Yogurt FAQ

Types of Dairy Milk

Fresh Milk

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Fresh milk from the store makes great yogurt. Fresh whole milk, trim milk, even cream, all make great yogurt.

Choose fresh whole milk with no additives, from grass fed cows, for the best yogurt. The better the milk, the better the yogurt.

Shelf Stable Milks

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Ultra pasteurized and ultra heat treated milks can be used to make yogurt but they often have a cooked flavor.  Fresh milk is best.

Unpasteurized Milk

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Raw milk consumers often question us about the need to heat the milk to 194°F (90°C) as a first step in making homemade yogurt.

This initial heating has nothing to do with pasteurizing the milk; it is helping to bind the milk proteins to make a thicker yogurt.

We understand the reluctance to heat raw milk to this level, but you are creating a blank canvas for the beneficial probiotic yogurt starter cultures to thrive in.

Making yogurt from raw milk without heating it to 194°F (90°C) and culturing it at 113°F (45°C), will result in a thin yogurt that may contain unwanted yeats, molds and bacteria.

Powdered Milk

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Yogurt can be made from powdered milk.  It has a slightly cooked flavor, but it can be useful as a store cupboard stand-by or when camping.

Follow the manufacturers directions to mix up the milk and continue with the yogurt making recipe. Adding additional milk powder can be useful for sheep and goats milk yogurt but is not necessary for cows milk yogurt.

Goat & Sheep Milk

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Fresh and powdered milk from goats and sheep makes a more delicate yogurt.

The milk will culture well and be full of live yogurt bacteria but it often does not thicken well. Consider consuming it as a drinking yogurt in smoothies rather than trying to thicken it. 

If you do wish to make a thicker goat or sheep milk yogurt, try adding additional goat or sheep milk powder to the mix, or strain the chilled yogurt through cheese cloth.

Types of Plant Milk

Coconut Milk Yogurt

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Coconut milk is naturally high in fat which is one reason it makes such a rich, delicious yogurt. Any brand with over 5% fat will make a good coconut yogurt. The higher the fat, the thicker the yogurt.

For a lighter coconut yogurt make a 'half and half' batch with one can of high fat and one can of low-fat coconut milk.

Almond Milk Yogurt

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Almond Milk must have a minimum nut content of 15% to make tasty thick yogurt.

To achieve this, increase the nut content of your favorite brand of milk by blending in almond flour or ground almonds to the milk before you begin the basic recipe.

Ground nuts give the yogurt a porridge-like texture, which we like. If you like a smooth texture, use finer nut flour.  

Soy Milk Yogurt

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Soy milk produces a beautifully silky yogurt with fat and protein between 2-4%. It has the closest nutritional profile to dairy yogurt.

Flavored soy milk can make nice yogurt too - vanilla and chocolate are great ways to get the kids eating yogurt - but watch the sugar content of flavored soy milk as it can be high.

Oat Milk Yogurt

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Oat Milk has a lovely flavor and many people want to make it. However, commercial oat milks are just too thin to make a good thick yogurt.

We suggest blending 1 cup of whole oats per liter (litre) filtered water and following our "From Scratch" recipe in the Plant Based Yogurt Starter.

Another delicious blend is Oaty Coconut yogurt. Use 1/2 cup whole oats and 1 can coconut milk. Make up the volume to 1 liter (litre) with filtered water and follow our From Scratch recipe.

Homemade Nut & Seed Milks

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If you have a blender, try making some interesting batches of different nuts and seeds for your yogurt.

Rather than straining them out we leave the nuts and seeds in for adding fiber, texture and goodness.

Use filtered water and a minimum of 15% solids. One of our favorites is made from scratch with whole almonds and coconut. Cashews make a lovely creamy yogurt too.  

Yogurt Makers

Do I need a Yogurt Maker?

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You need a way of keeping milk between 96°F - 113°F (36°C - 45°C) for 8 hours. Yogurt makers are designed to do this.

You will read of other ways such as leaving the oven on low, putting it in front of the fire, putting it in a slow cooker or wrapping it in blankets and putting it in a cooler box.

These methods can be expensive and inconsistent. It is easy to make your yogurt too hot or too cold and then it won't set.

Do not culture yogurts for 24 hours in a jar on your kitchen bench. You will invite unwanted yeasts and molds to grow.

A good yogurt maker will pay for itself in no time as you save money on store bought yogurt. It is a good investment.

What temperature should my maker be?

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Yogurt cultures best in a temperature range of  96°F - 113°F (36°C - 45°C). 

