I tried to make yogurt in the slow cooker the other day and have given it 24 hours in the refrigerator to set before testing it. Final evaluation, tastes mostly okay but the texture is rather runny.
I know that homemade yogurts tend not to set as well as the store bought but I’d like to try and improve it. Whenever this current batch runs out I’ll try again with a fresh yogurt sample and vary the time/temp.
Final note: 1/2 galleon is a freaking lot of yogurt. Make smaller batches. 3 years ago
It’s become a fairly regular, almost second-nature part of my routine. I’m not always successful, but through trial and error I’ve come to realise that it’s such an inexact science with so many variables that it’s not something you can perfect. Even if I use the exact same ingredients and method, sometimes I’ll wake up to a tupperware full of warm milk or lumpen grit, and sometimes to a tub of luscious, creamy-tart deliciousness. It’s exciting, and it’s part of the charm! Life is like a box of yogurt, you never know what you’re gonna get. 3 years ago
One litre whole, fresh milk, one cup of powdered milk (I meant to put in 1.5 but remembered incorrectly how much had gone in last time), half a cup of Longley Farm. Two covered hot water bottles and a bunch of scrunched up tea towels for extra insulation.
The milk scorched a little on the bottom, again, so I hope I don’t get that nasty caramelised edge that seemed to creep up on previous batches. I wish I could prevent that burning from happening. I may have to invest in a confectionery thermometer and heat the milk in the microwave, apparently it is less likely to burn. 3 years ago
Having added ½ cup powdered milk to 500mls milk as it warmed, I whisked and whisked. And whisked. And whisked and whisked and whisked. And still there were lumps. Even though I’d sprinkled it in gradually, and whisked right up until the milk was almost boiling, it just did not want to dissolve properly. In the end I strained it into the thermos, and ended up with what looked like most of the volume of the added powdered milk left in the strainer.
Some of it must have got in, though, because the yoghurt came out much thicker than previous batches – so thick it had to be stirred up with a spatula before it consented to glop out of the thermos. Unfortunately, it’s also very lumpy and grainy, even after vigorous stirring (the pictures show before and after stirring) and I think the flavour is inferior to milk-only batches too. Disappointing.
Possible next steps:
- Try using electric beater to whisk the powder in better. More whisking, less aching shoulder.
- I thought of dissolving the powdered milk in hot water first, even though that would be less of a net addition of solids, but I’ve since tried the powdered milk in coffee (in desperation, having run out of proper milk!) and it doesn’t dissolve completely even in boiling water. Not really a runner.
- Get some better quality powdered milk – might taste better too.
- Try evaporated milk instead. I’ve been wondering why I haven’t seen that recommended anywhere; is there some reason it won’t work? Downside is cost – evaporated milk is much more expensive than powdered.
- Make do with runny milk-only yoghurt. No great hardship – the thinner yoghurt was perfectly adequate and can easily be thickened by straining if necessary. There will be more experimenting – I’m not going to give up after one try – but unless I can find a reliable thick-yoghurt method that isn’t too much faff, runny yoghurt will do just fine in the long run. 3 years ago
While looking for info on why my yogurt is becoming more sweet with age, I found this yogurt tasting sheet on foodie mecca 101cookbooks. It’s good to know there are others even more obsessed with creating the perfect home-made yog than I am. 3 years ago
The last batch, made with third-generation starter, turned out weirdly grainy (it’s hard to tell in the photo, but if you look closely at the shine on the spoonful you can see it). Tasted fine, but the texture was rather off-putting. I don’t know if it was because the beasties were getting tired – I’ve read that you should get 4-6 generations from each starter, and that when it does lose effectiveness it makes the yoghurt slimy/ropey*, not grainy – or if something else went wrong. But since I want to try adding milk powder to the next batch, and my inner food scientist insists on controlling the variables as much as possible, I think it’s time for new starter.
