Vanilla Yogurt with Instant Pot
I'm not the biggest fan of yogurt and I do not like Greek yogurt, but when I heard you could make it with the Instant Pot, I had to try it. Homemade yogurt is DELICIOUS. Almost as good as ice cream, and for anyone who knows me, I love good ice cream!
The instructions for yogurt with the Instant Pot are not very detailed and there are many different versions listed on the internet (for plain yogurt - boring). Below are simple instructions for making delectable yogurt with just the right amount of flavor.
Half gallon Milk
2 Tablespoons plain yogurt with live cultures
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
Sugar to taste (about 2 tablespoons) or Honey
Start with a half gallon of milk. It can be any milk, but I use fresh whole milk from a local farm, shout out to Richardson's. You will also need 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt with live cultures in it, vanilla extract and a small amount of sugar.
One of the most important steps is to decide when to start this process. Some of the steps are time sensitive. I try to start really early to get to the incubation part as early as I can in order to get the straining done by bedtime... which for me is embarrassingly early. I've tried to prolong some steps, but it definitely does not turn out as well.
Pour the half gallon of milk into the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Place lid and twist in place. I use the lid in sealed position, but it does not matter as it is not using pressure to cook the milk. You can also use the glass lid that is purchased separately. Press the yogurt button and then adjust until it says 'boil'. This will gently heat the milk until it is 180 deg F. It takes about 20-30 min to finish this process. If you forgot and it's been over and hour - I turn it back on to 'boil' again and let it cook a second time. (Some people will open the lid and press saute button and stir the milk until it reaches temperature and keep it there for at least 5 minutes - but you must stir or the bottom with scald).
Next, the milk will need to cool to 115 deg F. This can be done in the pot, on the counter, or in a container of cool or ice water. I tend to be slightly impatient, so I end up putting it in ice water (or outside in the snow in the winter). I also have started using a digital thermometer as it is difficult to gage the temperature with a traditional one. While this is cooling, place 2 tablespoons of the plain yogurt (yogurt culture) into a small bowl. Once the milk has reached 115 deg F, you can add a cup of the milk to the yogurt culture and mix well (I whisk it). It is important to let it cool so that it does not kill the live cultures. Add this mixture back to the milk and stir well. At this point, I add 2 tablespoons of Vanilla Extract. I have added Vanilla at different points in the process and this was the one that tasted the best, at least to us. Once this is all mixed well, place the inner pot into the Instant Pot and place lid back on. Press yogurt again until it says '8:00'. This is the incubation part. The Instant Pot will count upwards for 8 hours and then will say 'yogt' and beep when finished. It is not critical to get to the yogurt right away, but be aware that the longer it incubates, the tarter it will be.
Now you can choose to either cool this in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. I usually do it overnight and then strain the next morning. The process of straining yogurt makes it "Greek", BUT it does NOT taste like greek yogurt you get in the store. It just tastes like delicious thick yogurt with the benefits of greek yogurt! If you do not strain the yogurt, it will most likely be runny and thin.
Straining can be done with a colander and (big) coffee filters, cheesecloth, milk nut bags, or the Euro Cuisine Yogurt strainer. There are many ways to use the leftover whey, such as marinating meat or adding to your tomato plants.
Whichever method you choose to use, strain for about 3 hours in the fridge. Don't worry if you leave it too long to strain. You can always add back in some whey for desired consistency.
The very last part is adding sugar to taste. I usually add only 2 tablespoons for the whole half gallon and it is wonderfully lightly sweetened. Spoon into small mason jars and refrigerate.
Serve with granola and fruit and enjoy!