View Full Version : Yogurt making disaster...have questions
I bought a Salton yogurt maker and just tried it out yesterday. I don't think I heated the milk enough, or maybe I stirred the yogurt starter in too vigorously. Or maybe when I "peeked" about 2 hours into the process, and took a little taste, I did some damage. Or maybe my equipment wasn't sterilized. Anyway, Little Miss Muffet would be happy at my house, because all I have is curds and whey!
There are a bunch of old threads here that I read through, so I'm curious to know what experienced yogurt makers think I may have done wrong. And why heat the milk, only to let it come back to 110? I can't find an explanation for this, but I think it has something to do with raw milk. But I'm using pasteurized milk, not raw. Help?
04-11-2006, 02:02 PM
Okay thats it, hold out your hand (smack!) I'm just kidding! Okay your mistake was 1. Stirring Virgorusly and 2. Taking taste of it. I learned not to actually whisk in the yogurt starter it made a huge difference because whisking mine resulted in a runny yogurt. Also I do what the instructions say, putting it in the fridge for 20 minutes then add the starter. I then pour it in and leave it alone for about 5hrs. Do you have a thermometer?
I did use a candy thermometer, but it didn't give a very precise temperature at that lower level. I read so many of the reviews on Amazon.com that said you couldn't screw it up that I really wasn't that careful! I didn't really whisk it in; in fact, there were still some lumps, but I had read to stir gently. I did open it after a few hours, stir it around a little, and take a taste. :o I was excited!
I'll try again and be more patient. I really want to get this right. Do you know why the milk has to be heated?
This is what I do. Heat the milk (skim) and milk powder up to 110, no higher. Turn heat off. Whisk in the starter. (I love the Butterworks Farm yogurt for starter!!!!! Different starters give different results. Non fat plain!!!!) I don't worry about too much stirring or not enough. Just whisk it in til it is mixed. I have an old machine with cups, so I fill up the cups and then I let it go for...all day. Check it, if not done, let it go longer. I don't find that checking it or tasting it will make any difference. When done. Put in fridge and eat next day. YYYUUUMMMYYY!!!!
04-11-2006, 05:39 PM
Kari, as far as I know the reason for heating the milk is to reduce the bacteria that are still present even in pasteurized milk. Remember, the milk is pasteurized, not sterilized, and some bacteria may still be present, in fact they are likely to be present - even an unopened bag or carton of milk will spoil in a relatively short time (days or weeks) because of bacteria in the milk present after pasteurization or contamination during processing or the packaging process.
What CEH is doing is potentially dangerous and not recommended by "experts" but people do it anyways - we're not supposed to drink unpasteurized milk either but my kids were raised on it and it was a sad day when I had to start buying milk in a store.
I wish I could help you with your first experience with my own experience but I've never managed to make curds and I'm not sure what went wrong. An accurate thermometer is a good idea, though not a necessity - you can cool the milk below 100°, even to room temp., before adding the starter to a small amount of it and gently mixing and then adding the rest of the cooled milk. More care next time and you'll get your good homemade yogurt.
I don't know why the milk is scalded for yogurt. There is a reason in baking. In Cookwise, Shirley Corriher says there is an enzyme in milk and nonfat dry milk that can, when used in sufficient quantity, result in poor volume and texture of bread. Apparently it depends on the amount used.
I can see that you'd want to scald the milk if it was raw, but if it's safe enough to drink from the milk carton, there's no particular reason to sanitize it further. The instructions with my Salton just say to use "milk (whole, 2%, 1%, or skim)". Maybe they were just trying to cover as many safety bases as possible and say to scald in case people might be using raw milk. But it could be to disable enzymes that would affect the curd formation and make the yogurt less smooth. Or maybe not.
FWIW, Alton Brown heats his milk to 120F first and then pours it into a clean container, which presumably cools it to the 115F max that will jumpstart the fermentation but is cool enough not to kill the starter bacteria.
I've found several recipes that say to "whisk" the starter into the milk. AB says that. The Too Hot Tamales (Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger) even say to "vigorously whisk." But after that initial mixing, you'll interfere with the curd formation if you move it around.
04-11-2006, 05:49 PM
LOL! That was also my very first experience with homemade yogurt. It was the small stir and taste while it was "cooking" that did you in. I did the same exact thing. Don't even stir it after you are done letting it cook. Wait to stir until its been through the refrigeration process to cool down and set some.