*I was reading the other day about kefir, which is a bit like yoghurt except the milk is fermented rather than digested, and learned that that goes ropey if you leave it too long. Apparently there’s a Finnish (I think? Neko, help me out?) fermented milk product which is so ropey you have to snip it with scissors! So I’m wondering if ropey yoghurt is the result of other bacteria getting a look-in as the yogifying beasties wear out.3 years ago
I’m wiping the slate clean on previous attempts, as they weren’t exactly brilliant! However, I have just ordered myself a nice digital thermometer so I guess I HAVE to start giving this more of a go ;) 3 years ago
Spurred on by my most recent success, I’m doing an experiment to see if it is indeed using the correct cultures that created the lovely creamy, stirred texture. I’ve gone right back to basics and used nothing but a litre of fresh whole milk and a half cup of Longley Farm natural yogurt. No sugar, no extra milk powder. It’s in the insulated bag with two hot water bottles with covers. The milk was heated till bubbles were starting to appear, then left for about 25 minutes till it had cooled a bit. In retrospect I might have let it cool for too long, or perhaps not heated it enough. but let’s see what we have in the morning. 3 years ago
Earlier this evening, I realised I’d left it too late to make today’s batch of yoghurt, in which I’d planned to try the powdered milk; it wouldn’t have enough time to yogify before I go to bed, and leaving it till the morning would be too long. Inspired by advice from my beloved (rather surprisingly, since he detests what he calls “rotten milk” in all its forms :-p ) I am therefore making a very small batch with yesterday’s (possibly quite weak) starter and no powdered milk, which hopefully should be at least edible before bedtime, like the first 4-hour batch. I’ll stick that in the fridge for tomorrow’s breakfast, and leave a tablespoon or so in the thermos for the rest of the night so the beasties will keep multiplying and make a good strong starter for tomorrow. 3 years ago
Started with the 10-hour yoghurt from batch 1, and yogified for about 9 hours. Tastes good, but somewhat thinner than batch 1; maybe their brief semi-freezing inactivated some of the beasties, or maybe they’re just a weak strain. The whole lot of it is currently draining in the fridge, destined for labneh tomorrow.
I picked up some skim milk powder today – looking forward to trying that to see if it yields thicker results. 3 years ago
I drained the yoghurt through a paper-towel-lined sieve for a few hours in the fridge, and it became thick, smooth, and yes, unctuous. :o) I wasn’t sure what to do with the drained-off whey; it occurred to me that yoghurt whey might be more successful in bread-making than the cheese whey was, but I don’t need to make any more bread yet. Then I tasted it, and it was delicious – the mild tanginess of the yoghurt without any creaminess, very refreshing – so I simply drank the lot. 3 years ago
This one used the same mix as before (1l semi-skimmed milk, 1.5 cups dry milk powder) but I used a new starter culture – my beloved Longley Farm yogurt.
I also (against doctor’s orders but following the recipe) added a tablespoon of sugar to the mix, which apparently acts as food for the culture. And the incubation differed in that I put two hot water bottles in, but without covers, which I think made them cool quicker.
What I ended up with this morning tastes like sweetened Longley Farm. I’m delighted to report that it’s got the stirred texture that I like almost exactly right – just a smidgen too runny, but nearly there. I can only assume that this is because of the culture I used.
And although it’s too sweet, it also has a good sharp tang to it.
It is definitely too sweet though. I’m not sure how it would work out in savoury cooking. I’m going to try this method again next time, replicating it exactly but with half the sugar. If that works, I’ll half it again, and again, until I can balance the minimum sugar content with the best texture. 3 years ago
Batch four wasn’t great. I upped the dry milk powder to 1.5 cups as intended, but then I burnt the milk, creating that vile milkskin effect and a lot of black and brown bits that needed sieving out. Undeterred, I made the yogurt anyway.
I wound up with a very thick, jelly-like yogurt that tasted quite rich but strangely sweet. I’m not sure where the sweetness came from. I ate it all, mostly in lassis, but it just seemed to get sweeter as it got older. Not a success. So I moved on to batch 5, which I made last night. 3 years ago
Finding myself still awake at 3am – four hours after I’d put the yoghurt on, which is the minimum yogifying time I’d seen – I decided to check how it was getting on. For some reason you’re not supposed to disturb the yoghurt-in-progress (though it didn’t seem to make much difference, of which more in a sec) so I unwrapped and opened the thermos exceedingly carefully, and tilted it as instructed to see how runny it was. To my surprise it was already set, and it smelled and tasted almost exactly like the starter yoghurt I’d used, just a touch milder. I wasn’t sure about leaving it for the rest of the night since it had got so far so quickly, so in experimental spirit I poured (fortunately it didn’t set too firmly to pour out of the thermos :o) ) half of it into a bowl and put it in the fridge, and left the rest to keep doing its thing.
