5 Things You Should Not Do When Making Homemade Yogurt

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Sneak Preview: Read about these five common homemade yogurt problems and mistakes beginners often make.

an empty jar of yogurt

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Avoid common homemade yogurt problems and mistakes by learning from mine. I’ve made every one of these myself. I know that doesn’t make me the expert. However, homemade yogurt is addicting, so I continue to make it almost every week as I have for the past 10+ years.

I think of homemade yogurt as a team project in the same way a farmer works the ground, plants the seed, then prays for a good crop. You don’t have complete control. Your role is to set up the banquet hall correctly and provide the food.

When dinner is ready, the little yogurt bodies enter the dining hall to eat and procreate. If they’re not in the mood because they don’t like the temperature, the menu, or are too old for such foolishness, they will either croak or go to sleep.

The result? Milk.

When, not if, that happens, don’t let the disappointment discourage you. Nearly all yogurt makers have experienced it, including me.

This is not a comprehensive guide to making yogurt or a troubleshooting manual. Instead, I learned these lessons from over 13 years of experience with homemade yogurt problems.

If you’ve already run into trouble or need help with the details, be sure to check out the related information linked for your convenience at the end of this article or shoot me a question in the comments.

#1 

Don’t be overly anxious.

picture of frustrated child

Readers often report having sleepless nights in anticipation of a successful batch of yogurt. It’s understandable. 

I remember how exciting my first attempt was. However, it is unnecessary to wake up to check on your incubating yogurt like it was a sick child with a fever.

Resist checking the yogurt every 30 minutes to see if it’s “done” yet. Jostling or moving the bowl will most likely spoil the process.

After 5-6 hours, it is OK to shake the bowl ever so gently. Watch for a gelatin-like jiggle.

If a slight shake causes a splash (of the milk, not just the clear liquid sitting on top), apologize for interrupting. Excuse yourself for another hour or two while the yogurt bacteria continue to multiply.

Along the same line, NEVER STIR or disturb your incubating yogurt before it has set. Pouring it into a strainer or another container stops the incubation process. Again, you have no choice but to use it as is or try again with more “starter.”

#2

Don’t use slightly old milk.

Using slightly old milk to make yogurt is not a suitable way to salvage it. The fresher the milk, the better the taste. The finished yogurt will also last longer.

Typically, homemade yogurt will stay fresh in the fridge for at least two weeks. However, please note that if you plan to use your homemade yogurt to start another batch, it should not be older than 7-10 days for the best results.

#3

Don’t incubate yogurt in your oven right after using it for baking dinner.

yogurt incubating in an oven

Doing so can lead to the mass murder of yogurt microbes and the sudden cancellation of your yogurt project. You might be surprised how long it takes a 400˚F oven to cool down to 100˚F.

It might be safe to use the second oven if you have a double oven, depending on how well your oven is insulated.

By the way, if this happens, read this post about how to salvage a batch of unsuccessful yogurt.

#4

Don’t skip the heating process just because you are using pasteurized milk.

heating milk in the microwave
Yes, you can heat your milk in a microwave. No scorching. No stirring. No worries.

I don’t completely understand the chemistry. However, heating milk to 175-180˚F rearranges the proteins in a way that is beneficial to yogurt bacteria. Thus, the heating process is not primarily to kill bacteria in the milk, as some would suggest.

Skipping this step will result in thinner yogurt that is more suitable for drinking.

If you don’t want to heat your milk, try this cold-start process for making yogurt. It is much easier.

#5

Don’t eat every last drop of your precious homemade yogurt.

I know it’s hard to stop. But save a few tablespoons to use as a starter for your next batch. Do it before you add any flavoring or sweeteners. Then, hide it behind the broccoli so nobody will eat it.

Usually, you can make 3-4 batches before you start over with store-bought yogurt. However, traditional yogurt starters for sale online are re-usable for a much longer time.

Read more about yogurt starters for homemade yogurt here.

Are you looking to tweak your method of making Greek yogurt? Don’t miss my video showing one way to do it.

yogurt crash course signup

Bonus tip:

Can I freeze yogurt to use as a starter for my next batch?

Go right now and put about 1/4 cup of your (unflavored) freshest homemade yogurt in a small plastic container. It’s a good idea to place it in your freezer and save it for a rainy day.

saving your homemade yogurt to make next batch

Think of this frozen yogurt as an insurance starter for the day you forget and accidentally eat the last of your yogurt, go on vacation, or you need a break but don’t want to give up the idea forever.

comparison of yogurt made from fresh starter to yogurt made with frozen starter

I tried it several times and could not tell the difference between using my three-day-old homemade yogurt as a starter and homemade yogurt stored in the freezer for three months.

Admittedly, I have not done extensive testing to know how LONG one can keep it in the freezer. However, It should save at least three months, according to my experience. (Update: Throw it out after three months.)

If you have a cautionary tale gleaned from your own yogurt-making experience, I would love to hear about it.

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Read 5 Things You Should Not Do When Making Homemade Yogurt before you try it at home (or after if things didn't go right.)

If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! Paula


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250 Comments

  1. I seldom ever make a comment on a blog, but I had to today. I’ve made 2 batches of your yogurt recipe. Both have been perfect. I really think most of the success (other than your helpful hints) is don’t over think this. I put 2 quarts of skim milk in a bowl, microwaved 16 minutes. Used my handy dandy thermometer to watch it cool to 110-120 degrees. Stirred in some Greek gods plain nonfat yogurt. Took the chill out of my oven. Then wrapped my bowl in a beach towel with my thermometer in the milk and display on the counter. It went in the oven and I went to bed. Next morning (8″ish” hours later) it looked just like yours. I used the very fine cheesecloth (don’t have the awesome strainer YET) and strained it for a couple of hours. Added a touch of milk and whisked it well and it was PERFECT! I can’t believe I’ve been reading your blog for so long and just now attempted it. Don’t worry about it!!! Please people try it….it is SO much better than what you buy at the stores. I know at some point I’ll have a failure, but I have other failures in the kitchen and I know that happens. But this is so easy and the results are just unbelievable! I know I’m rambling and I could go on and on. Thank you so much for all your recipes, but especially this!

    1. Leah,
      I’m thrilled to hear about your yogurt successes. Hope your comments will encourage others to give it a try. pr

  2. Incubating yogurt in air laden with yeast spores from baking bread can cause your yogurt to at best not set, at worst, be slimy. Make sure to completely air out the house, exchanging for fresh, after bakingdeposit bread and before you incubate a fresh batch if yogurt.

  3. I agree with whomever said not to overthink it, but even the processes I’ve seen described with towels and thermometers are too much effort. I’ve been doing this for years, and truly, it’s way easy, just like the blog author says. I heat a half gallon of milk in the microwave for 17 or 18 minutes, set it on the counter with a lid on it (to keep out other bacteria) til it feels just warm to the touch, whisk in the leftover yogurt or powdered starter if my yogurt is too old to be a good starter (like a week old instead of just a few days), put it in my cold oven and turn on the light in the oven to keep it warm enough to culture the yogurt, and go to bed. I generally leave it for at least 12 hours or so to get a really good set on the yogurt. It’s really not picky about being left for too long so don’t sweat how long you leave it. Then I drain it. The length of time you drain it doesn’t really matter either – it just determines how thick your finished product is and whether you have yogurt or yogurt cheese (there are cookbooks that provide ideas about how to use the latter). The only caveat I would add to the list of ‘don’t do this’ is: DON’T FORGET YOU HAVE IT IN THE OVEN AND TURN ON THE OVEN TO PREHEAT FOR COOKING SOMETHING ELSE BEFORE YOU TAKE IT OUT. I did that once. Major yuck – killed the yogurt but good. So I put the lid to the bowl that the yogurt is in, on the stove right in front where I’ll see it every time I walk by as a reminder that the bowl is in the oven, so I don’t forget it’s in there!!

    1. Peggy,
      Thanks for the testimonial. I also forgot about some yogurt I was incubating in the oven and turned it on to preheat for baking something else. And you are right. Oh, what a mess! I like your reminder system. pr

  4. Quick question: Would you defrost the frozen yogurt starter before adding it to the lukewarm milk?

    1. Vani, I defrost it just enough to chip off a piece and dropped it into lukewarm milk. Whisk well. Some would disagree and make the whole process more complicated but it works for me.

  5. After making yogurt for the last year, I guess my added tidbit of information would be to never allow a tasting spoon or finger to re-dip into your yogurt or container as the saliva will breakdown your yogurt and get runny (think baby food jar dilemma here…)
    Other than that, this is the BEST greek yogurt ever!!!

    1. Good reminder, Jeanette.

    2. CommonSenseMom says:

      I don’t “double dip” but I seem to have that problem towards the end of the container anyway.

      1. yeah, with greek yogurt, even though I strain it very well, I usually have to pour out a couple tablspoons of collected whey from the top every day or so. Its just the way it is with homemade yogurt, no biggie and well worth it though.

  6. CommonSenseMom says:

    Is it OK to stir/disturb the yogurt while it is draining…to get more of the whey to the edges?

    1. CommonSense,
      Yes, it is fine to stir the yogurt while draining although you run the risk of losing a few more solids. Certain strainers seem to need help, so go ahead, but stir gently.

  7. CommonSenseMom says:

    I’m still in the hunt for the “perfect” strainer!

    I assume the point of your whisking step is to give the yogurt a more consistent, creamier texture. I haven’t tried that step yet because I was afraid it would begin to break down the yogurt’s structure and make it too runny. (I stir a serving right before eating.)

    1. CommonSense,

      Oh my, you simply must try whisking your drained yogurt. It is magical! Whisk drained yogurt that is as thick as ricotta cheese, then add small amount of milk and whisk again. It will give you a texture like sour cream depending on how much milk you add.

      1. CommonSenseMom says:

        Does the whisking help keep the whey from separating in the fridge?

  8. Piper@GotItCookIt says:

    What about ONE more? Don’t waste the whey??? I use it for the liquid in homemade bread, or as a smoothie liquid. I know… sounds kind of yucky, but it adds a yummy tang and some protein too!

  9. Great tips, especially number 5! Thank you for sharing these with us.

  10. great tips! another thing to keep in mind is that the yogurt incubation process may also get disturbed in some double ovens. from my experience, it has turned out better when the entire double oven is off for incubation, not trying to multi-task baking something else in the other oven & incubating yogurt in the other. the part of the double oven that is on still creates too much heat for incubation, at least in my oven.

  11. Getting motivated to do it…gotta take the plunge 🙂

  12. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) says:

    I make my yogurt all the time. I have never given a thought to freeze it and use it as starter. That is something I will keep in mind. I strain it with a fine sieve and freeze the whey to use in baking. Also, I drain off the whey for my smoothies.

  13. I just found your website, and I am so excited about trying to make yogurt. I am going to buy the stuff tonight. I was wondering if you could help me with flavoring. My kids love strawberry flavoring, without the strawberry bits, any suggestions on what to use?

    Thank you for your great Video!

    Sincerely, Amanda

    1. Amanda,

      Two ideas: use dry strawberry jello or make this and strain it or put it in the blender. . You could leave the balsamic vinegar out.

  14. Hello, thank you so much for sharing your yogurt making experience. I’ve started making my own yogurt and your method was what I relied upon. I do have one question: sometimes my yogurt seems to come out salty! I do use a store-bought yogurt as my starter but I always buy the same brand of milk and the same brand of starter, but sometimes the yogurt comes out fine (mild and milky) and sometimes it comes out salty. Could you possible tell me what I am doing to result in salty yogurt? Thank you so much!

