Skip to Content

Five Things You Should Not Do When Making Yogurt

If you are a yogurt-making newbie, welcome to the wonderful world of making yogurt. Here are Five Things You Should Not Do When Making Yogurt.

Updated March 2020

Five Things You Should Not Do When Making Homemade Yogurt--an empty jar of yogurt

I hope you find this article before you start to make your own yogurt. If you should run into trouble or need help, be sure to check out the related information linked for your convenience at the end of this article.

#1 

Don’t be overly anxious.

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

I remember how exciting the first attempt can be. Getting up to check on your incubating yogurt like it was a sick child with a fever is not necessary.

Resist checking your incubating 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 whey 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. 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, too.

Normally, you can keep homemade yogurt in the fridge for at least two weeks.

#3

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

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-degree oven to cool down to 100 degrees.

If you have a double oven, it may be safe to use the second oven. It depends 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.

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

I don’t completely understand the chemistry. Nevertheless, heating milk to 175-180˚F rearranges the proteins in a way that is beneficial to yogurt bacteria.

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

If you really 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 tablespoon or two to use as a starter for your next batch.

Usually, you can make 3-4 batches before you need to start over with store-bought yogurt. Traditional yogurt starters can be purchased online that 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.

Bonus tip:

What if your family can’t be trusted not to eat all of your homemade yogurt?

Go right now and put about 1/4 cup of your freshest homemade yogurt in a small plastic container. 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. Or maybe you go on vacation. Then there are the times when you need a break from making yogurt 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, but it should save at least three months according to my experience. (Update: Throw it out after 3 months.)

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


Pin the picture below to save for later.

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 a question or problem you need help with, please write it in the comment section below so I can respond back. You can also email me privately: paula at saladinajar.com.

Thank you for visiting!
Paula


Almost Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About Making Yogurt

Strawberry Snowball Cake
Previous
Strawberry Snowball Cake: When Your Angel Food Cake Flops
How To Vacuum-Pack Salad in a Jar for Less Than $6
Next
How To Vacuum-Pack Lettuce for Less

Steph

Saturday 25th of April 2020

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 ?

Paula

Saturday 25th of April 2020

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.

Tasso Lambos

Friday 17th of April 2020

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

Paula

Saturday 18th of April 2020

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

Jessie

Thursday 9th of April 2020

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?

Paula

Thursday 9th of April 2020

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!

Andrew

Wednesday 4th of March 2020

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!

Paula

Wednesday 4th of March 2020

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!

Steve

Friday 3rd of January 2020

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?

Paula

Friday 3rd of January 2020

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?