This morning I compared the two. The 4-hour batch in the fridge had thickened just a little more, and the flavour had stayed very mild. The 10-hour batch in the thermos seemed pretty much the same consistency as the earlier one had been when I poured it out (which surprised me – I thought it’d be thicker), and the flavour was a bit stronger and tarter, but not by nearly as much as I was expecting. It also didn’t seem to have been adversely affected by being disturbed when I poured out the earlier batch – although it’s just now occurred to me that it might thicken more if left undisturbed, so I’ll try that next time.
I stuck the 10-hour batch in the fridge to chill, and it too became a little thicker, though not much. Then I mixed the two together, first saving a dollop of the 10-hour batch as starter for next time, on the assumption that it would contain more yogifying beasties than the earlier one. And then I had some for breakfast. Yum.
Thinking it would be several days before I needed to make more, I had put the starter in the freezer, but I’ve just whipped it out again – I’m all excited about it now and want to try draining what’s left of today’s batch to thicken it into Greek-style yoghurt or maybe even labneh (yoghurt cheese), so I’m going to make more tonight :o) 3 years ago
I’ve just poured my yoghurt-inoculated milk into my thermos, and as I screwed the lid on nice and tight it occurred to me that for all I know, the little yogifying beasties produce gallons of gas as they digest my milk for me, in which case I shall wake up in the morning not to delicious fresh homemade yoghurt but to a kitchen ceiling studded with bits of exploded thermos and dripping with semi-yogged goop. Does anyone know if this is in fact the case? 3 years ago
until several of my subs were apparently simultaneously seized by yoghurt-mania :o) So I want to give it a try. I’ve been doing some reading, and there are so many variations in instructions out there that I can’t help feeling it’s a case of kinda winging it the first time, and then adjusting for your own particular method. As long as everything’s clean and the temperature’s right for the yoghurt-ifying bacteria, it seems easy enough. I’ve got milk, starter yoghurt and a thermos – let’s see what happens :o) 3 years ago
The best yet. For this I used the same technique as batch two, but with a litre of fresh semi-skimmed milk rather than UHT whole. I gave it a proper stir this time.
It’s still a bit gelatinous, and gets runnier with stirring, so I still wouldn’t eat it on its own as a dessert – though it’s fine used in lassis, stirred into muesli, in cooking etc.
My next challenge is to get it thicker, less lumpy, and more like shop-bought yogurt in texture ie not “set”. So I think I’m going to experiment with upping the amount of dry milk powder in the mix from a cup per litre (totally mixing my measuring metaphors) to a cup and a half. I like the extra protein hit I get from the dry milk powder, and it seems to give a creamier taste, so it’s fine with me – it’s still cheaper than getting yogurt in the shop, I think.
The recipe I referenced in the last entry also recommends leaving the yogurt in the fridge for a few days before eating, so I might try that too, if I can stay away from it. I might have to make two lots at once so I can dig into one and let the other mature.
If neither of those things work then I may try adding a spoonful of sugar as food for the culture, as is suggested, though I’d really rather not. 3 years ago
This is batch two, which I made by very loosely following this Chowhound technique – well, really just the ingredients, I didn’t do the thing with the drawer and the light and all that. Also I didn’t use extra sugar.
So this contained a litre of whole, UHT milk, and about a cup (250ml) of dry skimmed milk powder. I heated the milk till it was almost boiling, then left it to cool till I could hold my finger in it for a count of ten.
Problems: The milk powder didn’t dissolve all that well so I had to whizz it with the stick blender, and this resulted in a strange froth on top of the yogurt – kind of like if an Aero bar was made of yogurt.
I also neglected to stir the starter yogurt (the end of a tub of Tesco natural) until it was runny, and it didn’t mix into the milk properly. I didn’t realise this until it was too late and had poured the somewhat lumpy mixture into the incubation tub. I’m guessing this is what caused the strange lumpen texture which looked odd but didn’t affect the mouthfeel at all.
This made a very creamy yogurt, but I could definitely tell that the milk was UHT. I also forgot to put it in the fridge the morning after I’d made it, so it sat on the countertop in an insulated bag throughout the hottest day of the year, which might have affected the flavour – it was ever so slightly “off” tasting, though this could have been psychosomatic. Even so, I ate it all, though I used it for my customary grape lassis rather than eating it as is. It did make delicious creamy lassis.
Next batch is currently setting in the fridge – my first batch made using home-made yogurt as a starter! 3 years ago