Yogurt was a staple of my diet for years. When I was tracking macros, Greek yogurt was an essential part of meeting my protein grams. As I progressed in my wellness journey, I started focusing on gut health which lead me to completing a Candida and Bacteria Overgrowth cleanse as well as the researching more on balancing gut bacteria.
As part of my Candida and Bacteria Overgrowth cleanse, I not only avoided dairy entirely, I also supplemented with specific probiotic strains in order to colonize my gut with the proper ratio of beneficial bacteria. I wanted to keep up this balance after I was through with the cleanse, but I also desperately wanted to re-introduce my beloved Greek yogurt into my diet. Enter 24 Hour Yogurt!!!
In her book about gut health and digestion, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, Elaine Gottschall recommends a very intense nutrition plan called the “Specific Carbohydrate Diet” which intends to balance gut flora and promote digestion through limited carbohydrate consumption to only very specific molecular types.
“The allowed carbohydrates are monosaccharides and have a single molecule structure that allow them to be easily absorbed by the intestine wall. Complex carbohydrates which are disaccharides (double molecules) and polysaccharides (chain molecules) are not allowed. Complex carbohydrates that are not easily digested feed harmful bacteria in our intestines causing them to overgrow producing by products and inflaming the intestine wall. The diet works by starving out these bacteria and restoring the balance of bacteria in our gut.”
The entire book is full of really great information on gut health and how our modern diet makes digestion a whole different game than it used to be. If you struggle with chronic digestive issues, I definitely recommend you check it out. You can also read more about it on her website.
A recommended part of the SCD is 24 Hour Yogurt. This means the milk has been fermented for 24 hours, which is far longer than any commercial variety you will find. Standard market varieties are fermented for maybe 8 hours, and many don’t even include live active cultures. Other awesome reasons to ferment your own yogurt for 24 hours:
- 24 Hour yogurt is insanely dense in probiotics. It is said that is contains 3 billion CFU (colony forming units – bacteria!) per milliliter which equates to over 700 billion per cup. The typical commercial probiotic is about 15-20 CFU per capsule & costs a decent amount for a quality brand. More probiotics + less money = YES!
- Not only do you get MORE probiotics, they are fresh and active. You never know what your capsules went through before they got to you.
- During fermentation, yogurt bacteria convert lactose into lactic acid, which makes yogurt tangy & reduces lactose down to practically nothing. Lots of folks who are lactose intolerant do well with 24 hour yogurt!
- You determine your milk quality & fat content. Whole milk yields the creamiest (and most delicious) yogurt, but this recipe works with any fat content. Also, you can be sure your milk is hormone free and can even be local! Also, no weird sweeteners, things that used to be fruit, thickeners, or weird stuff in general!
- Save cash & make less waste! You get 3-4 cups of thick Greek yogurt from ½ gallon of milk – even more if you don’t strain to Greek!
- You feel like a mad hippie scientist, which is way fun.
Now that you know WHY let’s get to the HOW. It’s honestly SO easy you won’t believe it. (Just don’t try it with goat milk – twice – the proteins in goat milk are different and require a different process.)
This recipe uses the greatest kitchen helper of all time, the INSTANT POT. There are a few different varieties, I made this recipe using my Instant Pot Duo.
24 Hour Greek Yogurt
1/2 gallon milk (any fat content works, but whole milk yields the creamiest yogurt)
1 Tablespoon starter yogurt (any brand with just milk and live active cultures in the ingredient list – no extra funny stuff – I use leftover from my last batch OR Fage)
- Pour Milk into Instant Pot cooking pot. Cover with lid.
- Push Yogurt button and then the Adjust button, to read BOIL. Whisk a few times during boil cycle.
- When boil cycle ends take temperature of the milk. If the milk isn’t at 180 degrees, use the Saute setting to get it up to 180, but be sure to KEEP STIRRING during this step so you don’t scald your milk.
- Once you reach 180 degrees, take the cooking pot out of the Instant pot and place it into a sink or bowl full of ice or cold water. I usually put mine into a giant bowl and just run the cold tap into the bowl, but am very careful to make sure water doesn’t get into the milk too! Whisk and cool the milk to about 100 degrees.
- Get your starter and add a little bit of the milk, to slowly heat the starter. This is called tempering and avoids shocking the bacteria with heat. Once tempered, add the starter/milk mixture back into your cooking pot with the rest of the milk.
- Put the cooking pot with milk back into the Instant Pot & press the Yogurt button.
- The Instant Pot will display 8:00 but YOU are going to ferment for 24 hours so hit that + until you get to 24:00. The Instant Pot will read 0:00 and count UP to the 24 hour incubation time.
When incubation time is up, you have some options:
- Refrigerate, covered, until chilled (8 hours or overnight) – at this point it is edible ‘normal’ yogurt, but not thick Greek yogurt
- Refrigerate until chilled, then to make Greek yogurt – transfer to strainer with cheesecloth and allow to strain in refrigerator for at least 2 hours
- Chill & Strain in one step – this will produce more whey but saves some time – transfer yogurt immediately from cooking pot into strainer with cheesecloth, then refrigerate
Note: You can easily double this recipe for a whole gallon of milk – it will just take a bit longer to heat up! Also, you can freeze a little bit of your batch in ice cube trays to use as a starter for your next batch – just be sure to thaw before using!
Some of my favorite mix ins for this yogurt are:
- Vanilla bean
- Fresh fruit
- Homemade Apple Butter
- Pumpkin seeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Sprouted Watermelon Seeds (!!)
What’s your favorite way to flavor plain yogurt?!