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How to Make Yogurt Culture in an Instant Pot Using Raw Milk

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

My family loves yogurt. When I switched over to raw milk from my sister’s dairy I decided to start making my own dairy products. It has taken a bit of fine-tuning but one of the processes I love best is making my own yogurt. The first step in making your own yogurt is to make a yogurt culture. I love to do this step using my Instant Pot.

I start with the greek yogurt starter culture by Cultures for Health. Yogurt Starter comes in 2 packets per package. If you are wise and kind to your starter this should be the last starter culture you ever need to buy. This particular starter culture will culture 1 quart of milk.

We like Greek yogurt, but there are a variety of yogurt starter options. Click here to see all of the Cultures for Health Yogurt Starter Options.

How to make a yogurt culture from a yogurt starter and raw milk.

heat milk to 160 degrees

How to Use a Yogurt Starter to Make A Yogurt Culture

Start by heating the milk up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and then slowly cooling it down to 110 degrees. Make sure you have a good kitchen thermometer for this step. Although we used a small digital thermometer here you have most likely seen us using our favorite thermometer in previous videos. We really like this long clip-on thermometer that keeps our hands away from hot boiling and popping foods.

Cool the milk to 110 degrees.

cool milk to 110 degrees

At this point, you will want to mix in the packet of yogurt starter.

Add the yogurt culture to the heated and cooled milk.

add culture packet

Mix well so that the whole batch is cultured. Now you need to keep the milk at 110 degrees for 5 hours. I have done this process on the stove, but it is labor-intensive. I’ve heard of people using a double boiler or placing their pan in a crockpot of water which might also work.

How to make yogurt culture in an instant pot with raw milk.

maintain 110-degree temperature

Using the Instant Pot to Make Yogurt Culture

My preferred method is to use the Instapot.

When I use the Instapot, I just place the milk mixture into the pot and put it on the medium yogurt setting. The default on the Instant Pot is 8 hours so I decrease the time to 5 hours. The Instant Pot will maintain the correct temperature to culture the milk the whole time. This is a much easier method as I can just set it and go about my day.

Separate the whey from the yogurt culture.

whey separates

After 5 hours, check to see if the milk is thick with the whey separating. The whey also has live cultures in it and can also be used to make yogurt.

To make yogurt, you need 2 tablespoons to culture 1 quart or 1/2 a cup to culture 1 gallon of milk. (Sometimes I use more.)

You can use some of the cultures as plain yogurt but I like to set aside what I will use to culture my next batch of milk and freeze the rest in 2 tablespoon cubes. Officially, frozen yogurt culture maintains its ability to culture milk for 3 months. I have also had reports of its ability to culture milk for multiple years after being frozen. This is a great benefit as a refrigerated culture needs to be used within the next 7-10 days or the culture will die. This may seem like plenty of time, but sometimes you plan on making yogurt and don’t get to it until much later or go on vacation, etc. If this happens you can lose your culture and have to start all over again.

Next, we will have to show you how to make yogurt using today’s culture.

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