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Question About Making Homemade Yogurt

A friend of mine just gave me a container of active live yogurt cultures (i think)..It seems to have a large curd and definitely smells yogurt-y...any advice on how to turn this into homemade yogurt? For example, do I just add milk and wait a couple days?

Help Please...

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  1. I make yougurt in the microwave. Mix two liters of whole milk with a package of powdered milk, a tablespoon of brown sugar, the yogurt starter (I use a part of the previous batch or a container of plain unsweetened), and water to increase volume to a total of five liters. Four and a half minutes on high and then one minute and forty five seconds every hour and a half over 8-12 hours depending on the thickness you want.

    1. I make yogurt every week. I start out with a gallon of organic non-fat milk, bring it to a scald on a low flame, transfer to a large bowl and bring to lukewarm, add my starter (1/2 cup of plain yogurt mixed with some of the lukewarm milk. Cover and keep in a warm place for 8 or so hours. I then refrigerate it until cold. Then I strain out the whey in a cloth covered colander for a day or so until it's as thick as cream cheese. I eat this with just about every meal. When I want something sweet, I put some in a bowl with raw rolled oats, walnuts and maple syrup. It's delicious!

      1. Thanks for the replies...I have a question..Can I halve these recipes when I make it for the first time? I'd hate to have a gallon of a mistake...and how big is the package of powdered milk?

        1 Reply
        1. re: soypower

          Of course, start with a small batch. I use a 400 gram package of powdered milk, more than enough for three liters. Actually, I measured and I make about 3.5 liters of yogurt each batch--all as thick as cream cheese (using 12 hours in the mw).

        2. What I do is put the starter, powdered milk and scalded milk into an uncovered plastic bowl on top of a cheap heating pad set to medium, and then I invert a large Polishware bowl over the whole thing, tilted slightly to keep it from creating condensation. The large bowl makes a sort of makeshift oven. I keep it there for about 10 hours, and then I put the yogurt in the fridge overnight. It's important that the yogurt remain uncovered in the fridge overnight, again to prevent condensation. (Obviously, you cover the yogurt after it's completely set.)

          My next batch, I'm going to use Nestle Nido as the powdered milk for the first time: it's a powdered WHOLE milk that's popular in Latin America and South Asia, and it seems to me that a whole milk would be very useful in this process instead of the usual non-fat, particularly since I use 2% milk instead of whole in my yogurt.

          1. Thanks to Sam's post a while back we now make yogurt every week too, but I do use a slightly different method. The one time I didn't scald the milk, I ended up with slimey, strange tasting yogurt, so now I am paranoid of having a competing strain.

            I take a gallon of skim or 1% milk and add in a little less than 2 cups of non-fat powdered milk. I like 1%, my husband prefers skim. Kids don't care. Sometimes you need to dissolve the powdered milk in a smaller amount of the regular milk before adding it into the gallon. I put the gallon of milk in a big metal mixing bowl over a double boiler (just my stock pot). I use the double boiler because I work from home and have 2 kids running around and I don't have to watch it that closely. Heat to around 180, then cool (takes awhile to cool) to 115 degrees. I then put it in glass jars and add two tablespoons of yogurt to jars (from the last batch) I just like the form factor of the glass jars, but have done it in bigger containers too. Put them in the microwave and zap for 90 seconds every 2 hours or so. I incubate for about 8 hours. One tip - once you start the culture - do not stir! Put it in the fridge after it is finished without stirring and let it sit for 12 hours. Then enjoy!

            1 Reply
            1. I don't understand the need for powered milk. I had a Persian mother- in -law who taught me how to make yogurt and powered milk was never involved. Her yogurt was heavenly.

              8 Replies
              1. re: rumple

                I use powdered (whole) milk plus whole milk to make the yogurt much thicker than if just milk is used. More milk fat and solids per volume of liquid. I can then eat with maple syrup or use in sauces and dressings that are still thick and creamy. I use relatively little butter, cream, and oil in my cooking--but do use the thick yogurt for various applications.

                1. re: rumple

                  Yes, but you also strain your yogurt for "a day or so until it's as thick as cream cheese" according to your post above. Especially when using lower-fat or skim milk, adding some powdered milk helps to make a more substantial yogurt that doesn't necessarily require straining.

                  (I do strain my portions of yogurt for an hour or two, because I bring it to work with me every morning for my breakfast, and the shaking it gets in transit will render it completely liquid if I don't.)

                  1. re: Allstonian

                    Again, my thicker yogurt needs no straining. Put some in a strainer and it looks back at you with a, "What are you on about?" look.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Yes, but you use two liters of whole milk and 400 grams (nearly a pound) of dried milk for a 3.5 liter batch, and you said above that your finished result is very thick.

                      Many of the rest of us are using anything from 2% to nonfat milk, and getting results that are notably thinner than commercial yogurt (which, especially in low-fat and non-fat varieties, has thickeners added.) Adding some powdered milk (BFP adds two or three tablespoons, nowhere close to 400g) and straining help to produce a thicker final product.

                      1. re: Allstonian

                        Agree on all counts. Closer to a 4.5 liter batch, however. My point was that I don't skimp on the milkfats in part because I use the thick yogurt for sauces and dressings and in place of cream and butter.

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          Thanks for this tip Sam F. I recently tried your method on my last batch and was real happy with the results. I liked the way the yogurt held up when I put it on top of some dolma and grape leaves.

