Making yogurt is ridiculously simple, easy to do and pretty bomb-proof. Almost-boil some milk. Cool it to 115 F. Add some plain yogurt with active microbes (almost all yogurt in the store is active), mix and wait 6-8 hours keeping it at 115 F.
Why would you want to?
Well, it your yogurt mix doesn’t become yogurt, the yogurt you’re buying at the store is useless. The yogurt you make is fresh, and so as biologically active as it possibly can be, and it saves money. I bought 6 ounces of FAGE greek yogurt for $1.50 and turned it into a gallon of yogurt for the cost of a gallon of whole milk. This stuff sells for $7.50 a quart.
So, how exactly to do it? In the past I’ve extolled the wonders of the Instant Pot, and I’m going to do it again. My kitchen is small and if I can combine equipment, I do. The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, slow cooker and yogurt maker all in one.
Using the Instant Pot: start in the morning (this takes a long time, but very little of your time)
- Pour gallon of milk into pot.
- Shut with escape valve open (this is only shut for pressure cooking), push the yogurt button. Push the adjust button. It will show you: BOIL.
- Some time later when this is done, pull out the pot and cover it — it will cool faster outside the Instant Pot. If you cover it with a pie plate and put ice cubes in the pie plate (hot milk rises, cool from cubes drops) it will cool even faster.
- When the milk mixture is between 110 and 115 F (though don’t worry if it is cooler) mix in 6 ounces of FAGE Greek yogurt. Do this by putting the yogurt into a bowl, add about an equal amount of warm milk and whisk. Then, whisk as you pour this thick mixture into the warm milk in the pot.
- Put the pot back into the Intant Pot and push the Yogurt button. You will see 8 Hours. This will give you a tart yogurt; I like it better after 6 hours when it is quite mild but holds it’s shape nicely. This is what it will look like after 6 hours:
Many other store bought yogurts can be used to make yogurt. Those I’ve tried include Dannon and Annie’s. The more yogurt you use, the faster it will turn. The faster it turns, the less sour it will be. By using premium store bought yogurt, you are using the bacterial mix companies have spent time and money developing!
The yogurt you make can, of course, be perpetuated, but each time the microbial mix will change a little — be aware of that and if a batch isn’t quite as good as the original, then go back to the source: store bought yogurt. (I have found yogurt starters to be a waste of money.)
Furthermore, yogurt can easily be turned into fresh cheese — an even better return on that gallon of milk. More on that later.