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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{ 218 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda January 9, 2012 at 12:42 am

Any ideas what to do with a failed batch of yogurt please ?
Mine seems to have ‘split’ ; the consistency is “of strands” and stringy rather than anything I could put through a cheesecloth.

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Paula January 9, 2012 at 10:22 am

Amanda,
I’m so sorry about your failed batch. It happens to me occasionnally too. I just throw it out. Since I’m not exactly sure what you have, I don’t know what to recommend. Sounds like it got too hot or your milk was old. Working with live cultures is not an exact science as you have probably noticed. Better luck next time. Don’t give up!

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Cydney January 21, 2012 at 11:08 am

I am hooked on making and eating yogurt, thanks to your site. I have been trying to get more calcium in my diet and this us the perfect way! Thanks so much for your helpful video! I also make the salad in a jar. I think you and I are, as Anne of Green Gables would say, “kindred spirits”! Keep posting things like this for people like me – please!

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Lavaca January 24, 2012 at 10:43 am

We were overseas for a number of years and could not get yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream. A friend taught me to make yogurt and gave me a start of hers…almost the same exact recipe you are using. Straining through layers of cheesecloth gave me something that could be substituted for sour cream. Mixing some yogurt back in with whey gave me buttermilk to use for baking. A little sweetener and fruit mixed in was perfect for breakfast or dessert! My biggest problem is occasional graininess with second and third generation batches. It will usually work itself out in the next batch.
It seems I always had a container of “buttermilk”, one of yogurt and a strainer of “sour cream” going in the fridge!

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Chris January 28, 2012 at 7:21 am

Just came across your site while looking for a yogurt-balsamic dressing recipe. I must say I am horrified to find that you actually microwave the milk. You must not know what that does to the proteins within the milk. There is a reason why the doctor tells new parents to not warm milk in the microwave. It makes it indigestible. When we have babies come in with failure to thrive, microwaved milk is the number one cause. I know it must be nice and neat when cooked this way, but health is way more important than convenience.

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Paula January 29, 2012 at 7:47 am

Hi Chris,
Thank-you for taking the time to write. Obviously, I don’t agree with you (yes, proteins are unraveled during the heating process which is necessary to make thick yogurt but they remain very useful to your body) and I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but since I’m just sharing the way I do it, it doesn’t matter. Seems like we both enjoy yogurt and there are many ways to make it as evidenced by the comments on my yogurt posts.

Since you disfavor the microwave, you must take a look at the comment left just after yours by Lisa Polaske. She tells how she heats her milk on top of the stove in a way that she doesn’t have to babysit or worry about it scorching. It’s genius.

Regards, pr

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Lisa Polaske January 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm

I make greek yogurt every couple of weeks- I have learned to heat the milk in a rigged up double boiler (an 8 qt stainless pot set into a big lobster pot full of water, on high heat) so I can set the timer and walk away without fear of burning the milk (about 20 min for a gallon of skim). Then, I put cold water and the contents of my icemaker in the sink and set the 8 qt pan of hot milk in there and set the timer again (less than 10 min) and my milk is cooled and ready for the addition of the yogurt. I can have a gallon of yogurt ready to “brew” in a half hour using this method. I have never had a batch fail.

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Paula January 29, 2012 at 7:35 am

Hi Lisa,
You’ve never had a batch fail??? Wow! I’m impressed. I’ve had a few batches that didn’t set up–usually due to operator error, I’m sure. But 6-8 fails out of several hundred batches isn’t too bad in my book considering we’re working with live cultures.

Your method is fabulous for my readers who don’t want to use a microwave but also don’t want to babysit a pot of milk on the stove. Thank-you so much for writing. pr

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Marilyn January 31, 2012 at 9:35 am

I make yogurt every 5-7 days in my crock pot. It comes out totally delicious and It’s ready when I get up in the morning, and I don’t have to leave anything on. Also, I don’t think I can set my oven to 100. Anyway, the yogurt is great, except it isn’t very thick. I prefer very think Greek Yogurt while my fiance likes thinner, regular yogurt…but this is even thinner than he prefers. We still use it in our smoothies and with our granola, but it just isn’t thick. Sometimes when i am making just a single serving for my granola, I will put it in a coffee filter and that gets it pretty thick. I tried this morning to use cheesecloth following directions on a blog I read, but my yogurt was actually able to get through the small holes! Do you know what I could do to thicken the yogurt better? Also, I’m wondering if the bouillon strainer would work even though I’m having problems with the cheesecloth. Please help me! Also, I love your blog!

