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Why Is My Homemade Yogurt Grainy?

Has your homemade yogurt ever turned out grainy? While it may taste alright and it is certainly safe to eat, it’s probably not what you were going for. Right? I’ve encountered this problem of grainy yogurt myself.

This post is a discussion about possible causes of that not-so-nice grainy texture when making yogurt at home.

Why Is My Homemade Yogurt Grainy?--comparison

Recently, I made a batch of yogurt using a different starter than ever before. Despite using the exact same method as always, my yogurt turned out grainy. When I complained, my daughter-in-law chimed in that sometimes hers was grainy as well.

Both of us thought our yogurt still tasted good. We talked and compared. Seemed like our starter might be the culprit.  Here are the conclusions from my most unscientific investigation.

Possible answers to the question, “Why is my homemade yogurt grainy?”

Sure enough, in recreating the grainy texture, I discovered using a starter with additives can be problematic. I’m not saying it is the only cause, but this will definitely do it. Using too much starter as discussed here can be another offender.

The results of my experiment

In the picture above, the labels for each of the starters (commercially-made yogurt purchased locally) claim to have “live active yogurt cultures.” All will make yogurt successfully. However, please note the yogurt shown on the bottom three spoons contain some type of additive.

  • Lower left: inulin (a type of fiber) and pectin (The Greek Gods nonfat plain Greek yogurt)
  • Lower middle: pectin (Krogers nonfat, plain yogurt)
  • Lower right: corn starch and gelatin (Braum’s low-fat yogurt)

The smooth and creamy yogurt on the top three spoons originated with the following starters:

  • Upper left: Fage nonfat yogurt
  • Upper middle: Stonyfield nonfat yogurt
  • Upper left: My own homemade yogurt that had been in the freezer for at least 6 months.

The moral of the story??

When you purchase commercially produced yogurt to use as a starter, stick to yogurt with live cultures but NO additives.

Does it matter if I use Greek yogurt or regular yogurt as a starter?

Whether it’s Greek yogurt or regular makes no difference in my experience.

blackberry cobbler mixed with non-grainy yogurt

Here lately, I take this treat to work with me every day. Pictured above is my homemade nonfat Greek yogurt topped with Speedy Blackberry Cobbler. 

If I don’t have blackberries, I’m fond of substituting whatever fresh or frozen fruit I can find in my kitchen. Since I can get 6-7 servings from one recipe, the total calorie count is quite reasonable.

Click here to get a FREE printable cheat-sheet for making Greek yogurt when you sign up for my FREE 6-day email course: “How To Make the Yogurt of Your Dreams.

If you are still trying to perfect your method for making yogurt at home, I am including a video of the way I make yogurt. Maybe it will give you some ideas.

What else would you like to read about making yogurt?


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

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Charlotte

Sunday 30th of August 2020

Hi Paula. I’ve been making my own yogurt off & on for the last 40 years. I just started again a year ago. About 6 months ago I started using Organic Valley Ultra 2% Lactose Free milk. It was a lark, I only read higher protein, less sugar. After straining I add some whey back in & mix with my hand mixer. It’s creamy & smooth. In all this time I have not needed to use a new starter. I just keep using some of the last batch. I usually cover the new batch with plastic wrap & stick it in the oven with the oven light on, usually over night. It’s always perfect.

Thanks for the articles. They gave me many ideas. I just wanted yogurt without all the sugar & who knows what else is in the commercial yogurt. It’s so easy to make & so tasty.

Paula

Sunday 30th of August 2020

I'm so glad to hear this Charlotte. As long as starter from your own yogurt keeps making good batches, there's no reason to change. Don't you find it satisfying to make perfect yogurt? I love it! Thanks for writing.

Lisa

Wednesday 12th of February 2020

This post was very helpful. Thank you! I just made my yogurt using 2 quarts Fairlife Whole milk and 2T Fage nonfat Greek yogurt. It smells yogurty and is thick but has a grainy texture. After reading your article I tested my IP yogurt boil temp and it heats to 186 6 (using water). Is 2T Fage too much for 2 quarts milk?

I used an Instant Pot Duo60, yogurt setting. Step 1: pasteurize milk by pressing Yogurt and then adjust until it displays boil. There was a skin on top which sank back in when I tried to remove it. Step 2: cooled in an ice bath down to around 90 (my bad-but but does this cause any problems?), Step 3: stirred Fage into a cup of the warm milk, whisked back in, set IP to Yogurt 9 hours (but stopped it 8.5). Spoon stayed upright. Lots of bubbles on surface. Step 4: stirred and it looked curdled and grainy, spooned into sterile jars and refrigerated. Looks great after cooled but still grainy.

Bamz

Thursday 14th of May 2020

Hi Lisa pls can you do a test with powdered milk. What temperature and how do we not get the grainy feel

Paula

Wednesday 12th of February 2020

Hi Lisa,

You do not need to heat ultra-filtered milk (that's what Fairlife is) to 180˚ before using it to make yogurt. Just place the cold milk into your Instant Pot after you have stirred in your yogurt starter and press the Yogurt button. I suspect the high heat is the cause of the graininess. This only applies to ultra-filtered milk like Fairlife. Regular pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized milk needs to be heated just like you described.

2 tablespoons of starter is more than I use but not excessive. Doubt if that is the cause of graininess but it could contribute. See this post about how much starter you really need.

For what it's worth, heating the starter (Step 3) is unnecessary although many people like to do it. It doesn't cause a problem, but it takes more time and adds one more step.

Did you taste your yogurt? Sometimes yogurt looks grainy but it does not taste grainy on your tongue. If this is the case, give it a little whip with an immersion blender and the "grainy texture" will mostly disappear.

I never incubate my yogurt over about 5 (sometimes 6) hours. A longer incubation leads to a more sour taste (which some prefer) and a more curdled appearance. When curdled, strain off the whey (for a couple of hours) and whisk for a smooth and thicker texture.

Lisa, I hope this helps. Thank you for sending a detailed description of your process. That made troubleshooting so much easier. Good luck with your next batch.

Julie

Thursday 29th of August 2019

I find that my yoghurt gets grainy when the heat is too high.

Paula

Friday 30th of August 2019

Thanks for your input Julie. It hasn't happened to me like that, but it's something to consider.

Marilyn Grisham

Wednesday 21st of August 2019

I make 2 gal of milk into yogurt about every 6 to 8 weeks. Today I pulled the dehydrator off the shelf for my todays batch and found a surprise qt jar of yogurt still in the dryer! I cautiously took off the lid and found what looked like perfectly acceptable yogurt in the jar - no mold, odor or spoiled look. It was at room temperature for about 6 to 8 weeks in the store room. What to do?

Paula

Wednesday 21st of August 2019

That is quite a surprise. Just to be safe, I would not recommend eating it. Can't believe there is no pink mold around the edges.

Jodi

Friday 10th of May 2019

Thanks so much for clearing this up for me. I had been using my own whey as a starter and the last couple batches had turned out sort of “gooey” so I thought it was time for new starter. I checked the label and sure enough, my starter contained inulin and pectin. Now I can stop retracing my steps trying to figure out what I did wrong!

Paula

Friday 10th of May 2019

Hi Jodi,

Gooey and grainy are different in my book. But the solution is similar. Use a new or different starter. I am working on a post about gooey yogurt right now. The answer to gooey yogurt is to get more yogurt from the store to use as a starter. I plan to publish a post about the causes of gooey yogurt in the next 2-3 weeks. Meanwhile, your best bet is to start over with a new starter every 3-4 batches.