How to Exponentially Increase your Probiotics and Make Them Last
Updated: Dec 28, 2020
by Katelyn Daugherty, M.S.
While I’m not a big fan of most dairy, especially low-fat and adulterated dairy, I do see a valuable place for fermented dairy in our human diet.
Traditional ferments, like yogurt, kefir, and skyr, provide optimal conditions for probiotics species to thrive AND to survive our gastrointestinal tract to confer a benefit for our intestines. Thus, when using probiotics, fermented dairy is an incredible functional food.
Probiotic capsules and tablets have a shelf-life because they are living organisms which die off over time. However, when put into an optimal environment, they can also proliferate and thrive beyond their labelled numbers. They simply need substrate (i.e. something to ferment) and fodder (i.e. something to feed on).
Lactose, a milk sugar, is an excellent fuel source for many species. As they proliferate, they digest the lactose and change its structure. (This is similar to the sugar that is used as fodder in brewing Kombucha. The final product has only digested sugars. re: Fermentation)
Making homemade yogurt using the Instant Pot is very simple! I won’t say foolproof because a number of things can go wrong. But, if you find success, you’ll be rewarded with very tasty, functional fermented dairy that keeps on giving! You can continue to use a bit of yogurt from the mother batch for many more.
What you’ll need:
2 Qts. Organic Half and Half or Heavy Cream + Whole Milk
Select 10 of the Biogaia Probiotic Tablets and crush into a fine powder. (This is the part that makes you feel a bit like a druggie). If you have a mortar and pestle, great. If not, I find that the bottom of a glass works just as well.
In a small dish, combine 2 tablespoons of starch or inulin and a small amount of half and half or cream. The idea is to mix this into a slurry. If you’ve used starch in baking before, you know that it is a thickener. Don’t skip this step or you’ll end up with weird clumpy yogurt.
Once you have a smooth slurry of starch and half and half, mix in the crushed probiotics.* [Note at this step, if you are using yogurt from a previous batch simply stir in 3-4 tablespoons instead of the probiotics. I’ve had success on 4-5 batches in a row. You’ll know when you need to start over with fresh tablets as the yogurt will not turn out]
Add the mixture with the rest of the half and half or heavy cream and milk into the large pot of the Instant Pot.
Press the ‘Yogurt’ Function, and set the time to 34:00. This function simply keeps the instant pot at a warm temperature, it doesn’t actually use pressure. You MAY be able to replicate this using a slow cooker, but I haven’t attempted it myself.
Leave it alone and wait. No need to stir or open the lid. This can introduce new bacteria into the batch and contaminate the yogurt before it is ready.
At the end of the cycle, you should have thick, yogurt-y goodness. It may have some uneven liquid and possibly some yellow spots. This is ok. If you have any black or green mold OR the yogurt tastes off … throw it out and start over.
Pour the yogurt into jars and allow to thicken up in the fridge. And thicken up it will. This yogurt can stand up on its own on a plate it’s so thiccck. THICK with three C's.
*You may use almost any probiotic strain that is most beneficial to YOU here. If you have been prescribed or suggested a certain strain, this is a great way to maximize the species and proliferate it from one base batch!
How to Enjoy:
The yogurt will keep for a week or more in the refrigerator. Remember to save a small amount to use as starter for the next batch (and to begin the next batch in advance, 34 hours is a while to wait!)
Consume the yogurt plain or sweeten and top as desired.
My go-to lately is a drizzle of raw honey + bee pollen + fresh berries.
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