Yogurt Starter Troubleshooting FAQ

Q. My first batch of yogurt (using the freeze-dried starter) has been culturing for the maximum number of hours but is still the consistency of milk. What should I do?

A. At times, the activation batch will not set up as expected. While it isn’t the most desirable outcome, it should only happen with the first batch. Put a tight lid on the container and store in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours. Following the instructions for culturing, use a portion of the activation batch to culture the next batch. Subsequent batches should set up well. Any milk remaining from the activation batch is cultured and can be used in smoothies.

 

Q. My yogurt separated into solid and liquid layers (curds and whey). What happened?

A. Separation is usually an indication of overculturing or culturing at too warm of a temperature. Adjust the length of culture time and check the culturing temperature to make sure it is within the appropriate range.

 

Q. My yogurt seems to have set, but there's a little clear liquid (whey) floating on the top and the sides. Is this okay?

A. Some whey formation is normal when culturing. Drain the whey for a slightly thicker yogurt or stir it in, which will give you a thinner yogurt. 

 

Q. My yogurt looks lumpy and curdled. What did I do wrong?

A. Sometimes overculturing (too long or too warm) can cause the yogurt to curdle or become lumpy before it separates fully. To make a smooth consistency, simply whisk it. (Remove some of the whey if you like, or stir it back in.) Check the culturing temperature to make sure it is within range: 105°-112°F for thermophilic cultures, 70°-77°F for mesophilic cultures.

A culture that is too old can also cause this problem. We recommend reculturing heirloom cultures within 7 days for best results.

 

Q. Why is my yogurt is grainy or gritty

A. If the flavor is pleasant, but the texture is grainy or gritty, it often indicates that the milk was heated too quickly. Heat milk slowly to avoid this issue.

 

Q. Why is my yogurt bitter?

A. Using too much starter can crowd the bacteria, creating a thin consistency and a bitter flavor.

Overcultured yogurt may also taste bitter. Check the culturing temperature to verify it is within the appropriate range.

 

Q. Why is my yogurt thinner than store-bought yogurt?

A. Store-bought yogurts generally contain thickeners. Drain whey or add thickeners to homemade yogurt to achieve similar thickness. Details are in this article: How to Thicken and Flavor Homemade Yogurt.

 

Q. Why is my raw milk yogurt runny?

A. Heating denatures the milk proteins, which allows the milk to coagulate and thicken more. Raw milk has not been heated; therefore, the proteins remain intact and will not coagulate the same way and cannot create a thick yogurt. Choose options for thickening yogurt, if desired

 

Q. Why is my yogurt too sour or not sour enough?

A. Temperatures on the higher end of the temperature range and longer culture times will yield a more sour flavor. To achieve a less sour flavor, culture at the lower end of the range or for a shorter period of time. If choosing to culture for a long periods of time, read our article, The Benefits and Perils of a Long Culture Time.

 

Q. Why is my yogurt foamy (or stringy) and yeasty-smelling? 

A. This issue is generally caused by cross contamination from yeast, which can come from a sourdough starter culturing too closely, or wild natural yeast that has come in contact with the yogurt. To avoid this problem, be sure to clean all equipment, utensils, counters and other materials used in the yogurt-making process.

 

Q. Why is my yogurt moldy?

A. Mold is rare in yogurt making. Make sure all equipment, utensils, counters and other materials are clean. Do not culture near garbage cans or compost bins. Use the freshest milk. Make sure to store direct-set cultures in the freezer to keep them fresh and reculture heirloom cultures at least every 7 days. If mold appears, discard everything and begin fresh with a new starter.

 

                                                
   
Homemade Yogurt


Related Articles & Recipes:

 

Related Products:

Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Yogurt Starter
Yogurt Maker Yogurt Makers
Basic Thermometer
Basic Thermometer

 

