Starting out in Nourishing Traditions, the dairy chapter is placed first among all the food groups eventually covered, and it’s there early on to highlight the prominent, even sacred, position that raw dairy products hold in a traditional diet (in the parts of the world where cows thrive.) And one of the first recipes in that chapter is “Yoghurt” (pg 85.)
Yogurt is one of those foods that can be jazzed up to add flavor and nutrition to a range of other dishes. It is rich in probiotics, the lactobacillus family, which helps balance the bacteria present throughout the digestive tract. It’s such a useful food that I make it at least once a week.
In NT, the recipe calls for gently heating the milk to 180*, then cooling to 110*, adding culture (more on that in a minute) and then maintaining a warm, draft-free spot overnight to allow all the milk to culture properly. All that is great, and doable, in regular kitchen double boilers and other bowls or casseroles if that’s what you have to work with. Personally, I have found that I am more apt to make a multi-stage food if I have the proper tools to make the job easy. And my Instant Pot multi-cooker is just such a tool.
Here’s how I do it, twenty years after the recipe/technique was published:
We have a dairy cow, so I am able to use fresh raw milk to make my yogurt. I usually skim the cream (saving it, of course) so that the fat content is somewhere around a 2% fat content milk. That part will not ever change (for me, personally). I am a committed believer in the advantages and deliciousness of raw milk.
I put a gallon or so (or up to 6 quarts) of milk into the Instant Pot fitted with a silicone seal that is dedicated to making only yogurt. (Cooking meats or savory veg in the IP will taint the seal pretty quickly with flavors and odors that you do not want transferred to your perfect plain yogurt.)
I push the Yogurt button on the keypad, then I press the Adjust button until the word “boil” shows up on the display. I engage the lid, and walk away. The machine will bring the milk to 180* safely with no boiling over and alert me when the heating process is finished.
When the Instant Pot dings ten chimes, I take the lid off to allow the milk to cool. There will be a skin on the milk, but I wait until the temp is much lower before I skim off the skin. When the milk reaches between 110*-115*on an instant read thermometer, I add the culture, and this is where you have options on how to make milk into yogurt.
The original recipe called for 1/2 C of good quality commerically prepared plain yogurt per one quart of milk to innoculate the milk and introduce enough bacteria to culture the batch. So for my gallon pot’s worth of goodness, I would need a full two cups of a purchased yogurt to make my own. I wasn’t wild about that idea, so I looked for a different way to introduce the lactobacillus.
A friend of mine who makes raw milk cheese pointed me towards this powdered culture available at www.getculture.com. It’s mild flavored and quite delicious when cultured, and it’s more economical for me over the long run. Additionally, I’m able to maintain the integrity of using our own milk, which comes from a completely grass-based herd, and I avoid adding commercial yogurt sourced from cows that are fed grains and soybeans, coated with chemicals (more about that in the days to come.)
I add 1/4 tsp of the powdered culture to the milk after it’s cooled, whisk in thoroughly, and then re-engage the lid. At that point, press the Yogurt button again, and then immediately the Adjust button, which will allow you to program the culture time for anywhere from 8-24 hours. I go 24 hours to make the yogurt easily digestible for everyone in my family.
Voila! New technology for an age-old health building food.