Answers to Your Questions About Making Homemade Yogurt

yogurt for troubleshooting red

Notice the Greek yogurt is thick enough to hold a spoon in an upright position.

I am surprised my post about making Healthy Homemade Greek Yogurt is targeted by Google searches more than any other on this blog.  It gets more comments too. And I love ‘em.

After two years of making my own yogurt at least twice a week, I’ve learned a thing or two.  An update prompted by your questions  seems appropriate. Some of you have been making this deliciously nutritious stuff for many more years than I so feel free to chime in with your own experience or knowledge.

The first three points deal with the question, “Why did my yogurt fail?”.

1. Was your starter fresh enough?
This is crucial.  In the beginning of my yogurt-making stage of life, the majority of my fails happened when I used a new starter–as in commercial yogurt from the grocery store. (By the way, you can use either regular unflavored yogurt or Greek yogurt.) I’m convinced it’s not always that fresh.

If  your first batch or two gets slightly thick but not what you wanted, I recommend making another batch with new milk using your “thin yogurt” as a starter. Unless there is some other problem, I predict it will be thicker the next time.  If not, try different yogurt as a starter. Look for the fewest additives, live cultures and fresh, fresh, fresh.

I have not bought yogurt in over a year because I keep using a little bit from my previous batch.  In my experience, you need to make it at least once a week for the freshest starter.

2. Did you keep your milk incubated at 100-110 degrees F? Consistently?
Another common reason yogurt fails is human error regarding incubation. It’s extremely important to keep the temperature constant.  I have been known to actually forget to turn my oven on resulting in the milk sitting at room temperature for hours.  When I discover my mistake, I usually turn the oven on and hope for the best.  Whether it works or not depends on how long the milk sat there without being warmed.

If you are using a crock pot, a heating pad, an electric roaster or some other creative device (see comments on the original post to learn how some of my readers do this), check your temperatures with a thermometer until you are certain you’ve got it right. Test the environment, not the yogurt.  See #3.

3. Was your milk disturbed in any way during the incubation process?
Yogurt bacteria are sensitive and don’t seem to like anything coming into their space when they are busy multiplying. Completely understandable, don’t you think? Avoid putting a thermometer or spoon in the milk. Do not stir.  I give the bowl a gentle shake to check if it has set up. Once you pour it into a strainer, incubation is over.

If your yogurt has not set up after 8-10 hours, you could try adding more starter and putting it back in the oven.  This works sometimes but not always. Worth a try.

4. Is it really necessary to heat the milk to 175-180 degrees since it has been pasteurized already?
If I could make yogurt without heating the milk before incubation, it would save time and I would be the first in line.  So I decided to experiment. In response to a reader’s question, I tried two batches equal in every way except for the heating-then cooling process. I heated the milk like normal in one batch and then let it cool down. The other I simply brought to room temperature before adding starter.  In the end, they both got thick but the milk heated to 180 degrees produced a thicker yogurt which is my ultimate goal. Looks like I will continue to heat just below boiling and then allow to cool back down below 120 degrees F.

5. I didn’t add dry milk solids. Would it be thicker if I did?
Mine gets plenty thick without it. After forgetting to add dry milk a few times, I discovered I liked the texture  better.  It’s cleaner and smoother–not pasty. Guess I’ll eat more spinach to pick up that extra calcium.

6. Some people say I can’t make yogurt with non-fat milk. True?
No.  I use non-fat milk 99% of the time. I’m sure whole milk yogurt is absolutely delicious but just like drinking whole milk vs. nonfat milk, it’s what you get used to. And I prefer not to have to buy new clothes if you know what I mean. I admit to a wicked yogurt habit.

7. The texture is not what I was expecting after I strained my yogurt.
This question has many answers depending on how you like your yogurt. I want mine to be super smooth with the texture of sour cream.  This is accomplished by first straining to half the original volume.  Much more than half and your yogurt will be more like ricotta cheese. Then I whisk it well to unravel the protein and add a little milk back to it until it’s the consistency I like. Creamy and dreamy. You could add whey back into it but what’s the point? Just don’t strain it as much.

If your texture is gritty, my research suggests several possibilities: Did you accidentally let the milk boil? Did you whisk it well after draining? What kind of milk did you use originally? The answer can be complicated and I’m no food scientist. I suggest you try different milk and possibly a different starter.

