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I thought making yogurt was supposed to be easy

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I've bought 3 starter cultures and NONE Of them have worked, so it must be me. I started with the crockpot method and tried that, and it didn't work, so I tried the cooler method, thinking maybe my temps weren't staying consistent. That didn't work. So I bought a yogurt maker. I have TONS of fresh raw milk, and I want to use it for yogurt, as my kids LOVE it. Anyway, I tried it last night and its not working. I just started my second time through with this culture (it came with enough for starting it up twice), and I realized the milk had burned. I think I may have gotten the temperature upwards of 200. It happened before I had added the culture, and I cooled the culture anyway, but I'm wondering if that might be part of the problem. I'm so frustrated. I have spent way more money trying to make yogurt than I can ever imagine saving.

post #2 of 18

Hi there,  Don't forget some of the reason to make the yogurt is the superior content of the yogurt you make, not only the money...  I have been making homemade yogurt now for several months.  I too was unsure and unable to trust the crockpot/cooler methods and bought a yogurt maker that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.


So you think it is the starter?  I don't know what kind you use.  I bought a non dairy starter through mail order and use it with success.  I actually use double the amount recommended because although I did it in error one time, I liked the consistancy of the yogurt better and so double it every time now.  I also use my already made yogurt as the starter for the next batch (but only once).


Also, when I begin the yogurt process I only do that.  I wait until I can give the process my undivided attention and I do not stray from the milk on the stove.  I find if I can be patient and do only this one task I can actually stay on task and get it done properly.  I think once you mix it up you can end up just frustrated (which it sounds like you are). 


Why do you think it is the starter?  and what process/ milk/ starter are you using?



post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'm using a starter I bought from Cultures For Health, the Bulgarian starter. I'm not sure its the starter. Do you know if the temperature of the milk prior to cooling to 110 can make a difference? What if its slightly colder than that when you put the starter into it? I have a yogurt maker, but I'm not sure its working properly either--I have yet to get a reading of 110--they are close, but not quite that high. Like 108, 106, etc. Thanks for your reply!

post #4 of 18

As far as I know this is the process (and it works for me). 


You heat the milk to 180 degrees to 'pasturize' it and then let it cool to room temp, 75ish degrees.  I do this by submerging the hot pot of milk into a bowl of ice.  (so it cools quickly). 


I add the starter to about half a cup of the cooled milk and stir.  Then I add another cup or so of milk and mix well and then I add the rest of the milk, stirring well.


Then I take the milk and starter mix and put it in the yogurt maker.  My recipe calls for 100 to 110 degrees for however many hours you need.  I know a lot of recipes call for 12 hours, some less.  In all of these recipes though, lactose remains in the yogurt because it takes 24 hours for the starter to 'eat' all of the lactose.  I make my yogurt for 24 hours (no less) because I am lactose intolerant and if I go any less the yogurt doesn't sit well with me.


I would keep trying to get it right... homemade yogurt is sooooo much better than store bought.

post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

Do any of you make it with goat milk?

post #6 of 18

I've had success with yogurt by doing the following:

Heat milk (about a half gallon) over stove top to 180 degrees

take off heat and let cool to 110ish

add 6-8oz of yogurt (either storebought or some from my last batch)

whisk to mix well

pour into glass container

put glass container in insulated cooler with several inches of hot water in the bottom of the cooler.

keep a thermometer in the cooler and try to keep it in the 90's

let yogurt set in cooler for 6 hours


strain with cheesecloth for an hour or 2 if you like it thicker


I found at a cooking store a thermometer meant for roasting meat that you can set the max temp and min temp and a beeper goes off.  Before that I would frequently not get the perfect temp.

post #7 of 18

YES!  I make my yogurt with goat milk. 

post #8 of 18

What is it that is wrong with the result you are getting?  I've accidentally boiled the milk and still had no trouble, so I doubt that is your issue.


I'd try a different starter.  I just use some yogurt from the store.

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Ravenlunatic View Post

YES!  I make my yogurt with goat milk. 

