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Homemade Yogurt Disaster

So Have any of you made homemade yogurt - without a machine. I used a pot on the stove and a crockpot and 7 hours later - looks like a warm bowl of milk - has not thickened at all.
So - I turned on the crock pot and took the milk and got it on the stovetop to 180 in two batches. Kept it in the warmed crock pot after as instructed and then unplugged and cooled to 120. Added my yogurt with cultured, top on and unplugged with a warm towel. Check in 6-8 hours.
At a hour seven and I opened to peek. I have warm milk.

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  1. Was your yogurt culture OK? I've never made yogurt using a crockpot or any other kind of machine. I just heat the milk to just before it simmers, turn it off, and let it cool a bit. Then I whisk in my culture, cover it, and put it in the oven with the pilot light on overnight. In the morning, I have yogurt. That's the old fashioned, Indian homemade yogurt. I couldn't tell you what temp the milk heat to, cooled down to, etc.

    3 Replies
    1. re: boogiebaby

      I really did not per say use the crock pot to cook it. I did that on the oven. Got it to the reco'd tmep and it had a skin. Then used the warm/ then off/ crockpot as my oven....

      I have a gas oven but not sure how to leave it on without being on??

      1. re: cperry

        Your culture may have been bad. Happened to me a couple of times. Never have used a crock pot, but my dad once made a 'hot box' andw once, in a hotel, he even used a heating pad! Both worked fine.

        Make sure everything cooks to the right temp and cools sufficiently before stirring in the culture. Buy a new carton of yogurt or new culture and just start over. Good luck!

        1. re: cperry

          If the towel cooled down, there there was no heat to get the yogurt going. You probably lost your heat a couple hours into the process with a cool crockpot and cool towel.

          I don't turn my oven on - I turn the pilot light on. The heat from the bulb is enough to generate slight heat inside the oven.

      2. These instructions were recommended on a different chow posting for making yogurt in a crockpot- use Stonyfield yogurt for the starter, it has the most active live cultures of commonly available store brands

        1. Make homemade cultured buttermilk. It's much easier. I've made both.
          Homemade cultured buttermilk.
          1/4 cup commercial cultured buttermilk, cold or room temp
          4 cups milk (1%, 2%, whole), cold or room temp
          Place in container that can be sealed. Shake well. Leave on counter at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. Shake well.
          Place in fridge. Lasts for several weeks. Add more fresh milk and repeat process, now using your cultured buttermilk as starter, when you need more. No heating involved.

          1. I find that when I make yoghurt in the winter it can take up to 48 hours to get fully yoghurty and thick, and it's usually still liquid after 8 hours - if you don't have an active source of heat, and the ambient temperature is low, it takes a lot longer.

            By re-scalding it, you would have killed what culture had formed, and re-started the process again. So I'd try leaving it overnight, without re-boiling it, and checking it.

            1. Where did you get the culture? I haven't had any luck in the US with store yogurt. I don't think the culture is actually active there. Certain Japanese brands make great yogurt without the extra heat. So I know it should be super easy. CCulture is key.

              1. I make my yogurt with store brand yogurt. If your milk was too hot it may have killed the cultures. I heat my milk to --something-- the proteins then let it cool a lot before adding the yogurt. It's still warm, but after several hours I have nice thick yogurt.

                I used to speed it up by placing in my oven and a small pot of boiling water underneath, to create a warm environment. But I had no tang to my yogurt and read that a long fermentation is required. So now I just sit it in the oven for 12-24 hours. Sometimes it is barely thickened after that point, so I do the boiling pot of water thing to thicken it up then store it in the fridge. Woohoo

                I don't have a thermometer btw.

                1. I make yogurt, without machine. I buy a fresh (check the sell by date) container of plain, unsweetened yogurt from the store making sure it's labeled containing live active cultures. Heat a pot of milk on the stove heating it till it's ready to simmer, then let it cool till lukewarm. Add some of the store bought yogurt. Stir, then place the pot in my electric oven with just the little light on. I cover the pot with a towel then close the door of the oven. It is usually ready within 24 hours.

                  1. Crock pots run at 180F to 205F. Anything placed inside them will reach this temperature. It's to high for any yogurt cultures. If you want to use crock pot for heat, try this:
                    Fill the crock pot half full of water. Place it on LOW. Put the lid in place, up-side-down. Place a folded dish towel on the up-side-down lid. Place the yogurt container on the towel. The rising heat should keep it warm, but not too warm. After a few hours, take the yogurt temperature. If it's too low, turn the crock pot to HIGH. If the yogurt temperature is too high, add another folded towel or two.