One other thing about texture. In the beginning, most of us have expectations based on what we buy at the grocery store. Many commercial products have additives we have become used to and are impossible to duplicate at home. And anyway, do we really want to? If you make your own very long, you will soon be addicted to fresh, unadulterated and customizable yogurt.

8. One last thing–the skin on top of my milk as it cools. YUK!
My best answer to this at the moment is to loosely cover the heated milk as it cools.  It prolongs the cooling process a bit but requires no extra hands-on time so I can handle it.

If you haven’t seen my video about making Greek yogurt, you can check it out here.

Still have questions?  Leave a comment.  I will try to answer ASAP.
 

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{ 217 comments… read them below or add one }

Meal Plan Mom (Brenda) March 24, 2011 at 8:11 am

Thanks so much for this post! I actually found your blog last year because of that Google search you referred to and have been enjoying it for so much more since then. :-) I have made one attempt to make my own yogurt and it failed. I have not tried since but reading this post gives me the tips I need to give it another go. Thanks again!

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Paula March 25, 2011 at 6:16 am

Hi Brenda, I don’t think my first batch was all that great either but I was determined. I remember my mom making it when I was a kid so I knew it was possible and kept trying. It took a few times to tweak my incubation method. After I got a new oven that could be set to 100 degrees, I was in yogurt heaven and haven’t looked back–except for the couple of times I forgot to turn the oven on. :-(

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Maureen July 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Which ovens have 100 degree setting? Please help! Thank you.

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Paula July 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Maureen,
Mine is an Electrolux. Totally love it, although a little pricey. Look for an oven with a “bread proofing” setting.

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Jon February 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm

My Wolf oven has bread-proofing temp’s, like 100 deg. A friend of mine uses their warming drawer.

Erica October 20, 2013 at 9:32 pm

You can use a toaster oven.

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Michaela March 24, 2011 at 11:59 am

Heating the milk to 180 degrees helps partially denature the proteins in the milk so they coagulate into a thicker matrix when they turn into yogurt.

I make yogurt regularly, and I find that if you use 2% milk, dry milk powder and greek yogurt as a starter, you can get yogurt that thick without straining it. We let ours incubate for 8 hours at 105°F, and it turns out super thick. It does have a little bit of that pasty texture that you described, but I don’t mind it once the yogurt is mixed with granola and berries.

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Jules March 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm

You do realize that you torture people with your photos, right?

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Cara March 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I found you through google too ;) I just started making yogurt about 3 months ago and we love it!! I haven’t bought yogurt since. I actually let my milk boil and then strain off the skin, it still tastes great. I’m going to try to make greek yogurt now!

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Paula March 25, 2011 at 6:03 am

I’ll admit to accidentally boiling mine too with no ill effect. But I’m too lazy to strain the heated milk because I don’t want more dirty dishes. I just try to skim the skin off the top. Unfortunately, it breaks and sometimes leaves small pieces behind. I would rather just avoid it which I usually can if I just keep it covered while it cools. I think you’re going to love Greek yogurt.

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Cara March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am

Great points!! I think I’ll try not letting boil my next batch… anything to do less dishes ;) I’m going to try cheesecloth before I invest in the thingamajig ;)

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Becky March 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Cara,
I have found that cheesecloth can be expensive, and it really doesn’t work that well. I suggest you buy a cheap mens hankerchief, as large as possible. I have found this works better than anything else I have tried. I lay the hankie in a sieve, and pour the yogurt in to strain. Then, I just wash it in hot water and use it again!

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Cameron Morland June 22, 2013 at 1:53 am

To reduce skin, I cool my yogurt quickly. I heat the milk in a thin pot, then put the pot in a sink filled with cold water. It cools much faster, usually fast enough to not form a skin.

Watch the temperature with a candy thermometer so you don’t cool it too much.

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carolyn March 24, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I have made yogurt 4 times in 2 weeks following your instructions and it came out perfect each time.Great ,Great, Great.

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Crystal March 24, 2011 at 11:40 pm

I also found your blog last week via google! I made my first patch a few days a ago and ate it in 48hrs! Yummy!!! I do have a question though- both times I have heated my milk to 180 degrees, I burned my pan. The stuff is impossible it get off the bottom! Should I stir the milk the whole time it’s heating? Heat it at a lower temperature for longer? Please help!

