Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Get some culture (s)

This is not my first go round making yogurt. But it is the closest I've come to, dare I say, a consistently good product.

There's a couple reasons for this, I suppose. The main one is my Instant  Pot's yogurt function. Now, I'm not singing the Pot's praises from the rafters, just yet. Unless I'm talking about steel cut oats and yogurt. In that case, where's my ladder?

The other reason is my starter. I used Siggi's. If you haven't given Siggi's Icelandic yogurt a try yet, just, do yourself a favor and run to the store. Thick, creamy as heck, and so, so good. I started buying Siggi's because it was lowest in sugar content. It's scary how much sugar is in the other major brands. Especially considering yogurt is supposed to be healthy. Not with 22 grams of sugar per serving, it's not.

But, Siggi's costs a pretty penny, and I'm on a budget. So that means homemade yogurt for this family. Luckily, it's dang easy with the Pot.  If you don't have the Pot, Click here for how to make yogurt without an Instant Pot.

If you do have an Instant Pot, here's a simple recipe for how to make homemade yogurt. It seems like there are a lot of steps involved, and there are, but the steps are either really quick or take hours of hands-off time. So, it's not bad.

1 gallon milk (I use 2%)
4 Tbl plain or vanilla yogurt with live active cultures (I actually used vanilla and it worked fine)
That's it.

Special Equipment
8 qt Instant Pot Duo Plus (The one with the Yogurt button. If you have a smaller Instant pot, halve the ingredients)
instant read Thermometer
Silicone spatula for stirring
several vessels for straining. I use a collander, a large pot, and a mixing bowl
And a clean tea towel

How to make Yogurt in an Instant Pot 
1. Start time is important. I always start before 10 am. That way you're not waiting up until 2 in the morning or something awful.

2. Pour 1 gallon milk into Instant Pot's bowl and have your 4 Tbl of starter yogurt set aside in a bowl and ready to go.

3. Secure Pot's lid. Apparently it doesn't matter if the steam release handle is open or closed, but I always do this with it closed.

4. Push Yogurt button until BOIL, pressure amount: more, comes up, and let it do it's thing. It takes 30 minutes, maybe. I don't pay that much attention.

What's happening is you're heating the milk high enough to denature the proteins.  This allows the whey proteins to bind to water and make a desirable texture in yogurt. Thanks Google.

5. Remove lid carefully so you don't burn yourself, stir the milk gently (don't scrape the bottom in case any milk has scalded), and take the milk's temperature.

But if you're anything like me, your milk will NOT be up to 180 F. It'll be more like 170 F. I don't know if it's because I live at a higher elevation, or what, but I always have to take one more step. If yours is up to 180 Yeah! Skip step 6.

6. Turn off Instant Pot and push the Slow Cook Button, pressure amount: less. Set it for 30 minutes. Again, I keep my steam release handle in the closed position. Once the 30 minutes is up, take temperature. I'm usually up to the 180 F. If it's 179, I'd just go with it.

7. Cool the yogurt to 110 degrees. You  can leave it on your counter and let it cool naturally, but I am impatient so put it in my sink with cold water. Sometimes ice, too. Now, watch it very carefully. It'll cool faster than you think if you use cold water. Just a few minutes. Take the temperature after about 3 minutes and probably every minute after that until it's at 110 F. Always stir gently before taking the temperature.

8. When it's 110 F. set Instant Pot bowl on counter and remove 1 cup of warm milk. Pour the warm milk into the reserved 4 Tbl of starter yogurt. Stir until all lumps are gone. Pour the yogurt/milk back into the rest of the warm milk, still in the Instant Pot bowl. Stir gently to incorporate the yogurt cultures throughout.

9. Place Instant Pot bowl back in Instant Pot. Push Yogurt Button until pressure amount: normal comes up and set your timer to 10 hours. This can be a personal preference, but I find 10 hours gives me a nice, gentle tang and good thickness. You can do it more, 12 hours even, or less, 8 hours, for instance. But I've had good success with 10.

10. After the 10 hour ferment, your yogurt should be thick enough a spoon can stand upright in the middle, or pretty close to it. Remove bowl from Instant Pot, pour yogurt into a large bowl, cover, and let cool in refrigerator over night.

11. Next morning, assemble your straining equipment. Place tea towel in strainer. Place strainer in mixing bowl. Place mixing bowl in large stock pot. If you have a better method than this, please use it. Mine's pretty cobbled together. But it works and I didn't have to buy any special yogurt straining equipment.

Carefully pour yogurt into the strainer with the tea towel. Put back in refrigerator and let strain for several hours. You may need to dump out some of the whey to allow your yogurt to strain appropriately. My mixing bowl isn't tall enough, so my strainer bottom ends up in the whey. You can see how this would be a problem.

BUT DON'T THROW AWAY YOUR WHEY!! Keep it. Make pancakes and biscuits later in the week. It really is that light green color. In fact, make these fluffy, wonderful biscuits.

12. Pour strained yogurt into your Kitchen Aid and whip it, whip it good until it's light, smooth, and just a touch fluffy.

13. Store in fridge for up to two weeks, I'd say. That's about how long I let mine go and haven't died. I always put a piece of tape on the lid, and make note of the date the yogurt was made.


Update 2-12-2018 Check out the post I made on trouble shooting the yogurt making process, and don't stress it too much, it'll work out fine.

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