One large feature that attracted me to the Instant Pot was its yogurt making ability. In the past, making yogurt took some time to babysit the milk pasteurization stage and the cool down phase. By utilizing the Instant Pot, I was hoping to improve the overall experience by allowing me to be a bit more hands-off.
Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed upon reading the User Manual was the Instant Pot still requires manual temperature readings. I was really hoping this part of the process would be for the most part, eliminated.
To ease my disappointment with the temperature fiasco, I wanted to at least make yogurt making easier than my current stovetop method. I read and re-read the included User Manual and Recipe Booklet where I came across a small blurb on creating yogurt in a jar. Instead of using the inner liner of the Instant Pot to boil and culture my yogurt, I could do so directly in my storage container. The glass jar method would allow me to transition my fresh yogurt from the Instant Pot directly into the refrigerator.
For this method, you must only use glass jars rated for extreme temperatures. Canning jars work the best and I always have them on hand. So off I went!
Place the steamer rack inside the inner liner of the Instant Pot and add 1 cup of water to the bottom. Add milk to your clean, heat resistant jars, leaving enough room to stir in future additions. I used 10 oz of milk per jar.
To keep steam from diluting the milk in your jars, cover them loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. If you are using canning jars, you can rest a canning lid on the top of your jar to facilitate the same action (I turned my lids upside down). DO NOT USE THE SCREW DOWN CANNING RINGS!
Secure the Instant Pot lid and turn your steam valve to [Seal]. Choose the [Steam] setting for 1-2 minutes processing time and allow the machine to do what it is programmed to do.
The Instant Pot will take a while to heat up, it will beep when the official 1-2 minute steam begins. It will also notify you when the process is complete and automatically enter the [Keep Warm] cycle. Push [Cancel] to skip and exit the [Keep Warm] cycle and allow the Instant Pot to cool down naturally. This will take a few minutes for the internal pressure to reduce and the pressure valve to fall.
Once internal pressures have reduced, open the Instant Pot and remove the lid. Measure the temperature of the now pasteurized milk. Your thermometer should read a minimum of 180 degrees fresh out of the depressurized Instant Pot.
Page 20 of the Instant Pot DUO Plus User Manual has directions for steamed yogurt in jars. They recommend 2 minutes steam time however I’ve read reports that temps can reach upwards of 200+ degrees. You can try both the 1 minute and 2 minute steam times to see if the temps register the required pasteurizing heat of 180 degrees. If one minute works for you, great! If not, 2 minutes won’t hurt anything. It will just take a little longer to cool.
Before adding starter culture to the warm milk it must be allowed to cool below 120 degrees. Any higher than this, the cultures will not survive. You can choose to remove your jars from the Instant Pot to facilitate quicker cooling or you can keep your jars inside the device.
When your milk registers 115-120 degrees on your thermometer, you can start adding your culture. Nowhere in the Instant Pot User Manual gives you the culture measurement ratio information! The actual Recipe Booklet (Pg 44) suggests a 1/2 cup culture per 4 cups of milk but I’ve used 1/4 cup culture per 1 gallon of milk with reliable success.
In the case of glass jars, 1 teaspoon of culture per 1-2 cups of milk is more than sufficient. I rarely use exact measurements because yogurt is just an arbitrary blend of milk and culture. The idea is to supply enough starter culture to ensure enough live cells survive and multiply. The culture essentially reproduces within the milk the longer it sets under gentle heat.
Starter culture, is nothing more than store bought yogurt with live, active cultures. It is important to read your label to be certain you are purchasing exactly that. A simple culture starter can be utilized from Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, sweetened yogurt or organic yogurt – its really up to you!
After the cultures are added, place the jars back into your Instant Pot atop the wire rack. 1-4 cups of additional water can be added to the bottom of the inner pot to slowly and gently steam. Replace the jar lids as per STEP 1, this time I put mine right side down. Set the stem valve on [Venting] and replace the Instant Pot lid. To ferment or culture your yogurt, select the [Yogurt] setting and adjust +/- to set how long you wish to let your yogurt process, in most cases this is 6-8 hours. In the photo below, my yogurt has been processing for 4 hours and 14 minutes. Just under 4 hours to go!
During this time, do not move or jostle the Instant Pot. The LCD will display Yogt when the time is finished. Interestingly enough, the timer on the Instant Pot counts UP instead of down. The photo below only processed 6 hours and the result is fairly loose yogurt. For thicker yogurt, process 8 hours.
When complete, you can remove your jars and seal them with the 2-piece ring and lid. Refrigerate your fresh yogurt until you are ready to partake! Enjoy!
Cleanup is super simple when using the jar method. You simply have to dump any excess water from the Instant Pot’s inner pan, dry and put away.
Although I found making yogurt in the Instant Pot to be clean and easy, the User Manual and Recipe Booklet directions are almost too vague to be helpful to a novice yogurt maker. I had to utilize BOTH booklets and piece together what they were trying to direct me to do.
Furthermore, unless you are aware of what starter culture is or what proper pasteurization temperatures and required fermenting times are, you’d be left guessing. They give small hints such as, “…allow milk to cool to 115 degrees and test with a thermometer.” Yet, they don’t really tell you why you are doing this.
Ironically enough, the Instant Pot Recipe Booklet has a yogurt recipe on page 44 with some tips. Yet, the recipe is so drastically different from page 20 in the User Manual it made me shake my head. Why would Instant Pot use a recipe that instructs you to boil the milk in a pot on the stovetop?! So to make my rant short, whether you follow the User Manual or the Recipe Booklet, the directions will seem very incomplete.