    1. Sarinee,
      I have never encountered salty yogurt. I’m sorry but I have no idea what would cause it. Are you incubating every batch at the same temperature and for the same amount of time? Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

      1. Thank you for the reply! I live in Asia so maybe there is something in the milk here that is different from in the States. That’s the only reason I can think of. I incubate by sticking in the oven so I think the temp is the same and pretty steady. I love your site. Cheers! 🙂

        1. We just made a batch of yogurt this week and for the first time in years of making yogurt it came out salty and we are in Missouri. I thought it would make more sense if we were on the beach and the air was salty. We did everything the same as normal.

      2. To the people who mentioned they sometimes get “salty” yogurt rather than “milky” yogurt. The longer you ferment yogurt the more lactose is consumed(lactose is milk sugar) , if you leave it 24 hrs it should I have read that it should be lactose free and slightly sour tasting and higher in protein, I always make mine in the IP for 24 hrs, although it could be considered ready much sooner. So it’s all about timing to get it how you like it.

        1. Hi Carol,

          Thanks for writing. There are several other factors besides timing, but I’ve had other readers tell me about letting their yogurt incubate for 24 hours to reduce lactose. One would have to pay for a lab analysis to know for sure because we all use different milk, starter, and processes. However, if you like the taste and the yogurt suits your body better, kudos to you. That’s why we make yogurt ourselves, right? So we can have it just like we want it.

  15. Hi Paula,
    I have made a few batches of your yogurt and it turned out great. I used skim milk and had no problems. Then last week I got some Smart Balance milk…it was on sale and I had a coupon :)… I have tried it 3 times now with the Smart Balance milk…the first time it came out ok…not as great as the skim milk, but still good. The next two times it was terrible. The first one set up perfect…looked just like the regular set up…but when I went to strain it it all went through the strainer. I tried putting in more starter and re-incubating it, but it never set up again. The 2nd time it set up perfect again, and I did the straining again…I used new starter for this on and it started to go through the strainer a little. I added it very slowly to the strainer. Finally I just saw whey coming out and not milk, so I was happy that it was working. I got most of the whey out but it was still kind of runny looking on top. I went ahead and transferred it to another container and when I whipped it up, it went all runny again. Seriously soupy. Anyway, I went ahead and put it in the fridge overnight and this morning it is not as runny as it was last night, but not as thick as I l want it to be either. So, I’m just wondering if you have every tried the Smart Balance milk and if it has given you problems. Or maybe I overheated the milk…can that cause this issue (I got a new microwave also and I’m trying to find that perfect cook time still). Anyway, any suggestions would be great.
    Thanks,
    Judy

    1. Hi Judy,

      Frustrating. Right?

      I have never tried Smart Balance milk. However, we do have a Brahms here and whenever I use their skim milk, my yogurt never turns out right. I know they add solids to improve the taste but I don’t really understand why it doesn’t work.

      I wonder if any other readers have tried Smart Balance milk. If so, please share your experience.

      I have overheated milk before but it still came out fine. Maybe you should stick with the cheap, store-brand milk. 🙂

      Thanks for writing.

    2. That Smart Balance milk is “ultra pasteurized.” Although ultra-pasteurized milk sometimes works according to some reports on the web, it is to be avoided for making cultured products, because it usually doesn’t work. Another name for ultra-pasteurized is UHT (Ultra-high temperature).

  16. I made yogurt with smart balance milk and it turned out great. I boiled the milk – cooled and added culture. I heated the oven at 100 degree and kept it overnight. It came out great but I am not sure if it is ok to do this since the milk is pasteurized

  17. Im really sad that my yogurt didnt set. The recipe i read said to put in oven with oven light on. My oven doesnt have a light, so i looked for alternatives. ANother blogger said to set on top of Fridge. so thats what i did. 12 hours later, it was watery still 🙁 i put in the fridge to see if it will set, but i think that was a mistake. Any idea where i went wrong. I followed recipe to the T except for the light and also, i cut recipe in half. 1 qt milk, 1/4 yogurt, 1/2 powder milk. Can the yogurt be salvaged somehow? can I use the mixture for anything else?

    1. Elisa,
      So sorry your yogurt didn’t work. I can’t imagine setting the yogurt on top of the fridge unless there is a working heating vent blowing hot air on it. Even that is questionable. Check out this post for some other ideas.

      You can try making yogurt again with the same milk if it doesn’t smell off. You need to add new starter and find a way to incubate in an environment that keeps your yogurt between 100-105 degrees at all times.

      You really don’t need powdered milk unless you just want to. Also don’t need more than a teaspoon or two of starter for 1 quart of milk. That is a common misconception. But in the end, it’s whatever works for you. Keep trying.

      P.s. Did you heat the milk in the beginning to 175 f and then allow to cool down to 100-115? That is important if you like thick yogurt.

      1. Perfect!!! Thank you. I will definitely try this when i get home! I am VERY determined!!!!

  18. I froze the yogurt (in ice cube tray) for future use as a starter culture for my next batch. What is best way to defrost withiut damaging the live/active culture? Is microwaving okay?

    1. Len,
      I don’t recommend microwaving. I just put my frozen yogurt into the warm milk and it defrosts right quick. Or you could just let it sit out for about the same amount of time as it takes your milk to cool down after you heat it.

      1. Paula,
        Thanks for the quick response. What temperature is the milk, when you put the frozen yogurt in it? I worry that my milk temperature target of 110 F degrees will be negatively impacted, if I put the frozen yogurt into the milk at 110 degrees. Maybe I should put the frozen yogurt culture into the warm milk around 120 degrees, and the final temperature will fall around 110 degrees. Otherwise, should I be concerned that elevated temperature of 120 degrees will damage a portion of the culture? Today’s batch was made, as you mentioned….”just let it sit out” to defrost.

        1. Hi Len,
          I try to keep my yogurt at 100 degrees F so it would not bother me at all to add the frozen yogurt around 110. 120 is borderline but probably all right. Hope it turned out like you hoped.

  19. I have some homemade frozen yogurt, slightly sweetened. What would happen if I used that as a starter?

    1. Hi Nancy,
      That is a good question. I suppose it depends on how the ice cream was made. I’m guessing it wouldn’t be the best but let me know if you try it.

    2. I have used vanilla activia for making yogurt, and had no problem!

  20. Ok- I accidentally over heated my yogurt in the oven after it had incubated about four hours- but only up to 170 degrees, so I thought I would just add a little more starter yogurt into each jar when it cools to the right temp and double-incubate. Sounds good in theory, right? Will post on the result. Can’t bear to pitch a whole gallon of yourt!

    1. Update- double incubation successful! Great batch.

      Mishap on another batch- I forgot about it and it incubated 19 hours in an extinguished oven instead of 12! It smells yogurty and was still warm to the touch, so I am thinking all will be fine. Any impressions anyone? (I sterilized my jars, etc, so I am not really worried about contamination.)

  21. I just tried making homemade yogurt last week…..I heat the milk to between 160 and 180 and then let it cool to 110 and add my 1.5T yogurt and put it in the yogurt maker for 6 hours and let it chill in the fridge for 12. It is nice and thick but as soon as I stir it, it starts to go runny. Is there any way to avoid this besides straining or adding powdered milk? I don’t mind straining it, but then I have to make yogurt twice as often! Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Tamar,
      My directions, which include straining, are for Greek yogurt which is by definition, yogurt that has been strained of most of the whey. Yes, you would have to make it twice as often but for me, it’s twice as good (not so tart and more protein) so I just make twice as much yogurt to begin with. If you don’t want Greek yogurt, then take the nice and thick yogurt you referred to and chill it without stirring. The whey will settle out on top to some extent over time but you can pour it off or stir it back in as you prefer. I never add powdered milk because I decided I like the flavor and texture better without it.

      If you are used to commercially-made yogurt with added gelatin or other thickeners, homemade yogurt is a little different (and various batches may vary). But it won’t take you long to get used to the real thing made fresh in your own kitchen without additives if you are a true yogurt lover.

  22. Top tip… um… don’t walk away from the milk when you’re heating it? 😮

    I have a “do” rather than a “don’t”. It took me ages to work out how to flavour my yoghurt – fresh fruit made it curdle, and jam and honey seemed to be too thick – the texture broke up before they were fully stirred in. At last I found that if you spoon jam or honey on top of the finished chilled yoghurt and leave it overnight, the jam/honey will go runny and stir in very easily without breaking the texture! No idea why this works, maybe the culture does something, or maybe the jam just sucks up water from the yoghurt (sugar attracts water), but it’s great, and very tasty. The same thing happens with lemon curd.

    1. Hi,

      I walk away from mine all the time. Are you heating on the stove or in the microwave? I know that in my microwave, it takes exactly 17 minutes every time and will not boil over. Your advice is well taken if you are heating on top of the stove.

      Interesting observation about add-ins. I’m guessing you don’t strain your yogurt and then whip it as I do to make Greek yogurt. Adding fruit, honey or jam will not break the texture of Greek yogurt. Regular yogurt is more fragile so what you have discovered is a good tip for those who do not strain off the whey.

      Thanks so much for writing.

  23. I have been making yogurt using your directions for almost a year now and we love it. My question is – I usually save out some of my yogurt before sweetening it to use as a starter. Today I forgot to save some out before sweetening it. Can I still use the sweetened homemade yogurt as a starter or will this affect my next batch?

    1. Hi Cydney,

      I use my sweetened yogurt all the time as starter. It may depend on what you are using to sweeten and how much but it has never hurt mine. Since you only need to add a couple teaspoons to a half gallon of milk, you aren’t adding much sweet stuff.

  24. Hi. I make homemade yogurt all d time n im yet to have a failed batch *thank God* i use powdered milk n evarporated milk as fresh milk is hard to get where i live. For incubation i use a cooler with warm water. I check after 4 hours if its nt yet set i add more hot water to bring up d water temperature. It works for me all d time.

    1. So good to hear from you Miriam. I wonder if you could tell us the proportions of powdered milk to evaporated milk for others who might be in the same situation as you without easy access to fresh milk.

  25. I use 31/2 cups powdered milk, 7 cups water and 150ml evaporated milk. I mix them together then bring to almost a boil then cool to just warm b4 adding 4tbsp plain yogurt frm my previous batch. Then proceed as usual. Though d taste of this one is not as sour as d one i make with just d powdered milk which i actually prefer. N once it gets as sour as i want it i transfer it to d frigde immediately without stiring. I leave it till it gets really cold dat way its creamy n smooth. If i stir it too early it ends up being chalky with tiny lumps. Hope this would be of help to someone.

    1. Thank-you for telling us how you do it. Maybe it will give someone else an idea who would rather use powdered milk instead of fresh milk.

  26. I had a batch that came out too liquid. I think we didn’t have enough cultures. Is there a way to reheat the batch & add more cultures or are we doomed to use this batch for smoothies?

    Thanks! So glad I found this site. I’ve learned a lot of things that explained some of my trial & error incidences 🙂

    I’m going to have to try that powdered milk recipe & freezing the cultures. I’m really bad about eating it all, especially now that it’s strawberry season & I’ve been making preserves.

    1. Debra,
      You can try reheating the batch as long as the milk still smells good. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t according to all the comments I get. Would love to have some of those strawberries to eat in my yogurt. YUM!

  27. After waiting 9 hours I went to check my yogurt this morning (I incubate in a cooler with warm water) I found warm milk instead of yogurt. I have sucessfully made yogurt many times. After doing some research I found out I killed my starter because I added it before the milk was cooled to 110. I want to know if I can warm the milk back to 110 and add a new starter and try again with the same milk or if that would be harmful in some way.

    1. Tiffani,
      Many people try. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. If the milk doesn’t smell sour, I would try it.