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Paula March 25, 2011 at 5:59 am

Crystal, you may find this hard to believe but I have never heated my milk on top of the stove because of the exact reason you have described. Also more time consuming and gets another pan dirty. I assume you don’t have a microwave. I am guessing you should heat the milk at a lower temperature. I can’t imagine stirring the whole time. Oh my! Sounds like a lot of trouble. Maybe somebody who doesn’t use a microwave will help us out here.

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Crystal March 25, 2011 at 9:00 am

I’d been using the stove because I don’t have a microwave safe bowl (I’m a college student). But now that I think of it, I do have a caserole dish that should work. Thanks!

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Maria December 29, 2012 at 7:55 pm

My mother taught me to first rinse the pot with cold water than add the milk. This way the pot will not burn on the bottom. It works for me. Try it.

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Paula December 30, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Yes, I will try this, Maria.

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PT July 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm

you will need 2 pans – one large and one small enough to fit inside the large pan. Fill the large pan with some water, put the smaller pan inside, and the milk in the smaller pan. This way you can heat the milk without burning it. People use this method to heat chocolate as well.

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Tina Anderson March 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm

In your post instructing viewers How to Make Homemade Yogurt, you had mentioned you’d like feedback or ideas regarding what to do with the leftover whey.
I put mine in a resealable mason jar and store it in the refrigerator. When I am baking muffins, cakes, etc., or making pancakes or waffles, I simply substitute the whey for the water in the recipe. This results in a slightly tangy flavor, not unlike buttermilk, but also in an increased protein content of the final baked good, rendering it more healthy for my family.

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Paula March 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I love this idea. Wonder how long it stays good.

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Anthony Duncan April 4, 2011 at 8:09 pm

I have heard that ricotta cheese can be easily made from leftover whey. It might be worth looking into.

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Tina Anderson March 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm

My oven can only be set as low as 170 deg. F. Do you think a heating pad set on low would work? Can the yogurt be made in a metal, as well as a glass or ceramic bowl?

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Paula March 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I used to have an oven like that. Do you have an interior light you can turn on? Sometimes that is perfect.

I’ve tried the heating pad and it works. Every heating pad is a little different so you may need to mess with it. High or low, wrapping in towels, etc.

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Paula March 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Tina, I would think you could use metal as long as you stay away from cast aluminum but I’ve never actually tried it. I prefer the super cheap Pyrex 2-quart batter bowl. I can heat, incubate, strain and whisk all in one bowl. (Of course, that’s using a microwave to heat)

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Carol March 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Can you explain the crock pot method?
Is it made right in the crock pot or in jars in the crock pot?
Thank you

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Paula March 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I never used a crock pot but people have told me about it in comments on my original post. I think you would use jars or another container and I would line the crock pot with towels. The temperature should be between 100 and 110 so you need to check that out. Maybe somebody who does this will answer your question.

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Eko March 26, 2011 at 6:17 am

thank u so much, now I can make a healthy yoghurt

please visit my blog to share each other at http://grosirsandalsehat.wordpress.com

thanks

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Suzanne March 26, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Nice post beautiful photos and I had no idea about this post so i’m glad you answered these questions because I’m intrigued now. You have amazing patience it seems since yogurt making takes time and accuracy.

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Jane @ Sweet Basil Kitchen March 26, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Paula,
This post came exactly at the right time for me. I was just at the store and bought my umteenth carton of nonfat Greek yogurt and as I looked at the price, I said to myself…”Jane, it is time to makek your own.” Not sure this apt. oven can be trusted, but will be in my own new kitchen in a couple months! Yeah. Thanks for you post, photos and knowledge. You are the best!

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Betty @ scrambled hen fruit March 26, 2011 at 10:42 pm

I’ve never tried making my own yogurt, but I really should with as much of it as I buy! I’m definitely going to have a go at this- your directions make it seem very simple. Your photos are gorgeous! :)

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Ryan March 28, 2011 at 7:21 am

My first batch of yogurt with your recipe came off without a hitch last night. Excellent flavor and texture! I found I could speed up the draining process by using a cheesecloth a layer of paper towel, and pressing the yogurt lightly, I got 4 cups of whey in only 10 minutes of draining time. Also another alternative sweetener you may like is Organic Agave Nectar. It’s all natural, and has a low-glycemic index.

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Paula March 28, 2011 at 7:38 am

Great idea to use a little pressure when draining the whey. I occasionally shake mine or tip it back and forth but next time I will try your idea to speed things up.