I really don't think yogurt making is all that dangerous or tricky. I do find that it takes longer than the directions say. When you heat it it always goes over the temp even if you take it right off the stove. You just wait for the heat to get back to 110. The milk is pasturized and while I am careful there are many ways for bacteria to get into the yogurt, the carton, the spoon, the measuring cup...it always seems to come out fine. Yogurt has been made by most cultures for centuries so it can't be that dangerous. The starter is bacteria for that matter.
But please do go by the directions, I am just saying what I do.
My real point was that what you use as starter does have a major impact on what you end up with. I first used Dannon plain, non fat and it made kind of slimy yogurt. Not good.
04-11-2006, 09:19 PM
I make my yogurt in a crockpot with high/low/warm settings and a digital thermometer. I heat it to 200f and hold it there for 15 minutes, then let it cool to 110f, add starter and incubate. After reading this and it really works.
Chari, that link explained the reasoning behind heating the milk, I think:
“Milk that has not been heated consists of casein micelles with smooth surfaces (frame B below frame A on the left). This milk is used to make cheese. Casein micelle surfaces interact with other casein micelles and form large micellar clusters from which whey separates easily (diagram lower on the right). The casein micelles become compacted to form curd which is then processed into one of the cheeses varieties. Cheeses have a markedly lower water content than yogurt.”
I think I got confused because of a review on Amazon. The reviewer used ultra-pasteurized milk straight from the fridge, stirred in the starter, put it into the Salton, and heated for 7 hours. It must be the ultra-pasteurization that would allow you to do this, and I just kind of glossed over the “ultra” part since I didn’t know what it was! I should have remembered from reading Corriher to check what ingredients are specified carefully!
Butterworks farm…I’ll have to look for that. I used Stonyfield Organic.
hAndyman, what is CEH?
PamN, I noticed that about the AB recipe, plus that he puts in the yogurt at 120. I won’t worry too much about stirring too hard. BTW, for anyone interested, the next airing of the yogurt episode is May 18th, so I’ll be setting Tivo.
mrswaz, I was hoping you’d check in, because I saw that you had the same experience on another, older thread. I won’t peek anymore! BTW, I like your blog!
04-12-2006, 09:01 AM
hAndyman, what is CEH?
CEH is the poster before him...
04-12-2006, 09:42 AM
I also agree on that being the reason why milk needs to be heated. Please try it again ( my first yogurt wasn't all that great either) and I used an actuall spoon to stir in my starter(Dannon Non fat worked best for moi), I had lumps as well and was worried but my yogurt came out thicker which I liked. Let us know how yours turns out the second time around and good luck!
04-12-2006, 11:12 AM
After some more reading I still maintain that the main reason for heating is the sterilization of the milk; coagulation will still take place because of the action of the lactic acid (produced during fermentation) on the protein molecules (see CEH's low temp method); we are likely all using pasteurized milk to make yogurt and it has already been heat-treated so there is no reason to heat again to have the effects on the milk proteins described by Dr. Kalab - they have already taken place during pasteurization. That leaves the reduction of harmful pathogens as the reason for heating the milk. At least, until I see something more on the subject, or I see the light! :)
Let there be light.
And good yogurt.
And enquiring minds...
04-12-2006, 07:05 PM
I believe the reason for heating (already pasteurized) milk is to make the yogurt thicker... at least that's what I've read, and some people even recommend holding that higher temp (about 185 or so) for a little while before cooling back down to 115 and adding the starter. Seems to be working for me (I've been heating mine a little higher than I had before, and it's even thicker now).
Oh, okay... here's one explanation I found in my yogurt notes:
"….Hold at that (high) temperature for 10 to 20 minutes so that the protein in the milk will take up more liquid, and make a better gel ...."
Now homemade yogurt will become runnier anytime it's stirred, and it can't ever return to its thicker self (unless you do the yogurt cheese thing) . . . so, the idea is to mix everything in well at the proper time, then not jiggle it while incubating or while cooling it in the frig.
When you want a serving of yogurt later, just spoon it out into another container, and do any stirring of sugar or fruit or other flavorings into your individual portion there so the rest of the yogurt will remain firm (though whey will always separate).
Most "sundae style" yogurts (not fruit on the bottom) look like pudding in their purchased containers because they have been stirred after incubating... Plain yogurt has had no additions (so no stirring) and vanilla yogurt, I think, has had vanilla and sweetener added prior to incubation? Swiss style yogurt (fruit on the bottom) have this firmer yogurt on top of the fruit, which gets runnier when you stir it in at home.
Here's something else about store bought yogurts:
"In order to thicken or (and) stabilize yogurt, and increase its shelf life, some brands of yogurt have added gelatin, starches, pectin, or gums. These additives are not harmful, but they sometimes give the yogurt a slightly "unnatural" stiffness or thickness.
