A few years back I took a gamble on a strawberry plant, as the idea of having fresh strawberries made me smile. I honestly never thought much of it after I planted it. I just watered it and waited. Much to my surprise, it has continued to grow and flourish, without much work on my part, and this year has been its most productive year yet. It's abundance of fruit has left me looking into all of the different ways I can use strawberries (salads, pies, smoothies etc.), and while I have experimented with some recipes, I find my absolute favorite way to eat my strawberries, hands down, is with my homemade yogurt. It seriously tastes like it could be a high-calorie, decadent dessert. Honest!! So, before strawberry season is completely over, I thought I'd share this receipt for homemade yogurt that, I find, goes great with some fresh strawberries!
Homemade Vanilla Yogurt (Instapot Version)
(With Stove top pointers for non-Instapot Users or those with an Instapot without the Yogurt function.)
What you'll need:
1 gallon of milk of your choice (I normally use 2%)
2 tbsp Plain Yogurt
To flavor the Yogurt:
1TBSP Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup white sugar
(Stove top pointers - while I have never made yogurt on the stove top, the instructions don't differ too much, but may take a bit more work on your part for the initial steps. Under each step I've inserted a stove top note, if one is required. If you do not see a stove top pointers note, the directions don't differ between Instapot insert and stove top pot.)
First I like to sterilize the Instapot to eliminate the chance of any unwanted bacteria. Place 1 cup water in the Instapot, close the top and make sure the quick release vent isn't engaged. Click steam, setting to 1 minute. When the Instapot has finished, engage the quick release. Then open the top and drain it in the sink as some condensation will have collected on the inside of the top cover. Rinse the insert with cold water, bringing the temperature of the insert back down. Dry really well and place the insert back in the Instapot.
(Stove top pointers - you will need a large pot, make sure it is sterile or at least super clean.)
Pour 1 gallon of milk into the insert of the Instapot, then place the cover back on and lock it. Press the Yogurt button and then click Adjust until the screen says "boil". When the Instapot indicates with a beep that it's finished (usually takes @ 30-40 minutes) open the top, making sure not to let water from the top cover drop into the milk. Give the milk a good stir and check the temperature with your baking thermometer, making sure it's somewhere between 170-180 degrees, at which point it's ready to cool to 110 degrees.
(Stove top pointers - Bring milk up to temperature on low or medium-low heat, whisking occasionally.)
You have two options here, let it cool gradually on its own, or place the insert into an ice water bath and let it cool quicker by whisking it while it sits in the ice water. (I like quick, so when the insert is in the ice water it usually takes me only a few minutes to get it to temperature.).
4. Add Starter
Once the milk is at 110 degrees, remove about a cup of it and place it in a small bowl. Take the 2 TBSP of plain yogurt and place it in the small bowl with the cooled milk, whisking them together. Then pour the contents of the small bowl back into the Instapot insert and give it a good whisk.
Remove the insert from the ice water, dry off the outside of the insert, then place it back into the Instapot, and place the cover back on. Press the adjustment button until you see 8:00 (if this doesn't work, press the off button and start over, selecting the Yogurt function and press the adjust button until you see 8:00). This indicates 8 hours, the time it takes for the Yogurt to really cultivate. The Instapot will count up from zero and beep when it's reached 8 hours. At that point, remove the insert (being careful not to let any condensation on the top cover to fall into the yogurt), cover the top with plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge overnight.
(Stove top pointers - take pot and place it somewhere it can sit where the mixture can come down in temperature slowly. Once the 8 hours are up, it can be moved to the fridge as indicated above.)
6. Strain (or not to strain)
The following day you can remove the Yogurt from the fridge and strain it. I've found it needs to be strained otherwise it's too runny. However if you plan to make smoothies with it, you might find it's a perfect consistency. (Note: at this point you have plain yogurt and, if you feel the consistency is perfect for you, you can flavor it to your liking.)
If you do opt to strain your yogurt, grab a strainer, a bowl to sit underneath (or leave it in the sink) and your cheese cloth. Line the strainer with the cheese cloth and pour your yogurt onto the cheese cloth. (I usually have to use 2 separate strainers because I don't have one big enough to take care of the whole batch of yogurt.)
I've found that letting the Yogurt strain for 60-90 minutes results in the best consistency for me, but feel free to play around with the timing. The longer it sits, the thicker it gets.
Once the time is up, return your yogurt to a large bowl to flavor.*
*IMPORTANT NOTE: If you plan on making yogurt again, remove 2-3 tbsp of this batch of yogurt before you flavor it and place it in the freezer for use as your yogurt starter in your next batch (it will need to be thawed when needed).
Flavoring is all dependent on personal preference. I like to make mine vanilla and then just add fruit to it later. And in order to keep my children eating it, I have to sweeten it.
To flavor your yogurt vanilla, add 1 TBSP vanilla extract and 1/2 cup white sugar to your yogurt and stir until it's all mixed in. I've found this flavoring to work in my household (though secretly I hope to cut back on the sugar as we get more and more used to homemade yogurt), but you can flavor it however you'd like and with whatever you'd like!
A half a cup of yogurt with 3 sliced strawberries and a tablespoon of sliced almonds is my favorite. Heck, it's so good you can even eat it as is!!! Give it a try and let me know what ends up being your favorite combination!!!
This time of year is exciting for me ever since I began exercising my green thumb with a garden of my own, so please stay tuned!!! In the meantime, get out there and enjoy the warmer weather, just don't forget the SPF and remember to hydrate!!!