Since I wrote about my disappointing batch of runny yogurt, I've been on a mission to find the source of the problem. At first I thought that perhaps my kitchen was too drafty, since the heat had been turned off during a warm spell around here. Then I wondered whether my starter had gone bad.
Now I've found the culprit (I think). A friend of mine tried my recipe and raved about it. She mentioned that she only uses whole milk. Yum, that sounds good! I don't want to switch from skim though, or my waistline would never recover.
That got me to thinking...hhmmm, maybe the fat content effects the end results. Lately, I've just been using plain, fat-free yogurt as the starter, mainly because I stocked up during a sale. The starter that I originally used was plain, organic, low-fat yogurt.
On my kid-free, speed shopping trip to Target last week, they didn't have that brand. As a test though, I bought a single serving size of another brand of low-fat yogurt. Already the batch that I started yesterday, using that is coming out well. It's thick and creamy, and soon it will be the Greek yogurt that my family loves.
That settles it, the fat content is key. It seems to work better to use at least low-fat yogurt as a starter, rather than fat-free. The end result will still be very low fat.
I thought I'd share two more tips while I'm at it.
1- You can add fruit at the end of the process, if you wish. I puree frozen fruit in the blender and stir it in.
2- This one sounds weird, but it's a good one. I can't remember where I read it, but I saw a tip saying that cloth diapers work better than cheesecloth for straining yogurt. Obviously use diapers that are strictly set aside for this purpose, they can't do duel duty as baby apparel! Get the kind that are flatfold. The advantage they have over cheesecloth is that they can be washed and reused again and again. They're also sturdier than cheesecloth, so instead of multiple layers, one diaper really does the job.
Remember, if your first attempt at homemade yogurt doesn't work, don't give up! It really is easy and so much more economical to make yogurt at home. See my links below for more about yogurt making.