                      1. re: jaykayen

                        Ok i started over
                        Heated to 180 cooled to 110 and put in brown cow plain yogurt
                        Using the crockpot suggestion of setting it on a towel and it is steady at 100 now so i think i need to get it down to around 70-80 to sit for a while

                        1. re: cperry

                          I believe my electric yogurt maker incubates the yogurt at about 100-F, so you are at the right temperature. It takes 12 to 14 hours for a somewhat firm, tangy, yogurt.

                      2. For a quart of milk I do the following:
                        1. Microwave the milk to 180. Let it sit wrapped in a towel for 5-10 minutes (I think this will help with unwinding the proteins)
                        2. Cool it to 110 in an ice bath.
                        3. Whisk in 4 Tbs of yogurt with live culture.
                        4. Pour in a clean canning jar and cover with a piece of plastic wrap.
                        5. Put in a small cooler with a heating pad set on low or medium for 6-8 hours.

                        I've never had a failure. I use a very good instant read thermometer (Thermapen) to ensure my temps are good.

                        If you want to stick to using the crock pot to maintain the temp, I'd recommend turning it off at 100 rather than 120. You might be killing the culture.

                        Good luck.

                        1. Ok it has been about 5-6 hours and it appears thick and set? Already??? Still at around 100 degrees
                          So do i pop it int the fridge now then put in jars tomorrow or put in jars now then fridge overnight leave it longer even though it is very thick???

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: cperry

                            If it is set up to your satisfaction you can do either. I usually pour it into a colander lined with a clean dishtowel and let it drain even more overnight (put the colander/dishtowel/yogurt into a bowl so the whey doesn't drain all over the fridge...obviously....) but we like our yogurt drained to a fare-thee-well. Kind of like tasty spackle. I very occasionally have a yogurt fail, less often now that I've been doing it for a couple of years. Usually it is because I got impatient and didn't let my milk cool enough and killed my cultures. Don't let the occasional failure dissuade you. And non-cultured yogurt milk (provided you haven't been waiting for it to culture for so long that the milk spoiled) can be used in place of milk for cereal or milkshakes or something...

                            1. re: cperry

                              Taste to see if it is tangy enough for you. It gets more sour as it incubates longer. When it is the flavor you desire and the thickness you desire, place it in the fridge to stop the incubation where it is.

                            2. Ok so i still did something wrong. It is way too thick like milk solid. I went the opposite way from runny to solid. See phot in jar. Thoughts on what went wrong?

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: cperry

                                Maybe it incubated too long or got too hot. You probably can thin it with some milk to get the consistency you want.

                                1. re: cperry

                                  It really won't get any thicker than it 'can', since what is happening is the cultures are eating the milk and once they've chomped it all, they're done...are you putting something else in the milk? Like dry milk? Did you strain it? Did the whey separate? Have you tasted it?

                                  1. re: tonifi

                                    A cup and half dry milk
                                    Followed a few recipes
                                    Altin brown
                                    One on chowhound

                                    1. re: cperry

                                      The dry milk is what did this. I don't use dry milk in my yogurt and mine has never dried up to that extent.

                                      1. re: cperry

                                        Ah-ha! Well, I can't really speak to the dry milk, I used it once and felt it gave my yogurt an unpleasant, faintly chalky taste, so I haven't used it since. I think other posters are probably right that you could just thin it down with something, more dairy, or some vanilla extract or other liquid or liquid-y flavoring. You are clearly on the right track, since your yogurt cultured, it just got too thick with the addition of the dry milk. I don't really use a recipe anymore, but I think that the one I started with was from this article: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/fo....

                                    2. re: cperry

                                      Whoo-hoo! Looks like you might have some nice cheese, there! Taste it, and see.

                                      I'd just drain the whey, take out a couple of tablespoons for a new batch, and mix it up with some herbs (or use it plain, like you might use a neufchatel). You might be able to use it the same way as you use marscapone, especially if it hasn't gotten tangy and sour. It might be really good in a cheesecake, too.

                                      It goes without saying that if it tastes vile (too sour, bitter, or just not like any dairy product you've ever tasted), you should feel no shame in dumping it. I often dump old yogurt out in my roses. The animals sometimes dig things up, but in general, the roses seem to appreciate the calcium.

                                      I think you incubated it at too warm of a temperature, or maybe used too much Brown Cow yogurt.

                                      When I make yogurt out of a good store-bought yogurt, I just scald the milk, let it cool to about 90 to 100 degrees F (body temperature, so it really shouldn't even feel warm anymore) in a cold-water bath if I'm in a hurry, then add about two tablespoons of yogurt to each quart. I put a lid on it, and keep it at room temperature overnight. In the winter, I may need to leave it out for 24 hours instead of 12 hours.

                                      I've only had curds form like that when I've used rennet and warmer temperatures.