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Paula January 31, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Hi Marilyn,
First question: Are you heating your milk to 175-180 degrees F and then letting it cool back down to 110-115 degrees before adding your starter? It will not get very thick if you don’t take the time to do this step. Heat makes the proteins unravel which is a good thing when it comes to yogurt.

Following my method, my yogurt usually (when it comes to live cultures, nothing is guaranteed) comes out so thick that I don’t need a cheesecloth to strain it IF I use a very fine mesh bouillon strainer (these are finer than anything you can buy at the grocery store–see my post about straining yogurt). I personally detest messing with cheesecloth, paper towels, coffee filters, tea cloths, or t-shirts.

I’m sure your crock pot method is good, but, it would involve too many dishes for me. I prefer to heat the milk, cool the milk, incubate the milk, strain the milk, and whip and flavor the yogurt in the same bowl. So in the end, I have only one bowl and one strainer to wash–in the dishwasher. That’s it!

Write me back if you still have questions. pr

p.s. Before I had an oven that would heat to 100 degrees, I set my oven on 350 degrees for one minute, then turned the oven off. I used a bath towel to wrap my covered bowl of milk and stuck it into my oven (now turned off) and turned on the oven light. It would stay warm enough to incubate the yogurt for 6-8 hours.

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Meagan February 6, 2012 at 10:36 am

I have made 2 batches of yogurt with a yogurt maker and both batches had little black specks in the yogurt. I was careful not to burn the milk, and I checked the yogurt starter did not have the specks in it. When I combined them and whisked them up, all these black specks appeared. I would think that I had coffee grounds in my bowl or something but I was very careful to clean everything. Any ideas?

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Paula February 6, 2012 at 11:02 am

Meagan, How distressing! Did you happen to add vanilla at some point? It’s weird to me that it disappears. I’m assuming you cover the yogurt while it incubates. Is it possible your whisk has become a bit rusty at the top where the wires join the handle? If I think of any other possibilities, I’ll write back. pr

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Rosalie Tabone February 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I made Greek Yogurt as per your recipe and it came out with the right consistency the very first time. However, after two days it became moldy on top. Since the refrigerator temperature is 40 degrees Far., I did not put it in the refrigerator because I was afraid that it would kill the bacteria in the yogurt. Was I wrong to leave it at room temperature?

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Dione February 18, 2012 at 5:59 pm

My boyfriend bought me a yogurt maker (and himself one too, and has made several batches of yogurt already.) Incubating my first batch right now using my favorite locally made yogurt as a starter. I’m excited to see how it turns out. According to the directions though, it says to only use your own homemade batch once for the next, and to use a new commercial yogurt or starter again. But all the Indian people I work with who make their own use their own all the time with the next batch. I don’t get why it tells me not to.

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Paula February 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm

That is a REALLY good question Dione. I don’t really know why the yogurt maker instructions say that. I’m with the Indian people you work with. I use my own yogurt for starter and it works great. Over and over and over. I’ve done it for months, even frozen it and then used after going on vacation.

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robyn March 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I have no idea if you’ll see this comment, but i’m wondering if the starter you use …. from your own homemade yogurt is the same yogurt that has the vanilla paste/extract/flavoring & other additions to it. It still works as a starter, and sets up well with those flavorings/additions added to it? — if possible can you respond to my email … if you see this. :) thx!

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Auntie Maine April 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm

So, do you use as starter some of the batch you just made and into which you stirred all those other ingredients? Or do you set some aside as starter before you add the vanilla, etc.?

I’ve never added those things to my yogurt — I’m happy to eat it just with fruit. But I like the idea of adding vanilla and honey as my husband really dislikes unsweetened yogurt. I’ll try it on half the batch next time — maybe he’ll find it more appealing.