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Karen March 28, 2011 at 11:29 am

Great tips, Paula! Luckily, dairy products (including yogurt) in Austria are of superb quality, so I’m quite spoiled. It is a lot of fun though to make your own yogurt. :-)

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Susie March 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm

great tips. This will come in handy should I decide to take on this adventure someday. NOt at this stage in life, but glad it’s documented!

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St. Pete March 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Love that photo. Thanks for all the info. on yogurt!

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Diane S. March 31, 2011 at 6:25 am

This is really interesting stuff! Thanks for sharing this worth reading post about making Yogurt at home. We know Yogurt are already available in different variant of flavors somewhere in the grocery. But it’s more likey enjoyable if we are the one who made it. So, thank you very much and I really did enjoyed reading your post!

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Andy April 1, 2011 at 2:10 am

I am curious if you have any experience with “raw milk” which can be skimmed of the thick butter fat cream at the top of the jar of milk after it is chilled promptly following the grass grazed cows being milked. I feel better when I consume raw milk products vs, pasteurized, I have an old yogurt maker which is a group of round jar spaces in a sealed box that plugs in and I swear it is not much different than a heating pad contained in a plastic box. I want to experiment with this oven method as the small individual jars have at least an inch of whey at the top. (Thus far I have only made it with store bought pasteurized skim milk.) Lining a strainer with cheese cloth and letting yogurt drain over night at room temperature makes an interesting “cheese” with versatile cooking uses.

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Marie April 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I just made a batch with raw milk for my kiddos yesterday. It is delicious. I didn’t skim the fat off of the top because I’m ok with them getting the fat (good for brain development). I just whisked when finished & it made a very creamy yogurt.

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Courtney B April 1, 2011 at 8:28 am

I am using the crockpot and gas oven with light on incubation method for my yogurt. I thought my batch last night was a failure – after 9 hours in the oven it looked like I still just had a crock of milk, even though it had the “yogurty” smell.

Frustrated and disappointed – I left it in the oven overnight and thought I would just deal with it in the morning. When I got up to dump it this morning- it was fully set with a thicker yogurt than I had with my previous batch. It does not smell off in anyway (I’m pregnant and can pick up on the slightest nuances of odor), it has a bit more tang to it than a shorter incubated yogurt, it was like a full custard thickness without any whey separation.

So, I guess I want to know if this is okay to eat or not? Today’s standards make you paranoid anything left unrefrigerated must automatically have gone bad within a half hour’s time and here I’ve got a dairy product that incubated approximately 16 -17 hours. Any thoughts or advice for me? Thank you!!!!

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Jessica April 1, 2011 at 10:28 am

I have made this recipe and it has turned out runny. I do not want to throw away so is there anything I can do. I followed all instructions, however, my oven only heats to 175 and I covered with plastic and a towel and let sit 14hrs and it is still runny. Will it not set if it is too hot? I boiled the milk in a pan until it was 180, let it cool to 120 added the starter and put it in the oven. I am thinking it was to hot for the bacteria to form? Please help!

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Paula April 1, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Jessica, After you add your starter, you don’t want the temperature of the milk to go over 110. I keep mine at 100 degrees F. If you put the milk with the starter back in the oven at 175 or 180, I assure you the bacteria died. It’s probably too late now but if you cool the milk back down immediately, you could add more starter and incubate again at the 100 degree temperature. I hope you will try again. It really is worth it.

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Sara April 1, 2011 at 11:54 am

I’ve made a couple batches of regular yogurt but I’m looking to thicken it up to greek yogurt consistency. I’m hesitant to buy an inexpensive bouillon strainer as I’m afraid the mesh will not be small enough, but the better quality ones are well, really expensive. Does anyone know if using a yogurt cheese strainer would work? I found one an amazon and it got really good reviews for turning yogurt into a cream cheese consistency in 24hrs, so I’m wondering if less time would give you greek yogurt?

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Paula April 1, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Sara, I think the yogurt cheese strainer would probably work but is it big enough for your needs?

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Sara April 2, 2011 at 9:38 pm

I hope so. It should arrive monday so we’ll see if it’s large enough to hold one batch of yogurt made with 4 cups of milk. I’m also excited because if I use it go beyond greek yogurt and make yogurt cheese it’s a great substitute for recipes with mayo or cream cheese.

