If you’ve ever had a problem with this yogurt, this homemade yogurt trouble shooting guide is for you! Once you learn what can cause problems, it’s so much easier to avoid them in the future!
I love yogurt! Our goats were dry for a few months during the winter, but guess what?! All but one of them has freshened!
The kids are still taking most of the milk – though that’s beginning to change – but we are getting some, and you know that that means – we’re making homemade yogurt!
Throughout the years, I’ve had pretty much every result you can think of (or at least that I can think of) while making yogurt. Too runny, too sour, not sour at all, spoiled, massive separation of the curd and whey – you name it.
So here’s a little bit of why some of these things might happen, and what you can do to correct it.
Problem #1:Too thin
- Diet -I’ve come to believe that this is largely influenced by the goat or cow’s diet. Our yogurt is noticeably thicker when the goats are eating a lot of more concentrated feed. Their diet influences the composition of the milk, including the prevalence of solids, so it makes sense.
- Incubation temperature – Too hot and you may kill the culture, too cold and it won’t grow adequately.
- Incubation time – Perhaps the yogurt simply hasn’t had enough time to grow the cultures.
- Unless you own the animal, there’s not a whole lot you can do about her diet, but there are some things you can do to overcome the consequences.
- Gelatin – Add some plain gelatin – or flavored if you want to make flavored yogurt – to the milk at the same time you add your yogurt culture. Try starting with 1/2 a teaspoon per quart and go from there.
- Rennet – As with the gelatin, you would add this at the same time you add the yogurt culture. 1 drop of liquid rennet per gallon of milk should do it. If you’re making yogurt by the quart as I often do, mix 1 drop of rennet with 4 tablespoons of water. Then add 1 tablespoon of the mixture to your milk.
- Use a candy thermometer to test your incubation temperature. Ideally, it will be 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lengthen incubation time. If your temperature is too low, and there’s nothing you can do about it, try incubating longer.
This yogurt is thick enough!
Problem #2: too sour
- Incubation time too long.
- Shorten incubation time.
Problem #3: Too little taste/not sour
- Incubation time too short
- Dead culture
- Lengthen incubation time
- Acquire new yogurt starter . This could be in the form of powdered culture, which you can purchase from online retailers including amazon.com, or new yogurt from a seperate batch of homemade yogurt, or the grocery store – Dannon natural is perfect.
Problem #4: “off” or putrid taste/smell
- Contamination of starter. Bad bacteria is everywhere, especially if you’re making bread, and working with yeast in the same kitchen that you’re culturing dairy products.
- Contamination of milk. same cause, different component.
- New starter. See above. If your starter has gone bad, you’ll need to get a new one.
- New milk. If your starter is fine, then it’s very possible that your milk was contaminated at some point.
- Clean kitchen/house. I’m not implying that you’re a poor housekeeper. The fact is, we all have bacteria floating around our houses. Smell a stinky diaper? That’s contaminating your air. Spraying air freshener to cover it up? That’s contaminating the area too. Making sourdough bread? That’s very possibly your problem. Those yeasts will contaminate your dairy products in no time flat. Making arrangements such as baking and culturing dairy on separate days will go a long way toward preventing this.
In light of all the above, yogurt making may sound like a big, scary task, but it’s really not! In every instance except the last one, the yogurt is still perfectly edible. This troubleshooting guide is simply meant to help you perfect your yogurt making endeavors, so whatever you do, have fun with it!
Now it’s your turn: what did I miss? Do you have anything to add to this troubleshooting guide?