I’ve also never tried the microwave — I just keep stirring until it reaches 188 degrees, which is the temperature I was taught, pretty close to yours. (I don’t mind the time, as it’s kind of meditative — then again, I also like ironing for the same reason, so there is no accounting for taste.) But I will give it a go and test how long it takes my microwave to heat it appropriately. (I’m a systems analyst, so I like that sort of thing.)

Guess I’ll need to pick up an eight-cup Pyrex measure, something I’ve wanted for a long time but hadn’t found the right excuse … :-)

Thanks for the ideas!

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Paula April 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Yes, you can use yogurt that has sugar or sweetener (I use Torani sugar-free syrups)in it as starter. I personally do not sweeten with honey so have not tried that. Pr

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Christiana May 2, 2012 at 8:08 am

Paula I recently started making my yogurt using a crockpot and have been very successful w/ this method. So far I have been using a 1/2 gallon of skim at a time but with two kids I go through it so quickly. If I double it and use a gallon does this change the incubation time or the amount of starter I need to use?

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Michelle C. May 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm

I love your blog. Thank you. Can you tell me what is the diameter of your bouillon strainer. Thank you in advance.

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Terri May 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Hi Paula, I’m so happy I found your website while searching for a recipe for homemade yogurt. About a month ago a good friend gave me a gallon of fresh cows milk and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Now I’m hooked and buying 1.5 gallons of fresh milk every week so I can make your delicious Greek style yogurt. It has been trial and error although every batch has actually turned into yogurt. A couple of times I’ve strained it too long (ends up like soft cheese), once it was very tangy, and another time it had very tiny little curd like particles in it. I have used my own yogurt to start each new batch except for the first one of course. I keep trying and today I think I have a near perfect batch.

One question I have is: When I follow your technique exactly my yogurt is ready after 4 hours of incubation (preheat oven to 350 for one minute, turn off oven, turn on light). Do you think this is enough time? It looks gelatinous just like your picture. I have no problems straining it and the yogurt is quite thick, I’m just questioning if I need to leave it in the oven at least six hours as you state. I don’t really like it very tangy.

Also, when using the fresh cows milk without taking the cream off the top first I find that the cream seperates from the yogurt and I’m wondering if this happens to anyone else. Sometimes I take the cream off first and sometimes I just use it, I know I probably shouldn’t include the cream but I think the whole milk yogurt is so delicious and has good Omega 3′s.

Thank you so much for this great resource, I love your website and all of your fantastic tips.

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Paula May 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Terri,

If your yogurt is thick enough after 4 hours, go with it. Leaving it longer only makes it tangier, not necessarily thicker. I do not let my yogurt incubate nearly as long as I used to because I like mine mild too.

Honestly, I don’t have much experience making yogurt with whole milk. Mine usually turns out too soft for me so if you’re happy with it, keep doing it, including stirring in the cream. I’m afraid I would be growing out of my clothes very quickly if I did that but it sounds delicious.

Thanks so much for writing. pr

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Danae May 15, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Wow looks great! Not too hard either!
Can I use non-dairy substitutes like Rice milk or Coconut milk?

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Paula May 15, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Danae,
I have not tried it with rice milk. Soy milk works great, at least with the brand I buy. Have not had good luck with coconut milk but I see directions on the web. I’m thinking you need some kind of special coconut milk for it to work. Readers? Have any of you made yogurt from coconut milk?

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Tami June 14, 2012 at 7:08 am

I make my yoururt with organic fat free milk. I’m now on a sugarless kick. My fatfree has 14 grams. Has ANYONE tried making it with original almond milk, 40 calories, no sugar ?

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Tami June 14, 2012 at 7:08 am

Yogurt ! Sorry ~

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Paula June 15, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Tami, I have tried it with almond milk and coconut milk. Neither worked for me.

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Tami June 15, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Thank you Paula, I was thinking the same thing.

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Elizabeth June 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I’ve been making yogurt for years. I bought Greek Gods plain Greek yogurt for my most recent batch (my old yogurt was really old & “flat”). We love the results – almost no tartness & so yummy! But I have begun to worry that maybe the sourness of yogurt is part of the healthiness of it??? Do you think yogurt has to be at least somewhat tart to be effective health-wise?

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Paula June 15, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Elizabeth, I certainly hope not because I don’t like mine to be very tart at all. Either way, I certainly don’t lose sleep over it. Maintaining an appropriate weight will do more for your health than any single food you might or might not eat. At least, that’s the way I see it–but I’m no expert.