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Nikki K. December 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm

what is yogurt cheese and how do you use it/cook with it?

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Paula December 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Nikki,
Yogurt cheese is just yogurt that has been strained of its whey until it is as thick as cheese–usually more like cream cheese and often used the same way although I would not say it’s interchangeable in every recipe.

Nikki K. December 29, 2012 at 10:12 pm

So….if I took yogurt and strained “only a little”, I’d have Greek yogurt….and if I continued to strain, I’d have something called yogurt cheese? Is that what people also call Lebnah?

Jessica April 1, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Thank you Paula. I tried again and so far it looks like it will be successful. I am at 8hrs and it has started to set. Yippee!

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Rebecca April 2, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Thank you for your recipe/tech and all the tips. My husband made two batches, I loved them. Asked him how he made it and I have been making 6 batches a week now for almost 2months. A little addictive now :)

The first time I got started I bought a quart of greek plain yogurt and put it into ice cube trays to freeze 2tsp cubes. when I make a batch, I just toss one in the blender when I start. It thaws while my milk is heating. Then to make sure the powdered milk blends well, I put some of the cooled milk in the blender (with the 2tsp starter) and then blend powdered milk in. Then I mix it back together with all the milk, whisk well, put in jars. I also use a heating pad on the counter wrapped in a towel with a Super thick towel over hte top to keep heat in. Consistent external temp (external around jars) is 118. Takes 10 hours to grow. I strain mine with cheesecloth. My kids are all addicted now too.

thank you so much for your help! :)

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Marcy April 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I have been making your recipe for a year now, except I heat the milk in a double boiler on the stove.(my microwave is too old, and the milk always boiled over). I have to say it never occurred to me not to stir the milk while it was cooking and cooling. I always have and have never had a problem with skin. I was making gritty yogurt once in awhile, and I now sterilize my pot and equipment by boiling water in the pot and putting my whisk, and the end of my thermometer in the boiling water. I also take my new yogurt starter out before I add milk back into my drained yogurt – this seems to have ended my gritty yogurt problem.

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Paula April 7, 2011 at 6:31 am

Thanks so much for your take on the “gritty yogurt” problem. Maybe this will help others. I’ve personally never experienced it but evidently, it happens occasionally and you seem to have figured it out–for your own situation anyway. Seems like that’s the way it is with yogurt. Everyone brings slightly different ingredients and environments to the process so solving problems can take some trial and error.

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Christine April 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm

My oven only goes down to 170 degrees, so I didn’t think I could try your method. But then I realized that I could use my toaster oven!

It worked, but you were right about it being hard to tell when it’s ready. I think I left it in too long to be honest, but it didn’t seem done. Then I strained it and it was fine.

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Paula April 11, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I recently left mine 24 hours because it wasn’t convenient to deal with. It was still fine–no problem.

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Christine April 11, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I just had a crazy thought… could you use leftover whey as starter for the next batch? There must be bacteria in that as well as the solid part, right?

I just hate wasting all that whey.

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Paula April 11, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Christine, That’s a new one. If you try it, let me know how it works. I’m skeptical. When you only need a couple of teaspoons of starter, you’re not saving much. The best idea I’ve heard is to use it in making bread. Some people have told me they use it in soups and cooking veggies. Honestly, mine goes down the drain. There’s just too much to keep.

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Sara July 19, 2012 at 9:17 am

I make a lot of cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, colby, etc) so we end up with lots of whey every week. I let it cool and pour it on my garden, both flowers and veggies – whey is truly a wonder-food for plants!

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Paula July 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Sara, I have tried watering my plants with the whey. Wasn’t sure how much it was helping but I will keep doing it. Thanks for writing.

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Liz April 13, 2011 at 12:06 am

Whey is great in protein drinks and smoothies. Keep it in the fridge and pour some in the blender next time you make a smoothie. My kids like frozen strawberry/yogurt ones for breakfast.

