Thursday, November 03, 2016

Fabulous Greek Yogurt (a recipe)





























Oh my goodness, there are literally 1000 things I need to blog about. But so little time! And I really must share this recipe because I've been perfecting it for months and I've finally got it.

There were three things I wanted to achieve with my yogurt recipe:

1) Delicious
2) As easy as possible--i.e. walk away and forget about it
3) Super-thick consistency that maximized yield

And this one fits the bill!

So here it is without further ado.

Ingredients:
1 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra-pasteurized
1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt
3 T. powdered milk

**The quality of the milk and yogurt you start with really do matter. Locally, I've found that I get the best results with Kroger milk rather than Meijer, and Aldi milk just doesn't work AT ALL. Oikos-brand yogurt gives a great yield; Kroger store-brand regular (non-Greek) yogurt just gives a sloppy mess.

Equipment:
Instant Pot (I know, I know...but I promise it is so much better than making it on the stove or even with a yogurt maker. I've tried both for years and this seriously is SO much easier and the yield is 1000 times better)
Nut milk bag (I love this one!)
Cooking thermometer--I have a cheapie poultry one. You don't need anything fancy; this one is inexpensive and has good reviews.

Method:

1) Add 3 T. powdered milk and entire gallon of whole milk to the Instant Pot. Stir vigorously to combine, then replace lid, press "Yogurt" button, then "Adjust" button so that the screen reads "Boil."
2) Walk away and let the Instant Pot do its thing.
3) When you hear the beep signifying that the milk has come to a boil, DO NOT REMOVE THE LID. Instead, set a timer for 5 minutes more, then remove the lid and take the milk out. Use hot pads!
4) This next step is the only finicky one--you want the milk at exactly 115 degrees. You can wait for it to cool down on its own (takes about an hour), or you can speed the process up by putting the pot in a sink full of cold water (just don't splash any into the yogurt). This method takes about 5 minutes--you just need to watch carefully to make sure it doesn't get too cold.
5) While you're waiting for the milk to cool, measure out your 1/2 c. of plain Greek yogurt. This is your starter. I like to use a larger measuring cup (a 2.5-cup plastic cup works really well; I prefer this to glass just because it's lighter and more maneuverable) so I have plenty of extra room to stir in milk.
6) Once the milk gets to 115 degrees, immediately remove it from the water (if you're using that method) and dip out at least a cup of the hot milk and whisk it vigorously with the starter yogurt. You want to really make sure that starter gets dissolved. Once it's dissolved into the hot milk. then pour the mixture back into the Instant Pot basin and whisk away again until it's REALLY dissolved.
7) Put the Instant Pot basin back into the heating unit, put the lid on, and press "Yogurt" again. Then use the up/down arrows to manually increase the amount of time. It's programmed to go for 8 hours; I like to do 10 hours to get a really thick yogurt.
8) Once the pot beeps after 10 hours, pour the resultant mixture into your nut milk bag and hang it over a large bowl (because it's going to drip, and you can use that whey later!) for about an hour. This will make it really thick, so you can skip it if you don't care about Greek yogurt, but I think you should do it. :-) The easiest way I've found to do this is to just tie the bag's drawstrings onto a cabinet handle. I've also used a flour sack towel & baker's twine instead of the nut milk bag, but it's a pain and makes it a two-person job.
9) Squeeze the yogurt out of the nut milk bag and into a big container (I get about 10 cups of yogurt). And voila! You're done!

**Save that whey--it's great in smoothies, baked goods, etc. It has a nice tang to it that my kids LOVE! I just pour it into quart jars (I get about 1.5 quarts from a gallon of milk) and pop it in the 'fridge until I'm ready to use it.

**Your yogurt will be plain, i.e. without added flavors--it should have a delicious tangy taste, but if you'd like it a bit sweeter, you can drizzle in honey, jam, etc. I recommend adding these as you serve it rather than sweetening the whole batch.

**The entire process takes about 12 hours. I recommend either starting it first thing in the morning, or about an hour before you go to bed so that the yogurt cooks overnight.

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