  28. How do you strain the yogurt? I have cheesecloth. The directions say to strain for 6-8 hours, then refrigerate. I figure having a dairy product out in the open air (unrefridgerated) for 6-8 hours would contaminate it. It would seem that it would be safest to strain using a cheesecloth in a sealed container in a fridge, but I don’t have the necessary tools for this. Can someone make suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Hi Patrick,
      Check out my post about straining yogurt. It should answer most of your questions. There’s more than one way to do it.

      About the refrigeration issue: It is not unsafe to leave your freshly-made yogurt on the counter for a few more hours while it drains. The acidic composition of yogurt takes care of that. It will strain much faster before it is chilled–doesn’t take 6-8 hours unless you want it as thick as cream cheese. If you chill it first, it will indeed take that long–or even longer. I also don’t have room in my refrigerator to strain a gallon of yogurt which is what I make every week.

      1. Hi Paula, thanks for the help. I read through your article. I clicked on the link to the Bouillon strainer. I plan to purchase it. Amazon doesn’t mention the size of the strainer. Can you confirm that the strainer at the link you provided is the 2 quart strainer? My yogurt maker produces up to 2 quarts.

        Thanks again!

  29. Reuben Victor says:

    Is it ok to use the slimy yogurt as a starter?

    1. @ Rueben: In my experience, if you use slimy yogurt as a starter, and I have, your new batch be slimy. I always cool my newly made yogurt at least to room temperature and typically I refrigerate it before draining off some of the whey to thicken to Greek yogurt consistency. I don’t keep the slimy whey as I won’t use it!
      If I make a batch of yogurt that’s slimy, we still eat it, but I make my next batch of yogurt with fresh starter and am more diligent in sanitizing my jars, utensils, etc. to prevent making another slimy batch. I have never had a “bad” as in spoiled tasting yogurt, even if slimy. Hope my experience helps you!

  30. I’ve started making yogurt recently and I’m having some problems. Well, the first batch came out perfect even though I didn’t use a thermometer, but the second never set and there was a lot of whey. I was convinced it had added the starter when the milk was still too cold, but I’ve got the same result again after checking the temperature.

    I used the same milk and yogurt as a starter I did the first time, 1 liter per 1 tbsp yogurt. Any suggestion what the issue may be?

    1. Rebeca, When you say you may have “added the starter when the milk was still too cold,” does that mean you didn’t heat it to 180 first and then allow to cool down?
      A lot of whey can be caused by several things: too much starter (although that doesn’t sound like your problem), milk that is not so fresh, or incubating too long.

  31. Thanks for your reply, Paula.

    Oops, I actually meant to say “too hot”. I did heat the milk and then let it cool down, but as I didn’t have a thermometer I thought it hadn’t worked out because it was too hot. But my next batch using a thermometer didn’t come out well either, so I don’t know. I salvaged it by straining it and I got a super thick, delicious yogurt, so at least it didn’t go to waste.

    Anyway, a couple of failed batches won’t stop me, if it worked the first time, it’ll work again. Got some incubating now, I’m actually excited/nervous to see how it turns out!
    Thanks again!

    1. Hope it worked Rebeca!

  32. It did work that time! But the next was a failure again. I’m doing exactly the same every time, I’m clueless.

  33. I put my regular batch of milk and yoghurt culture under the light last night but I had unknowingly killed my yoghurt batch previously. As a result it did not setup at all. My question is can I add fresh yoghurt and repeat the process again or is there something to worry about regarding the milk being at 100 degrees for 10 hours already?

    Thank you, Gaz.

    1. Gaz,
      As long as it still smells OK you could try again but results are not guaranteed. Or you could refrigerate and use in smoothies. If the smell is questionable, throw it out.

  34. Thanks Paula I’ll try it tonight and let you know how it turns out.

    1. Worked out great Paula, tried it this morning and it was firm and tasted great!

  35. Will honey kill the good bacteria in homemade yogurt? I’m new to making it – kids love it homemade but they definitely want it sweetened. Some like fruit; some don’t!

    1. I don’t think so. But, I’m not a food scientist so can’t say for sure. I would avoid using honey-sweetened yogurt as a starter but that’s just my gut feeling. I’m with your kids. Gotta have it sweetened somehow.

    2. Only if you have much more honey than yoghurt in your batch.
      Honey is very dependent on concentration to kill bacteria.

      The sugar in the honey may feed unwanted bacteria, though I’m not sure about that.

  36. Eric_from_Ohio says:

    i’ve made yogurt on and off for years. the one wisdomy nugget i have to offer for beginners is, use a blender to combine the milk and starter*. i’m convinced that NOT using a blender (ie, stirring in the starter, shaking, etc) doesn’t evenly disperse that dollop of Dannon you drop into the milk, and as a result your bacterial friends don’t colonize the jar evenly and properly. just my theory. could be wrong. but the only times i made yogurt that didn’t turn out to my liking were when i didn’t have a blender handy.

    * in addition to the whole milk and starter, i add one oz of plain-jane supermarket powdered milk to each quart jar. makes it much thicker and creamier. my mom used to do this AND half a can of condensed Pet Milk. her yogurt was amazing.

    1. Hi Eric,
      We all seem to have different experiences with our yogurt. I have never used a blender to mix in my starter. My whisk works beautifully and I don’t have to wash a blender.

      When I first started making yogurt, I also added powdered milk to my yogurt. I no longer do that. Did not care for the taste or chalky texture. However, if you like it, keep doing it. That’s the beauty of making your own yogurt. You get to customize. Thanks so much for writing.

  37. How long does the yogurt last? And what is the best thing to store it in? I made mine last night and it is draining now 🙂

    1. Hi Betsy,
      My yogurt doesn’t hang around long so I’m not sure how long it will last but at least 2-3 weeks. I store my yogurt in glass jars (see my favorites here) but have also used plastic containers. Hope you love your yogurt.

  38. Paula, thank you for the tip about freezing your starter. I’m going to do that now with the batch I made today.

  39. I don’t have an Oven light. In summer I can wrap the yogurt in a blanket and it will set after 5 – 6 hours. Unfortunately in winter the weather is too cold to do this and get successful yogurt. In this case I have a big pan that can fit my container where I am making the yogurt and I fill this pan half way with water that is at about 120 degrees. Then I place my yogurt (with a lid on to avoid water dripping in from condensation) inside the pan with the warm water and then put a lid on the pan. I place the pan in an area that doesn’t have a draft and wrap that in a blanket. After about 1 1/2 hours I carefully lift out the yogurt without shaking it and change the water for new water that is at about 120 degrees to ensure the temperature is maintained. I continue to do this every 1 1/2 hours till it has thickened to the desired consistency. This seems a bit of work, but if you don’t have other tools, this one has never failed me. Perfect yogurt every time just very cautious when moving the yogurt as to not disturb the bacteria.

    1. Doing it in an Easiyo flask works too. Use it exactly as you would if you were using Easiyo yoghurt sachets, only use your heated & cooled milk with starter instead.

      1. Thanks for writing. Since I had never heard of that flask before, I looked it up. Sounds like a fancy thermos. I can imagine it works great for someone who likes the size. Unfortunately, if you are making Greek yogurt and intend to strain it, you won’t end up with much yogurt. I go through 1 and 1/2 gallon of milk every 5-6 days so it wouldn’t be for me but could be perfect for others.

  40. Help! My yogurt maker has a timer and I had a pregnancy brain moment and turned it on 1 hour! My yogurt cooled after 1 hour! I turned it back on but is it ruined?!

  41. Great post. I’m hooked on homemade yogurt too, but have always heated my milk on the stove, and of corse I scorch it or boil it over every once in a while. I’d like to try the microwave method. Can anyone who’s used a microwave post how many watts their microwave is along with how many minutes? Many thanks!

  42. hi, I’ve been making yogurt for a while and one thing I really can’t figure out is that my yogurt is never sour, even the incubate time is up to 24 hours. I have tried low fat milk, full cream milk and fresh milk, the results are similar. Please help

    1. CW,
      I am always trying to make mine less sour so you may be asking the wrong person. Normally, your yogurt will get more sour the longer you incubate it. Beyond that, it depends on your starter. Many people find that using their own homemade yogurt as starter will eventually make yogurt that gets a bit more sour with each batch. If that doesn’t work, I would look online for cultures that claim to make a more sour yogurt.

  43. Greetings – am just beginning my adventures in home made yogurt – first attempt failed, looked more like a brick of cheese – left it too long and the warmer warmed more (130) than it had during my test (105) using water in the crockpot. That aside, am going at it again. My question to you is this – heating the milk in the microwave? My kids are 20something, and have recently shared some research concerning the microwave. A student wanted to study the effects of microwave, used plain water & microwaved water to care for plants… The plants which received the microwaved water were much more stunted in growth than the regular water, all other factors were the same. Just enough info to make me stop and think before I use the microwave oven, I don’t know how you might feel about that. I will try your way this time, but will heat the milk the old fashioned way on the stove top with the candy thermometer.

    1. Hi Bonnie,
      Hope your second attempt at yogurt was successful.

      Re use of a microwave: we all have to decide who to believe since extremely few of us can do the actual scientific research on microwave cooking ourselves. You can read and support just about any opinion you want on the internet these days.

      Meanwhile, I have absolutely no qualms about using a microwave for myself, but if using one makes you uncomfortable, by all means don’t. I’m not here to change anybody’s mind–just sharing the fastest and most efficient method that works for me.

      Happy yogurt eating!

  44. Could the whey be used as yogurt starter? In all my googling before attempting to make yogurt, I read somewhere to put whey in ice trays and freeze to use as starter for yogurt. Now that I have successfully made yogurt and straining the whey off, I tried to find that blog again and can’t. Has anyone tried this?

    1. Yes, Dawn. I have made yogurt with whey. Works just fine. I have not tried freezing whey but you can make yogurt with frozen yogurt (not the dessert stuff) so I’m sure frozen whey would also work. Perhaps I will do a post about it. Thanks for the idea.

      1. Thanks Paula! I was thinking of how easy it would be to pour up the whey into ice trays and if that worked as a starter, it would be less messy I would think. Would you use the same amount of whey as you would yogurt as starter? When you use your yogurt starter frozen, do you put it in fridge to defrost overnight before hand? Cannot get over how much better homemade tastes! Don’t think I can enjoy store bought now!

  45. I just wanted to let everyone know that I have made excellent, super-thick yogurt with frozen starter that was 6 months old (I have used all milk down to 1%). I started with a just-purchased 32 oz. tub of Dannon all-natural plain yogurt and portioned it into ice cube trays (each cube in the tray held 2 tablespoons of the yogurt).
    After removing the 24 cubes from the trays I placed them into a ziploc freezer bag. Each week when I made yogurt I used one of the cubes and I let it defrost in a small bowl while my milk was heated and then cooled down to the proper temperature. I haven’t had one failure. One time I even left the bag of cubes out and they melted. I refroze it, and the starter still worked fine! For my next batch of starter cubes, I intend to freeze the yogurt in the preferred 1 tablespoon portion (for 8 cups of milk) and see if this amount works as well. Then I’ll be able to see if the cubes are viable for 1 year! I’m sure that you could do the same with homemade yogurt as starter.
    I have to add that I think the other most important thing for successful yogurt-making is always maintaining a constant 100-110 degree temperature while the yogurt is growing.

    1. Hi Mike,
      I like your efficient system for storing starter. Have you ever tried freezing the whey? (if you drain your yogurt, that is) Also makes a great starter.

