We go through a lot of yogurt here at our house. It is a great source of protein and calcium, and when you make your own, you have total control over what's in it. Have you looked at the label of your flavored store-bought yogurt? It's usually packed with a ton of sugar! Did you know that research coming out now is saying that it's not so much the salt in our diets that's contributing to our heart disease, but all the SUGAR?
In January, I made a big change in my diet and exercise routine because I was noticing that as I'm getting older, I can't outrun my poor diet on the treadmill anymore. So I almost completely cut out sugar (except for occasional treats) and started eating a bunch more veggies and lean proteins. Click HERE for more information on the nutrition plan I'm following...it's actually been enjoyable!
With so much lean protein being consumed, I needed a non-meat alternative that didn't sit like a ton of bricks in my gut and something that was cheap. Cue YOGURT. We eat A LOT of yogurt here and as we keep adding mouths to our family, I only see this trend continuing. Thankfully, I've learned how to make my own, so for the price of a gallon of whole milk and some yogurt starter, I get a whole gallon of yogurt! Here's how I do it:
1.) Optional steaming step: some folks like to steam the liners of their instant pot prior to incubating their yogurt just to make sure there are no unwanted bugs accidentally incubating along with the yogurt. To steam clean, add one cup of water to the pot, seal the lid, then press the Steam button and set to 2 minutes. Voila! Steam cleaned.
2.) Pour in your milk. Since we go through so much yogurt, I make a gallon at a time.
3) Replace the lid (doesn't need to be sealed) and press the Yogurt button.
4) Press the Adjust button until BOIL comes up on the display.
5) Your instant pot will heat your milk to 180 degrees and then will beep once that temperature is reached. Some folks find their instant pot doesn't get their milk quite to 180 degrees (double checked by a hand held thermometer), so if you find this also to be true with yours, you can press the Saute' button and whisk continually, checking the temperature frequently. If you don't whisk, your milk will burn.
6) After reaching 180 degrees, remove the pot and place it into a cold water bath. You now want your milk to cool to 90-110 degrees. What's with heating it up just to cool it down? Heating it to 180 degrees ensures you kill certain bugs that can live below that temperature, but you need to cool it down again so it won't kill your live culture when you add it.
7) Add your live culture. Just whisk it in. I use store bought greek yogurt as my starter. Here I have a small container of Oikos, mainly because it's the only plain greek yogurt our grocery store carries in a small container. When using store-bought yogurt, try to find a brand that has the most live bacteria. Usually, you can find yogurt with 5-7 different bacteria strains. The more strains of bacteria, the more benefit you get as far as gut health. Read this article I posted on the benefits of good gut health. You can also get active cultures online from places like Cultures For Health.
8) Replace your lid. Here I usually press the Cancel button, then press Yogurt. Your display might say something like 24:00. Hit adjust until 8:00 pops up, then use the + button to set your time you want to incubate. The longer you incubate, the more sour your yogurt will be as your good little bacteria will have had ample time to multiply. I typically set mine for 9 hours 30 minutes. I'll make sure that I start this whole process at night before I go to bed so it's ready to pop into the fridge in the morning, or I'll start it first thing in the morning so it incubates all day and I can pop it in the fridge before bed time.
When you set your time, it will beep and then start the display out at 0:00 and count up. It will beep again once it's reached the time you set.
While your yogurt is incubating, try not to disturb the pot (ie, move it or bump it). For some reason this will disrupt the magic happening in to pot and your yogurt won't set up as nicely.
9) If all goes well, your yogurt will set up very nicely like the picture here. If you really want some thick greek yogurt, you can strain it in the fridge using a cheese cloth. You can even do this to the point of making almost a cream cheese consistency. I personally don't strain my yogurt and leave all my whey in.
I've also found that I need to refrigerate the pot of yogurt before I divvy out the yogurt into smaller storage containers. If I try to do this with fresh, warm yogurt, I find that it gets pretty soupy.
Once you make that first batch of yogurt, you can then use your own as starter for the next round. Just take a couple TBSPs worth of yogurt out when you're divvying it up into containers, and save it for your next round.
If you want to flavor this, you can try mixing in a little vanilla right before you eat it. My personal favorite is to keep it plain and then drizzle it with peanut butter or honey and top it with fruit, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and pecans.
Feel free to comment below with any questions or problems you have!