Looking for more ways to make that new Instant Pot earn its place on the counter? It's a great time to try the ease and economy of making your own yogurt. And the real advantage is having total control over the end result.
Have you ever taken the time to compare the many types of yogurt in the dairy aisle? You see everything from creamy yogurt made from whole milk and flavored with real fruit and sugar to skinnied-down versions that use a variety of artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. With milk prices at an all-time low, vanilla yogurt can be made for between 10 and 15 cents per cup in my area and probably in yours too. You can choose the fat content of the milk used, the flavorings, and the sweeteners. The result can be anything from 80-90 calories per cup to over 300 calories of pure heaven. (For comparison, the standard retail yogurt cup holds 6 ounces--about 3/4 cup).
There are many ways to make yogurt, but if you want to take advantage of the easy functionality of the Instant Pot, try these tips.
1. First, decide how much yogurt you want to make. For 2 quarts or more, plan to add the milk directly to the Instant Pot inner pot. For smaller amounts, you can use containers suitable for a boiling water bath, such as canning jars, for individual portions that can go straight into the fridge without cleanup. I like to use three wide-mouth canning jars because I'm just plain lazy. . . You don't need a lot of fancy supplies, but you DO need a good instant-read thermometer.
2. Measure the milk into the container(s) you have chosen. You can use milk of whatever fat content you prefer--the more fat the creamier, the less fat the less calories. The finished yogurt will have exactly the same number of calories as the milk used in it. The USDA Nutrient Database lists the following calories for one cup of the following products: Whole milk - 149, 2% - 137, 1% - 102, skim 86.
3. I like to add 1/2 to 1 T. of Ultra Gel to each cups of milk for a reliable texture that stays thick even in the lunch bag. Add the Ultra Gel slowly while stirring with a wire whisk and continue stirring until smooth. Cover each jar loosely to keep condensation from thinning the yogurt. (See the photo to compare the thickness of yogurt made with and without Ultra Gel). Ultra Gel is available at carnetfoods.com or through Amazon Prime--search for "Carnet Foods Ultra Gel".
4. Add one cup of water to the Instant Pot, place the rack in the bottom, and add the containers. Set on the steam setting for 1 minute (takes about 15 minutes) then immediately exhaust. The temperature should be a minimum of 185 degrees F. (Use an instant-read thermometer to check.) Be sure to stir the milk before taking the temperature for consistency.
5. The milk needs to cool to 115 degrees F. You can either let the temperature go down naturally or put the bottles into an ice bath to speed the cooling (handle carefully while they are hot!)
6. When the temperature is no more than 115 degrees, add 1 t. of the innoculant--the live culture per two cups milk and stir in thoroughly. For the initial batch, find some yogurt at the store that lists "live culture" on the ingredient list. I used Fage 0%. After the first batch you can save a few tablespoons of your homemade product to use in the next batch
7. Cover each of the jars and return them to the Instant Pot. Add the lid and engage the "yogurt" button for 8 hours. The temperature should remain between 70 and 77 degrees during the fermentation process. If your Instant Pot doesn't have a "yogurt" button, return the bottles to the Instant Pot and wrap the entire pot in a large towel to stabilize the temperature for 8 hours, then refrigerate.
8. Now for the fun: If you wish to sweeten, you can use sugar, stevia, sugar substitute, etc. If you wish to add fruit, use a cooked fruit or preserve unless it is to be eaten right away, in which case fresh fruit is fine. Granola can be added right before serving. As advertised--you will have total control of your finished product. And that's a really good feeling!