…. Before pasteurization, stabilizers (such as gelatin or modified food starch) may also be added . . gelatin for example also keeps the whey from separating out."
If your container and utensils are clean (not necessairly sterilized in my experience) when you stir everything before incubating, there should be no unfriendly types of bacteria in your yogurt to give it off flavors, etc., only the good bacteria you want.
For the record, I make my yogurt with 2% milk + 1/2 cup dry milk, which also thickens it + one pkg Yogourmet powdered starter --1 1/2 qts. at a time in my one-qt. Salton ... I heat the milks to 185, let rest a few minutes, cool to 115 and add starter, then incubate in pre-heated Salton (for only 4 hrs because I don't like it too tart), then refrigerate overnight to let it set up completely . . . I usually just add frozen fruit and sugar to mine, then blend with my wand for a "smoothie"...yum.
If I want really stiff yogurt (esp. as a sub for sour cream, e.g.), I use the yogurt that's still clinging to the sides of the container --which is "yogurt cheese" since a lot of its whey has drained out of it.
P.S. If you're interested, I can send you all the stuff I researched about making yogurt when I wanted to buy a yogurt maker and start making my own. If so, just drop me an e-mail at DianeB...AT...glassatticDOTcom, and put something about yogurt in the subject line.
Enjoy your yogurt.... there are so many cool things to do with it!
04-13-2006, 08:39 AM
After still more reading I think there are 2 main reasons for me to heat the milk prior to making yogurt - sterilization and thickening. Sterilization is good for removing any unwanted bacteria, yeasts, molds, etc. introduced into the milk via contamination from packaging, handling, storage, sitting on the dinner table, etc. Thickening is improved by high heat treatment. Pasteurization of fluid milk is done at lower temperatures and for shorter periods of time than milk used for commercial yogurt-making. As most of us are using commercial fluid milk if we want thicker yogurt one way is to heat the milk to a high temp. for a period of time; the denaturing effect of the high heat on milk proteins does improve the water-holding capacity of the yogurt structure, making for a thicker yogurt.
I'm glad to finally understand. My now obvious mistake was in assuming that the pasteurization of milk for fluid use and industrial use (ie yogurt) were the same when, in fact, they are not.
What I'd like to know now is what yogurt made from raw milk is like compared with that made with heat-treated milk. Anyone done that? My experience makng yogurt with raw milk involved heating the milk - I was too worried about contamination of the raw milk. Or has no one lived to tell?
And then there was light.
And better yogurt.
And enquiring minds...
Sorry I never caught up to the thread...my youngest daughter broke her leg at school last Wednesday and life has been a little crazy! Thanks for the replies though, and when I get a chance I will try the yogurt again.
Diane, where do you find the Yogourmet? It seems like it would be easier to keep around.
04-17-2006, 03:11 PM
where do you find the Yogourmet?
I mostly buy mine at Whole Foods, esp. on sale, then store the boxes in the frig. I take one portion out of the frig and let it come to room temp while I heat the milk (...each box of Yogourmet has six portions, one portion ostensibly for 1 liter of milk, but I make a quart and half of yogurt every time and it still works just dandy).
Yogourmet can also be bought online if you decide you like it, where it may be cheaper. Here's one source:
Also good luck with the leg! I broke my foot a few years ago and just couldn't handle the crutches for too long at a time (less likely for your youthful daughter!). But if she does have trouble, you might want to do what I did (one of the smartest things I've ever done :D too).
I rented a wheelchair (which was a lot cheaper than I'd thought, maybe $25 per week?), then took the large/clunky feet off to make it smaller and more maneuverable (then just pulled myself along with the good foot) ..boy could I zip around doors and hallways, stand up/sit down at various counters/stove while preparing dinner, etc. Made the whole experience so much less difficult than it would have been. It was also pretty convenient for throwing in the back of the car in case I wasn't sure I could last on my feet wherever I was going.
(Oh, and kids LOVE them... could barely keep my son out of mine!)
04-21-2006, 06:53 PM
I'm a newbie to the homemade yogurt scene, but after 2 efforts I am really happy with the results :) One tip from the Salton instructions which I thought was helpful was to mix a little of the heated milk into the starter, stir gently, then pour that mixture back into the rest of the milk. It made it easier to mix it all evenly without stirring too vigorously.
