I have to say — never in a million bajillion years did I ever think I would write a review/blog post about….a kitchen appliance. Nope. Never crossed my mind.
In fact, I would look down my nose with disdain at those reviewers on shopping sites, including Amazon, and wonder what they needed in their lives that left them time to write about a product they’d bought.
And yet, here I am doing the same thing.
I am all about technology, and working smarter and not harder. I’m an Apple fangirl, an Alexa proponent, and an OCD fitness tracker NUT. However, out of the realm of this genre has come my new servant, Alfred.
(Yes, he’s named for Alfred in Batman. I know you’re wondering)
I’ve read the Facebook posts for quite a while about this magical appliance and wondered what all the hype was about. But when I read that you could make your own yogurt, I didn’t even stop to think how complicated it might be. I just knew I wanted it.
The Husband was not as enthusiastic as I was though. When I mentioned it to him, the response was, “We have a pressure cooker.” I reminded him that I’m not “allowed” to use said pressure cooker.
(Now, when I say “allowed,” I’m in no way implying that The Husband has such iron fist control. However, imagine if you will a much younger me knocking off the little weight of the pressure cookers from years ago while it was “jingling.” Have you ever seen pinto beans spew through a hole that small? They spray your cabinets like a fire extinguisher on a fire. It’s not pretty when it happens (it burns)! and it’s really not pretty to clean up. You get three guesses as to who was burnt (not badly) and who did the clean up, and the first two guesses don’t count. This may help you to understand why I’m not allowed to use the pressure cooker).
Nevertheless, this past Christmas I was gifted with an Instant Pot Duo Lux 60, with yogurt-making capabilities. My response was more enthusiastic than it has ever been, and over a kitchen appliance!
Like any good social media-type person, the first thing I did was search for Facebook groups regarding this magic. Not surprisingly, there were several. Surprising was the number of members in each of them. I chose one that looked fairly well-established and the obligatory beginners group. Apparently the Instant Pot was a very popular gift item this Christmas. The community group had over 80,000 members join in ONE DAY. After reading through the posts, I was convinced more than ever that I was onto something amazing.
I am, for the most part, a rule follower. The directions said to do a water test first, so that’s what I did. The directions did NOT say how long the water test would take. After three hours, I went searching through the Facebook group for guidance. I learned the water test only takes 20 minutes, and when the timer begins counting up instead of down, the water test is done. Okay – lesson learned. My first job and I overcooked the water. I can live with that.
The next attempt would be boiled eggs, something the group was raving about. It never occurred to me to boil eggs in a pressure cooker, so this was going to be a real learning experience. I followed the directions carefully (of course): Trivet in the bottom, lay the amount of eggs you want — in my case, 6 – on top of the trivet, add a cup of water and set the timer to 5 minutes. Once they’re finished, dunk them in an ice bath for 5 minutes. Carefully I followed each of the steps carefully. My reward was 6 of the most perfectly boiled eggs EVAH! When was the last time your boiled eggs peeled like this:
The next time I tried boiled eggs, I skipped the ice bath. I read in the group that the ice bath stops them from cooking, whereas skipping the ice bath allows the yolks to get a little firmer. They were still beautiful eggs and I really didn’t notice a huge difference, but YMMV:
Finally, it was time to do what I’d been looking forward to: YOGURT! There are several different recipes with all kinds of variations of milk and additions, but this is the one I chose to follow is from This Old Gal website.
I didn’t want to look for organic milk and pay the extra money in case all I ended up doing was scorching the milk or having spoiled milk curds on my hands. This recipe used regular skim milk and yogurt. You will need to have some on hand for your first recipe; afterward you can use what you make as your starter. Depending on how much you make, you will need 1–2 tablespoons. This gives your yogurt the live, active cultures needed to be, well, yogurt!
