Monday, June 30, 2008

What to do to "rescue" yogurt that doesn't turn out.

Sometimes yogurt doesn't turn out.

You reach into the warm oven in the morning and instead of firm tangy yogurt you have warm milk. Oops. It happens to everyone once in a while.

Before you throw away all that milk, here are a few things to try to fix it.

The problem is always either temperature or culture.

If your culture is/was dead, nothing you can do will make your milk turn into yogurt. You need to get a new starter and begin again.

Usually though the problem is one of temperature and is easy to fix. If your yogurt didn't turn out, you either put the culture in when it was too hot and killed it, which isn't likely if you were using a thermometer carefully, or, that it cooled off too fast before the yogurt could thicken.

The latter is almost always the case, and is relatively simple to fix.

Put your yogurt back into a pot with a thermometer. Stand over it like a hawk and make sure to remove it from heat the instant the thermometer reads 110-115F. Any warmer an you will kill your culture. (If you have more that's not a problem, but if you are like me and use the last of your former batch to start the next one, you probably don't any more culture handy.)

Pour the warm again milk back into the storage containers and put it back in the warm oven. If you have a digital temperature control and can set the oven to 110F do so and leave it on. Check on the yogurt in 4 hours.

If you have an older oven, set it to the lowest possible setting, just when the light comes on, and turn it off once the light goes off. In two hours check the inside of the oven to see how warm it is. If it's starting to feel cool, turn it back on again for a few minutes to warm back up. Be sure to turn it off after a few minutes. You don't want to kill the culture or cook the yogurt.

Most times this will do the trick and closer attention to temperature will help your yogurt work the second time around. If it doesn't work get a new starter and use this batch as buttermilk in recipes. I wouldn't try it a third time.

If you find that your oven just doesn't stay warm enough long enough here are a few alternate ways to incubate yogurt.

Alternate Methods of Incubation for Yogurt


Jennifer said...

Thank you so much for the yogurt instructions! I've been afraid to try making my own, but now I can't wait to get cooking!!

bernard n. shull said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rose said...

Carrien, I've loved your posts on yogurt. I've been making my own yogurt for two years now and I love it. We eat smoothies all the time, and my girls even eat it plain. (I'm spoiled. My taste buds are long since ruined, so I can only stand it in smoothies.)

Anyway, I've just found out about kefir and started making that, and it is SO much easier even than yogurt! Have you ever tried making it? You know so much about good foods that I assume you must have known all about it, and yet you haven't mentioned it here, so I thought I'd ask. Apparently it's even better for you than yogurt - more digestible, more probiotics, everything.

It's too sour for me to drink straight (again, my girls will do it), but it's great in smoothies and baking. The only straight milk we use anymore is what my husband pours on his cereal - everything else I turn into kefir and substitute that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carrien,

I DID IT!!!! Made the yoghurt that is :-)

It was a little runny so I thought that next time I might add 2 Tablespoons of yoghurt to the milk (that should be ok???). It tasted a bit odd (I used the sweetened yoghurt so that may have been it). I've bought some unsweetened natural yoghurt so will be trying that out on Monday. Will let you know how it goes!!!

Thanks for these posts!

Would love your opinion on kefir too and how you use it (if you do!).

Also, do you have any great bean/lentil recipes. My daughter and I love lentils/beans but the males in the family (DH and 6 yo boy) are less thrilled. So want to find some great recipes to win them over :-)

Cheers, Wilm

Carrien said...

Rose-Thanks for your comment.
Good for you making Kefir, it really is good for you. You are right.

My husband really likes kefir, but he only really likes the flavored and sweetened kind. It's a treat when he buys some. I don't make it because we like yogurt more. It goes better with the muesli we make every morning.

Wilma-I'm so glad that it worked. If it's a bit runny you probably just want to try and keep it warm a bit longer next time.

I'm working on a post on making greek style yogurt, which is thicker, and flavored yogurts. I"ll have it up this week.

Anonymous said...

Hi again Carrien,

I did another batch of yoghurt yesterday.

I usually make yoghurt with those sachets and have one of the flask type containers that you pop the container in, so this time I decided to use that instead of my oven. It worked out great!!!!

Hubbie just ate some this morning and thought it was fine :-) Yahoo - cheap yoghurt!!!!! Used unsweetened yoghurt this time too.

Thanks for these posts Carrien - my Mum used to make yoghurt like this and it happily reminds me of her :-)

Cheers, Wilm in NZ

Looking forward to your greek style yoghurt posts!

Sunny said...

God bless you Carrien. This is a wonderful blog you share with everyone. God bless you. Thank you very much. This is my first visit. I tried making yogurt for the first time and I didn't let the mild cool down to room temperature. I don't have a thermator. I will try again and let write. Thank you.

. m fitz . said...

