Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

How to Make Perfect Thick, Creamy Raw Milk Yogurt (Plus How to Fail Miserably and Laugh at Yourself)

May 30th, 2012 · 74 Comments · Do It Yourself, Recipes

Raw milk yogurt has been an elusive target for me for the last few years.

The very best, creamy, thick batch of raw yogurt I ever made was impossible to replicate – I incubated it on the back porch in the sun and then in a warm vehicle overnight. Phooey!

Beyond that one special accomplishment, I’ve had a lot of this:

IMG_6704 (475x356)

and this:

IMG_6701 (475x356)

which means a ton of these:

IMG_7057

but very little of this:

happy yogurt

You can check out some of my raw milk yogurt escapades and trial and error hilarity here if you want to find out what doesn’t work…but keep reading this post for a bullet-proof method that does work!

Ultimately, making raw milk yogurt isn’t any harder in theory or practice than making pasteurized milk  yogurt, but the results are impeded by the raw milk bacteria itself (darn little healthy buggers getting in the way of progress!). The probiotics already present in raw milk compete with those trying to culture and grow to make yogurt, and that battle means a few things for the yogurt maker:

  1. You need to add a bit more starter to give the yogurt buggers a leg up – instead of 2 Tbs., be sure to add about three Tbs. per quart.
  2. In order to use your own yogurt as a starter for the next batch, at least more than once or twice in a row, you generally need to make a “seed” of pasteurized milk yogurt to have a more “pure” starter for the raw milk.
  3. Your results will often be inconsistent, almost always much less thick than conventional yogurt and often textured, more cottage-cheesy or lumpy or separating from the whey.
A Better Method

For a long time, I didn’t even pursue raw milk yogurt anymore because it wasn’t as pleasant an experience for my family. We LOVE our homemade yogurt and literally eat it at least once a day, but those jars of runny raw yogurt would noticeably sit in the fridge longer than the pasteurized stuff, so I just pasteurized my raw milk before making yogurt.


I have learned a bit over the years, mainly that

  1. Raw milk yogurt seems to do better (i.e. thicker) at a lower incubation temperature, between 95-100F rather than up toward 110 degrees.
  2. Raw yogurt likes consistency; it’s less forgiving of changing temperatures during incubation.

Therefore, my previous method for winning the raw milk yogurt battle was to incubate in my Excalibur dehydrator at 100 degrees F.

I don’t love doing that, however, because it’s hard to justify using electricity to make yogurt when I have a simple energy-free method to make homemade yogurt already.

However, if you’re committed to making only raw milk yogurt and have the equipment, it’s not a bad way to go.

Other cultured milk options include simply making a countertop yogurt culture from Cultures for Health (that incubates at room temp, so it’s brain-dead simply but always runny) or checking out what the GNOWFGLINS Cultured Dairy and Cheesemaking eCourse has to offer (lots!). You can also see a video of my jar-in-pot cooler incubation yogurt method in that course.

The Best Raw Milk Yogurt Method EVER!

However.

Wouldn’t you rather your raw milk yogurt look like this?

thick homemade raw yogurt with gelatin (28)

I have recently discovered the key to perfect, thick, almost-like-the-store homemade raw yogurt every time:

That’s a high quality gelatin from grassfed cows, sold at Radiant Life for about fifteen bucks for a rather large bottle. I first introduced it to you in the post about real food protein sources for after a workout last week, but I really have it around hoping it would be the magic bullet for perfect raw yogurt.

My husband said that if it tasted like beef broth, that would be a no go. Luckily, it doesn’t. Winking smile

This post is sponsored by Radiant Life – thank you for saving my raw yogurt!!

Here are the step-by-step instructions for making raw milk yogurt with gelatin:
(You can catch more photo tutorial with a bit more info HERE.)

1. Put a washcloth in the bottom of your pot to cushion the jars.

2. Fill jars with raw milk.

3. Place jars in pot; fill with tap water (I use hot), and put the lid on.

5. Turn burner to high and stick near the kitchen to check the temperature every few minutes. Shoot to heat the milk to about 105-110 degrees F. You’ll need a thermometer, either candy or meat or whatever, to test the temp. Be sure to stir the milk around so that you’re getting an accurate reading. Note: If it gets higher than 118F, you’ve killed your enzymes and may as well go up to 160F.

6. Once you know approximately how long it takes with your pot on your stove on high, the next time you can set a timer for a minute or two shy and get back in time. My pot takes 10 minutes to get to 110F.

7. Once at about 105-110F, Remove jars from pot. I usually lid them and use an oven mitt so I don’t spill – they’re very hot!

