Instant Pot Yogurt: *NOT* A Single-Day Undertaking!

A bit over a week ago, I had finished a round of making cheese and then soda bread. With around a cup whey still leftover from the bread, I sought other ways to use it while still fresh.

Note that I could have drunk it, as many people do, in a smoothie; however, I’m personally not fond of the taste of acidic whey.

Back to my point, I did find that you could potentially use whey for making yogurt. And then my brain started ticking even faster. Faster than you can say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” I had yanked out both my Instant Pot and the user’s manual. The mysterious little button for “yogurt” had always intrigued me, but I had also feared the potential complexity of such an undertaking. Surely, it wouldn’t be that bad?

According to the recipe I had, it didn’t appear to have much in the way of smoke-and-mirrors at all: boil the milk, bring the temperature down, add a starter (in this case, whey), allow time to ferment, chill, and then store.

Simple enough. Or so trundled my “think-I-can” train of thought up the mountain of delicious discoveries.

Before I continue, a very special thanks for this post goes to Kim! Her kind donation to the blog went directly towards materials for the yogurt-making project.

Well, I did have an extra quart of goat’s milk that I needed to use soon… so I went for it.

Cow’s milk tends to upset my constitution, while goat’s milk doesn’t bother me at all. That’s why you’re seeing so many posts with me using it. Goat’s milk also has great nutritional benefits!

Trial 1: The Slapdash Attempt

With only an idle note that one could use whey for yogurt, I halved a recipe to fit a quart of milk and got to it. Boiled the milk, prepped for fermentation, everything checked out. However, I had concerns that the thinness of the whey meant that fewer active cultures were sitting around the liquid. Without a way to know for sure, I doubled the amount for the ferment and set up the Instant Pot to go for eight hours. If all went to plan, I could have yogurt in four hours.

Did I mention I started this at about 7 PM on a work night? Oooooops…

Four hours later, as you might guess, yogurt I did not have. The notes from Simply Recipes cautioned that it could take up to twelve hours for something to happen and thus, resigned to the fate I had assigned myself, set several alarms throughout the night.

I promptly went to sleep and awakened in three-hour intervals, only to find more disappointment each time. By hour nine or ten, stuff had started to happen. To be more specific, a film had begun to form over the milk — which is normal — but it hadn’t yet shown signs of setting.

Fast forward to my normal wake-up time. I didn’t feel at all comfortable letting the Instant Pot continue fermenting away during my ten-hour shift at work. Part of my brain considered just taking the thing to work with me and monitoring it there, but I had a feeling that that wouldn’t go over well in the break room.

(I’m already considered quite the weirdo, which I don’t mind so much, but the resident strange-oid doesn’t need to bring her “science experiments” with her. The unfinished ones, at least.)

And so, with great consternation, and perhaps a few choice epithets, I dumped the lot in the sink.

A week passed, and during that time I tossed around ideas and hit the books, assessing my potential reasons for failure:

  • The whey, while fresh, may not have had enough active cultures for fermentation.
  • I potentially misjudged the ratio of whey to milk needed for the ferment.
  • The yogurt didn’t have enough time to ferment.

Trial 2: The Yogurtening

As the week crept to the next Saturday with DMV-sloth level slowness, excitement grew to a fever pitch as I at last could purchase a new quart of goat’s milk at the farmer’s market and bring it home.

This is what I thought of as day after day molasses’d by. However, my not-really-amusement had more of a chagrined tone.

The new plan:

  1. Start the yogurt EARLIER in the day.
  2. Use a bit of store-bought yogurt with active cultures as my starter, and then build from there.
  3. Pray that I didn’t have to wake up throughout the night again to monitor the results.

With one attempt under my belt and a smattering of confidence that I could streamline the process the second time, I rolled up my sleeves and began anew.

This time, I boiled the milk successfully by 1 PM, and then I added a tablespoon of Fage yogurt. Yes, that means that this wouldn’t start out as 100% goat’s milk yogurt, but over time the starter would develop a higher percentage of goat vs. cow.

We’re also talking about a tablespoon to a quart here. It’s really not that much to jumpstart fermentation, in my mind.

After four hours, I was pleased to see that the active cultures had taken hold more rapidly and a skin had already formed over the milk. However, it was nowhere close to setting, so I continued to wait.

When 11 PM hit, I bit the bullet and prepared myself for another round of late night alarms. My best hope lay in a finished fermentation by the time I woke up, so that I could give the yogurt time to cool to room temperature and then toss it into the fridge on my way out the door.

Rude awakenings ensued at 2 AM, 4 AM and then finally at seven on Tuesday morning; once I punched my alarm the final time, I found that I did in fact have an Instant Pot full of yogurt. And gosh, did it smell wonderfully tangy, too!

When I jiggled the insert, the yogurt wriggled as a single mass. SUCCESS!

All had fully chilled by the time I arrived home in the evening and removed it from the fridge. After considering the idea of straining it for more of a Greek-style consistency, I lined my strainer with cheesecloth and let it go for about two hours.

Totally dipped a spoon in there for a quick taste. So delicious! 😄

Unfortunately, not much whey had separated from the yogurty mass, but I fully admit to impatience after over 24 hours of work (despite very little hands-on during that time). Into a glass container it went after a good whisk so it could travel with me to work for breakfast, with a tiny portion in a separate container to use as starter for the next batch.

Lessons learned the second time:

  • Yogurt-making is seriously a two-day affair. PLAN BETTER.
  • Despite the aforementioned point, the “making” process remained ridiculously easy.
  • Supposedly, fermentation and such will progress more quickly with fresher starter.

Will I do this again?

Heck yes. Yogurt is fun and tasty; moreover, I can research creative ways to use it in baking and cuisine as well as for the usual breakfast or dessert options.

Everyone needs a good dose of probiotics in their diet, so let’s see what making my own fresh yogurt does for me!

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Published by Allie

Foodie explorer with Stardew Valley dreams. Lover of wine but not beer, cheese but not milk, and all things chocolate. Working to learn as many self-sufficient, at-home food production skills as possible.

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