Super Creamy Yogurt in the Instant Pot
The exact origins of yogurt are not known, but it is believed to have originated in Mesopotamia around 5,000 B.C. Yogurt is most commonly a fermented dairy product made from the milk of cows, sheep, goats, water buffalo, mares, camels and yaks. I say most commonly because grocery stores now carry vegan yogurts made from fermented coconut milk, soy milk, cashew milk, almond milk, and probably other nut or grain milks as well.
Yogurt can have several health benefits, particularly if it is made without added sugars, artificial ingredients and preservatives. These benefits include that it can be rich in protein, calcium, vitamins, and probiotics, which makes it beneficial for the gut biome, may boost the immune system, and can offer benefits for bones, teeth and digestive problems. In 2014, some studies showed that consuming yogurt may help protect against type 2 diabetes. Yogurt contains less lactose than milk because the lactose is used up in the fermentation process, so it is less disruptive to those who are lactose intolerant.
Fortunately, making yogurt at home is ridiculously easy and it comes out even more delicious than commercially prepared yogurts. You can sweeten it with stevia, honey, sugar or fruits. You can infuse it with flavors such as almond extract, vanilla, orange or lemon. We like to mix it with vanilla, stevia, a fruit and a nut, sometimes with a chopped date, for a healthy, creamy and delicious dessert. Try walnuts, pine nuts, almonds or pecans. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, tangerines are surprisingly good compliments to yogurt. Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are, of course, the stand by favorites, but if you choose blueberries, make sure they are sweet. Sour blueberries are terrible in yogurt. Mixing in a dollop of lemon curd makes it completely decadent.
For this recipe, you will need two special equipment items: an Instant Pot, and an instant read food thermometer.
Push the Yogurt button on the Instant Pot until it says boiL.
This recipe uses an Instant Pot. If you are not familiar with the Instant Pot, it is an electric pressure cooker. It’s a handy gadget with a lot of set programs on it. It makes rice perfectly in less time than it takes on the stove top, and it is useful on busy work nights if you have forgotten to defrost something for dinner. (You can cook meats from frozen in the Instant Pot.) I have made yogurt without the Instant Pot, but it is difficult to maintain the right temperature for the fermentation process.
You need an instant read thermometer to make yogurt. Your milk must reach at least 180°F uniformly before you cool it.
You will need a yogurt starter for this recipe, which is very easy to find. Simply select your favorite plain yogurt at the grocery store and we will use that as your starter. There are two that I like, Stoneyfield Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt and Brown Cow Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt. However, you can use any plain yogurt that you like that contains live, active yogurt cultures.
You can use 2% milk, whole milk, or even half and half to make yogurt. Half and half will produce an extremely thick and mild yogurt. We like to use a combination of whole milk and half and half; you should experiment to see what you like best.
Timing impacts the tartness of yogurt. We do not like yogurt that is too tangy, so we ferment for exactly 8 hours. The longer you ferment, the tangier your yogurt will be. The Instant Pot has yogurt settings for different pre-programmed times so you can select the one you like best.
Cool the milk to 105°F – 112°F before proceeding to the next step.
Yogurt is also a wholesome food for dogs as a protein source in a homemade meal or as a meal topper for a commercially prepared food. It is healthy for them and they love it. We have a gallon of yogurt chilling in our fridge as I write for ours to enjoy tonight.