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Anne April 17, 2011 at 11:24 am

I found your site via Google and made yogurt yesterday and it turned out great! I also have a copy of Sandor Ellix Katz’s Wild Fermentation and I kept going back and forth between the two, using info from both which helped a lot. I used organic fat free milk and a little starter (Trader Joe’s nonfat Greek yogurt) – about two tablespoons (Katz’s suggestion). I then used my dehydrator (thanks to a former poster here!) and my candy thermometer which told me that my “85” degree setting was really 100. It “yoged” in about 9.5 hours but I will let it set longer next time for more tang. I also followed another suggestion here of using a large handkerchief inside a sieve to drain the yogurt. Because it was late, I set this in the refrigerator overnight and when I got up this morning I had super thick yummy Greek yogurt (16oz) and a jar of whey which I’ll use in my next bread baking project. Not sure about the money savings, though. The Greek yogurt at TJ’s was only $2.79 for 16oz. and the organic milk cost me $3.85 for a half gallon! However, 16oz of Oikos at the local co-op was over $4, so there was a small savings if I were only shopping at the co-op and TJ’s is 1.5 hours from home for me. Of course, when you factor in electricity costs, not sure it makes any difference – I just like to make stuff myself. Thank you so much for sharing this technique!!

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Karla April 22, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I’m very excited to find your site. I just bought a yogurt maker-I didn’t know they even existed until last week. I never even thought to make it myself. I’m making my first batch now, which won’t be ready for another 10 hours or so. Since I live in a really small town, the only place I really have to get a thermometer is Wal Mart. I hope it works-was $10 digital kind.
I cooled it down via the fridge-think that will make a diff?

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Paula April 22, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Hi Karla, Welcome to the world of homemade yogurt. The thermometer you got at Walmart should work just fine. Kinda surprised your yogurt maker didn’t come with one. Cooling down the milk in the fridge won’t hurt your yogurt although it could be kinda hard on the rest of the food because it will raise the temperature in your fridge a little bit. I could not even guess how long it will take for your milk to cool. Depends on MANY factors: How much milk? How warm in your kitchen? Is it covered? What kind of container is the milk in? My guess…anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour but could be even longer.

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Karla April 22, 2011 at 6:11 pm

And if I am just going to let the milk cool to room temp, how long would that take if its just sitting there?

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Karla April 22, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Thanks Paula! I’m so excited to start making my own yogurt. I eat it all the time. I can’t wait to see how it turns out and start troubleshooting if need be. I’m after the best greek yogurt I can get. And have to say, love your site!

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Nadine May 11, 2011 at 7:25 am

Paula,
I’m back again with an update for you. (Remember, I am the one that NEVER responds to blogs?) Since finding your site 4 months ago I continue to make your yogurt. I now make yogurt using 2 gallons of fat free milk every week! We love it here! I heat the milk on the stove to 180. Cool it to 110 and then add from my own made yogurt as a starter. I will then wrap in heavy towel , put in oven for 10 hours with the light only on after a small preheat to take the chill out .. (Sometimes I leave it overnight. Sometimes I do it in the morning and take it out before dinner if I need the oven). Voila! It is done. Before straining I let it rest in the frig for 3-4 hours or until I have time to strain. I have fine tuned the straining to using a large colander (2 of them-each holds 1 gal.) lined with flour sack cloth (tea towel-100%cotton). After straining for an hour or so I then whisk/beat. It is the BEST!! Thank you again for offering this to everyone! I have told all my friends about this. We are forming quick a group of followers.
Your directions are the best!

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Paula May 11, 2011 at 7:34 am

Hi Nadine, Sounds like you are addicted as I am. I was just sitting here writing a post about all the different ways my readers incubate their yogurt. You do yours exactly the same way I did in the beginning before I got a new oven. It is so much fun to hear from you. Thanks for writing.

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Charisma May 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I was wondering if I could use Raw whole Fat milk and still get the same results? Also Can I simmer the milk to the temp suggested without using the microwave?
Thanks
Charisma

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Paula May 27, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Charisma, I have never tried raw milk of any variety so don’t really know the answer to your question. I’m guessing it would work.

Yes, you may heat your milk on top of the stove. Be careful not to scorch it.

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mominkorea June 15, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Thank you for your wonderful blog! I have been making your yogurt for several months now and it has always been good. However, the last two times I’ve made it, it was more like ricotta cheese. I made a liter and a pint and it yielded less than a pint after straining all the whey off. The whey is SO much. I only drained it for ten minutes. The flavor was very good but after whipping, the texture still was not pleasing.
Any suggestions? Thanks so much.