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Dorothy June 21, 2012 at 9:15 am

Hi,
I just make some yogurt in a yogurt maker and it turned out like sour milk…Can I still use this in recipes..
Thank you

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Paula June 21, 2012 at 10:30 am

Dorothy, I probably wouldn’t risk it. But that’s me. Sounds like you starter was no good or your milk was too hot to start with. :-(.

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Wendy June 25, 2012 at 8:50 am

Two yogurt failures after great success the firs time. I carefully regulate temperature with thermometer. the only difference was in my successful try, I used Dannon plain yogurt as starter. In my two failures, I used Dannon Greek yogurt (plain) as the starter. You can use Greek yogurt as starter, right? Can fresh multidophilus capsules (good stuff, kept in fridge from independent health food store) be opened and used as starter?

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Paula June 25, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Hi Wendy,
Yes, you can use Greek yogurt as a starter as well as regular yogurt. Don’t know about the capsules but I am not optimistic. The best starter is your own yogurt because you know it is fresh. I would try a half batch with a different brand and try to find the freshest possible. Recomend small batches until you have success again. Let me know how it goes.

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Rita June 25, 2012 at 11:29 am

Paula, could you please be more specific about the syrups and other things you add to your finished Greek yogurt? As I watched your video, I couldn’t understand the flavor of the first syrup, but did get the almond syrup and vanilla bean paste.

I looked, but did I miss a section on your website that addresses the different things people add to flavor their yogurt?

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Paula June 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Hi Rita,
You have given me an idea for another post. My current favorite sugar-free syrups to add are coconut, almond and vanilla. Usually add a dash of all them along with vanilla paste.

Watch for more on this topic in the future.

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Rita June 25, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I’ll be looking forward to your post, Paula. Sounds great! And thanks for the information about the syrups. I have no idea where to look for them, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open..

P.S. Have you tried the radicchio with the romaine? I hope it does (did) as well for you as it does for me.

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Paula June 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm

No, I forgot about it.  Thanks for reminding me.  Putting radicchio on my grocery list now. :-)

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Paula July 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Rita,
Have you seen my latest post??? Do you have a website? If so, I would gladly link to it in my post. paula

Carrie July 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I tried using a crock pot this time ( I put the yogurt in little jars submersed in water in it.) I set it on low like someone suggested to me once but silly me didn’t go back and check things out until 6 hours later and I found that the milk/yogurt had been heating at 180 degrees the entire time. I realize the yogurt is probably dead but is the milk ruined? Will I have to pour it out or is there something else I can do with it now?

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joan Riksen July 14, 2012 at 10:20 pm

I made the yogurt and all i got after very gently straining it was 2 and 1/2 cups of yogurt…The rest was whey…..There were not hardly any yogurt mixed in with the whey…I poured the whey back in the measureing bowel and it said 5 and 1/2 cups. last time I got about 2 and 1/2 cups of Whey…What do you think?

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Paula July 15, 2012 at 6:27 am

Joan,
Did you end up with something like yoghurt cheese? Just curious, how long did you strain it?

Personally, I like my yogurt very mild, so the more whey I can get out of it, the better. Then I add milk back in to make it the texture of sour cream. But if you don’t want to strain out so much whey, don’t strain as long and try chilling your yogurt before you strain it.

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Lizabeth July 31, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I followed you from Cote de Texas because your title was intriguing. I have been making my own Greek yogurt for years. I heat to 180 then fill my sink with ice cubes and some cold water and put the pan in bringing down the temp fast while keeping the thermometer in the milk. Once down I put in 1/2 cup of starter yogurt and stir it in. Then, and this is where it is different from all your posts, I put the milk in a double walled container. Lid it and let is sit overnight. I have used lots of different ones but you can purchase a large thermos, like drink dispensers that people take to their kids soccer games full of lemonade. They are quite inexpensive at Walmart and Target. It works 100% of the time. Then I strain with a colander and cheesecloth, which I rinse out and reuse for next time. I usually let it strain while I’m at work and in my fridge over a larger bowl. I admit it can be thick and hadn’t thought about whisking whey or milk back in. I prefer this method to using ovens or slow cooker type devices. I usually end up with about 3 cups of yogurt.
Cheers, Liz