  46. Hi there!
    I’m becoming quite a yogurt expert researching it for my job right now and I thought I could clarify the science behind point #4 (not sure if anyone already clarified this, I don’t really have time to read ALL the comments but I thought this could be useful to some anyway):

    Casein is the milk protein that gels to form yogurt, encapsulating whey in a “spongy” matrix. Casein floats around in milk in the form of globules, or micelles. In fresh milk, the suspended micelles bump into each other and bounce away, going off in different directions.

    When an acid is added to the milk, the interactions between the protein micelles are modified, and now instead of bouncing off each other, they stick together when they meet.

    Now here is the reason why you need to heat the milk and failing to do so results in sub-par yogurt:

    As the milk is heated, the microstructure of the protein micelles changes, they become bumpy. Micelles in unheated milk do not have these bumps.

    The bumps on the micelles make it so only a limited number of sites on its surface are available to interact with other micelles. This means that the micelles can only adhere to each other in branched chains.

    In unheated milk, there are no bumps to prevent adhesion, so ALL sites are available, and instead of forming a spongy matrix, the proteins form a curd. This means that less liquid can be trapped in the “pockets” of the matrix. Therefore, you will have runnier and grainier yogurt.

    Check out this link for technical details and diagrams: http://www.medicinalfoodnews.com/vol01/issue5/kalab.htm

    1. Thanks, very interesting info. Why my yogurt is not cottage cheese 🙂

    2. Shirley in NJ says:

      Wow, Renee! Thank you for that post! Very good information to have. I love understanding the science behind what makes things work.

  47. Hello,

    I use Dannon plain unflavored, unsugared yogurt as a starter. My problem is I’ve become lazy in freezing the yogurt for starter for lack of something decent to freeze it in. So I leave it in fridge. But it’s in there a week before the next batch gets made. Is it dangerous to do this? I mean to my health? Or is it just merely not as effective cultures. I don’t have any idea how old the yogurt is when I purchase either, but am wondering.

    Thank you,

    1. Donna,
      If your yogurt doesn’t smell bad or have weird things growing on it, it should be fine. However, the older it gets, the fewer live bacteria it has. And you are right. It’s hard to know for sure how fresh the yogurt you buy really is. That’s why I prefer to use my own yogurt.

      Have you thought of putting some yogurt for starter in an ice cube tray? Of just spoon a tablespoon or two into a little snack baggie and freeze.

  48. It seems the comments are geared towards making greek yogurt, but I was wondering if anybody here had some tips on making Piima yogurt? Since that is a thinner variety that I’ll be using in smoothies, do I need to worry about straining it?

  49. I reduced 2 gallons of milk and added some of my previous culture. Left the pot on the stove (off) over night and noticed the liquid congealed when shaken, but when i cut in with spoon the yogurt is almost like egg white slime consistency.. it taste great not as sour as i would like it.. does any one know if this still good or need more time to set or is this bad???

  50. Thank you for sharing your simple Greek Yogurt recipe. Over the past two years I have started eating about 4 cups (sometimes more) of Greek Yogurt a day. So when I found I could save some money by making it on my own I was excited. I was hesitant to make my own yogurt at first because it seemed so time consuming and I was mildly addicted to the FAGE 0% and feared I would never be able to replicate that texture or taste. However, once you get the hang of it it’s really not that tedious 😉 .
    I have made it every day for the past 7 days. After the first batch (using a half a gallon of milk) I quickly realized this was not enough for my insatiable Greek yogurt appetite. I now use 1 gallon of milk a day. Every attempt has set successfully (thanks to your clear instructions). I learned that I had to be patient and let the yogurt strain a long time to get to my desired thickness. Now that I have the “thickness” down, I do have one other question. How can I get my yogurt “mellower?” My very first batch, (made with the FAGE starter) was mild and I wanted it tarter. I read online that I could increase tartness by incubating it longer. I left the next batch in for probably 15 hours. It was tart. Very tart haha. Now, I am trying to reverse the tartness and mellow it down a bit. I have been trying to reduce the incubation time in the oven to mellow out the flavor but honestly, it’s still pretty tart. I then was wondering should I stop using my fresh yogurt starter and use the store bought starter to bring down the “tartness?”
    Since I am having such wonderful success at the incubation and “setting up” of my yogurt by using my nice fresh starter, I am hesitant to switch back to store bought starter unless you think it is necessary. Last question, I am straining my yogurt (un-refrigerated) for a long time to get it to the thickness I want (starting the straining process before I go to bed). DO you think that this length of time outside the refrigerator in the strainer is what is making my yogurt so tart? I figured out I can remove my yogurt from the oven in 4 hours (a pretty short incubation period but taking it out sooner will result in some milky whey byproduct). At 4 hours I will still have well set yogurt, but I really do like it creamy and thick (and I found I can only get it to that smooth creamy thick consistency by a long straining process). What do you suggest? shortening my straining processes or maybe refrigerating it while I strain? Or just try with new starter?

    1. Lorrie,
      I think you may have to start over with store-bought yogurt as a starter if you want milder yogurt. I also think your long straining time may contribute to the tartness. What are you using to strain it? Are you using cheesecloth or something similar? In my experience, that can really slow down the process. I just use a very fine mesh strainer and it only takes a couple hours to strain down to very thick and creamy product. Chilling while straining may reduce the tartness but it will also slow down the draining process. Besides that, who has room in their refrigerator for a big bowl and strainer?

  51. Ok….I’m a dummy. I heated and cooled my milk like I always do — strained it to get any lumps out, wrapped it in a towel, put it in the oven with the light on and went to bed. See anything I forgot? See it? ***facepalm***
    I forgot to add my starter. Ugh. Can I reheat the milk and add starter or is my milk a waste after sitting in the oven all night with no starter in it?
    Thanks!

  52. John Karagoulis says:

    I just tried making yogurt and not only did it not set, all I have is lukewarm milk. I’ve made yogurt many times before and it’s always worked out. My question is can I try reusing the milk for another batch of yogurt, or is it ruined now that I let it incubate 9.5 hours?

  53. Kylie Brewer says:

    So if you use the frozen yogurt as your starter, do you have to let it thaw out first, or can you just plop in the frozen stuff? Thanks for this yogurt series, it’s been very helpful! I stirred my first batch of yogurt too soon and it didn’t set right. this time around I’m doing great 🙂

  54. I had a mindlapse yesterday… After heating whole milk in a ceramic bowl for 2 minutes in the microwave (for coffee) I forgot about it, and left it over night… the milk this morning was congealed, and I smelled it… smelled sweet like heated milk would, so I tasted it… same… tastes like milk… and I stuck my finger in it and it was congealed like some yogurts… not creamy, more gelatin, but I haven’t whisked or strained it… did I make some form of accidental yogurt?

  55. Will Russell says:

    I usually strain at least part of my yogurt to make a thicker “yogurt cheese”. Could the whey that is drained off be frozen and used as a starter? I’m assuming it would have all the same bacteria in it that the yogurt itself does, but I don’t really want to waste a whole batch on experimentation if it does not work.

    1. Will, See this post. Although I have not tried freezing whey, one of my readers left a comment that she has tried it with success.

  56. Tip one:
    My oven is old and unreliable, so I don’t incubate my yogurt in the oven. Instead, I put my space heater in the bathroom and incubate in there for 12-15 hours; I turn the heater on and warm the room to 36c/98F before putting the yogurt in there, and am always sure to put my pot on a high shelf were the temperature is consistent.

    Tip Two:
    Living in Canada the temperature in the house is too cold to incubate on top of the fridge most of the year, but in the middle of the summer in a warmer climate I am sure one could incubate on counter or on top of the fridge.

    Tip Three:
    My dog has “allergy” issues with a lot of dog food, I cannot afford to feed her raw (she is a 130lb mastiff) so I add a cup or two of yogurt to her store bought food every day or two. Since I started this, her skin and ear yeast overgrowth have almost disappeared. Once I stopped giving it to her, and the problems returned within a week without yogurt, so I am convinced that the yogurt is helping. This is much cheaper and safer than treating an allergy problem with medication or feeding a giant dog a raw meat diet. Plus she LOVES the taste.

  57. San Bunna Svay says:

    I see other slide show how to make home yogurt is using Sour Cream mixing with Yogurt before mixing with milk.

    After I watched your slide show here, I made my own. The result is that my Yogurt is not likely freezing. So is it wrong with its processing?

  58. Hi, I am making yogurt with fresh cow’s milk. Since it tends to result in a runnier finished product, I added gelatin. This works great. My question is, can I use this thickened plain yogurt as a starter? My initial starter was an heirloom greek culture, that I am able to use indefinitely. Thank you.

  59. Miriam Freer says:

    when i use frozen fruit in my yogurt it comes out watery. im using a yougurt maker. Should i take out some of the liquid in the thawed fruit?

    1. I assume you mean you are adding frozen fruit to your finished yogurt. Right? And yes, you might want to let the fruit thaw and drain before you add it.

  60. Miriam freer says:

    No I add the heated thawed frozen fruit sweetening it’s sauce first, to the cooled milk with the yogurt starter (plain yogurt). Also, if I add more plain yogurt starter will it make the yogurt thicker?

    1. Hi Miriam,
      I don’t recommend adding fruit until after the yogurt is made. In my experience, adding more starter doesn’t make your yogurt thicker although it might set up faster. You might be interested to read this post.

  61. If you don’t want to do big batches of yogurt, or you don’t want to have your oven on all night. Heat your milk up, cool to the correct temperature, add the starter, then transfer to a thermos flask and loosely put the lid on. The flask will keep the temperature stable and warm for 12 hours.

  62. Hi Paula,
    I’m hoping you can help me. I have been making yogurt for about a year and a half now and it seems so hit and miss as to when it turns out, especially lately. I don’t understand the science behind it enough to trouble shoot, although I did just read all these comments in my desperation and they have helped. However, I still have the problem that tonight, for the second time in a row, my entire crock full of yogurt is runny at the time that it should be fairly firm with whey on top. I have just discovered your site but the method I am using is essentially the same in terms of heating and cooling. I have used a full gallon of homo milk, with about 1 cup of Activia yogurt (which was always our best starter). I brought the milk up to 180 degrees in the crock pot before letting it cool. To cool, I set it on the counter without a lid until it was between 115 and 120 degrees. At that point, I removed the skim off the top, added the 1 cup of starter, put the lid back on, wrapped it in a towel, and put it in a pre-heated oven for about 7 hrs. (The oven was preheated to 350 and then shut off and let the door stay open for a minute.) Usually, I can take it out at this point and it is quite firm. I usually put it in the fridge over night to finish but it is SO runny AGAIN. After reading your blog and comments, I am going to try and leave it in the oven over night with the light on. But can you trouble shoot this touchy process for me? ~Feeling discouraged.

    1. Hi Anna,
      I’ve been thinking about your process, but it’s not obvious to me where you might be going wrong, especially since you say this has worked for you before. You use way more starter than I do, but not sure that’s really the problem. I would never preheat my oven to 350 but perhaps your oven cools down enough with the door open. You might try leaving the oven on only for one minute and then shut off. It doesn’t need to be more than 100 or 105 degrees F. I have a feeling that somewhere in the process, the yogurt bacteria is getting killed off because the milk is too hot. If you don’t use a thermometer, you might give that a try until you get the process back on track.

      Meanwhile, I empathize with your discouragement. As one my readers says, “The yogurt gods can be fickle.”

