I have nice, live yogurt for starter. I can't get my yogurt to set up! It stays runny! I think I might be having problems keeping it at a consistent temperature? I have a drafty apartment. Any suggestions? Please thank you?
- categoryNutrition Good Eatingtagged by System, 2/25/12
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yogurt frustrationpost #1 of 122/25/12 at 5:12amThread Starterpost #2 of 122/25/12 at 6:21am
I've only made it a couple of times and it was more liquid that the stuff we usually buy. I was thinking next time I might end up straining it if we want something thicker.
What are you making it in? We have a very low tech, pyrex bowl of milk and starter, sat on a hot water bottle and wrapped in a fleace blanket.post #3 of 122/26/12 at 8:14amThread Starter
I make it in a sterilized glass jar, set near the heater. I've also tried making it in the oven, pre-warmed and then turned off.
I think part of the problem is that I need to keep the temperature more constant, which is tricky considering it's so drafty, and my oven doesn't have good insulation. (This is a rental apartment, and we're only here until the school year ends, so we're kind of stuck working with what we've got for now.)post #4 of 122/27/12 at 7:06am
I have a drafty house, so I know your pain. If you have a large thermos, that may work, instead of a jar. Another draft-free place someone suggested to me is inside a cooler, perhaps with a hot water bottle or two.
In summer, I make my yoghurt in a heavy enamel cast iron Dutch oven, wrapped in 2 or 3 thick beach towels and set out on the benchtop. In winter, I have to put it in the oven to protect it from drafts.post #5 of 122/27/12 at 8:31am
I learned to do it in a 2 qt glass bowl, sitting on a heating pad set to low, wrapped in a towel up on top of the fridge (where it wouldn't be disturbed). Leave it for 24 hours, then chill it completely before stirring.
I've also done it in a crockpot full of water set on "warm" ("low" is too hot, it has to be "warm", which not all crockpots have). Fill a quart mason jar, place it in the cold water, set it to warm and leave the lid off. Come back in 24 hours. Chill before stirring.
I've heard of (but never done it) warming your milk, putting it in a jar, wrapped in a towel in a cooler with jars of boiling water surrounding it. Lid on, walk away.
Once you get the temperature controlled, there are other ways of getting it thicker. Adding powdered milk to your liquid, using half & half (my preference), fermenting longer (24 hours is pretty much max though, but many people say only to do it 8 hours), and then straining after the fact. I've also done one jar of half & half and one jar of heavy cream, and then after they're cold you can stir them together. Don't mix them beforehand, because the cream gets a thick skin on top that won't ever stir in, but once you scoop that off (spread it on your scone/muffin/toast), you can stir them together and they make a super rich thick yogurt.post #6 of 122/27/12 at 8:42am
Have you been leaving the oven light on in the oven? The lightbulb in mine puts out just the right amount of heat to keep my yogurt at a happy temperature.
I've also had good luck putting the jars in a cooler full of appropriate temperature water with a sleeping bag thrown over the whole thing.post #7 of 122/28/12 at 7:07am
I let mine set in an insulated bag with hot rice bags or hot water bottles.
Most commercial yogurts have added thickeners, so yours will be thinner. Once in a while I strain mine through a colander lined with a thin kitchen towel or coffee filter. Make sure to save the whey; it's great for baking.post #8 of 122/28/12 at 2:23pm
Consider adding 1/3c nonfat milk powder to 1qt milk when you do the first heat-up of milk; this will make it thicker.
From my experience, if it's too liquidy, the starter is either too old or got too hot (and was killed).
I always let the yogurt set in an oven which I would heat at 200 degrees F for 2 minutes at a time. I kept a candy thermometer in one of my yogurt containers so I could check the temp. Anytime it got to 100, I turned the oven to 200F for another 2 minutes.post #9 of 122/28/12 at 4:15pm
This is the method I used to use before I got my dehydrator. It works really well. The other thing I learnt is that I was putting WAY too much starter in... I thought more would make it set better but the exact opposite is true. I cut right back to about 1 tbsp per quart of milk and it set up beautifully. Sometimes I will add cream or even powdered milk to the milk and that makes a creamier, thicker yoghurt. The WORST thing you can do is add too much starter.... it always ends up runny if you do.post #10 of 122/28/12 at 5:04pm
If you're using raw milk you trust, you can just heat to 110-120, and add the culture. It will be thinner though.
