Conventional yogurt culture is made of good bacteria called “thermophilic” bacteria. This means that they need gentle and constant heat to do their job.
The target temperature for fermentation is between 40 and 45°C. If the temperature is lower, the yogurt will not ferment. If it is higher, the heat will kill the good bacteria in the yogurt. The ideal temperature for making yogurt is 42°C.
There are yogurt makers on the market that keep the yogurt at a constant temperature. Some pressure cookers also have pre-programmed “yogurt” functions.
How to Make Yogurt Without a Yogurt Maker?
You don’t have a yogurt maker? Place jars in your oven with the oven turned off but keep the oven light on to create a low source of heat. Monitor the temperature during fermentation: if necessary, open the oven door, or place a bowl of boiling water in the oven.
You don’t want to worry about keeping your yogurt wrapped up? Consider using viili or matsoni cultures.
These “mesophilic” cultures don’t need a yogurt maker or heat to ferment. You’ll be making your yogurt at room temperature, on the counter! To learn more about it, read our article on mesophilic yogurt.
Why Is My Yogurt Liquid?
Yogurt can be liquid if it was not heated up to 82°C before the inoculation. Indeed, heating the milk will modify the milk proteins to allow the yogurt to become creamier and thicker.
Liquid yogurt can also come from a weak culture. If you backslop your yogurt with the same culture over several recipes, it may have weakened. Test with a new strain.
Grocery store yogurts often contain emulsifiers and additives to make them thicker. Homemade yogurt can therefore be more liquid.
How Can I Get a Thicker, Creamier Yogurt?
To get a thicker yogurt, use whole milk, or replace some milk with cream. You can also add powdered milk or gelatin before heating the milk.
If your yogurt hasn’t set, don’t be discouraged! You can let it drain in a cotton bag to remove some of the whey. This is also how you get Greek yogurt or labneh!
Why Is My Yogurt Sour?
If your yogurt tastes very sour or has split into two parts (one white and the other translucent), don’t panic!
The most common cause is a fermentation that took too long or at too high a temperature. Bacteria have created an excess of lactic acid, which explains its sour taste.
Too much acidity can even cause the milk to curdle and separate it into two distinct layers: curd and whey. Simply mix the two layers with a whisk or immersion blender. If you want to mask the sour taste, just add a little more maple syrup!
Sour yogurt may be the result of weak yogurt culture. If you’ve used a commercial yogurt, try another brand, or switch to powdered starter cultures.
Why Is My Yogurt Grainy?
Yogurt texture can be affected if the milk is heated too quickly. A temperature that rises too quickly can alter the milk proteins. Milk proteins will clump together instead of forming a thick yogurt, creating small, unpleasant pieces of curd.
To deal with this problem, strain the yogurt through a blender or sieve.
What Kind of Milk Do I Use for My Yogurt?
The milk used will influence the taste and texture of the yogurt.
Pasteurized cow’s milk is the most common choice. The higher the milk fat content, the creamier the yogurt will be.
Lactose-free milk can work and give good results. However, the firmness of yogurt may vary depending on the brand of milk used.
Sheep or goat milk has a different composition from cow’s milk and gives a more liquid yogurt.
Can I Make Yogurt With Plant-based Milk?
It is possible to make vegan yogurt with plant milk. However, depending on the milk used and its composition, results may vary. Here are a few tips for making successful vegetarian yogurts.
Choose a soy beverage or plain coconut milk. These kinds of milk will provide the creamiest results due to their high protein content.
Replace powdered milk with soy milk powder. This will give some texture to the yogurt.
Use agar instead of gelatin for a vegan alternative.
Add cashews that have been soaked overnight in plant milk and reduced into a liquid in a blender. Nuts add creaminess to the yogurt.
If the yogurt is very liquid, drain it in a cheesecloth or cloth bag.