      1. Thanks Paula. I ended up putting it back in the oven overnight and it turned out wonderful.
        I have learned two things from reading your blog and comments:
        1) I have been preheating the oven too much and using more starter than necessary. I now realize that the goal is about 100 degrees, kept as steady as possible.
        2) I have been too careful with my failed attempts. I have been so cautious in playing with bacterial culture that when it flopped I was pouring it down the drain. From now on if that happens, I will either put it back in the oven or re-purpose it, as long it does not smell off.
        Also, I would like to pass on another tip to your readers. I am very leery about using a microwave to heat the milk. I imagine we would loose a lot of nutrients in the process. If anyone else is concerned about this, a crock pot works just as well, and then your recipe can be followed the same. It takes about 3 hrs on high to reach 180 degrees in a crock pot. (Check with the thermometer.)
        Hope that helps!
        Thanks again for all the info Paula!

  63. So happy i found your blog! Been making yogurt for a couple weeks now. And haven’t been 100% happy with it! I think I’ve been adding too much of my starter! I was using a while 5 oz cup of yogurt! No wonder i tjought it was too tart! Will be trying your recipe next batch! Think I could use my last batch as starter? Or just buy fresh? Plus I loved reading you can freeze starter! Especially since I should be getting 10 batches our of 5 ounces!!

    1. Felicia,
      Yes, try using some of your homemade yogurt as starter. Also, experiment with different brands of milk. They can really turn out differently. There are so many variables when making yogurt. That’s why I never get tired of it.

  64. Hi.. I made yogurt last night. Around 1130pm.. Then I started to cool it down, I put the starter and everything. It was already a bit cold. Like lukewarm. So I just cover it wil the lid.. Then it was still on the table. (with lid) then I went to my bed and fall asleep. Haha. Now I’m awake, around 7am and saw my yogurt on the table. I checked it, it has thin consistency! Its not my first time to make yogurt tho I just forgot to incubate it. Lol. So yeah when I saw it I put it inside my cabinet with towel that I wrapped around. Bec that’s how I do it and its really possible to make yogurt with that. Anyway, it has been 7 hours I think that it was on the table only. Can I still incubate it?? Even though 7 hours have been passed?? I’m waiting for the result though. Kinda nervous !hahaha. Help mee 😉

    1. It’s probably too late to help you Tina. At any rate, you can try to re-incubate failed yogurt as long as you use new starter and the milk doesn’t smell bad. It might succeed if you’re doing everything right in regards to temperature and incubation and your starter is good.

  65. Cindy Estep says:

    I’d been making yogurt without fail for about two months. Milk 2%, lactose free. Yogurt starter has been homemade, lactose free. I am still using lactose free milk (heating to 180 in a crock pot, cooling to 100) but adding commercial greek yogurt (Fage) instead. The yogurt hasn’t set up at all, just milk. Very bottom of crock pot has lumps of yogurt(?). Any idea what I have been doing wrong? I generally add one or two tablespoons of starter for eight cups of milk (mixing before hand some of the warmed milk): using greek yogurt, should I be using less/more starter versus regular, non-greek yogourt. Thanks. me and my twin sister (who dearly loves my yogurt–hates all others) thank you.

    1. Cindy,
      First, let me preface this by telling you I don’t make yogurt in my crock pot because I always strain my yogurt, and other reasons I won’t go into here. It’s just too much trouble. So there could be something about using a crockpot that is the problem but I don’t recognize it but I don’t have much experience there.

      Sounds like you are using plenty of starter so I rather doubt that is the problem. I never mix my starter with warmed milk but I doubt if that is the problem unless your warmed milk is too hot. Regular yogurt vs Greek yogurt as a starter shouldn’t matter. Just make sure the yogurt is fresh as possible and does not have any additives.

      So I am stuck. Don’t know what to tell you. Did you just have one fail or has it been repeated? Everybody has a fail on occasion and the reason isn’t always obvious. I can only say to keep after it and you will have fewer and fewer fails.

  66. Cindy Estep says:

    Thanks for your reply.
    I had four months of success and then in February, failure. I *think* I identified the problem with the last batch as too old starter.
    Last night I made yogurt using fresh, not old, regular yogurt as a starter (Dannon plain) and regular milk (not lactose free), in a crock pot. And cooled more quickly than usual, in a sink of cold water and ice. Too cool actually and had to warm up the milk to 100/105. And this time I used a whisk to blend the starter into the milk. Incubated for around six hours.
    I checked the yogurt this morning and the yogurt appeared to have set, right now in the refrigerator firming up.
    Not sure what I did wrong with the previous three batches–I’m guessing milk was too warm/cool. I will definitely keep trying. Thanks again.

  67. Charity van Eyk says:

    I tried to make my own homemade yogurt but it didn’t not go well. I was following a recipe I found online for crockpot yogurt, and after I had completed all the steps and followed very carefully I was sad to find that my “yogurt” was still as runny as milk. I was thinking that I might have gotten the temp wrong. I was wondering if i would be able to try again using the same milk as I used before. I already put the starter in. Would it mess up the process to use if??

  68. Beccalynn says:

    I have been making yogurt for about a month and I love it!
    But today I made a few errors. Can you tell me if they are detrimental?
    I blended the finished batch of yogurt I had instead of wishing it. It turned liquidy. Can I still use this to make a new batch from?
    I also added the yogurt to the milk too soon! I was in a hurry and forgot to make sure it was down to 120 degrees. Is it a lost cause now? I’m thinking it is darn it.

    1. Hi Becca, (Sorry it took me so long to answer. I have been out of town visiting new grandbaby.)
      If your milk is higher than 120 degrees, you can be pretty sure the yogurt bacteria was killed. Cool it down, add more starter, and set to incubate.
      About the blending, it should be fine to eat even it thin. Maybe use in smoothies? However, I have not actually ever put my yogurt in a blender so not exactly sure what would happen. Did you then refrigerate it? What happened? Surely it thickened some. You should still be able to make a new batch from it.

  69. One thing I am careful to NOT do, when making my yogurt, is to use a metal utensil in contact with my yogurt- neither when spooning servings from the culture jar, or when stirring the growing yogurt. Metal can react with the bacilli and with the lactic acid in the yogurt and slow or weaken the culture. Just DON’T use metal.
    Using plastic is the best bet, as wooden utensils can harbour bacteria in the pores and render culture useless.
    A cheap plastic spoon saved from a Fr*sty purchase at the W*ndy’s joint,(really REALLY cleaned, of course), or a long handled spoon,(89 cents at W*llmart), is a best way to go, when stirring or serving from that lovely Mason jar full of one’s awesome, homemade yogurt!

    1. Hi Paj,
      Thank-you for writing. You’ve got some ideas I’ve never heard before. I will say I use metal utensils ALL the time with my yogurt and have never had an adverse reaction or result. Just my experience. But I totally agree with your assessment of homemade yogurt. Awesome!

  70. oh.. and additionally, to those who are having some issues with their yogurts; Have you tried doing cold-process yogurts?
    I seldom make heat-process yogurts any more, having discovered some of the Scandinavian cold-process yogurts.
    I use heavy creme, or Half&Half, quite often, especially when STARTING a new culture- gives the bacilli something more to work with. Then, after my culture is STRONG,(say, after 3 or 4 batches), I will move to whole milk.
    Cold process yogurts are as simple as saving the bottom 1/6 to 1/4 of the mason jar batch, pouring in the creme, and then stirring it GENTLY, to distribute the culture. Cover with a coffee filter, to allow air exchange while keeping fruit flies out, set it up on my fridge top,(constant temp, limited light exposure), check the next day…if it’s not thick enough yet, gently stir it again, then let it sit for another 12-24 hours. Warmer weather speeds the process, so just check it more often when it’s summer time 😉 I just make sure to never get yogurt on the coffee filter,(destroys the filtery properties and encourages bacteria on the filter), and, when I am ready to cap off the jar and refridgerate, I keep the filter between the metal jar lid and the glass/yogurt. That metal ring accommodates the filter just fine, and I use it instead of a rubber band to keep the filter on while the culture is growing.
    Funny- I buy my starter from a seller on ebay called Nick’s Natural Nook. Very helpful, good instructions, they carry many different kinds of starter, including a couple of heat-process ygurts, and a range of the lovely cold-process yogurts. My fave is Villii, which can produce an absolutely DECADENT creamy, non-bitter custardy yogurt which, when mixed lightly with fresh fruit preserves, is BETTER THAN ICE CREME!
    Give that a whirl. It’s SOOOO EASY!

  71. You don’t need a strainer or anything to make your yogurt thick or Greek like. You can just put a towel on top of the yogurt and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, when you go back the towel will be completely soaking wet and will have soaked up a lot of the water from the yogurt, making it thicker, you could repeat this multiple times until you reach the desired thickness.

  72. I went brain dead while making yogurt today and set the container in the refrigerator for 3 hours BEFORE incubating it. Then I took it out of the refrigerator and put it in the incubator. Is there any chance it it will set?

  73. I was frazzled with company in my house when I put up my yogurt this morning AND I FORGOT TO ADD THE CULTURE. Nine hours later it was creamy but not yogurt – can I just add the culture and leave overnight? The milk seems fine just a little thick after sitting all day. This culture always turns out great – so it was all my fault! HELP!!!

    1. This happened to me just this week. See this post for my answer.

  74. Thanks Paula – my milk didn’t looks so good after try #2 – will try again with new milk and fresh starter.

  75. Hello! I made some of my own yogurt but it didn’t stay warm enough overnight :/. Can I reheat it and try again? Can I eat it at all?

    Thanks!

  76. I started to make yogurt from whole pasteurized milk last night. I heated it up to 180 and then let it cool to about 120. I put it in the oven with a lid and the oven light on. I realized this morning (about 10 hours later) that I forgot to add my yogurt starter…so I just found warm milk instead of yogurt. Do I need to throw my milk out? Or can I add some yogurt starter and hope for the best?

    1. I’ve done this several times myself. You may be able to salvage it. See this post for complete details.

  77. Loel Poor says:

    By mistake my yogurt was in incubator with LIDS on for the whole 8 hours.
    Is it ruined?

    1. Loel, I think I missed something? Did you forget to turn the incubator on. Check out this post.

  78. Can see I’m a bit late getting on the DIY yoghurt band wagon here but I’ve been trying in vain to find a recipe for THINNER yoghurt – the drinkable kind. All I can find is tips on how to thicken it. My husband is European and has introduced me to the delicious, tart yoghurt that he grew up drinking. Unfortunately there is no such thing in Australia. Any suggestions for a drinkable consistency? At the moment we just mix natural yoghurt with water but it’s just not the same.

    1. Hi Emma, Sounds like you might be talking about Kefir. If you google it, you will find places that sell starter for this thin, drinkable yogurt. I tried it once and did not care for it so I’m not an expert. Good luck.

    2. reply to Emma
      If you want a drinkable consistency yogurt, it is the very easy part without adding a drop of water.

      When you make firm yogurt, I suppose it is inside a jar, all you need to do is shake it very well and it will be little liquid and drinkable consistency. If you leave it in the fridge for couple of days it will thicken little little more.
      If you don’t shake it well, it will have non smooth texture, you can use blinder if you prefer but it is not my preferable option as I’m trying to go back to the old fashion yogurt making.

  79. 4. Don’t skip the heating process just because the milk you are using has been pasteurized.

    Completely false. I use raw milk and I don’t want to loose its benefits in the heating process. So, I take the milk directly from the fridge, add a starter in my case Whey from previous batch, sugar and flavours from time to time. Put it in warm place for about 10 to 12 hours and I get a perfectly firm yogurt that I use to make Greek one. Eh voila. Even one time I took milk from the fridge without adding starter(forgot) put it in warm place for 10 hours, it thicken little bit like the buttermilk consistency. I did shake it very well then I added some whey and put it for another 5 hours and got perfectly firm yogurt little sour because has been longer in warm environment.

  80. 5. I know it’s hard to stop, but don’t eat every last drop of your precious homemade yogurt.

