Friday, October 21, 2011

Making Homemade Yogurt in a Rice Cooker


After having lots of success making yogurt in my crock pot, I've started feeling selfish.  I have a crock pot, and most people don't.  How will the crockpot-less enjoy fresh, homemade yogurt?  It's basically the same feeling I get when I think about poor kids in North Korea without iPhones.  Such a travesty.

So I set out for alternative methods with the conviction of a Southern Baptist missionary.  Yogurt just needs a warm incubator to ferment for a few hours.  Crock pots work well because of the ceramic insulation that helps keep the yogurt at a relatively constant and warm temperature for 8+ hours.  After clicking around, I found that people use all kinds of crazy methods to incubate.  Oven pilot lights.  Heating pads.  Insulated beach coolers filled with warm water.  Then it occurred to me.  Rice cookers are essentially crock pots.  Everyone in Korea has a rice cooker.  Even if you don't eat rice.  They just come with the apartment.  Eureka~



The only problem with using a rice cooker is that the vessel for cooking is metal.  Metal gives inconsistent results to yogurt.  I've found that it can make the yogurt thinner and runnier.  To deal with this, I use a ceramic bowl and place it in the rice cooker.  It provides more insulation and makes deliciously thick yogurt each time.


I've already posted about making yogurt in a crock pot, and it's the same process though I've tweaked it here and there to make it more time and cost efficient.

Equipment and Ingredients
1 liter milk (any milk will work)
1/2 cup yogurt or 1 container (85 g) of Denmark Plain Yogurt

thermometer (I use a candy thermometer which goes up to 100°C that I bought at the bakery market in Bangsan Market near Euljiro/Jongno-3-ga for 3,500 won. You can also buy them online at the baking school.)
rice cooker
ceramic/glass bowl that fits inside your rice cooker (microwave safe)
blanket or thick towel

Heat your milk to 181°F (83°C).  I've done this by heating it in the rice cooker (2-3 hours), on the stove top (15-20 minutes) and in the microwave (under 10 minutes).  Microwaves target the water molecules in whatever it's heating so it has several advantages over other methods.  Obviously, it's faster.  It also doesn't leave the scummy residue on the pot that heating over the stove top does.  The only downside to microwaving is knowing exactly how long to microwave for.  With the other two methods, you can watch the thermometer.  With the microwave, you'll have to stop and check frequently.  Get to know your microwave and after the first few times, you'll know exactly how long to heat your milk.


Let the milk cool to 110°F (43°C).  You can wait 3-4 hours for this to happen or put your milk container into an ice bath to speed the process up.  Once it's at 110°F (43°C), it's time to "pitch" the yogurt.

Inoculate.  Take out about a cup of the warm milk.  Whisk in the yogurt into the cup of milk.  Then whisk the milk/yogurt mixture back into the milk.

Incubate.  Place the bowl of the inoculated milk into the rice cooker and cover the rice cooker up with a thick towel or blanket.  Wait 8+ hours.

Set the yogurt.  After eight hours, you should have yogurt.  To set it and stop the fermentation, put the yogurt in the refrigerator for another 8 hours.


Eat.  Cut up some fruit.  Drizzle on some honey.  Yom yom yom.


12 comments:

  1. Hi! Thanks for sharing this recipe; I've been looking for one!

    Just a quick question: Do you turn ON the rice cooker in the last step? Or do you just put the milk/yogurt culture in it, wrap it in a towel, and let it sit?

    Thanks!

    -Mica

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  2. I have a similar looking rice cooker, so I hope this helps! When it is plugged in, the rice cooker will maintain a pretty warm temp. (yellow light will be on) which is why it's so popular in Korea because then families can have rice all day long and not have it be dried out! Usually, when you're making RICE, you'd flip the switch down, (red light will turn on) and the rice cooker will get even hotter thus cooking the rice and steaming a lot. From what I know about homemade yogurt, you just want the lower temp (yellow light) to be maintained. Hope that helps!

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  3. omg it totally worked! thanks a lot! now i don't gotta buy no more sugary yogurts! also i can use it for my cooking curries and different thangs like tzatsiki sauce and thangs. thanks a lot !

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  4. i'm so excited to try this!!!! :) i've made yogurt in a crock pot before and that was my staple way, but came across your blog trying to see if others had attempted it with a rice cooker so i could make it for a friend while traveling and voila! thank you kindly.

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  5. I do not turn the rice cooker on and the warm setting isn't on either. The rice cooker already has pretty good insulation. You could try it with the warm setting on, but I don't even plug mine in. Hope this helps!

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  6. Thanks so much! I miss healthy yogurt so much. Can't wait to give this a try when I procure a thermometer!

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  7. I used warm setting for 2-3 hour but it spreaded milk, so I guess without turning on warm, we have to do it.

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  8. Anyone of you can share, if they have used warm setting of rice cooker?then to do steps for that

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  9. I never seen the type of cooker as shown. But years back then my house is using the cooker with only 1 button to cook and auto keep warm once rice is cooked unless u switch off the power source. Nowadays we're using the cooker which has a keep warm button, and we also have multi cooker which can bake, steam, cook etc using only 1 cooker. Any of those works. If u don't feel safe, can just put some water in the cooker before putting the bowl of yogurt into it.the water steam will provide better warming and the base of ceramic bowl helps to reduce the heat transferred to the yogurt directly. Even a slow cooker can be use but that requires temperature monitoring. When temperature dropped, you'll have to turn on your slow cooker to "low", and switch off when reach the optimum temperature.

    Hope this helps. I just drop by only and might not be able to reply to any question after this post. (Easiest is to feel your cooker after 30 minutes, and 1 hour to ensure that the keep warm function is running)

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  10. "Place the bowl of the inoculated milk into the rice cooker and cover the rice cooker up with a thick towel or blanket.  Wait 8+ hours."
    As the author using this method, it means that s/he is not using any electricity in this case.
    just put the yogurt in the cooker (unplugged.) And covered it up to maintain the warmth.
    I suggest (still) add some water of same temperature in the cooker so you have a more stable temperature / longer warming time.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Isly, thanks for commenting. You're correct. The rice cooker, especially the one I'm using, has insulation. The blanket or towel helps the rice cooker retain heat, but either way, there is no electricity used. You could use the warm setting on your rice cooker. Older rice cookers arbitrarily keep the warm setting while newer cookers keep the warm setting for however long you program the cooker for. Hope this helps :)

      Delete
  11. Hey, this may sounds stupid, but i'm a bit confused about "cover with towel" part. Do you mean cover the closed rice cooker's lid with towel, or cover with towel, then close the lid, or just cover with towel and not close the lid?

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