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<td><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span> <br />
<p><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Originally a simple fermented dairy product, yogurt now has many variations and personalities. It can be thin and runny, or thick and firm. It can be made from cow milk, goat milk, sheep milk, nut milk, soy milk, rice milk, and from numerous other creamy substances. In some countries the milk of buffalo, horses, yaks, or camels is used.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">For most of this discussion, we&rsquo;ll refer to yogurt in its original form: a fermented dairy milk. This was how yogurt was first developed, and most of the yogurt in the world is made this way.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Essentially yogurt is the product of beneficial bacteria fermenting milk and turning it into a thickened, acidic food that will stay fresh longer than milk itself, and that contains millions of bacteria that are welcomed by the human gut.</span></p>
<h1><br /><strong><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">The History of Yogurt</span></strong></h1>
<p><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">The word yogurt comes from a Turkish word meaning to curdle or to thicken. Today it is spelled yogurt, yoghurt, or yogourt, with yogurt being the most common American spelling.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">It&rsquo;s probable that the earliest yogurt was made by accident in Mesopotamia around 5,000 BC, when milk-producing animals were first domesticated. The milk was likely stored and transported in bags made from the stomachs of these animals, and the digestive juices and bacteria in the stomach linings made the milk coagulate and become acidic. Not only was it a new and interesting food, but the acidity and helped to keep it edible for longer</span> <span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">than if it had just sat out in a bowl or jar.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">There is also some evidence of yogurt being used as a cleaning product and a beauty lotion as early as 2000 BC. The acidity of the yogurt helps clean away dirt and rust, and also helps clear away dead skin and nourish healthy skin cells.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Yogurt was a popular food in the Middle East for thousands of years, and has been a staple of the Eastern European diet. It&rsquo;s now eaten throughout the world, as a main course, a snack, an ingredient in many recipes, and a condiment. It has gained considerable popularity in America in the last forty or fifty years, in keeping with general trends toward organic, cultured, and nutrient-dense foods.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Yogurt can be mildly tart or quite sour, and can be thick enough to stand up on a plate, or thin enough to pour, or anywhere in between. It contains protein and calcium as well as a variety of vitamins. Additionally, the process of yogurt fermentation is very similar to the process of digestion, so it can be easily consumed.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Many people eat yogurt plain, while others prefer to mix it with fruits or vegetables, or to add flavors or sweeteners. It is used in a variety of recipes as a flavor enhancer or leavening, and frequently enjoyed as a refreshing drink.</span></p>
<h1><br /><strong><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Nutritional Content</span></strong></h1>
<p><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Not only does yogurt contain the same amount of protein and fat as the milk from which it is made, it also contains calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. While numerous claims have been made regarding the health benefits and digestibility of yogurt, we don&rsquo;t comment on medical, health, or nutritional qualities of our products. However, a great deal of research on the subject is readily available on the Internet and in dozens of books.</span></p>
<h1><br /><strong><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">How is Yogurt Made?</span></strong></h1>
<p><strong><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span></strong><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">True yogurt is made from animal milk. Theoretically, the milk of any mammal could be used to make yogurt.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">With care, yogurt cultures can also be used to ferment and coagulate non-dairy &ldquo;milks&rdquo; such as the creamy liquid obtained from nuts, rice, soy, or coconut. While these products are technically not really yogurt, they can be used and enjoyed just like dairy yogurt, alone or in recipes.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Put very simply, the process of turning milk into yogurt involves fermentation. Certain types of bacteria act on the lactose (milk sugar) that is in milk, and produce lactic acid. The lactic acid lowers the pH of the milk, and causes the milk protein to coagulate and make a firm mass. The acidified milk is an inhospitable environment for destructive bacteria, so the yogurt stays fresh longer than untreated milk.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">The bacteria that does this is called beneficial bacteria, because it supports digestion and is nourishing, as opposed to pathogenic (harmful) bacteria that causes disease. The beneficial bacteria is called probiotic. It&nbsp; is similar or identical to the type of bacteria that lives in the human gut and which is responsible for the process of food absorption. When you use live cultures, the probiotics stay in the yogurt, and the yogurt can then be used as a starter to make more yogurt.</span></p>
<h1><br /><strong><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">Yogurt and Other Fermented Dairy Products</span></strong></h1>
<p><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">There are many different ways that beneficial bacteria can be introduced to milk and make an entirely new food. The main difference between the different fermented dairy products is the bacteria used to make them, resulting in different flavors and consistencies.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;"><em>Yogurt</em> can be cultured with a variety of different bacteria combinations, each of which gives the yogurt a characteristic taste and consistency. There are typically somewhere between the range of two to six different bacteria strains in yogurt, and they are similar to the bacteria found in the intestines.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;"><em>Kefir</em> is a thickened milk made from little clumps of yeast, bacteria, and milk proteins that ferment the milk. There are about thirty different bacteria strains present in kefir grains. It has a slightly sour flavor and sometimes a faint effervescence. Koumiss is a similar product, made from mare&rsquo;s milk.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;"><em>Buttermilk</em> is the name given to the whey that&rsquo;s left over when butter is made, but it more commonly refers to a milk drink made by adding bacteria to low-fat milk, producing a thickened product with a tangy flavor.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;"><em>Sour cream</em> is cream or high-fat milk that&rsquo;s been cultured and thickened. It&rsquo;s very slightly sour, and usually quite thick. It was originally made by letting fresh cream thicken naturally as a result of fermentation from the bacteria present in the cream. When cream is pasteurized and has no natural bacteria present, it must be fermented with added bacteria.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;"><em>Cr&egrave;me fraiche</em> is a European-style sour cream, slightly sweeter than what we are used to in America. It&rsquo;s also made by letting raw cream thicken naturally, or by adding buttermilk cultures to cream. Cr&egrave;me fraiche can be heated without curdling, unlike sour cream.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;">In recipes, you can often substitute one cultured milk product for another and get similar results. In fact, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between a thin, tart yogurt and a thick, sour kefir or a creamy buttermilk!</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; font-size: small;"><em>Soft and hard cheeses</em> are also made by culturing milk over a longer period of time. Some cheeses can be easily made by straining the moisture out of yogurt or sour cream, while others require additional fermentation and culturing steps.</span></p>
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