I used Stonyfield Farms lowfat plain as the starter. For the second, I just used my reserved 1/2 cup from the first batch. I'm so excited that yogurt-making perpetuates itself and I don't need to buy anything new (except milk, of course). We use so much yogurt that I'll be making it every other day or so, and the starter lasts for 5 days after a batch is made.
I added a little sugar, maple syrup and vanilla to sweeten and flavor it. I thought it was just as good as store-bought, and with less sugar. I'm glad to know the science behind the process; thanks to those who posted on that!
04-21-2006, 08:15 PM
Great research on this thread! Thanks, hAndyMan for the extended heating time explanation. I've been making my own for a couple years but the thickness can vary and I think it might be based on how I heat the milk -sometimes I forget about it on the stove and sometimes I don't!
Kbucky, I have had some curd results. I think this happens to me when I use milk more than a week old?... BUT its still tastes good. Less than fresh milk and using straight nonfat yogurt (w/out milk powder) are causes of bad texture. I slowly add warm milk to a low fat starter to try to mix it as much as possible but gently.
04-22-2006, 11:59 AM
I also have the salton yogurt maker and have tried several times to make yogurt and had mixed results. I do use raw milk. I have read various sources that state different temps and times to bring the milk to (even for raw milk) and have tried different ways.
The first time I got a great product (although runnier than normal store yogurt, as I don't use milk powder) everyone loved. The second time it smelled odd on top, when i dumped it out the rest looked and smelled ok, but I pitched it. Somehow, I just couldn't get a consistent product.
I have wondered if the raw milk has too many competing bacteria (although good bacteria) and enzymes even when I heated it first.
I should try again soon. Maybe just need trial and error. However, we make Kefir and so I use that for many of the same applications (other than just for eating) and have been buying yogurt, but even most of the organic brands are so loaded with sugar, that I want to make and flavor my own.
04-22-2006, 01:44 PM
mix a little of the heated milk into the starter, stir gently, then pour that mixture back into the rest of the milk. It made it easier to mix it all evenly without stirring too vigorously.
Boohoo.... I do that, but still have to stir the (powdered) starter fairly vigorously to get it all into solution. Oh well, small price to pay.
I'll be making it every other day or so, and the starter lasts for 5 days after a batch is made.
Sounds like you won't need to be doing this, but already-made yogurt as a starter also freezes well!
Here's the info I gathered on that:
STARTER … FREEZE and use each 1/2c? for 5-8 times!!
Buy a large container of plain yogurt with live cultures (or make your own). Using a sanitized spoon to remove the yogurt from the container to start your first batch .
Put the remainder of the carton of yogurt into sterilized containers and store in your freezer. Ice cube trays, enclosed in freezer grade plastic bags work well. Wide-mouth mason (canning) canning jars in 1/2-pint or jelly jar sizes are ideal for freezer storage. Make sure that your containers hold enough 'starter' to begin each new batch of yogurt. (1/2 cup?)
….Then each time you make a batch, save enough yogurt to start the your next batch. This should be stored in the refrigerator in an unopened container, until you need it. You can obtain about 8 batches of yogurt before you need to refresh your starter. At that point, use one of those starter batches from your freezer or purchase new starter from your grocery.
… Once you have begun to make your own yogurt on a regular basis, you can "chain yogurt" by using starter you saved from a previous batch. Usually, you can chain your yogurt up to 4 times.
…However, the easiest and most economical option is freezing commercial yogurt in ice cube trays. Store these in a bag, and thaw them out for use, one at a time. One ice cube equals about 2 tablespoons, which is the recommended amount of starter for each 1 quart batch of yogurt. Your freshly made yogurt can also be frozen so that you will always have "fresh" starter on hand.
… According to Alton Brown, “these bugs like to work between 100 and 120 degrees with 115 being ideal. Below that they go to sleep (temporarily), and above that they go to sleep forever.”
curd results... mixed results...
Is it possible that other bacteria are getting into the milk before or during incubation from tools or containers which weren't sufficiently washed, or from sitting for a long time exposed to the bacteria in the air?? I do remember there were more variables or concerns when using raw milk, but don't remember anything exactly... sure a google search would come up with some stuff though.
Also, here's something that may affect the texture thing re type of milk used:
…You could use whole milk but I think the fat kind of gets in the way of the protein coagulation ...and makes for a loose yogurt . . . and fat free milk goes the other way ...there's no fat and so you get kind of a grainy texture.
So I think that 2 % milk is the perfect balance between flavor and texture …Alton Brown
04-23-2006, 08:36 AM
Hmmm... don't understand why sometimes my posts show up in the thread but not in the main list of threads.... just checking.
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