I started making yogurt for my son just a few months ago. I had a EuroCuisine yogurt maker with the 7 little cups and quickly found myself making 2+ batches per week. Because I culture for 24 hours, this was just way too much. Plus, I didn’t particularly enjoy pouring the milk in the little cups since my funnel didn’t fit and I’d often waste some milk. Some expensive raw milk. And the inconsistent results…that was even worse! I couldn’t stand not knowing what I’d end up with. Sometimes it was gunk burnt on the bottom of the jar, sometimes it was half cheese/half yogurt, sometimes curds and whey, sometimes half cheese/half yogurt plus mold! Yuck! I got this dimmer switch and that allowed me to control the consistency. I also bought this extender thing and extra jars so that I could make 14 jars at once, but it didn’t solve all my problems.
Then I received an Excalibur dehydrator as a gift. It can fit 9 trays but I have yet to use it for dehydrating anything (we have a Nesco that we love for that!). But it can fit sooooo much yogurt! Not sure how much, because I haven’t made more than a gallon yet.
Pictured is raw milk (heated to 110oF). I’m using the yogurt starter from GI ProStart, which I decided to try because I figured it might save me some money over the mild yogurt starter I was buying from Cultures for Health. It doesn’t taste as good, but is pretty similar. I do not like that the powdered starter does not mix in very well, it forms little clumps that I can’t even break apart by hand easily. I thought last time it was because I just whisked it all in together, but this time I mixed it into just 1 cup of the warmed milk. With a fork. Still clumpy! And the final texture was less than ideal too. There were parts that were a bit slimy, I guess that’s the best way I can describe it. My neighbor said it reminds her of nose naught (boogers). My sister and son ate it with no issues, and it tasted and smelled just fine.
Anyway, it has only been about 4 months since I started making homemade yogurt and I already feel like I’ve got years under my belt! I had to do a ton of research to figure out why my yogurt just would not work, and I came up with several solutions for making good raw milk yogurt. One of those solutions includes pasteurizing the milk at home if it is not at its freshest, by heating to 160-170 degrees.
Here are a few of the issues I had with my raw milk yogurt, as well as steps that you can take to remedy them. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section, and I’ll do my best to help you troubleshoot.
- Cheese stuck at the bottom – yogurt maker is likely running too hot, it’s cooking the milk! Get a dimmer switch or experiment with a different way of keeping the yogurt at a temp of 95-110 degrees.
- Separating to curds and whey – the milk is probably not fresh enough, and is clabbering. The yogurt bacteria was attacked by the natural bacteria in the raw milk. If the milk is not very fresh (ie. within a few days of milking!), bring it to 160-170 degrees first then cool to 105 before putting yogurt starter.
- Yogurt texture might be grainy, or might not set up at all – you may be damaging the milk. Add the milk to a COLD pot and THEN turn on heat. Turn it on a low heat, my stove goes from 1-10 and I use 3. In an enameled cast iron pot is even better because it heats evenly. It’s best if the milk at the bottom does not stick to the pot.
- MOLD on top of the yogurt, maybe with lots of bubbles – this means that spoilage yeast got in there. Make sure you wash everything with hot soapy water, and wipe your yogurt maker off with vinegar/water solution right before use.