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Paula August 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Liz,
So nice to hear from you. Sounds like we make our yogurt in a similar way. Hard to stray too far from nature’s work. I did notice you use a lot more starter. Have you ever tried cutting back. I bet you would be surprised how little you actually need to get the same results. I use only a teaspoon for a half-gallon of milk. Like the idea of a double walled container. pr

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Heather August 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

Do you ever find that your nicely set and strained yogurt turns runny after whipping? I stopped whipping my yogurt because of this problem. I start with this great batch of homemade yogurt, strain it, but then as I whip it the thickness seems to just “fall apart.” any ideas?

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Paula August 24, 2012 at 10:17 am

Heather,
I have noticed whipping makes the yogurt a bit thinner, but after chilling, it firms right up. I prefer the creamy smooth texture produced when whipped. I must say the type and brand of milk you use can really affect the texture too. This is something I’m beginning to notice more and more the longer I make yogurt. If you happen to live where Braum’s milk is sold, their fat-free milk makes the most awesome Greek yogurt imaginable. Of course, nothing says you have to whip it if you don’t want to. That’s the beauty of making it yourself.

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Heather August 24, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Hmm. Maybe I’ll try switching milk brands and go back to whipping it to see what happens. I had been content with my “unwhipped” version for the past 6 months or so, but I am oh-so-jealous of your beautiful Greek yogurt pic with the spoon standing up in the jar, and am now on a quest to make mine look as creamy and thick as yours looks!

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Boyd Rahier August 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm

I’ve been making crockpot Greek style yogurt for three or four months now and am having excellent results using whole, low fat or skim milk; cannot tell in the end product one from the other. Basie recipe is for two quarts milk. Question: when I strain the yogurt (I use an old T shirt) for an hour, I get about a pint of whey. Once I followed a suggestion and left it in the frig. for 8 hours. It came out great, but I ended up with well over a quart of whey. Comments please, and can you tell the difference in the end product of Greek yogurt regards how long you let it strain? Boyd Rahier, Minnesota

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Paula August 30, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Hi Boyd,
No matter how you strain yogurt, the longer you let it strain, the more whey you will get. I do not refrigerate mine before I strain and can easily get a quart of whey after only an hour of straining. Chilling slows down but does not stop the process. The more whey you take off, the milder and thicker your yogurt will be. I’m not sure if I answered your question. If not, write back. Nice to hear from you.

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Boyd Rahier August 30, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Paula: You answered my questions 100%. Thank you. Boyd Rahier

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Tash Page September 4, 2012 at 5:41 am

Hi there!! DO you think i could possibly make this with soy or a nut milk?? Im dairy free and missing yogurt so bad!

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Steve September 6, 2012 at 9:22 am

I forgot to turn on my yogurt maker. It’s supposed to be on for 12 hours; it’s been 11hours. Is it too late to turn maker on … or could I simply start over re-heating the mixture and going thru the whole process again … or should I throw out?

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Jeanne September 9, 2012 at 9:08 am

I processed my yogurt over night, and realized I forgot to add the culture. I used raw milk. Is it ok to go ahead and add in the culture and process again?

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Marion September 12, 2012 at 12:30 pm

My thanks for detailed info, and apologies if this question is addressed elsewhere; I’ve read thru and found related posts, but not a direct answer about yield.

From 2 quarts (8 cups) of milk (without dry milk powder addition), how much whey and how much yogurt do you get after straining it?

I realize there are many variables (type of milk, starter, time, heat, straining time and method etc), but it would be helpful to have a guideline. I didn’t keep track when I first started making yogurt a few weeks ago, but it seems to me that I get more and more whey, and less and less yogurt, as time goes by.

I’ve started to keep track of how much I get (current the yield is 4 cups whey, and about 3.5 cups yogurt, after <1 hour straining via a wet cloth)

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Paula September 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Marion,
Perhaps I need to write a post about this since several have asked this same question.

My experience is with nonfat milk and I usually drain until the amount of yogurt equals the amount of whey–so about half and half. Sometimes, I will forget about it and I get even more whey-closer to 4-1/2 or 5 cups. I don’t mind it though. I just add milk back until it’s the thickness I want.