    Not a must. It does’t have to be yogurt. There is always Whey for the ones who make Greek Yogurt, even yogurt has Whey. In general we don’t use all of it, Instead of trashing the most healthy component of the milk, use it as a starter for the next batch.

  81. Not sure where am going wrong but cannot set yougurt through culture or overthe counter supermakrket yogurt.

    boiling it , cooling it to warm, adding culture /yougurt with active cultures 2/3 spoons, wraping in napkin and storing in wooden cabinets 24/36 hrs still no yougurt! Using a airtight glass bowl!

    Had not imagined it is so difficult !

  82. I think my starter has been contaminated by yeast. Do I need to throw it out or is there some way to save it?

    1. Hi Cris,
      I’m curious why you think it has been contaminated. Does it smell or look bad? If so, throw it out immediately. No reason to save it. New starter is as close as the local grocery.

      1. Hi, I have been making homemade yogurt for years, but I just tried making a gallon of it in my instant pot for the first time. I normally set my jar in a warm place for 24 hours because I’ve read that 24 hours is required to make sure there’s no lactose left. Well, after 24 hours in the instant pot, my yogurt smells like stinky feet. I have made kefir a few times and it reminds me of that. I strained the whey and made yogurt cheese, but I am a little concerned if it’s ok. It still has a strong smell. I would appreciate your thoughts.
        Thanks!
        Laura

        1. Hi Laura,
          My standard rule is to smell anything questionable first. If I don’t like the smell, it goes out. If the smell is OK, I’ll taste it. In your case, if I was you, I would probably toss it. I wonder if you might have inadvertently picked up some wild yeast. You can read more about it here.

  83. Mary Anderson says:

    Hi was reading thru the comments looking for an answer to my question it was not there so was wanting to ask how long can
    you use homemade yoghurt for bearing in mind spoon dipping occurs daily,but not mouthing of spoon. Someone tells me two weeks some say more some say less would like to know please thanks Mary

    1. Mary,
      Because there are several variables, it’s almost impossible to give an exact amount of time. Things like the temperature of your fridge and where you store it in your fridge, the freshness of the milk when you made it, how long it sits out when you take it out of the fridge, etc. can all affect the freshness. Two weeks is probably a good rule of thumb but it can definitely be good up to 3 weeks or even a few days more if all factors are in favor. Watch for mold and of course, if it smells bad, throw it out. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I threw out homemade yogurt because we go through the yumminess so fast.

  84. I have just made some yogurt for the first time. I am now waiting while it sets. My questions are:
    1. How long can it be kept in the frig. after made.
    2. When using it to help deal with yeast infections is the whey bad for you or does it help fight the bad bacteria ?

  85. Recently started making yogurt & got my process down to a science… Until I left milk cooling and fell asleep! It cooled to 75 after five hours. Normally I put the starter in at 100 after it cools for about 2/3 hours. I just put the starter in at 75 and turned on the yogurt maker (which should get it up to 100 and maintain temp… You think it will turn out ok? More importantly, do you think it’s safe to eat if it does? It was raw milk but I heated it to 200 before I set it out to cool. Advice much appreciated- thanks!

  86. HI all, I’m new to making yogurt. My first attempt was amazing. I took half of what I made an strained it for @8 hours. I spread that thing on everything. It was a dab of heaven on anything, Two weeks later I am running out of my ambrosia, oh no…what will I do? Well, I use my spreadable culture of life as my starter. 10 hr later 80% whey 20% smelly curd, soft smelly curd. No more ambrosia, WHAT DID I DO? Did I murder my culture. Should I be turning myself in to the yogurt police. If making mistakes and learning from them is a way to becoming great, then I’m on my way to greatness. I want my smear of heavily goodness back. Did I wait to long to use my yogurt? Was my oven too warm. Or did that little pill of probiotic I put in just to try and amp up the probiotic nature of the yogurt, create so much that it ate my milk and left me crap. Are the yogurt gods teaching me a lesson (keep it simple stupid). I will attempt one more time keeping it simple and see what happens. Who am i kidding I’m like an addict looking for that home made yogurt fix. I willAchive greatness…. WITH YOUR HELP. Thank you,

    1. Hi Tony,
      Not sure what went wrong since you didn’t give me many details, but I hope your next attempt was successful. I have never added probiotics to yogurt so can’t help you with that. I think your KISS idea might be best solution. paula

  87. Hello there ? has anyone tried making yogurt with breastmilk? I tried it and followed all the instructions as if making it wirh regular milk abd mine came out super runny. Definetly a little thicker but not yogurt think. Thank you

  88. Thanks Paula, this site has been very helpful! We have been making Greek-style yogurt from a grass-fed 2% milk (i.e. happy cows, we hope) with the smallest tub of live yogurt we can find at the supermarket for a starter. It always works.

    I found this thread helpful because I have been trying to freeze starter and have had a few fails doing so. Freezing the store-bought yogurt worked a couple of times but failed when it was about a month old. Maybe that’s the limit for freezing a store-bought yogurt?

    I’ve tried using fresh yogurt from the current batch to make the next batch and it became very sour after a couple of iterations.

    I have other comments and questions. Just wanted to get this out there…

  89. I still haven’t figured out a good cheap method for incubation. But I am very pleased with using my microwave for initial heating and even checking the temperature once finished. I have a 12-15 year old GE Profile Spacemaker that had a lot of bells and whistles that I never used. One of these was a temperature probe that plugs into the food from the wall of the microwave (turn off turntable first). And one of the settings on the button is “Simmer” which heats and then holds it to…. you guessed it– 180 degrees!! (No timing for me and whatever amount of milk or fat content is now moot!!)
    Then, when I was cooling down the milk using a candy thermometer to check for 110 degrees, I became frustrated because the milk felt cooler to the touch than what the candy thermometer said. Repeatedly. After rinsing with cool water and testing again. So I cautiously plugged in with the probe again in the microwave and it said “what temp do you want?” (Like WHAT?? LoL) I pushed 1..1..0 and then start! And guess what? I watched it go from 99 degrees up to 110 and beep and hold then and it only took a few seconds. So thrilled and hoping this gives others an idea to try!
    You are probably wondering why not incubate it that way. It will only hold one hour and the fan and lights are going… seems like a lot of power usage. However, if my other methods are getting too cool after a few hours, maybe I could try heating it up again. (Not sure if the yogurt bacteria would like up and down temp changes?? Also I know the microwave heats unevenly.)

  90. Hi , l have a yogurt maker that makes great yogurt but with my last batch l put the lids on the yogurt pots and then turned it on on for 10 hours (the lids should go on after the cooking process) is the yogurt safe to eat ? as it was quite hot when I took it out of yogurt maker, l hope she one can help with this.

  91. Hi Candice,
    I don’t know where to start to answer your post. Let me just say that drinking straight up whey would make me vomit, too. About the incubation time, you can read all kinds of suggestions about times to incubate online or from different books. If your yogurt is not set in 8 hours (mine sets in 4-5), then I would definitely re-evaluate your method. I’ve read that some people like to incubate for 24 hours for health purposes. I don’t understand or agree with that but each to his own. I would encourage you to find one set of instructions you like or that has worked for you and stick with that. Making yogurt is not an exact science, so there are many variations that will produce delicious yogurt, but I also think there are a lot of traditions surrounding various techniques for making yogurt that have no basis other that it’s what somebody said to do. It’s worth the trouble to keep trying and experimenting if you love yogurt. Eventually you will be able to do it in your sleep.Good luck and happy yogurt eating.

  92. I strain my yogurt with a regular coffee filter, using a rubber band to hold it onto a glass jar. I fill the coffee filter rubber banded onto the glass jar with my yogurt, put this contraption in the fridge before bed, in the morning, there is the greek yogurt waiting for me.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for sharing your idea. Good for people who only want to do one serving. Here is a description of the method I am currently using.

  93. Thank you, Paula, for this exceptional site and the great information. Thanks to all who have provided hints and their methods. I had always used store-bought yogurt because I never thought I’d succeed in making my own. Now for the past 8 months I have been making yummy yogurt. Rather than waste the whey, I invite my Middle Eastern friends to come over for a ‘feast’ (a cup of whey). It’s a treat in their country. I presume that is how their ancestors got their probiotics. For the straining process, I bought a $2.80 plastic basket (substitute for a colander) from the dollar store and I line it with cheesecloth and pour in the yoghurt to drain it. I place a container under it to catch the whey. N.b. my mother used to make yoghurt from powder milk when we lived in the Middle East (as fresh milk is not readily available there) and it always came out very nice. I live in Australia & we have A2 milk which I tried, but it did not work. All other types of milk work fine (except UHT milk). ☺

  94. Read about all the Ways to use Whey! Don’t Wheyst it!
    Make an incubator with an old night light (not LED) in a cooler!
    Pour your warm inoculated milk right back into the Gallon jug!
    Cut the top off a jug, leave the handle on. Drape a bandanna over, and pour the yogurt in.
    Let set a day in the fridge, then strain the whey away with no mess clean and pure.
    The bandana smells really good and fresh after rinsing it with water only.
    Use probiotics from the health food store as starter culture.
    I make “Courageous Yogurt” from L. Rhamnosis
    L. Rhamnosis is a key ingredient in $150 nootropic supplements that are all the rage in silicon valley.

  95. For straining my homemade yogurt I have used various ‘fabrics’ inside a colander or large fine-mesh seive, depending on the amount of milk used, e.g., 3 quarts, the sieve or 4 quarts, the larger colander. My very favorite ‘filter’ is (don’t be grossed out, they are totally sterile) large surgical sponges that are several layers of cheesecloth-like material. Close runner up is what I most often use: a large cotton ‘work hanky’ that has never been used for anything except a cheesecloth/filter for my yogurt. There’s an advantage to using the hanky: it’s so big that I can fold the four corners up onto the top of the cover over the unincubated milk so that when it’s incubated and set to drip/strai in the refrigerator it doesn’t drip onto the refrig shelf. When it’s drained to the point I want (think yogurt cheese), I lift the yogurt from the strainer pan by those ‘ears’ and simply turn it out into a large bowl then cover. I make large batches because well, why not? I use the whey most often to soak chicken or liver before cooking. It’s just so great for that. But I came onto this site to find out if I could use some whey as the starter rather than purchasing the Dannon I normally use for starter. BTW, I’ve tried several commercial ‘greek’ yogurts as starter and do not like them; they don’t perform nearly as well as the Dannon. I’ve even opened high-quality probiotic capsules and disolved the contents gently in water and used as starter hoping for much larger variety of probiotics. Still prefer the Dannon for texture, but health-wise the probiotic caps are probably better. Next batch, I’ll save some whey for starter. Thanks for the info!

    1. Thanks for sharing your method, Noni. Always interesting to hear how others do it.

      Do you add anything to the whey when you marinade the chicken? Like salt? I might try that.

  96. Just adding a bit of my own findings.
    I’ve only just begun about a month ago with making homemade yogurt. Here is the methodsame I’ve used so far..and what has worked, and what hasn’t.
    2% milk, brought to just before a boil. Cooled to “comfortable finger” test. Then put in containers with store brand yogurt (flavored) and left to incubate. 1st time, left on counter, wrapped in towels. This worked, but found I got a better result sitting the wrapped containers outside during the day when temps are in the 90s.
    Whole milk, cooked to 180° using a candy thermometer. Then Cooled to 115° in ice bath in sink. This happens quick..so, careful to not allow it to drop any lower. While I’m cooking and cooling, I turn my oven on 400°, then turn it off just before I mix my milk and starter. After its all mixed, I put into containers, place lids, then sit them in either my glass baking dish, or my large iron skillet, and wrap in a towel, or 2. I then place the entire setup in the oven..no lights on. I leave it untouched for 5-6 hours. It is finished to my preference at that point, but if tangier is preffered…can stay longer and still holds the heat. I strain with cheesecloth to my desired thickness.
    Now, what hasn’t worked for me is using whey as my starter…nor has freezing my starter been successful.

