Yogurt Making Tips

Oh no, I am NOT an expert in yogurt making. I have been making yogurt for just under 3 months but I have experimented with a variety of yogurt making styles....

Oh no, I am NOT an expert in yogurt making. I have been making yogurt for just under 3 months but I have experimented with a variety of yogurt making styles. I have attempted using yogurt mixes, UHT milk, powdered milk, fresh milk among others. And I hope that these information will help you in your own yogurt making quest. Of course, making yogurt is easy – just mix milk and yogurt starter together and let them ferment at a certain temperature. However, getting the best tasting and creamy yogurt is another thing. It requires some work, knowledge about yogurt cultures and experience in yogurt making. There are equipment out there to make things easier like the electric yogurt maker. I would encourage beginners to make use of these yogurt makers when you first start out. Most of them will produce a very fine product which your family can enjoy.

Anyway, here are some of the tips I have picked up during the course of those 3 months.

1. Avoid using powdered milk to make your yogurt. A lot of powdered milk we find in the stores are actually fortified milk and they might affect the yogurt cultures in ways we don’t know. So, you might get a very fast fermentation and the result can be the whey-yogurt separation. I have experienced this many times. Of course, if you are adding a little powdered milk to your fresh milk to add firmness to the final product, go ahead.

2. Temperature is very important. In fact, I would say that it is the most important part of the yogurt making process. Get the temperature right for the best result. Sure, a lower temperature will get you yogurt but the taste and the consistency might not be right. And you have to maintain a constant temperature for the entire fermentation period. And let’s not forget the temperature throughout the day might fluctuate. That is why an electric yogurt maker is a marvel to all yogurt makers like us.

3. Yogurt Cultures or Starter. Yet another important ingredient for making your yogurt. Different yogurt starter will produce different results. Some yogurt comes with different live lactic cultures which will have different consistency and taste in the resulting yogurt. Choose a plain yogurt which you like and use it to make your yogurt. And it is better to use a (clean) fresh batch of yogurt starter from the store instead of reusing the previous batch. For those using the freezed dried powdered yogurt starter, I would recommend using those one dose envelopes instead of bottled ones. One dose envelopes ensures that the yogurt starter in the packs are clean. Bottled yogurt starter might get contaminated after opening the bottle. The main thing is to make sure the starter is not contaminated.

4. Milk. The quality of milk will certainly have an effect on the quality of the yogurt. Good quality milk will produce good quality yogurt. Choose the best you can find. From what I read, fresh milk is the best. However, due to space constraints I have been using only UHT milk for my yogurt. I would really like to taste a home made yogurt using the freshest and tastiest milk. Well, that isn’t going to happen in Singapore.

5. Boiling process. It is very important to slow boil your milk. I know that we tend to be in a rush but if you boil your milk too fast, you will find that the milk will not turn out right and your yogurt might taste funky. And if you allow your milk to “boilover”, you will have a lot of cleaning to do.

6. Clean equipment. Oh, you must at ALL TIMES ensure that the equipment you are making your yogurt in is very clean, especially the container you are using to store your yogurt during the fermentation process. Since I am a beer brewer, I have access to sanitizers which kills of all bacteria and other micro-organisms and I use them in yogurt making. All the equipment that I use to make yogurt will be soaked in sanitizing solution beforehand. And after sanitizing, avoid touching the containers and equipment unless necessary. This way, I ensure that the only bacteria is the yogurt cultures which will be introduced later. You do want Yogurt right?

7. Fermentation period. No, you won’t get yogurt in under an hour. The usually fermentation period is 8 to 12 hours. If you find that you are not getting the consistency which you like, you merely ferment longer or shorter depending on the result. So if you like your yogurt thicker, ferment longer. If you like your yogurt runny, ferment for a shorter period of time. If you would believe it, I usually let my yogurt go for 24 hours to get that thick, creamy and delicious yogurt. I really hate the runny stuff. And yes, it depends on the temperature as well. So if you are living in a warmer climate, you will find that your yogurt will be firmer for the same fermentation period than someone in a colder climate.

8.  Do Not Disturb. Yes, apparently yogurt cultures don’t like being shaken or moved about. They are like hermits. They like to be left alone to do their thing. So, avoid moving your yogurt container about when you are doing the fermentation. You will find that the resulting yogurt to be a little runny if you do that.

9. Full cream milk will produce a thicker and creamier yogurt due to the fat content in the milk. If you are scared of full cream milk because that muscular guy on TV told you so, use skim milk or non-fat milk but add some powdered milk to increase firmness of your yogurt.

10. Lumpy yogurt. If you find the resulting yogurt a bit lumpy, you should try this method. After fermentation is done to your liking, stir the yogurt till it has a smooth consistency. Then refrigerate for a few hours for it to set. Usually this will result in a less lumpy yogurt. Lumpiness could be caused by the long fermentation period.

And that’s a wrap. If you have any tips on making yogurt, please leave a comment on the blog. I would really like to hear from you and your experiences with yogurt making. I am always keen to learn new things.