Recently, I have started using Braums nonfat milk. Do you live in an area with Braum’s stores? It makes the most fabulous yogurt. Because they “concentrate” the solids (don’t understand the process), it tastes better and I get a lot more yogurt and less whey. I get more like 5-5-1/2 cups of yogurt and 3 cups of whey. The result? I don’t have to make it as often.

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Paula September 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Marion,
One other thing I just thought of. If you chill the yogurt before straining, it will usually yield less whey. It takes a lot longer to strain so I don’t like to do it that way but thought I would mention it.

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Marion September 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I don’t live near a Braums.

I had the same thought about chilling the yogurt before straining (rather than straining then refrigerating). I will try that, altho I do enjoy the rhythm of waking up to the pot of gold in the microwave and dumping it into the cloth-lined strainer.

Also, I think I will experiment with simply ‘stopping’ the straining process when I have 3 cups of whey, 3.5 cups of whey and 4 cups of whey – and seeing how I like the texture of the strained yogurt in each of those batches. Funny that I’ve become so addicted to this stuff, after years of only eating the store-bought pre-flavored stuff. I started to read and learn about making my own yogurt because, as empty-nesters, we don’t go thru a gallon of milk before it spoils. But now, a gallon of milk isn’t nearly enough to get thru the week!

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sammie September 19, 2012 at 11:15 am

I have been making yogurt for years and had my first failure. I always make 8 cups skim milk to 2 cups dry milk, heat to 185, cool to 110 before adding my starter. It usually takes my initial heating 15-18 min in the microwave to get the cold milk to 185. I usually stir it at 10 min and check temp. Today when I checked at 10 min, it had turned to milk solids. I tried to blend them in but to no avail. The liquid looks like whey and the solids look like cottage cheese almost. I used 2 cups of organic milk which I had used before (total 8 cups before and everything went fine that time). I added 6 cups of new milk that I have also used before and I believe have milked brands before. I had used this dry milk previously also. Any ideas on what went wrong this time? How can I use this whey and solids in a creative way. Our dog loves whey but is a lots of it.
Thanks for any help you can give me.
Sammie

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Ray October 17, 2012 at 4:58 am

Just came across your blog (excellent)…..OK my question. I know Greek yoghurt has more protein then regular yogurt, but if I am using Skimmed milk (or regular. cows or goats) the protein content is quite low in these (only 3.5 per 100g) …so does the protein amount increase after the boiling process?…how does the Greek yoghurt have more protein then regular.

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Paula October 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Hi Ray, Check out this post for an explanation.

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Sabrina December 10, 2012 at 11:32 am

I recently started making yogurt and learned much of the process from your site. I don’t have a thermometer (I refuse to invest in new equipment just to try something out) but I learned yogurt is very easy to make without one you just go by touch for everything. I cool the milk down to a comfortable level and incubate at a comfortable level. I’ve had yogurt since the first try. I only had yogurt turn runny once and simply strained it longer than usual and it was perfect. Thank you for sharing your method. I learned a new skill.

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Paula December 11, 2012 at 11:51 am

Glad to hear it Sabrina. People who are not as confident as you find a thermometer helpful but of course, people have made yogurt for centuries without one. Happy yogurt eating!

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rikki January 5, 2013 at 8:35 pm

I made yogurt yesterday, using a yogurt maker. i have done it a few times before hand and have been successful, have even tried greek yogurt per your direction. however, yesterday i forgot to put the yogurt in the fridge. it was left out at in room temperature for 24 hours. all the whey has seemed to disappear, why is that?
thanks,
rikki

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Paula January 5, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Rikki,
I wish I had a good answer for you but honestly, I have no idea. For some reason, it was absorbed but not sure why. I suspect it will reappear when you chill it.

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Sue February 2, 2013 at 8:05 am

Hi,

I make my yogurt in a yogurt making machine. I made a batch yesterday and forgot to put it in the fridge when it was done. It sat out for about 8 hours, not refridgerated. I assume I should throw it away?