                          1. re: Infomaniac

                            As the saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat. I have tried to make homemade yogurt in a variety of ways and have figured out a few things. My goal has been to keep things simple - simple tools, simple ingredients. I figure, after all, people have been making yogurts forever without the benefit of modern ingredients and tools.

                            1. If you use milk only (i.e. no powdered milk), you have to heat the milk up to about 180F. Otherwise, the yogurt will not set.

                            Mlik and the culture/starter is the absolute ingredients you need. Everything else is optional.

                            I choose not to use powdered milk because I do not want to deal with an extra integredient. You can use milk with any amount of fat you want, depending on your personal taste.

                            2. You can heat (or warm) the milk in the microwave or the stovetop, depending on what is convenient for you.

                            3. The milk has to be about 110 F when you add in the yogurt culture. A higher heat tends to kill the bacteria.

                            You can make any amount you want. I sometimes make a jar (2 pints), sometimes 4. Add about 1 teaspoon into each 8 oz of milk and it would work.

                            4. There is no need to keep the yogurt at absolutely 110F throughout the 8-14 hours incubation time. I have used a warm-ish oven, a cooler into which I pour into water about 150F. Sometimes, the yogurt has got cold after 8 hours of incubation. I just warm up the oven to 170F and stick the jars back in and in a couple of hours, the yogurt is set.

                            5. When you have a fresh batch of yogurt, take some off to be used for the next batch. You can put the yogurt in the freezer if you don't make yogurt all the time. When you are ready to use it, just take it out when you start to heat the milk.

                            I start with yogurt from different brands (even flavored yogurts work as a starter). I figure the varioius strands of bacteria will each give me different benefits. ; - )

                            1. re: frankrosalia

                              You really put it very concise and to the point. I share your philosophy about using the bare minimums, because, after all, it's been made for ever and ever and in places where people only have the essentials. Everything you said about how to make it and the ease of it is right on target. I even do the same thing you do and use different cultures with different strains.

                2. I'm resurrecting this topic, b/c I need some troubleshooting help. I just tried making yogurt-sans yogurtmaker, since it's warm enough to leave the milk/yogurt mixture out. I left it out yesterday, and it started to look like yogurt, so at that point, I put half of it (the thicker part) in the fridge, and then left out the other thinner part out to hopefully thicken some more. Well, I woke up this morning, and the mixture is half curd-like thick stuff and half whey (yellowish liquid), but no yogurt-consistency. Is this salvageable? Can I turn this to yogurt? Is it still safe to consume this (it's been left out for more than 24 hours at this point)? Or do I need to give up and start anew?


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: anzu

                    It is safe. Just chill and drink the whey; the rest is yogurt..

                  2. My grandchidlren eat this obnoxious, expensive yogurt in a plastic tube. I wanted to make a healthy alternative. I have a FoodSaver so making the tubes was fairly easy, but how to make strawberry infused yogurt that would be like what they were used to? I purchased a "yolife" yogurt maker and followed their recipe (which was difficult since they mixed various methods of weights and measures). Their recipe contradicts almost everything I have read online about making yogurt. I wanted to share the results since it was terrific!

                    Cook a quart of strawberries with 1/3 C of water and 1/2 C of sugar (I replaced half with Stevia). Heat qt. of milk to 180 Degrees and cool to 110. Added 1/2 C. Seven Stars yogurt. (I also added 1/2 C. powdered milk after reading this would help thicken) Mix together with strawberries and put in maker. Left for 12 hours. Perfect, wonderful strawberry yogurt in a tube.

                    I am posting this because during my research everyone said that the fruit must be added after making the yogurt so I was afraid their recipe would not work. Not only did I end up with smooth thick yogurt, but the yogurt has a much stronger berry flavor than if it were just mixed in.

                    Hope this helps someone looking to replace their kids favorite yogurt with a less expensive, more healthy version.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: lyndapaz

                      oh, oh, OH! my son has been driving me nuts because he wants the yogurt in a tube stuff (we eat plain, Greek-style at home, with homemade jam for sweetness). I never thought to use the Foodsaver to apportion it into tubes..that's a GREAT idea.

                      If you're still readin thsi thread, I have a question - did you put the yogurt into tubes after it was finished incubating? Or do you put the milk/strawberry mix into the tubes and then incubate?

                    2. I just made yogurt using 2 tbls from a batch made from a bulgarian starter. I used whole , organic milk, not ultra pasturized, and forgot to add any sugar. I brought the milk to 180 and kept it there, or slightly higher for about 8 minutes. Cooled to 105 to 110 when added starter.

                      I had it in a large glass bowl in the microwave. Before I went to bed I zapped it a few times and hour or so in between zaps, but only for a few seconds, not enough to make it too hot. Left it in the microwave overnight covered. It was cool when I woke up and checked it.

                      I strained it for about two hours. The yogurt is thick similar to sour cream and is delicious. It has just a very slight hint of tartness and can easily be eaten alone. The original yogurt I used as a starter was more tart. Why is it so lacking in tartness? It taste great but is this normal? It was not tart even before I drained the whey.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: linddr

                        I suspect it wasn't at a high enough temperature for long enough to make it tart. The flavor also depends on the starter.

                        When I make yogurt, I make 7 qts at a time in glass jars, zap it for 2 minutes every 2 hours or so for 8 hours.

                        1. re: jsaimd


                          Tartness is usually a function of incubation time. Increase the amount of time (more than 8 hours sleep, for example), and the tartness should increase. Tartness can also be a function of culture activity and a specific strain, but it sounds like you used something quite good.