular attention to temperatures and cleanliness, as messing up those will mess up your bacteria and kill your yogurt.

Clean the inner pot of your pressure cooker well before you start. Pour some boiling water into it and thoroughly swirl it around, then dump the water out.

Bring your milk to 180 degrees in the pot. If you have a yogurt button on yours, this is as easy as pushing that button and selecting the "boil" setting. If not, use the "Sear/Saute" setting and cook for about 30 minutes, until your milk is at the correct temperature.

Allow your milk to cool to approximately 108 degrees. This should take about an hour if your pot is sitting on the counter. However, you can dramatically accelerate this by putting the inner pot from your Instant Pot into an ice bath, which will get you to your desired temperature in about 15 minutes. Once your milk gets to temperature, skim off the "skin" on your milk.

Stir in your yogurt. 1 tablespoon per quart, whisking it in thoroughly. Make sure you're using plain yogurt with live cultures. You're looking for a note on the label that says Lactobacillus bulgaricus or Streptococcus thermophilus. Flavored or sweetened yogurt will not work for this!

Incubate your yogurt. Your bacterial brew needs to sit and simmer for 8 hours. Put the inner pot with your yogurt back into the cooker. If you have a yogurt button, simply press it and set it for 8 hours. If not, wrap your cooker in one or two large towels and set a timer for 8 hours.

After the 8 hours is up, portion your yogurt into containers and refrigerate it. It will store well for about 2 weeks.

The final product will be thinner than commercial yogurt, more like a thick milkshake. I'm experimenting with ways to thicken it up, the first by adding dried milk before cooling to 108 degrees, the other by replacing some of the milk with heavy cream. Both methods add extra fat to thicken the final product. With a bit of fine tuning, you can achieve the consistency you want.

Making your own yogurt is cheaper and healthier, and fairly simple.


1 comment:

  1. Lokidude:
    With respect to thickening yogurt, a million or so years ago when the Shah was in power, a friend of mine and I happened to be in the mountains near Mashad. We had a mutual cross cultural exchange with some tribesmen who were migrating through the area. They thickened yogurt by putting it in a cloth container not unlike a Milbank bag, though not made from canvas, and catching the run off in a container below it, What was left in the bag was a product not unlike what you find sold as "Greek Yogurt" in markets today. I believe the run off was used both in the preparation of food and as a Mother for making more yogurt, We were not with them long and it was not the best of ideas to spend to much time asking after things that women did. I met a young lady in the not to distant past who had been raised doing these kinds of things, she said that she still uses the same process when making yogurt but strains it though panty hose that were washed new 4 or 5 times and then cutting the legs off and using those. I have no idea if this will work for you as it all depends on your mother, but it might be worth a try. I have used it for making soft cheeses, rather than cheese cloth, just to see if it worked, It does.


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