Does it taste similar to cow milk yogurt? I'm actually struggling with all my cultures in goat milk. And the problem with my results varies, but the yogurt I made separated into curds and whey and tasted rancid. AWFUL. NOTHING like yogurt. I almost hurled. My kefir never actually cultures with the grains (or I assume it hasn't--it doesn't thicken at all and it doesn't smell like the kefir I make when I make it in cow milk). I made buttermilk but was afraid to try it, after all the problems I'm having with the other stuff.


post #10 of 18

Hmmm.  I guess from all that you have said I would also guess it is a starter problem.  I mean my goat yogurt separates into curds & whey and I just mix it together (delicious!).  And the difference between the yogurt taste would be the same comparison I would make to the milk.  Goat milk doesn't really taste like cow milk, much more goaty.  The yogurt is tarter than 'regular' store bought yogurt.  There is no sweetener at all.  If I add a little bit of honey it is perfectly sweet. 


The rancid yogurt would put me off too. 


How are you testing the temperature of your yogurt through the process?  I stick a candy making thermometer in several of the jars an hour after starting, midway and after it is done.  I only do this every once in a while just to make sure I am at the right temp.  Could your maker be not cooking it and so it's like diary left on the counter all day (except kind of heated?).  That would be my only guess for the rancid yogurt. 



post #11 of 18
Hmm maybe try with some already made yogurt from the store as a starter?

I don't use a thermometer or a yogurt maker. My method: scald milk just to the steam point on the stove, rmove from heat. I pour it into a jar or ceramic bowl, let it cool a bit ( like hot to the wrist redface.gif ) mix in the last of the yogurt from the fridge, a quarter or less of the amount of milk. cover it and wrap in blankets or towels, sometimes sit on a hot pad that's hot but turned off. Then just leave it in a warm spot on the counter, or next to the stove if cooking. If it seems too cool when I walk by, I might do the hot pad thing again.

I recommend practicing in a coffee mug with whatever yogurt you're eating lately, just scald a little milk for morning tea or whatever and pour some in an extra mug, cover and keep it warm but leave alone and then peek at it the next day.

Good luck!
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'm actually struggling with all the cultures and my goat's milk. I bought some dehydrated kefir grains and have been trying to get them to culture for a week now, and they are still doing nothing. I am more than frustrated by all this. I can't afford to have goats if I can't use the milk. I cultured kefir from a powdered culture one time and it tasted fine (a little different than my cow's milk kefir, but I was expecting some difference). I am so over it. I have so much into these goats and we LOVE them and their milk, but I have too much milk to drink and we eat tons of kefir/yogurt/cheese.

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your responses, though! Sorry for the frustration!


post #14 of 18
Could it be something like the dish soap or water o something not related to the milk or culture?
post #15 of 18

You haven't treated your goats with antibiotics recently, have you?  Do you use bleach or any disinfectant in the wash water for milk pails, etc?

Are you sure your thermometer isn't off?  Anything over 117 will kill bacteria.

That's all I can think of for now.

post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Bantams View Post

You haven't treated your goats with antibiotics recently, have you?  Do you use bleach or any disinfectant in the wash water for milk pails, etc?

Are you sure your thermometer isn't off?  Anything over 117 will kill bacteria.

That's all I can think of for now.

I do, but its what was recommended to me by friends who make yogurt and stuff all the time. I'm really thorough with rinsing. And no abx at all, ever.


post #17 of 18

I just wanted to chime in and say that I had issues with the raw milk starter culture from CFH as well. I emailed them and explained my issue ( I was a veteran yogurt maker) and they shipped me out a new one. I got the greek yogurt starter but haven't used it yet as I read that it needs to be kept at a constant temp. and I don't have a maker, I usually just popped mine in the stove with the light on. So, I would just contact them and explain the issues that you are having. I also think you could do just as well using a starter from the store.

post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 

Well, I'm using what I have from the replacement culture to make yogurt with pasteurized cow milk from the store, and we'll see what I get. Maybe if I get that to go, I can try moving it over to the goat milk. But why won't the kefir culture? It cultured right up in the cow's milk. This is beyond frustrating!

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