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Paula June 15, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Mom in Korea, I’ve never experienced what you’re describing. Do you add some milk back in? That usually makes the texture very creamy. I would try to think about anything you’re doing differently. Is your incubation warmer that it used to be? Is it possible your “starter” yogurt has somehow become contaminated? Have you changed the type of milk you’re using? If you figure it out, be sure to write back and let me know.

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mominkorea June 16, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Paula, Thanks for your reply. I am doing everything the same as before. I use the same milk, same incubation period and device. I used the same yogurt starter as before. I took pictures of all of it, as I wanted to get your advice and thought the pictures might help, but I don’t see any way to post those. I am going to try again today and I will let you know how it goes. Thank you!

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LaNette Bendix June 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I had such good luck making yogurt, and then something happened. One half gallon of mild used to make one quart of greek yougurt. I have noticed for some time now that it makes more like 3 cups of yogurt with more liquid whey. I am not doing anything different than before, I have tried different brands of milk with the same results. The only thing I can come up with is, dairy farmers have really felt the crunch with higher feed prices. Are they feeding their cows something cheaper and it is affecting the quantity of milk solids? Any thoughts on this?

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Paula June 26, 2011 at 6:14 am

How disappointing and perplexing. Possibillities might include what you suggested or perhaps starter is not as fresh as it could be. To quote one of my readers, “The yogurt gods can be fickle.”

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ninette July 17, 2011 at 8:09 am

This is what happening with my yogurt….I boiled the milk to 180 – cool down to 110 add starter – room temperature for 2 hours then place it of refrigerator overnight this morning still have milk not yogurt…..could you help me please? what did I do wrong? can I fix it?

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Paula July 17, 2011 at 8:20 am

I’m so sorry about your yogurt. Unfortunately, you have missed a very important step. After you add the starter, you must incubate or let your milk mixture sit in a very warm place–a place that is approximately 100 to 110 degrees. (Check out my post about incubation–link in the sidebar.) Room temperature is not warm enough unless you live in Texas and your air conditioner is broke. It usually takes a minimum of 4-6 hours but I often let it sit more like 8-10 or even longer. Then I strain it before chilling or chill immediately if you don’t want Greek yogurt.

As far as fixing it, you could try heating and cooling again and adding new yogurt but if it was me, I would start all over again. Try it with a small amount of milk (maybe a quart-size jar) until you get it to work. Keep trying. It’s worth the trouble if you love yogurt.

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Darlene July 25, 2011 at 6:40 am

Hi Everyone! I just started my first batch of yogurt yesterday, left it overnight, and woke up this morning to a great batch of yogurt! Perfectly set, and draining it now. I must admit my yogurt looks just like your pic of it draining in the chinoise, which for some strange reason, I happen to own one! It took me a while to figure out a way to incubate it at 100 degrees, and I remembered an electric multi-cooker I had stowed away. It is like a round crock pot, has settings for deep fry, stewing, slow cooking, etc, but no crockery insert. At the lowest end of the “warm” setting, I found my 100 degree mark. Luckily, the bowl I used fit perfectly. I placed the covered bowl in the center of a dishtowel and lowered it in, folded the towel over the top and put the lid on. I put an instant read thermometer on top on the plastic wrap covering the bowl so I could check it, and it stayed constant. This whole process started when I went to by some Greek yogurt, and the price on the 32oz container was $4.99! Sticker shocked by yogurt!!! I apologize for the long post, however, I can’t contain my excitement. Next on the list, Salad in a Jar. Thanks so much, you are wonderful!

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Paula July 25, 2011 at 10:13 am

It’s exciting to wake up to a perfect batch, isn’t it? I did it myself this morning and I still marvel at the magic. So glad you explained your process. Maybe it will give somebody else an idea.

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Missy July 29, 2011 at 12:54 am

Tina- I thought my new Kitchen Aid oven would only go to 170 degrees, then I discovered that I had a bread proofing setting and it is 100 degrees. Look to see if you have this feature. Also, I found a great recipe for lemonade that uses the whey in the strained yogurt-http://www.foodrenegade.com/fresh-natural-healthy-lemonade/

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Paula July 29, 2011 at 6:14 am

Thanks for the lemonade link. Will definitely check it out.