I was only brave enough to try a half-gallon of milk the first time. I whisked it a couple of times during the boil phase and brought the milk to 180 degrees. I filled my sink with cold water and put the inner pot in the water to cool the milk to 95–115 degrees. This is entirely optional; you can let the milk sit in the pot and cool naturally, but if you’re an impatient person like me, you cool it quickly. Once it was in the optimal temperature range, I added 1 tablespoon of the plain, nonfat Greek yogurt I had previously bought — prior to ever knowing there was an Instant Pot in my future! The phase of bringing the milk to 180 degrees is the most labor-intense phase of yogurt-making, the rest involves more patience than work.
I set the IP to “Yogurt” and the timer displayed “8 HRS.” During that time I was sooooooo tempted to peek, but I didn’t. It did have a nice aroma of warmed milk. Not everyone would like that smell, but I do. Close to the end of the cycle I prepped my straining phase. The directions call for cooling and then straining, but I combined these steps, mostly because I’m impatient and wanted to try it sooner!
I laid some cheesecloth over my colander and clothes pinned it to secure it. I set the colander in a large mixing bowl to catch the liquid (whey). Once the timer beeped for 8 hours, I carefully removed the lid.
Yes, even this was delicious. Warm with a smooth texture. I’ve since found out that if you keep it this way, it’s plain yogurt. The straining process yields “Greek yogurt.” Later on I read that if you completely strain out all the whey, you have a substitute for cream cheese! Who knew?!?
I strained this first batch for 6 hours. It was a little dry and like eating, well, cream cheese! However, the flavor was great and there was no tartness to it like there is with regular Greek yogurt. In reading, I found that cooking the milk longer, aka the “curing phase,” yields more tartness. Some people cure theirs for 8–12 hours. I don’t want tartness that badly! One half-gallon of milk yielded 2 cups of yogurt.
I have since made two more batches of yogurt. The second batch finished off the gallon of milk. The next batch I got brave and used a whole gallon. So far, the only difference I’ve noticed is that it took longer to get that much milk to the proper temperature, but that makes sense.
Some of the tweaks I’ve done are to add a teaspoon of sugar free cheesecake filling mix to a cup of yogurt. It tastes just like cheesecake without all the calories! Had I added a graham cracker it would have been exactly like a cheesecake. I also reduced straining time to 4 hours. This allows some of the whey to rise to the top when you refrigerate it. When you’re ready to eat it, you just stir it up and the whey makes it a bit creamier. If you think about what store-bought yogurt does when it’s refrigerated, this makes perfect sense!
In the future, I will probably make cream cheese and try making a cheeseball with the finished project, just to see how it tastes.
All in all, this batch of yogurt cost me roughly $2.00 for 4 cups, or .50/cup. When you compare the cost of store bought, when I pay $4.98-$6.88 for what amounts to 4 cups, there is quite a cost savings. I also like that I know exactly what’s in the yogurt, and no added sugar, preservatives or chemicals.
I’ve also tried chicken breasts (thawed, not frozen). Six rather large chicken breasts with 2 cups of chicken broth over them, cooked for 30 minutes, allowing for the pressure to release naturally, yielded fall-off-your-fork tenderness when I started to shred them.
One note: When something cooks for 5 minutes, that does not allow for the time it takes the cooker to build up pressure or the pressure to release naturally. My 5-minute boiled eggs actually took about 15 minutes: 5 minutes to come to pressure, 5 minutes to cook, and 5 minutes to let the pressure release (this is also known as the 5–5–5 method for boiling eggs). I’m letting you know this so you’ll factor this into your meal prep timing, not as a complaint. Perfect boiled eggs in 15 minutes? YES, please and thank you!
So yes, I’m smitten with “Alfred,” so much so that I had to dress him up just a little bit.
I think it makes him look more “butler-like,” which sounds a lot better than thinking it makes me look goofy!
Do you have a favorite Instant Pot recipe? Do you have an Instant Pot? Let me know in the comments, or subscribe to the blog if you’d like to be notified of when I write again!