Help making yogurt with instant pot?
October 18, 2021 6:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm having trouble making yogurt in my instant pot and wondering if anyone can help me figure out what I'm doing wrong.

I am trying to make yogurt for the first time using my instant pot and having some trouble. I'm hoping someone here might be able to help me figure out what I'm doing wrong.

I tried following the recipe here

I used 4 litres of 2% milk and a container of greek yogurt. After seven hours in the instant pot, the consistency looks nothing like the video. Mine looks soupy and it looks like there's not really any chance in the consistency since I first put it in. I've taken photos of the milk and greek yogurt I used (I couldn't find the same brand as she used since I'm in Canada) and of how things looked after 7 hours here.

The steps I did were basically what she did in the video - put all the milk and yogurt in the instant pot, selected yogurt setting and checked on it after 6 hours.

Is there anything obvious I'm missing?
posted by NoneOfTheAbove to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You want to make sure the “seed” yogurt has live cultures in it. The container in your photo doesn’t seem to indicate that.
posted by odin53 at 6:56 PM on October 18, 2021

Best answer: One thing I noticed, and maybe it's a labeling difference, is that your yogurt says "bacterial culture," and the recipe I've used says that the yogurt has to say "contains live cultures."

This is the recipe I've used, which only contains milk and yogurt with live cultures:

For this recipe you bring the milk up to "boil" (around 180F), cool it to around 110F, add some of the warm milk to the yogurt, put it all back in the Instant Pot, and then set it on Yogurt for 8 hours. Let it cool overnight, and you're done.
posted by ralan at 6:58 PM on October 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Followup questions: 1) It sounds like I need to look for yogurt with the exact words "live culture". Is there anything else it could say instead of that that would also work? 2) Is there a way to boil the milk in the instant pot? Or should I be doing that part on the stove?
posted by NoneOfTheAbove at 7:02 PM on October 18, 2021

Best answer: I do think you're missing a step!

Typically when making yogurt, the first step is to boil the milk to 180 degrees, then let it cool to ~110 degrees before adding the yogurt starter/culture. This denatures the proteins and allows them to thicken up/become yogurt-like. There's a button to do this boiling step on your instant pot, though you'll want to look at how to do it with your exact model since it is different in different model years.

This video skips the boiling step, which you can only do if you are using milk that has already been boiled and filtered. Fairlife, the brand they are using in the video has, but most milk hasn't. If you are using milk that hasn't already been boiled, after you do the boiling/cooldown step, everything else should be the same as in your video.

This link has a pretty good overview of how to do this with an instant pot
posted by mjcon at 7:04 PM on October 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For the yogurt, I had to pull a few off the shelf to find ones that said "contains live cultures." These seemed to be the more expensive varieties, or the organic varieties.

And yes, you can boil the milk in the Instant Pot. The yogurt function should have that built in - you press the Yogurt button until it says "Boil."
posted by ralan at 7:05 PM on October 18, 2021

Best answer: It looks like your recipe does not scald the milk before adding the yogurt. Some people seem to produce fine yogurt without scalding their milk first, others do not. It seems to have something to do with the way milk is processed in different areas. I find the scalding helps to set firm yogurt (I'm also in Canada). Simply heat the milk up to 82C (180F), let it cool down to under 50C and then add your yogurt.

It looks like the recipe in the video uses some kind of special filtered milk, which could work differently without scalding.

The yogurt you are using looks fine and certainly has lactobacillus in it. That said, I've had varying results with different yogurts and have found the best yogurt that I've tried is plain Astro yogurt (it's a red and white container with a cow's face on the front). I always open a fresh container to make yogurt and try to get one with a best before date far into the future, but it probably doesn't matter that much.
posted by ssg at 7:08 PM on October 18, 2021

Best answer: I've also found that once you boil and cool, and add culture, several hours with the instant pot off followed by the time with the instant pot warming everything gives creamier yogurt.

You can buy more yogurt than you need and freeze it in an ice cube tray. You only need one ice cube per batch. Though this is making me realize that perhaps I compensated for smaller inoculations with longer time.
posted by lab.beetle at 7:08 PM on October 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: All yogurt must "contain live cultures" in Canada. You cannot sell something as yogurt unless it is cultured.

I don't think yogurt generally has that kind of label on it in Canada. I'd avoid any yogurts that use gelatin for thickening, as you want a culture that thickens the yogurt sufficiently on its own.
posted by ssg at 7:15 PM on October 18, 2021

Best answer: Ok, if it turns out the starter yogurt isn’t the problem, what else could it be?

You should start with a boil (180 F) and cool (115 F), as others have noted.

My Instant Pot has a “normal” yogurt setting as well as a “less” yogurt setting. The “less” setting heats to only 85 F or so and is intended for jiu niang. The “normal” setting is what you need for thermophilic yogurt cultures. If you pick the “less” setting by accident, you’ll be disappointed.

You might find that you need 8–10 hours instead of 6 to see thickening. It should still be starting to taste sour by 6 hours, though. There’s no harm in keeping it going a bit longer to see if it thickens after all. (If you keep it going for a very long time after it does thicken, the cultures will eventually starve and die and the texture can get chunky.)

Some cultures do make thicker yogurt than others.

If your thermometer is very inaccurate, you might add the starter yogurt at a temperature that is high enough to kill it. If you need a better thermometer, buy something from ThermoWorks. ThermoPop if you’re on a budget, Thermapen Mk4 or Thermapen ONE if you are OK with the price.

You can buy freeze-dried cultures, and they’re really convenient.
posted by musicinmybrain at 7:24 PM on October 18, 2021

Piping in only to add that, on my Instant Pot, the "pasteurize" setting only gets the milk to about 170F, which isn't hot enough. I start with that setting, switch over to "saute" on low to get to the 180+ range (per an instant-read thermometer), then let cool to 110-115F before adding tempered yogurt culture.

I know I was only going to say one thing, but I'll also say this: I've had batches on which I thought I did everything right and didn't end up with yogurt. It can happen. But it's worth continuing to try just to keep the pile of plastic tubs we're building from swallowing us all.
posted by bullatony at 4:47 AM on October 19, 2021

I have never had much luck with consistent results with the boil method because I'm really good at not getting the cooling step right and killing the cultures.

What I do is called the "cold start" method. As mentioned above, you have to have pre-pasturized milk. I use Horizon Organic (whole milk, not skim or 2% -- I've had bad luck with lower fat content) and Fage greek yogurt.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 7:11 AM on October 19, 2021

Just to add my anecdote to the pile: I have had consistent success with the following method:

- I use 2% milk or whole milk from the supermarket which is already pasteurized (although not UHT pasteurized).
- Heat the milk to 180-185F in the steel pot of the Instant Pot ON THE STOVE. I have a smoothtop ceramic range so I just put that sucker right on the stovetop and slowly heat it and monitor the temp with a (very clean) fry thermometer.
- Then put the pot inside a larger stock pot in the sink and run cold water around it to cool it as quickly as possible. I stir the milk while it's cooling to help it cool faster. Once it's at 110F, sir in the starter. I use Fage for a starter and keep individual starter doses in the freezer.
- Then and only then, put the pot into the Instant Pot itself and set it to the fermentation cycle--never any shorter than 8 hours.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 10:44 AM on October 19, 2021

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