Preview: This post is a guide to making Greek yogurt at home in response to reader questions. If you have a yogurt question, check here.
Since you clicked on this post, I’m assuming something didn’t go as you hoped or expected with your yogurt. BUMMER!
Hopefully, we can get to the bottom of the problem so that your next batch will be a delicious success.
If you don’t see your question here, send me an email for a personal answer to your question: paula at saladinajar.com
Although I’ve been making my own yogurt for over 10 years now, some of you have been doing the same much longer. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to chime in with your own experience, knowledge, or opinion.
8 Answers to Your Questions About Homemade Yogurt
The first three questions deal with the question: “Why did my yogurt fail?”.
Was your starter fresh enough?
This is crucial. At the beginning of my yogurt-making stage of life, the majority of my fails happened when I used a new starter–as in commercial yogurt from the grocery store. (By the way, you can use either regular unflavored yogurt or Greek yogurt.) I’m convinced it’s not always that fresh.
Did you keep your milk incubated at 100-110˚F? Consistently?
It’s extremely important to keep the temperature constant. I’m guessing this is the number one reason for yogurt fails.
If you are using a slow cooker, a heating pad, an electric roaster or some other creative device (see 6 Ways to Incubate Yogurt Without a Yogurt Maker to learn the different ways my readers do this), check your temperatures with a thermometer until you are certain you’ve got it right. If possible, test the environment, not the yogurt.
Was the milk disturbed in any way during the incubation process?
Yogurt bacteria are sensitive. They don’t seem to like anything coming into their space when they are busy multiplying. Completely understandable, don’t you think?
Avoid putting a thermometer or spoon in the milk. Do not stir. I give the bowl a gentle shake or tilt to check if the milk has set up. Once you stir it or pour it into a strainer, incubation is over.
If your yogurt has not set up after 8-10 hours, you could try adding more starter and putting it back in the oven. This works sometimes but not always. Worth a try.
Is it really necessary to heat the milk to 175-180 degrees since it has been pasteurized already?
If I could make yogurt without heating the milk before incubation, it would save time and I would be the first in line.
In response to a reader’s question, I tried two batches equal in every way except for the heating-then cooling process.
In the end, they both got thick but the milk heated to 180 degrees produced a thicker yogurt which is my ultimate goal. Looks like I will continue to heat just below boiling and then allow to cool back down below 120 degrees F.
You can read a more scientific explanation here.
I didn’t add dry milk solids or gelatin. Would it be thicker if I did?
Mine gets plenty thick without it. Early on in my yogurt adventure, I forgot to add dry milk a few times. I discovered I liked the texture better. It’s cleaner and smoother–not pasty. As for the gelatin, it’s not necessary.
If you want it thicker, try straining it.
Some people say I can’t make yogurt with non-fat milk. True?
No. Yogurt can be made successfully with non-fat, 1%, 2%, and whole milk. Some people even use powdered milk. I have never tried that myself.
Also, you can make yogurt with pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized milk. I’ve done it many times.
The texture is not what I was expecting after I strained my yogurt.
Is it grainy?
If so, my research suggests several possibilities: Did you accidentally let the milk boil? Did your yogurt have any additives? See this post about grainy yogurt for more on the subject.
A Note About Yogurt Texture
In the beginning, most of us have expectations based on what we buy at the grocery store. Many commercial products have additives we have become used to and are impossible to duplicate at home. And anyway, do we really want to?
If you make your own yogurt very much, you will soon be addicted to fresh, unadulterated and customizable yogurt.
One last thing–what’s up with the skin on top of my milk as it cools?
My best answer to this “problem” is to loosely cover the heated milk as it cools. It prolongs the cooling process a bit but requires no extra hands-on time. Personally, I don’t cover it. I just wait until the yogurt is cooled, then remove the skin quickly with a flat spatula before adding the starter.
If you haven’t seen my video about making Greek yogurt, you can check it out here.
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If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or email me: paula at saladinajar.com.
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