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How to Make Raw Milk Yogurt

When using raw milk to make yogurt, there are several factors to consider. How will the bacteria content of the raw milk affect the yogurt culture? What is the consistency of raw milk yogurt? What are the potential risks?

Following the discussion of these special considerations are links to detailed instructions for each type of yogurt culture used for making raw milk yogurt.

Special Considerations when Making Raw Milk Yogurt

Making yogurt with raw milk differs from using pasteurized milk and several factors should be considered.

Perpetuation of the Culture. Some varieties of yogurt starter (direct-set) are meant to be used once, while others (heirloom) are meant to be perpetuated from batch-to-batch.

If using a perpetuating yogurt culture, it is necessary to first make a pasteurized mother culture to inoculate each batch of raw milk yogurt, to keep your yogurt starter healthy. 

Please note that yogurt made from a direct-set starter and raw milk may not re-culture well.

Bacteria Content. We recommend using only fresh milk to make yogurt. Raw milk comes with its own set of beneficial bacteria. If your milk is a few days old or wasn't chilled quickly enough, that bacterial count can be high. This means that the culture you introduce could have some hefty competition, which can lead to yogurt with an “off” flavor or yogurt that does not culture properly.

Consistency. Raw milk generally makes yogurt that has a much thinner consistency than yogurt made with pasteurized milk. 

There are several ways to thicken raw milk yogurt. The simplest option is to drain whey from the yogurt using butter muslin or a tight-weave cloth. Other options for thickening yogurt are available.

Raw milk is not homogenized; therefore, as the milk cultures and the yogurt sets, the cream will rise to the top. The top layer of the raw milk yogurt will be more yellow and of a much thicker consistency. This layer can be scooped off and eaten alone or mixed into the yogurt.

Risk. Although most people who consume raw milk do not feel that raw milk is inherently dangerous, there are risks to everything and people have become ill from raw milk. It is also possible to become ill from pasteurized milk. Talk to your farmer, research, and decide if these risks are worth it.

Ready to get started making raw milk yogurt? Instructions for each type of culture can be found here:

Two metal milk cans outside near dirt road

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