Carrien -

I love the way you write! It's so much fun to read your blogs!! I am motivated to make yogurt now after reading about how it can heal leaky gut syndrome and help protect the GI tract - and especially now that you've laid it out and made it sound doable for everyone. Thanks so much! I will let you know how it goes...


Anonymous said...

mine is an opposite problem. it had little "curds" 2 of the three times i made it. can using certain brands of milk make it turn out different? i confess, i distrubed it while incubating, had to taste to see if it was tangy enough for me. 3rd batch i cooled down to far maybe? just under a 100 (got lost answering the door). should your next starter be put aside BEFORE you starting eating from the batch? vivian

Chelanna said...

Hi Carrien,
I am really enjoying your blog. I was wondering if you might be able to answer a question for me... I just tried making yogurt for the first time yesterday (go me). I want to make it at home in order to get the most beneficial bacteria possible since I have a lot of stomach problems. So I gave it a whirl.
I used a cooler with 110 degree water inside as an incubator.

So anyway, my yogurt has some separation towards the bottom of the jar. Also, it is THICK, really, really thick. It smells like proper yogurt but I was wondering if I did something wrong? Did I make soft yogurt-cheese?

Carrien said...

Chelanna-What you have is a really well developed culture. As long as it is warm the cultures will just keep multiplying and the thicker the yogurt will get. Using your method of incubation you now know that you can put it in the fridge sooner if you don't want it so thick. :)

In other words, good job, it worked really well!

Tere said...

I finally tried a whole batch -- I'd been making smaller batches in case I didn't like it. You guessed it, my temp must have been too high. I was oh, so upset. Then I found this. Checking the temp as soon as more yogurt in the house (much to be said about marrying the guy who will get you yogurt before 7 in the morning when you aren't pregnant!) and trying again. THANK you for the encouragement to try again!

DuncanB said...

I've been doing really well with making yogurt...until this morning. Last night I heated my milk to 115F, then put in my starter (1/2 cup of my last batch, mixed in with a little FAGE Yogurt). Normally I cool the milk to 105F, then add the starter, but last night I put the starter in with the milk around 115F, figuring the cold starter from the fridge would warm up, the hot milk on the stove would cool down.
This morning after 14 hours in my Yogurt maker, all seven 1/2 cup jars were filled with a lot of clearish liquid and a little bit of yogurt. I seem to have killed off all but the hardiest parts of my starter.
Luckily I still have a little of my old, good yogurt left, so I'll start from that for tomorrow night's yogurt making.

Madeline Johnston said...

I, too, found that my yogurt maker was just inadequate, making only 5 cups at a time. I found an incubation method that works well for me. I also like to have my yogurt in individual cups, and this works well for that. I use the 5 glass jars, plus I found that 8-oz. jam canning jars work well, now that one can buy plastic lids to fit them. I have one of those square electric frypans that are quite common. I put water in it, plug it in, and set the dial to the "a" of "warm." You might need to experiment with yours, but a candy thermometer shows that this keeps the water at 110-113 degrees. After mixing in the starter, I fill 9 of these 8-oz. jars, put on their lids, and fit them snugly into this frypan. I stick the thermometer in so that I can occasionally check the temperature, and I put on the frypan lid, slightly askew because of the thermometer. In 4 hours I have yogurt. No fuss, no mess, no towels, no close watching of temperature.

In recent years, my husband and I have mostly eliminated dairy, so I'm now making soy yogurt, and it tastes very good, unlike supermarket varieties. I heat 1/2 gal. of Westsoy unsweetened soymilk (more protein than most brands, no sugar), to which I've added 1/3 c. powdered Better Than Milk (again, no sugar), simply stirred in with a whisk. At 110 degrees I take it off the stove, add in about 1/8 tsp. of a powdered culture I bought online, then pour it into the cups and incubate it. My son taught me this, and he incubates his overnight, but when I leave it longer it's more sour, and it is set by 4 hours.

lee seiden said...

Thank you so much, this post saved my yogurt. It's my fourth batch, so i thought i had it down and was dismayed when it hadn't set at all after eight hours. But i reheated and added more starter and ended up with a very good batch. Yay!

Evalynn Kuehner said...

Lee, I'm hoping I have as good results as you did. I used a new pot that I got for Christmas and my yogurt didn't set. I think the new pot cooled down too quickly. So I reheated and added more starter ... time will tell.

Evalynn Kuehner said...

Lee, I'm hoping I have as good results as you did. I used a new pot that I got for Christmas and my yogurt didn't set. I think the new pot cooled down too quickly. So I reheated and added more starter ... time will tell.

Evalynn Kuehner said...

Lee, I'm hoping I have as good results as you did. I used a new pot that I got for Christmas and my yogurt didn't set. I think the new pot cooled down too quickly. So I reheated and added more starter ... time will tell.

Evalynn Kuehner said...

Lee, I'm hoping I have as good results as you did. I used a new pot that I got for Christmas and my yogurt didn't set. I think the new pot cooled down too quickly. So I reheated and added more starter ... time will tell.

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