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Mollie February 14, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Hi: I purchasd a cousine yogurt maker w/ the 7 jars, got rid of them amd 2 16oz bell mason jars (collection elite) fit nicely. I used goat milk, poured it in the jar cold and used cold greek yogurt I had made before w/goat milk. Stirred it in, then put it in the yogurt maker for 13 hrs and it was yogurt. It is now in fridge, I will make greek out of it and this is how it works for me. I have made it with half and half and coconut milk and also coconut milk in the can and it worked every time. When i heated the milk i had to do the made greek yogurt twice so now i do not heat it to 180degrees at all and i have a ton of yogurt. I am delighted.

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lindy February 15, 2013 at 9:02 am

How long is too long to incubate yogurt? I just did a batch and left it 15 hours on accident. Is it safe? My baby girl loves it, so i want tobe sure i got this batch right before i give it to her!

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Sharon February 15, 2013 at 11:00 am

Hello!
I enjoy your website!
I have tried to make yougurt several times and it seems to fail. I am trying this microwave recipe of yours but I set my microwave at 17 minutes and it got too hot…like a little over 200 degrees! Will this spoil my yogurt again? It is cooling now. Also, I dont have one of those fine strainers to get the whey out, what can I use in place of that? How much do you sweeten or about how much? Thanks so much!

God Bless, Sharon

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Paula February 15, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Hi Sharon,
Heating your milk to over 200 degrees shouldn’t be a deal breaker but I can’t say for sure. Haven’t ever done it myself. If you don’t have a fine strainer you can use a grocery store strainer lined with cheesecloth, a clean t-shirt, or a tea towel. It’s kind of a mess to clean up in my opinion so if you find you really like to make your own yogurt, it’s worth it to invest in a good strainer. See this post.

If I sweeten my yogurt at all, I use a little bit of Torani sugar-free syrup–approx 1 tablespoon per cup of yogurt. I do other things do, like a tablespoon of cream of coconut. That is absolutely yummy if you like coconut.

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Mollie February 15, 2013 at 4:59 pm

the reason i use H & H NO SUGAR i am diabetic.

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caroline February 21, 2013 at 7:16 am

Hello Paula!
I’ve trying to make yogurt everyday the past week but it seems like I’m making something wrong!
I just don’t understand the temperature! How can I keep it on 100-110 for 7 to 10 hours?! It seems like it always drops and I never get the yogurt texture I’ve seen in your videos. It looks more like a thick cottage cheese.
Do you think is a temperature problem? Or a milk or culture one? (i’m using Chobain plain yogurt as culture).
Can I eat anyway? It tastes a little weird but maybe con honey gets better!
Please I need some advice! I want to be able to get my own batches!!
thank you!!

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Paula February 21, 2013 at 7:24 am

Hi Caroline,
How are you incubating your yogurt? Have you read this post for ideas? Also look through the comments for more ideas. You must keep the incubating yogurt at 100 degrees for best results. What kind of milk are you using? If your yogurt starter is fresh, it should be fine. How much yogurt are you adding to the milk. Only 2-3 teaspoons are required although many people think you need much more but then their yogurt does not turn out as good.

Thick cottage cheese? I assume this is after putting a spoon into it but before straining it. Once you strain, then whisk, it should be all creamy. Have you seen my video? How does it compare to mine?

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Carolynn March 9, 2013 at 5:30 pm

I gotten addicted to the Oikos Vanilla greek yogurt and decided to start making homemade. I just finished my first batch of and am pleased with the result. I’ve decided to buy a strainer to make it a bit thicker as you demonstrate.

I want to make Vanilla yogurt but how? This first batch I added a bit of honey and pure vanilla extract but the flavor wasn’t right. I think I need to add a bit more vanilla, but the honey flavor was overshadowing the vanilla and the yogurt was still more tart than I prefer.

Any ‘recipes’ for making the vanilla flavored yogurt?

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Paula March 10, 2013 at 8:23 am

Carolynn,

As you have already figured out, honey has a pretty strong flavor so you might want to try a different sweetener. I use vanilla bean paste and absolutely love it. It’s available from Williams-Sonoma and Amazon and other fine food sources. The better your vanilla, the better the flavor.

Regarding the tartness, you can reduce it in two ways. Incubate the yogurt less time. In general, incubating more than 6-8 hours does not make it thicker, just more tart. Also, when you drain off the whey, you drain away a lot of the tartness. I like to drain until the volume of my yogurt is reduced by 1/3 to 1/2. If it gets too thick, no problem. Just add milk (or cream or vanilla-flavored soy milk, my favorite) until it is the consistency you like.