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karen August 27, 2011 at 7:07 am

So I am in the middle of trying to make my first batch…I don’t think it is going well, but I am determined. I use Raw milk and was looking for a way to use up what had soured. (Raw milk just sours, it does not putrefy like homogenized milk) I put it in a bowl and microwaved it. At 14 minutes i stirred it and it had reached 178 degrees. It looked very strange, clumpy with a lot of yellow liquid (not like your picture, did i screw it up somehow) I forged on. cooled it on the counter to 110, still looking like yellow soup with clumps, added 2 tsp of oikos and placed in my dehydrator (set at 100 degrees). It has been16 hours and it still looks the same. ideas anyone?

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Elisa September 19, 2011 at 8:39 am

Soy yogurt! I love Greek yogurt but gave up dairy so I am going to try making this with soy milk and almond milk. I already make soy yougurt, just have to change the recipe a little bit.

Any suggestions?

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Paula September 19, 2011 at 10:53 am

I haven’t tried it so can’t really offer any suggestions.  However, I drink lots of soy and almond milk too so think I’ll start experimenting.  Paula

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Marian September 28, 2011 at 8:27 am

Please help. I have attempted to make Greek style yogurt about 10 times now. The first three times were beautiful. The product looked like a soft white jello with yellowish whey on the top. I strained it, it was fantastic. The following three times, nothing solidified – it was white liquid. The next few times, the white liquid was thicker but there was nothing like the first three times. This last time, it was just sour milk.
I made the first 6 batches exactly the same. The next three I experimented on as the previous ones had not gone well. Am I never to have consistency again? I’m so sad because the first few batches were so fantastic that I figured I would be making this 3 times a week. My kids loved it, we all loved it. Now I don’t know if I can afford to waste another gallon of milk. Help.

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Angie September 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Just came across your website last wk. while “Google searching” tips on home-made yoghurt. I’m so amazed my first ever batch came out perfect!! Thank you soooo very much for sharing.

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Ally October 2, 2011 at 5:49 pm

can the recipe be doubled? If so do you put in 2 times the amount of yogurt for a starter?

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Janet November 10, 2011 at 7:59 am

Havaing trouble with my greek yogurt. Milk was heated properly, cooled to correct temp and I opened a new store bought chobani for the starter. After 12 hours it looked solid and I was thrilled, yet when I put it in the strainer, it essentially all ran out. I now have plenty of “regular” yogurt, but WANT greek yogurt. I let it incubate for 12 hours. What am I doing wrong. It comes out right only about a third of the time and the rest of the time, it’s still the consistency of regular yofurt or drinkable kefir…Any suggestions out there?

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Glyn R. December 6, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Hi Paula,
Your site is so informative, I hope you can help with a yogurt question.
My 2 month old Euro Cuisine auto shut off machine shut off after 3hrs(set to run 11hrs) question, how long can yogurt sit with out heat and still be safe to reheat and continue process. My general rule of thumb is when in doubt throw it out.
Thanks,
glyn

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Scott December 16, 2011 at 8:03 am

I am lactose intolerant. Can I use fat free Lactaid for this recipe?

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Paula December 16, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Scott, I have not tried it myself. If you do, let me know how it goes.

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claragalleshaw December 29, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Your directions with pictures are very helpful and I’m anxious to try making the Greek variety of yoghurt. This would be more healthful and lots of fun. If I used half of the milk in your recipe in making my yoghurt should I still use the same amount of starter that you described in your recipe?

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Paula December 29, 2011 at 9:01 pm

You are very smart to start out with a small amount of milk until you get your system figured out. The amount of starter you use is not crucial but about 1 teaspoon of starter per quart of milk is what I use. Many people use a lot more but I haven’t found it to be necessary.

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Susan January 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm

How do you convert this process to use with a Yogurt maker with built in timer? My biggest confusion using a yogurt maker is, when and how to strain, given the mixure is poured into individual containers. I prefer a more subtle taste, although I like it a more thick consistancy. I will be using skim milk also, along with agave sweetner, which I am assuming I will add after it has chilled along with any other add in’s…right? Thanks, from a Yogurt making newbie. ;)

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Paula January 6, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Susan, You have pointed out one reason I do not use a yogurt maker. It’s nice for beginners but impractical if you want to make Greek yogurt. The time to strain is AFTER the whole process in the yogurt maker is finished. But what a pain to dump out each little jar, strain it and then pour back in the jars. If you want Greek yogurt, I recommend you follow my directions. The yogurt maker is nice to build your confidence in the beginning as long as you’re happy with regular yogurt. You are right to wait to add sweetener and/or fruit after the yogurt if finished.

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