Below 96°F (36°C) yogurt will culture very slowly and may develop a slimy texture and off flavors.

Do not culture yogurts for 24 hours in a jar on your kitchen bench. You will invite unwanted yeasts and molds to grow.

Can I use an Instant Pot to make yogurt?

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Slow cookers and Instant Pots have temperature settings that are too high for incubating yogurt successfully. 

If the temperature of the yogurt goes over 113°F (45°C) during the 8 hour culturing, the live yogurt starter bacteria start to die.

Can I use my plastic EasiYo or Hansells to make fresh milk yogurt?

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Yes, just don't use boiling water!

1. Prepare your fresh milk and starter culture according to the fresh milk method.

2. Put it in the plastic yogurt maker and fill it with 113°F (45°C) water

3. Check the water temperature after 4 hours and refill with more 113°F (45°C) water if it has dropped  below 97°F (36°C).

4. After 8 hours put it in the fridge to set.

These plastic makers do work to make natural fresh milk yogurt, but they lose heat faster and are designed for making milk powder blends that don't need pre-heating.

Can I make smaller quantities?

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I have the 1 quart (1 litre) yogurt maker - can I use smaller jars in it? or make half batches?

Yes, this is especially handy for rich yogurts like coconut or even yogurt sour cream.

Use smaller jars rather than half-filling your quart jar. This lets you fill the maker with warm water to keep the heat up during culturing.

You can also place another jar of warm water in the bottom to make your smaller jar easier to retrieve from the maker.

Yogurt is Runny

Check your milk

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If you are using non-dairy plant-milks or goats milk, the finished yogurt can be runny. Read our guide to milks for how to overcome this. Most other milks make great yogurt.

Check your temperature

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Use a thermometer to check the temperature at these important stages:

1. Heat milk to 194°F (90°C) (essential for thick yogurt)

2. Cool milk to 113°F (45°C) before adding the starter culture

3. Keep the yogurt between 96°F - 113°F (36°C - 45°C) for 8 hours

4. Chill completely before eating 

You will get runny yogurt if:

- you don't heat the milk first

- you add the starter when the milk is too hot or too cold

- the yogurt maker is too hot or too cold

- you don't let it set in the fridge

Check your timing

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Yogurt needs 8 hours to culture and a minimum of 6 hours in the refrigerator where it will set further. If you are culturing for longer than 8 hours and are still getting runny yogurt, see our notes above on temperature.

Check your starter culture

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If you are using the right milk,  temperature and timing, and are still getting runny yogurt then check your starter culture.

Has it expired?

Has it been stored correctly in the freezer?

If you are using some of a previous batch of yogurt, or some store bought yogurt as a starter, see our notes on re-culturing.

Yogurt as a Starter

Can I save some yogurt to use as a starter?

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Yes but, it will not produce consistent results like a commercial yogurt starter.

The blend of bacterial strains will change depending on how fresh the yogurt is and how long you have been re-culturing from it. 

Re-cultured yogurt can develop a slimy texture and a sharper flavor as the blend of bacterial strains changes.

Can I use store bought yogurt as a starter?

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You can use store bought yogurt as a starter, as long as it is free from additives and has live active cultures in it.  

However it will not produce consistent results and may have a poorer flavor and texture than the original.  See our comments above on using yogurt as a starter.

Flavoring Yogurt

When to add flavors?

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Always add flavors to your yogurt after it has been made and chilled.

Adding flavors before culturing your yogurt can interfere with the fermentation process.

What flavors can I use?

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Honey, vanilla, cinnamon, berries, and poached fruits are all popular flavors.

Citrus can be too acidic and make the yogurt curdle. For a lemon yogurt, add lemon curd or a little lemon cordial.

How long does it keep?

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Adding flavors will not make they yogurt last longer.

Fresh homemade yogurt should be eaten within 1 - 2 weeks and always stored in the refrigerator.

I forgot to...

Take it out of the maker

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If you leave the yogurt in your maker for a few hours extra by mistake it will still be edible.

It may have a very sour taste and a slightly grainy texture.  

If it smells or tastes off then discard it.

If you have cultured at the correct temperature for the first 8 hours, the pH level will be low enough to protect the yogurt from unwanted bacteria, yeasts and molds growing.

Cool it down

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Yogurt will thicken and set further on cooling. Cool completely in the refrigerator before eating.

Storing Yogurt

How long does it last?

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We recommend eating homemade yogurt within 7 days of making it.

How do I store it?

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Always store yogurt in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

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