The thought of tangy, thick, creamy plain yogurt coming out of the fridge when we have been anchored in an isolated area without a store for 4 weeks and are out of everything fresh, was too mouth watering to pass up.
It is ridiculously simple although it goes through a lot of powdered milk. We aren’t experts on yogurt and we certainly aren’t food safety experts so use your own judgment on that front. The following is what has worked a half dozen times for us. It reads a tad complicated the first time but it actually very easy to keep in your head after you’ve done it once.
- Take your starter out of the fridge. If you don’t have someone to grab starter from, you can buy starter packets in many grocery stores including Carrefour in French Polynesia.
- Take out your pressure cooker and arrange your various glass jars (with lids) until you can tell you have enough jars that will fit inside the pressure cooker with the lid shut, and will hold 2L of yogurt. Once you have a set of jars to use, you won’t have to do this again.
- Heat 500ml of water. I actually heat an entire kettle of water so that I have some to put in the pressure cooker at the end but you can use salt water for the second to last step. If so, heat salt water also.
- Mix 4 cups of powdered milk (we use whole) with 1.5 liters of cold water until all of the lumps are gone. We do this with a fork and it works just fine.
- Mix in the 500 ml of hot water.
- Test the mixture. It should be nicely warm but not hot for your finger. If it is too hot, let it rest until its right.
- Mix in the starter until there aren’t lumps.
- Ladle the mix into the jars. Ladle from the bottom of the mixing bowl and put one scoop in each jar until you’ve done every jar. Continue making passes across the jars until they each become full. The starter might settle to the bottom and this way you’ve spread the starter out into all of the jars.
- Put the jars in the pressure cooker. Test the extra hot water and make sure it is the same warm-but-not-hot temperature as before. If not, mix with cold until right, then add the water to the pressure cooker. I haven’t found it important to cover the jars – you are just trying to keep the temperature up.
- Put the lid on the pressure cooker. Wrap it in a towel. Put it somewhere out of the draft, sun, heat. I set it on the floor or seat in the extra cabin.
- Let rest 12 or so hours. Put in the fridge. When you eat it, you may need to drain a small amount of water out.
Don't forget to reserve a jar (a cup or more) for the starter for your next batch!