Grace Talusan's Bespoke Yogurt Recipe

Screen Shot 2019-08-04 at 3.33.08 PM.png

The following is a guest post by Grace Talusan, our guest on this week’s episode of The Immigrantly Podcast (formerly The Alien Chronicles), “I’m an American— whatever that means”. On the episode, we talk about Grace’s recently released her first book, a memoir called The Body Papers. If you’re interested in contextualizing Grace’s recipe, we highly recommend grabbing her book from your favorite local book store, checking out the audiobook narrated by Grace herself, and tuning into this week’s episode!

How to Make Yogurt in Medford

“The recipe for yogurt can be contained in a single sentence: add a spoonful of yogurt to scalded milk and leave it alone in a warm place until it thickens.”
— The Body Papers (Restless Books) by Grace Talusan

Four Augusts ago, I published the essay, How to Make Yogurt in Manila, and this became the first chapter of my memoir, The Body Papers.


I don’t live in Manila anymore, but I still make yogurt. My essay about yogurt is less recipe than story. After some trial and error, I have stuck with this recipe which reliably yields thick delicious yogurt every time. It is very particular and you may not have access to all the tools and ingredients so I’ve also included links to make a similar homemade yogurt.



Instant Pot with Yogurt Function Button

Clean Kitchen Towel




A tablespoon of your favorite yogurt

A half-gallon or gallon of fresh local whole milk

A half-cup to cup of Peak Dry Whole Milk Powder



1.     Pour the milk into the clean inner pot of the Instant Pot.

2.     Drape a clean kitchen towel or paper towel over the opening. Do not use the Instant Pot cover. This is not cooked under pressure.

3.     Press the “yogurt” button.

4.     Press the “adjust” button until you select “boil.”

5.     The Instant Pot will beep once the milk has reached the proper heat.

6.     Cool the milk after boiling to 115 degrees. If you are in a hurry, remove the inner pot and plunge the bottom of the pot (be very careful not to splash any water into the boiled milk) into a bowl of ice and water. If you have more time, set the pot onto the counter to cool for about 20-30 minutes. I don’t use a thermometer anymore. I plunge a clean finger into the milk and if I can hold my finger there comfortably, it’s cool enough.

7.     Return the inner pot to the Instant Pot. 

8.     Sprinkle a half cup to a cup (depending on how thick you want your yogurt and whether you’ve made a half gallon or a gallon) of the milk powder over the warm milk. Stir well. I used to remove the milk skin and whisk the powder in carefully. Poking the skin and stirring the powder with a spoon works just as well and I really don’t notice a difference in the final product.

9.     Take a tablespoon of your favorite yogurt and stir it into the milk mixture.

10.    Cover with a kitchen towel or paper towel.

11.     Press the “yogurt” button on the Instant Pot and the “adjust” button until you see a number, I usually choose the 8 hour mode, but 6 hours is fine, too. I make yogurt at night so that the yogurt is like a gift in the morning.

12.     Once the yogurt process is done, I move it into covered glass containers and put it in the refrigerator for several hours. You can eat it warm, right out of the pot, but I prefer it cold. I believe the yogurt is good for about a week in the refrigerator, but ours never lasts long enough to spoil.

a photo of Grace’s yogurt in its (almost) final form (before toppings!)

a photo of Grace’s yogurt in its (almost) final form (before toppings!)


You can eat it plain or sprinkled with some granola or cereal. I took to making homemade granola (I like the Cook’s Illustrated recipe) because it was much cheaper than buying and it made my apartment smell sweet and warm. I also like cubes of Alphonso mango with coconut sugar, as well as frozen tiny blueberries (I recommend Wyman’s Wild Blueberries) with walnuts and flax powder.  

Here is an Instant Pot version from Cheryl Sternman Rule who literally wrote the book on yogurt, Yogurt Culture. Rule also has this excellent video on how to make yogurt without the Instant Pot. 

Be sure to check out Grace’s episode, coming out this Tuesday!