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Homemade Yogurt Troubleshooting Guide


If you’ve ever had a problem with this yogurt, this homemade yogurt troubleshooting guide is for you! Once you learn what can cause problems, it’s so much easier to avoid them in the future!

Image shows a bowl of homemade yogurt with two strawberries and text that reads "Homemade Yogurt Troubleshooting"

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 – 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Image shows a jar of yogurt tipped on the side to illustrate it's thick enough
This yogurt is thick enough!

Problem #2: too sour

  • Incubation time is 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 separate 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?

Do you like homemade yogurt? Give these a try!

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  1. Hello,
    I have been making yogurt now for about a year and a half. But one batch turned out different. The taste and smell were fine , it was the texture. Very silky. Kinda like melted marshmallows.Was wondering if you had an idea as to why that would have happen. Thank you for your time.

  2. Hi there,
    I make yogurt every month or so in an Instant Pot, always using a small container of local, organic, plain cow’s milk yogurt as the starter. I use the standard Instant Pot yogurt setting and typically ferment about 12 hours. This time I wanted to have a tangier, more acidic final product, so I followed the same steps, but increased the fermenting time to about 20 hours. The result was a lovely texture, but no acidity or tanginess whatsoever. It doesn’t even smell like yogurt at all! Any ideas on what could have happened? The texture is just perfect.
    Thank you!!

  3. I think that boiling water in a kettle (electric or otherwise) and pouring it on the instruments and container for sanitizing them, also goes a long way in having good yoghurt. As well as adding a thickener for fat free milk and non dairy milk. I have just started making yoghurt experimenting with skim milk, soy milk, almond milk, and instant skim powdered milk. All but the almond milk, (it was taken out of the freezer and had separated) were successful. I placed a slurry of 2 teasp of cornstarch (always in the house) before scalding the milk to 180 degrees in the microwave oven, cooling it down to 110 degrees before adding the 2 tablsp of Stonyfield yoghurt, (somehow in the house too!) and culture for a 10 hours.For the vegetarian milks I also add a tablesp of honey or maple syrup as added bacteria feed. For coconut milk and soy milk not really necessary as they are starchy and have their own sugars anyway. For almond milk would need. Now I have an instant pot and an extra insert just for milk products. I always make a quart of milk at a time. I do not use yoghurt as a starter that is already more than a week. For making your own heirloom yoghurt, you have to get a good starter and continue making yoghurt every week, (somehow starters that are frozen do not do that well using as starter from each subsequent batch and continuing.

  4. I’ve made yogurt for years with great results. But this batch never stops fermenting. It seemed normal when I put 2 jars full in the fridge. It’s continued to ferment and has developed a fizzy taste. It overflowing onto the fridge shelf! It doesn’t smell off, just a strong smell. No mold or discoloration. I’m completely baffled – any ideas? Thanks so much!

  5. I had been given a gallon of fresh unpasturized goat milk by a friend who has her own goats. I pastuerized it, froze it, and thawed it when I was ready to make yogurt. The yogurt has clum[y spolds in bottom half and top half is a cloudy but see thorugh liquid that looks like whey. I did not put in any solidifying agents this first time. It smells just like yogurt. I used to have a yogut maker years ago and making cows milk yogurt in it was very easy. Are the solids in my goat milk separated from the whey because I froze it first? My friend lives far away and I have no alternative. Two us us cannot eat that much yogurt if I make it with fresh goat mild. It is taking two days to solidify anyway and the temp is probably too low in the fermentation. I wanted to use it as a probiotic for our sheep, too.

  6. What happens if the milk is ultrapasteurized? Also can you put it in the oven with the oven light on ? Thanks in advance

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