    1. Thanks for writing, Crystal. It’s always interesting to hear how other people do it since we all have different kitchens, different sources for milk, starter, etc, and different preferences regarding the taste and texture of our yogurt. Happy yogurt-eating. Paula

  97. hi! I’m using the crockpot method with widely varying results…I’m tracking like a scientist! Question; In the “get the milk to temp” phase, is there any benefit or downside to stirring it along? Or let it be still? Kind thanks! Karen

    1. Hi Karen,

      I never stir mine. But then, I do it in a microwave. No benefit to stirring that I can think of other than perhaps it speeds it up a bit. Not sure.

      How long does it take you to make yogurt with a slow cooker? Seems like it would take a very long time for it to heat up and even longer to cool down. Also, how do you keep the heat below 110 while incubating? Most of them are hotter than that just to keep things warm. Interesting…

    2. Hi Karen,
      I never stir mine. But then, I do it in a microwave. No benefit to stirring that I can think of other than perhaps it speeds it up a bit. Not sure.

      How long does it take you to make yogurt with a slow cooker? Seems like it would take a very long time for it to heat up and even longer to cool down. Also, how do you keep the heat below 110 while incubating? Most of them are much hotter than that just to keep things warm. Interesting…

      1. New to yogurt making (I’ll be checking my first batch as soon as I’m done here :D!). I’m also using my crockpot. The recipe I’m following says to heat for 2.5 hours on low (to get to the 180F they recommend, though the author states that you can probably lessen that time depending on your CP). Then unplug and cool for 3 hours to reach the safe zone 110F-115F for adding the starter. Stir in the starter, then wrap the CP with a few large towels and incubate overnight 8-12 hours. Then cool in fridge to set, and there you go!

        1. Let me know how it turns out, Melissa. Seems like a drawn out process but if it works for you, FANTASTIC! I’ve never tried it with a slow cooker but maybe I should. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of which method works best for your own personal schedule.

  98. The Cuisinart yogurt maker is awesome. Add powdered buttermilk culture. Scrumptious! (I use Saco Pantry brand.) Seven Stars plain yogurt, plus a few tablespoons of tapioca for thickness. A capsule of my probiotic takes it to another level. I program the Cuisinart for 12 hours and then it automatically goes into chill mode. Keeps it chilled til I get it into the fridge. Sometimes that’s hours for me, while I’m at work. Super convenient.
    The Cuisinart manual does not call for heating the milk. But I find that heating it, then adding the butter milk powder and tapioca makes a big difference.
    I swear homemade yogurt is like a natural antidepressant. Like someone else noted, terrific for my dog, too.

    1. Hi Gigi,
      Thanks for sharing how you do it at your house. Have never tried the Cuisinart yogurt maker but glad to know it works great for you.

  99. MaryAnn Vawter says:

    I had some milk frozen and I thawed it out in the fridge, then made my yogurt and when I froze some of it it came out soured. I have no idea what caused that. Could you possibly explain why that happened.

    1. Most any yogurt will separate when it’s frozen. Did it actually taste bad or did it just appear to be clabbered like sour milk? I have never made yogurt with milk that has been frozen. Will have to try it just to see how it goes.

  100. I made my yogurt last night in my instant pot. Problem is, I fell asleep and it was in the pot after if finished for at least 2 hours before I refrigerated it. Is it still safe to consume it?

    1. Yes! Yogurt is quite acid so it can sit at room temperature for several hours. I hesitate to say a specific number, but if it still smells and tastes right, I would eat it. For me, that could be up to 10 hours but do whatever you are comfortable with.

    2. Colorado Gal says:

      I contacted Instant Pot manufacturer when I first got it to ask them just that. They told me not to worry about it as long as under normal (non-extreme heat) room temperature the worst that could happen is it gets a bit more sour. I’ve left it out overnight at between 60-75 degrees F for 8-10 hours or so without problems. You DO want to get the entire pot into the refrigerator and leave it undisturbed for at least five or six hours though, so that it sets nicely. I never worry in the winter time, but try harder to catch it and get it to the refrigerator if the house is really hot. In the latter case, it keeps incubating so you are more likely to get a sour finish after many hours. It is still safe, though if you preheated the milk using the Instant Pot settings.

  101. Thing #6 not to do: Don’t mess with the yogurt while it’s straining! First time I made yogurt, I got impatient with this part, and started pulling on the corners of the cheesecloth to see if I could get it to strain faster. Somehow the whole thing tipped over and I lost half of my yogurt into my kitchen sink! So sad. Thank you for your blog – it is super inspiring!

    1. Oh Angela! That is a great story. Thanks for sharing. I think we all get anxious the first time.

  102. I made homemade Greek yogurt and was wondering how long it will keep in the fridge?

    1. At least two weeks. Beyond that, I cannot say with certainty.

  103. Newbie question here, about what my results mean.
    I just made my first batch of homemade yogurt. I kinda messed up (I forgot the milk was on the stove and it got up to 220° F or so, but luckily was heating on such a low setting that it didn’t burn). I mixed in a mild-tasting yogurt starter when the milk reached about 115°, wrapped the jar in a towel and left it to sit for about 6 hours. (I meant to make 2 jars, but apparently I condensed the milk considerably!) Anyway, it turned out thicker and even less tart than the starter. I mean, it has none of the tartness I’ve come to expect from yogurt. So, because it isn’t tart, I’m wondering what that means about active cultures? Does the tartness of yogurt correlate to the amount of live bacteria in it? Thanks in advance for your reply.

    1. JC,
      Congratulations on your first batch. Tartness seems to have more to do with the time of incubation and the type of bacteria present in your starter. The longer you incubate, the more tart your yogurt will become. Some people will incubate as much as 24 hours I’ve heard. I like mild so I only incubate for about 5 hours. The next time you make yogurt and use starter from your previous batch, it will probably be different depending on how fresh your yogurt is at that point along with other factors. Another variable? Your milk. Non-fat will be more tart than whole milk.

      As you can see, there are several factors involved so the best strategy is to keep experimenting until you get exactly what you want. Happy yogurt-eating.

  104. Please what happens if you put your yoghurt in the milk before heating it up a little bit more?

    1. If the temperature goes over 120 degrees F, it will kill the bacteria that make yogurt. You can always add more yogurt when the temperature drops back to 110 degrees F.

  105. Re no 4
    I’m just too lazy to heat up milk, but I found that using UHT milk (Ultra pasteurized) gives me a thicker yoghurt – which I love because I prefer UHT milk anyway (shelf life, slightly sweeter, and all my local UHT milk is also low lactose).

    Only starting to make yoghurt, and in very small amounts. So far I’ve tried 3 different commercial natural yoghurts and two different milks. Falling for the naturalistic fallacy I started out with non-homogenized whole milk. It worked OK. Then I tried UHT whole milk. Worked ok. Then I did 3 different strains side by side with both UHT and non-UHT. The difference was clear, UHT wins on texture. The non-homogenized OTOH gets a pretty yellow layer of cream on top, but is too liquid for my taste.

    Now I’ll start experimenting with different fat contents…

    1. Isn’t it fun to experiment? When you throw a few traditions out the window and just start trying things, it’s amazing what you can come up with. I have also experimented with different fat contents. I’ll be anxious to hear what you come up with.

  106. Hi All,

    Just made my first batch and was wondering how long does it take to set as it looked a bit runny when transferring to the pots to set.

    TIA

    1. Hi Mijkol, By the time you read this, your yogurt should be set. I hope it turned out well for you. Your yogurt will always be runny like milk when you first add the starter. Is that what you had? There are several factors when it comes to how long it will take your yogurt to set. How warm is your incubation system? How tart do you want your yogurt? (The longer you incubate, the more tart your yogurt will be.) What are you using for starter?

      For reference, my yogurt usually takes 4-5 hours to set but yours may take 6 or 8 hours.

      1. Thanks Paula,

        Can this also be done using the powdered started as it says to use water – it’s a Greek style yogurt mix yet it’s made with Whole milk powder – just asking as a newbie – my other yogurt was too watery an sweet but I did use a Jalna BioDynamic Organic Whole Milk Yogurt as it was cheap at the time. Would it also benefit using a tub of Greek Yogurt with the powder?

        Thanks

        1. Mijkol,
          I prefer not to use powdered milk at all so can’t speak from first-hand experience. Your last question about using a tub of Greek Yogurt with the powder is unclear to me. Are you asking if it would be good to use it as a starter?

          1. Hi Paula,

            Yes would this combo be good as a starter – the powder is what they sell to use in yogurt makers here in Oz.

            The Product in question is “Hansells”

            Thanks

  107. Hi! I’ve made two batches of yogurt from your instructions and they have been perfect! I strain to make Greek Yogurt and it’s delicious.
    I used the whey strained from the first batch as my starter for the second and it came out amazing.
    For the second batch, I added some vanilla to the yogurt before straining. The yogurt tastes and smells fantastic, but so does the whey. My question is whether I can use the vanilla flavored whey for my next starter? I also used the original whey to make bread and it worked like a charm. Do you think the slight vanilla flavor will throw off anything?
    Thanks!
    Ginny

    1. Hi Ginny,
      It’s worth a try. I doubt if it will matter that much although I can’t say from personal experience. Glad to hear your yogurt turned out perfect! It’s so much fun, don’t you think?!

  108. shannon thornton says:

    Does anyone know why my homemade yogurt always gets thinner after I add honey, sugar or jam and stir it in?

  109. Susan Walker says:

    Hi, I’m new to yoghurt making having made only three batches and each one turned out different!
    I came here because I have read a couple of times that putting the fresh made yoghurt in the freezer helps to firm it and create a smooth texture. So far I have not been able to find out how long to leave it in the freezer. So, I am wondering if you can help to explain how it works and whether it is helpful and how long should it be left in there..

    Thanks in anticipation of more helpful info.

    1. Hi Susan,
      Welcome to the world of yogurt-making. My experience with putting yogurt in the freezer is that it has the opposite effect. It will separate and look rather curdled. It is still good for cooking or using as starter but I wouldn’t eat it straight up. If you want a firmer, smoother texture, make Greek yogurt. In other words, strain it. Read about my favorite way to do it here. Removing some of the whey will make it firmer. Then whisk the yogurt to make it smoother. Whisking will make it seem runnier but it will firm up when refrigerated.

  110. Kathryn M says:

    I have been making yogurt for years. Initially, I purchase a lot of freeze-dried starter, but I have rarely had to use it, as building off of a previous batch works so well.

    Just recently, we had no fresh yogurt to use for starter, so I pulled ot the freeze-dried packets, which are well past their “Best By” date. Yuck! Old milk, I figured, so I dumped the failed batch and milk, and bought a new gallon of milk. New milk and another pack of starter, but it still came ot bitter, not sour. I’m going to just do a few tests (mini batches) with several different packets before I toss them all, since I still have so many. But, to my surprise, it seems like the freeze-dried packets actually can go bad.

    1. Kathryn,

      Your experience does not surprise me. Just like yeast for bread, I would expect it to have an expiration date. Were these packets for “traditional” starter? If so, my experience is that the first batch is not the best (rather thin). But subsequent batches are good. Have you tried freezing a small packet of yogurt in the freezer? It works great as long as it’s not too old. It will also expire after a few months.

      1. Kathryn M says:

        I used the Yogourmet brand starter. I want to reiterate that it was well past the stamped “best by” date, and the brand has always worked in the past.

