The most common yogurt making problems are addressed below. Making yogurt is a fairly simple process, but occasionally problems do arise. The following tips should help
A few common problems that people have with homemade yogurt are:
- Yogurt is too thin and runny
- Yogurt takes to long to set up
- Yogurt doesn’t set up at all after 12 hours
Homemade yogurt has a different consistency than store-bought yogurt which is usually made partially from dry milk solids and contains stabilizers and starches.
For thicker yogurt you can either strain it or add powdered dry milk while heating milk.
Reasons for yogurt not turning out right, listed in order of 1-5, one being the most common.
1. The quality and presence of live yogurt cultures is not adequate.
It is common for people making yogurt for the first time to discover that there are no cultures in the store-bought yogurt they are using for a culture.
If you are using a plain yogurt for your starter, it can be tricky to tell if it actually contains live cultures. It may list cultures in the ingredients, but
if it does not not have the live and active cultures seal, it probably has been heat-treated and will not work.
It can even say contains live cultures or made with live cultures on the container, but if it doesn’t have the seal, it does not contain a suitable amount and quality of live and active cultures.
Yogurt culture may be too old or not have enough viable culture in it to culture the yogurt quickly. For example a yogurt brand like Dannon which contains 2 strains of culture will take 6-8 hours to culture, while a brand like Stonyfield yogurt (containing 4 strains of cultures) will take 4-6 hours.
I highly recommend using Stonyfield Yogurt for a culture, it works great for me every time.
2. The kind of milk used is not sufficient.
It can be difficult to find regular pasturized milk in some stores, but ultra-pasturized milk will not support the yogurt cultures.
Lactaid milk or any other lactose-free milk also will not support the yogurt cultures since they need lactose (milk sugar). Any other kind of milk can be made into yogurt. Soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, goat milk, sheep milk, water buffalo milk… (just in case you happen to have a water buffalo in your backyard)
3. The yogurt is too cold during fermentation.
There are many methods of making yogurt that work well. It is a simple process, however if you live in a very cold climate you might find that some of the methods do not keep the
yogurt warm enough during incubation. The yogurt generally needs to be kept at around 100 degrees, but if it is a little colder, it just takes longer for the yogurt to thicken.
If it is too cold however, it will never thicken.
4. The yogurt culture is added too soon after heating the milk.
The scalded milk needs to cool to at least 110 degrees before adding the culture otherwise you risk killing the cultures.
5. Unclean utensils and containers have been used.
The live cultures in yogurt are bacteria and they can be affected by other bacteria that may be on your dishes and utensils. You should disinfect your yogurt pot, containers and utensils in boiling water before you make yogurt. I simply get out the pot I will be using and put everything else into it and fill with water. I bring it to a boil and then dump out the water and everything I need to use is clean. I don’t do this with my thermometer though, I just wash it in warm water.
I’d actually worry more about soap residue on my dishes than bacteria. If you use a dishwasher that leaves residue on your dishes, you want to be sure to get them rinsed clean. Not just for yogurt making, but in general that stuff is bad for you.
By the way, sometimes I don’t disinfect my yogurt making supplies because I am in a hurry. I’ve never had a batch of yogurt not turn out. So, I don’t really think it is too big of a deal.