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Valerie March 14, 2013 at 10:02 am

I accidentally heated the milk to about 195 degrees. Will it still make a quality yogurt or did I just waste almost a gallon of milk?

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Pat March 29, 2013 at 11:24 am

Hi Paula,

Love all your yogurt making advice, and your video for making
Greek yogurt is great. I really like those little flat glass jars with the white plastic screw-on lids that you put your yogurt in. Who makes them and where can I buy them?

I note in your answers to people you say how you watch your weight. But from your video, it appears you have no need to do that, and you look very healthy. Probably all that yogurt you eat!

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Paula March 30, 2013 at 8:19 am

Pat,
Thanks for your kind words. I definitely have to watch my weight–that’s why I eat my salad in a jar everyday.

I get the flat glass jars from Target. People who see me carrying those at work think I am about to eat a candle. The plastic lids are purchased separately and are available in some grocery stores and hardware stores where canning supplies are sold.

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aryherd.wol@gmail.com April 3, 2013 at 5:58 pm

I am a teacher of 7th graders doing a unit on microbiology. In looking for a project for the class I came across your blog. I have watched all the videos and read ALOT. Tomorrow our class will make their own yogurt! Wish us luck. Thank you for all the very helpful information. My plan is to make my own at home on an ongoing basis if all goes well. Again, Thanks.

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Sorenna April 14, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Hi! Your video is wonderful and so easy to follow. Thank you! My yogurt is brewing now. I hope it’s tasty.
A tip I used because my oven does not set to 100 – I turned it on warm and placed a burner cover AND a plate over the back burner. It made the plate just a tad warm- PERFECT.
Thanks for your videos and tips!!

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May May 2, 2013 at 11:42 am

I make yogurt with a yogurt maker and it always turns out great.

I start with room temperature milk and it takes 10 hours to have a good thickness yogurt. Typically I set it before I go to bed. Put a note on the maker so if I sleep in, whoever is awake would turn it off. (I have a small baby so nights are unpredictable) anyway. My loving MIL turned it off about 4 hours early because apparently she didn’t see the note. I woke up to find the yogurt completely cool and a little runny.

The question: would reheating the maker again resume the fermenting process at this point? Or is there no hope?

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Sarah G June 23, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I totally failed at making yogurt today. I used raw milk, warmed it up to 110, stirred in an older starter packet and put it in my yogurt maker. Now I have half whey and half slimy thick cheese like stinky stuff. Do I just need a newer starter? I want to keep it raw. (What a waste of 2 quarts of raw milk!)

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Stacy July 18, 2013 at 7:58 pm

The last two times I strained my yogurt, the whey was not clear. It is almost like some of the yogurt is straining off with the whey. I strain using a cheesecloth. I’ve reused the cheesecloth and I’m wondering if it is breaking down too much and letting too many particles through. Next time I’ll try the tea towel instead. Anything else I need to do differently?

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Paula July 19, 2013 at 7:10 am

Hi Stacy,
Have you tried wetting your cheesecloth before you use it? That might help. Personally, I do not use a cheesecloth. Much prefer my fine mesh strainer.

Is your yogurt as thick as before? Are you using different milk or a different starter or incubating it in a different way?

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Stacy July 21, 2013 at 3:16 pm

The second to last time I used non-homogenized milk for the first time. Then, I went back to the milk I had been using previously. However, my starter is now from the one batch that was non-homogenized. Would that be making a difference?

This time the yogurt is not as thick, but that is because I tried to strain the whey a second time and didn’t let it strain as long, so I have more whey in with my yogurt (so, in reality, I don’t believe the thickness actually changed because after the first strain it was “normal” for me).

Thanks for your help!

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Joanne July 19, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I heated my milk and ,without thinking, added my starter. Can I continue ? Or dump? Thanks

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Sue July 26, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Why does my yogurt fail to thicken in Denver CO. I used the same recipe, starter, incubator as worked fine for me in NYS?????? NYS thick and creamy, CO thin and watery…… this has happened at least 3x.

Curious…..:}

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