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help troubleshooting yogurt

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I started making yogurt about 25 years ago, and took about 5 years off. During that time, they have ultra-pasteurized everything in the grocery store. I never used to have to strain to get good, thick yogurt, with plain old "organic" milk. Since I've started making yogurt again, since I won't buy ultra-pasteurized anything, I have found non-homogenized, low heat pasteurized, grass-fed milk that is affordable. And, it makes thin thin milky yogurt that I have to strain. I measured this last time, and I strained off 5 cups of whey, leaving 3 cups of barely thick yogurt. I'm not talking thick greek yogurt that I ended up with, but just almost as thick as what you can buy at the grocery store. I even bought a yogurt-maker, thinking my ancient heating pad might not be living up to maintaining heat anymore. The whey is fine, and we'll use it, however, I really don't need 5 cups of it every time I make yogurt, and I'm constantly trying to figure out something to do with it, because no one really likes it :( And, it makes the yogurt much more expensive.

So, I warm my starter yogurt to room temp or slightly warmer in the yogurt maker. I've been buying starter yogurt each time, since I can't seem to get a good thick batch of yogurt going to start with. Should I buy dried starter? Would that make a difference?
Then, I heat the milk to 180, cool in an ice-bath to 110. I have started using a thermometer, since I"m having so many issues. I mix a bit of the milk with my starter yogurt, then mix it all in together and put it in the yogurt maker. I've tried any time frame from 8-24 hours. Longer makes it very sour, but not substantially more thick.

Any ideas to help me? I'm close to throwing in the towel.

post #2 of 7

I've been doing some reading on this.  I think you should do some research on different cultures and choose one that is thick.  www.culturesforhealth.com has a lot of different cultures available.  Some of them can be used as a perpetual culture, but others you would have to purchase starter for each batch.  The other factor I've found in my research is fat content.  Higher fat content makes thicker yogurt.  You could consider adding some cream to your batch.


Best of luck!

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you!- yes, exactly the information I've been looking for. It's frustrating, because I used to buy "milk" and "yogurt" from the grocery store, and just go with it for months until we oopsie-d and ran out. I've googled the subject to death, but not seen the info at this link, so I'm going to buy me some and see what happens. So excited! Thank you again!

post #4 of 7

I also use low heat pasteurized organic milk. I understand that it's the closest to raw milk that is legal to buy in my area (and I know that it's nothing like raw milk). 


I make a fairly thick yogurt with it, following a similar process. The only difference that I can see is that I heat the milk slowly to 180F then let it cool, off the heat, to 110F. No ice bath. Then I add plain yogurt with live cultures, mix well, wrap it in thick towels and let it sit for about 12 hours. I use about 1 cup starter yogurt to 2 quarts of milk. 


I'm not sure why skipping the ice bath would make a difference, but since slowly heating seems to be important, maybe slowly cooling is too. 


Trying different cultures sounds promising. You can also add some dry skim milk powder to thicken it too. 


Good luck. 

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks Ollyoxenfree!  I hear you on the raw milk. Same here, not legal :(  I don't think I"ve tried without the ice bath...I've experimented with everything else, I think, by now. I'll try that. Thanks for the idea. I did order some villi culture from the link above, so I'm interested to see how that turns out also.

post #6 of 7

Almost all the "fresh" milk I can buy here is high temperature pasteurized, or there's UHT in boxes. However, I have been quite successful making nice thick yoghurt with plan whole powdered milk.


My recipe:


250 ml of hot water (98 C)

500 ml room temperature water

2 cups dried whole milk powder

1/4 cup to 1/3 cup starter


Makes 1 liter of yoghurt.


For starter, I usually use the last bit from a previous batch. Sometimes I can keep a strain going for several months. Other times it starts to get very strong tasting & I start again w/ some super-market yoghurt.

post #7 of 7

I have been pretty successful with making super creamy yogurt that is fairly thick.  I also never use ultra pasteurized, so I use low temp vat pasteurized or regular organic homogenized milk.  I actually bring my yogurt up higher than 180.  I carefully boil it for about 10 minutes (above simmer - below rolling) and then let it cool to below 120.  I have a yogurt machine but sometimes if I know I want to strain it for Greek yogurt, I transfer my innoculated milk to a clean pot and do the pilot light oven method.

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