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.)
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.