If you want it thicker, heat to 170 or 175. After it gets above that, you will probably notice a difference in the bubbles as you stir or wisk it. Above that temperature, the proteins change, and you will wind up with a thicker yogurt. I've forgotten it a few times, and came back to it over 200. Don't worry, it'll still turn out.
Once it cools below 120, add your culture (1Tbsp per Qt). Put in mason jars/lids. Put the mason jars in a cooler. Fill with hot tap water (around 120 or so) up to near the lid. Close the cooler lid and leave it alone for 10 hours. Refrigerate. It's done. You can experiment with longer cook times for different flavor.
Edited by tony - 2/28/12 at 6:25pmpost #11 of 122/28/12 at 5:55pmThread StarterQuote:Originally Posted by Melzip
This is the method I used to use before I got my dehydrator. It works really well. The other thing I learnt is that I was putting WAY too much starter in... I thought more would make it set better but the exact opposite is true. I cut right back to about 1 tbsp per quart of milk and it set up beautifully. Sometimes I will add cream or even powdered milk to the milk and that makes a creamier, thicker yoghurt. The WORST thing you can do is add too much starter.... it always ends up runny if you do.
Really? I wonder if that could be it? I think I've been using too much.post #12 of 123/2/12 at 10:22am
My yogurt is consistently really, really thick. Fantastically thick. Thick enough that I'm like "what's all this info out there about homemade yogurt being thinner than storebought?" Greek yogurt thick, without any straining.
My starter was a greek yogurt, but it was thickened with gelatin (cheaters!!!). That was about 5 generations ago so any remaining gelatin is certainly not responsible for my thickening. ;) The starter had 5 different cultures in it. I'm curious to know if all 5 are still going strong or if some of the species died off while others live on. I'd also be curious to know if the species has any impact on thickening qualities?
Anyway, here's my procedure.
I start with non-homogenized milk. I can't get raw here, but I can get non-homo. I do think this makes a difference, my results since switching to non-homo have definitely been thicker and more consistent. Before, when using regular whole milk, it was definitely runnier and I'd strain it to get it greek-thick (which is how I like it, though hubby and kids are fine with it being runnier).
I heat it on the stove to 180 degrees, then let it cool to 115. I add starter -- about 1/4 cup for 3 liters, which is a little more than the tablespoon-per-quart guideline I think, but not much more. This is mainly because the little jar I use to reserve the starter holds 1/4 cup. ;) I've had the same results when I used less.
While it's cooling I boil some water and pour it into 1-liter mason jars for quick disinfection. I also turn on my oven to lowest temp (170), then turn it off. When I've stirred in the starter, I dump out the water and put the warm yogurt mix into the hot jars. I then put all the jars into a big stock pot with a big towel -- the towel is inside the pot with the jars. So the jars are all wrapped and covered. I then put the pot into the warm oven with the light on.
I keep an eye on the oven temperature through the day. If it goes under 110, I'll turn it on briefly to get it up to 120. I have a convection oven with "true convection" -- the option of using an element in the rear rather than top and bottom. I would want to use the top element on a dry towel in there! If you don't have convection, you could take the pot out to reheat the oven then put it back. The towel keeps it insulated enough while it's out.
In fact, there have been times that I had to take it out for over an hour because I needed my oven for other things... I set the pot by a heater, put a lid over the top, and hoped for the best. By the end, the pot felt quite cold, but when I opened up the towel and checked deep inside, it was still remarkably warm in there!!
Anyway, I leave it for 6-10 hours. Even checking it at 4 hours or so it seems quite thick!
I don't stir it at all, before or after cooling. If some whey separates out, I pour it off to use in baking. But it's usually very, very little whey that separates naturally. I might get 1/2 cup from the whole 3-liter batch. Sometimes it doesn't separate at all. It's still greek-thick.
I'd like to try the warming-blanket method sometime. It would be nice to not take up my oven all day once a week. :) But for now, this has been working phenomenally well. The yogurt is thick and delicious and creamy and magnificent. I was never a yogurt fan, I started doing this for the rest of the family who does love it. Now I love it too!!! :)
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