        I also read that the second batch would be better, so I did propagate it for an additional cycle and it was still gross tasting and smelling.

        I almost always have a small jar from the previous batch available for starter. This time around was just a rare case where the previous batch went bad before I made the next one (visible mold; and I know what happened that caused it).

        I think I’ll go ahead and freeze some every few months just as a backup.

  111. My yogurt sat out overnight before incubating it. Is it still ok?

    1. Hi Marilyn, Do you mean your milk sat out overnight? If it smells OK, I would go ahead and try making yogurt. What have you got to lose? If it smells off, throw it out. Thanks for writing.

  112. Been making yogurt for quite some time. I sous vide several dinners a week and was elated when I ran across a recipe for sous vide yogurt. I thought, “Of course! The perfect way to maintain that 114 degree mark for incubation.” Failed twice in a row. It ended up lumpy and too thin to strain the whey from my greek yogurt with a cheese cloth. Everything passed right through. I’m back to the “old school” in a warm oven and a prayer. Any thoughts?

    1. Well Steve, I would love to try it myself. But based on what you told me, I would turn the temp back to 100-105 degrees. Can you do that? How long are you incubating? Did you heat the milk first and let it cool back down to 100-105 degrees? When you sous vide, what are you putting the milk in? Jars or sealed plastic bags?

  113. I’ve been making yogurt for several weeks now, at the direction of one of my doctors who said it will help with digestive issues. Every batch seems to come out different. My most recent batch smells and tastes like yogurt but it is very watery; almost like a smoothie or lassi type consistency. I refrigerated it over night hoping it would thicken up after cooling down. My question is, can I reheat the batch to 105 – 113 degrees and reinoculate with more starter and let it incubate again? Will this thicken everything or just ruin the batch? Thanks!

    1. Hi Andrew, Sorry about your most recent batch. You can try again if you like. You might want to read this post all about it. I would hesitate to reheat. Just let your thin yogurt come to room temperature, reinoculate, and set it in your incubator. It is VERY easy to overdo the reheating and end up with clabbered milk. Good luck!

  114. Big newbie at this type of stuff. I was hoping making yogurt would be similar to making sourdough. Why would you need to restart with new store-bought yogurt instead of continuing the process with the homemade?

    1. Hi Jessie,
      You can continue the process with your homemade yogurt. But in general, it’s not recommended that you do it more than 3-4 generations. Beyond that, you may get unpredictable results. You can read more about that here. If you use a freeze-dried starter, you can usually use that for months, maybe even years if you make yogurt almost every week.

      In general, I think making yogurt is a little bit fussier than sourdough. At least it requires more attention to your starter. But once you get the hang of it, it’s easy.

      Happy yogurt eating!

    2. @Paula, I just got some yogurt culture from a friend, who in turn received the ‘mother’ some 45 years ago frim a friend in Japan and has made yogurt with it weekly since then. I think with proper care, good quality milk and hygiene it can last indefinitely.

      1. Hi Rolf,
        You are so lucky to have a friend who can share a “mother” that has stood the test of 45 years. “Making it weekly” is usually the hardest part, at least for many Americans. Life seems to get in the way and before you know it, 3 weeks or even a month has passed since you’ve had a chance to make yogurt. I’ll be anxious to hear how you like it.

  115. Tasso Lambos says:

    I use my bread proofing setting on my oven for incubation of the yogurt.
    It has a range from 85-100 degrees.

    1. Hi Tasso,
      That’s what I do. Turn the oven all the way up to 100˚F. Works perfectly. Thanks for sharing.

  116. Hi Paula,
    Two questions.
    Last time I made yogurt the consistency was a bit slimy, the taste was fine, not very sour. since we used it for smoothies we just ate it. Why could this have been? The only difference was that this time I used Greek yogurt instead of normal natural yogurt.
    The second Q is, what is the reason of the “do not use metal spoons”? I forgot and I did it last night. Going to check the yogurt in a couple of hours…
    Thanks, Steph ?

    1. Hi Steph,

      So glad you wrote. I’ll start with the second question. I’m not sure where you heard the idea not to use metal spoons. I use them ALL the time. Also metal whisks. Maybe an old wives’ tale?

      About the slimy consistency: I wrote a whole post about slimy yogurt. Greek yogurt is the same as normal natural yogurt with a little or a lot less whey. That’s the only difference. You can use Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, or even whey, to make new yogurt. However, natural wild yeast can easily come into the picture and mess things up. No fault of yours. Go read that article. I think it will clear up some things for you. It will also tell you how to strengthen your defenses against wild yeast by using traditional freeze-dried starter. Happy yogurt-eating. p.s. You did the right thing to use a different starter the second time. I’m guessing your yogurt turned out fine.

  117. Hi I have been making yogurt for years in my donvier yogurt maker with no problems. The last few batches have developed this horrible mold on the to after a short time in the fridge. I cant figur out why, I am not doing anything differently than I have always done. any suggestions?

    1. Hi Gay,

      I have not used a Donvier yogurt maker, but I love my Donvier Ice Cream Freezer.

      Is it possible the thermostat is malfunctioning on your yogurt maker? Maybe you could check with a thermometer. What are you using for a starter? Have you tried using something different than your usual starter to see what the results are? Is your milk really fresh? I’m grasping for straws here since you didn’t give a lot of details. Hope this helps.

  118. Davina Melinger says:

    Hi
    I am a newbie to yoghurt making.
    The first batch worked well using UHT milk.
    I used this for the starter in my next batch. For this one, I used fresh milk and it was great. Until day 3.
    It was disgusting! It tasted off and had curdled.
    I am not sure where it went wrong? I didn’t strain it (nor the first one.

    I was smart enough to freeze someone th first batch just in case. Do I need it to defrost firat?

    Please help! My 18 month old loves her yoghurt!
    Thank you

    1. Hi Davina,

      Sorry about the disgusting yogurt. Question: What do you mean by fresh milk? How fresh? Was it pasteurized? Did you heat it to 175-180˚F first, then let it cool back down to 100˚F before adding the starter?

      You don’t have to defrost the yogurt starter first, but I would so it won’t cool down your milk too much when you add it. Just make sure that your milk has cooled back to 100-110˚F before you add it or the excess heat will kill all the yogurt babies.

      Write back if you still have questions and we can try to troubleshoot more.

  119. Hi. I have been making successful yogurt for years but this was my first time trying it with fresh whey after I read your post. It turned out great. Now I have a full jar of fresh whey after straining but I’m not ready to make more yogurt. Will the whey work as a starter after freezing? How long will it keep as a starter in the fridge?
    I used the cold start method in the Instant Pot.

    1. Hi Louise,

      Great to hear from you!

      Sounds like you are a pro-yogurt-maker. I treat whey like yogurt when it comes to using it as a starter. It makes the best yogurt within 7-10 days. Beyond that time is dicey. There may or may not be enough active yogurt bacteria to make a good batch. I have never frozen whey. But I don’t know why you couldn’t. Great idea. However, I have so much whey on hand at any one time, that I can’t imagine using precious freezer space for that. If you try it, I would love to know how it works for you.

    2. @Paula, Thank you for the speedy response. I’m in my 80’s and only make yogurt for myself about every two weeks. I’ll freeze a cup of fresh whey and try it. If it doesn’t work I’ll do it over adding freeze dried starter. I’ll let you know the result.

  120. I have made yougurt for a long time and like to use a container that brings the liquid withing 1/2- 1″ of the top. After incubation and before refrigerating, I place a couple of layers of paper towel on the top with the end hanging over one side. I put it in the refrigerator and put a small loaf pan under the overhanging end. The paper towel wicks the liquid from the yogurt. The longer you leave it, the more whey you will have, but you need to make sure that the end of the paper towel is NOT touching the liquid. Sometimes, I will remove the paper towel and add new ones depending on how thick I want my yogurt. This makes a nice thick consistency without straining, whick I find a bit messy. Remove the towel, squeeze the liquid out and toss. I save the whey that collects in the little pan.

    1. Hi Criss,

      Thanks for writing. I’ve heard of this technique before. It wouldn’t be for me, but it might be perfect for others so I’m glad you took the time to share. I’m curious as to how long it takes to get yogurt that is as thick as you like.

    2. @Paula, Normally, overnight is long enough, but sometimes I swap out the towels and let it sit in the refrigeratorfor longer, but I like my yogurt quite thick. I’ve thought about trying a cloth towel or cheesecloth.

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  122. Also, don’t spill it all over your counter, down your cupboard doors, and all over your floor like I did this morning!

    1. Oh no! Hopefully, you got it all when you were cleaning up. Dried yogurt sticks like crazy.

  123. I would love it if you’d do a post on how to flavor yogurt DURING the cooking process. I know I can add sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to the milk, but I’m wondering if I could make banana yogurt by adding pureed banana to the milk BEFORE i cook it. What can and can’t you add? My understanding is acid content will impact whether it will set, but I’m not sure exactly. Your website is AMAZING. thanks

  124. So I used an old starter with new milk in my instapot for A bath of homemade yogurt. It tasted good but it was close to expiring. Will this ruin my whole batch?

    1. Hi Juliet,
      If your yogurt smells good and tastes good, it should be fine. Sometimes, old yogurt doesn’t set very thick because some of the little yogurt bodies have expired due to age. But if you’re happy with your yogurt, enjoy.

  125. Edgar Mièles says:

    Hi Paula,
    I just can’t help putting in my little grain of salt among all the great feedback comments on your web. First of all, it’s very comforting to see how many people are still interested in good, healthy, sound nutrition when so many “foodie” tendencies today seem to care more about just taste and visual presentation…However, I’m somewhat taken aback by the passionate “love affair” with “Greek” yogurt that has become so popular as of late. In my days growing up in France, we children were fed fresh homemade regular yogurt, morning, noon and night….It did not have to be exclusively Greek style, which of course is absolutely delicious, but too thick and rich for abundant daily consumption, which would make your weight watching a bit more challenging…Greek style is versatile in so many other ways…

    1. Hi Edgar,
      Thanks for chiming in on the conversation. I would love to eat fresh homemade yogurt morning, noon, and night. But I would have to step up my production to keep up with that frequency. 😜. I assume you make it? Do you still eat it at every meal?

  126. Really helpful and like your relaxed style of writing and sense of humour. Exactly what I needed to give it another go after the last watery batch. Thank you.

    1. Hi Wendy,
      If you run into trouble again, don’t hesitate to write again. We can always troubleshoot together.

  127. Could you freeze your fresh yogurt starter in ice cube trays? This way it’s already portioned in teaspoons. Or would the small quantity hurt the starter?

    1. Hi Menolly,

      I have successfully frozen my own homemade yogurt to use as a starter. However, the length of time you can use it is uncertain. Eventually, the little yogurt bodies will die, even when frozen. I recommend storing a somewhat bigger portion than if you were using fresh, unfrozen yogurt. In answer to your second question, I haven’t tested freezing tiny portions, so can only guess. I will say that I consider freezing yogurt starter to be a desperate measure to be used only when you know you won’t be making yogurt for several weeks and don’t want to lose your precious starter. If you are using using yogurt from the store as your starter, I would buy more yogurt as it is much more reliable as long as you know it is fresh.

  128. Kim Tavaglione says:

    I think I added my starter yogurt too soon! I forgot about it and when I remembered I panicked and added the starter not thinking about the temperature. I decided the batch is a fail because I’m afraid I killed the bacteria, but I went ahead and left it over night. (I used a crockpot) I checked it this morning and it looks like it is setting nicely. Is there a way to tell if I killed the bacteria AND is this batch actually ruined??

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