8. Put the lid back on the (nearly empty) pot and bring the water to a full boil.

9. Measure 1-3 tsp. gelatin into each jar of warm milk (more on how to determine amount below):

making homemade yogurt (raw) with gelatin (4) (475x356)

10. Whisk it in.

making homemade yogurt (raw) with gelatin (6) (475x356)

11. Whisk some more. Whisk really, really well, hard, and for a long time:

making homemade yogurt (raw) with gelatin (7) (475x356)

I learned that the gelatin has a difficult time incorporating into the warm milk, and if you don’t work very hard to make sure you get all the way to the bottom and really whisk the granules into the milk, you’ll end up with a layer of yogurt jello at the bottom of your jar and still funky-textured yogurt in the rest of the jar.

making homemade yogurt (raw) with gelatin (8) (475x356)

So dig DEEP when you whisk, and peek through the bottom of the jar until you don’t see (much) gelatin sitting there anymore. It was usually about 2-3 times longer than I thought I should have to whisk.

12. Now add your 2 1/2-3 Tbs. yogurt starter:

making homemade yogurt (raw) with gelatin (10) (475x356)

13. Stir well:

making homemade yogurt (raw) with gelatin (12) (475x356)

14. By this time, your water  has certainly boiled in the pot. Put the pot, lid on, into a towel-lined picnic cooler.

Don’t forget that you can see more details at the new making homemade yogurt tutorial or the original homemade yogurt post.

15. Then nestle the jars in next to the pot, also wrapped in the towel.

16. You’re about to take the lid off the pot to let steam out into the cooler and keep the yogurt jars warm. Since you just boiled the pot, there will be plenty of steam, and I’ve found that it’s usually too much/too hot for proper yogurt if you trap it all. Unless your home’s temperature is exceedingly cold (60F), you should take the lid off the pot, allow steam to escape for 3-5 seconds, then close the lid of the cooler.

17. Find a quiet place for your cooler to sit for 8-24 hours. (Actually, it’s much better to have the cooler more or less where it’s going to rest before adding a pot of boiling water and heavy jars of milk, ahem.)

18. If you incubate beyond 8 hours, add a few cups of boiling water to the pot every 8 hours to keep the temperature up. You may choose to use a thermometer the first few times to make sure the temp stays at about 100F in the cooler, or just wing it and troubleshoot if your yogurt fails.

That’s it! Put your jars in the refrigerator when finished – do not disturb the contents until they are completely cooled, and don’t worry if it looks runny going in. First, yogurt is always runnier when warm, and second, the gelatin doesn’t gel up at all until cooled, so have faith! And patience!

Keeping a “Seed” for Future Batches

Although I’ve started yogurt with Dannon, Stonyfield, and Fage brands of yogurt, I prefer to use a bit from a previous batch to start my new batch; it’s much more frugal that way.

With raw milk, you’ll start to get more and more competition with the raw milk probiotics and the yogurt itself unless you have a bit of pasteurized yogurt to use as a “seed.” One of the beautiful things about the jar-in-pot method is that you can make each jar a bit differently. I think the easiest way to keep your seed, which many people find you only need to do every other or every third batch, is to just make one jar pasteurized.

While you’re boiling the water in step 9 above, you can just leave one jar in. It will come to temp (160-170F), and then you leave it on the counter to cool to 100-110F. Still put the pot and other jars of raw yogurt into the cooler, and about 1 1/2-2 hours later, you can stir in some starter (2 Tbs.) into the cooled, pasteurized milk jar and simply add it to the cooler (quickly so you don’t lose much heat).

When that jar is totally cooled, you can pull some out to make sure you have your “seed” separate (uneaten) and ready for the next batch of yogurt.

One More Raw Milk Yogurt Note

To make raw yogurt, although it’s tempting to want to turn into yogurt milk that’s about to turn itself, fresh milk is best; if it’s starting to sour at all, unpredictable things seem to happen in the conflict between the yogurt cultures and the sour milk cultures. It’s not impossible to make raw yogurt with old milk (say, 5 days old or so), but your chances of a nice consistency reduce dramatically. To use up that milk that’s about to sour, I recommend just making pasteurized yogurt (or turn it into pancakes or soaked baked oatmeal or something).

If you’re struggling with homemade raw milk yogurt, you can experiment with less risk with the jar-in-pot method – make 3 jars of pasteurized yogurt and one raw to see if you can nail it, or half and half, or try different amounts of starter or different starting temps. (A new homemade yogurt troubleshooting guide may help…)

How Much Gelatin to Use?

After finding that 1 teaspoon gelatin per quart just isn’t enough to make a difference, I harnessed the versatility of jar-in-pot again to do some experimenting: 4 tsp. vs. 2 tsp. vs. no gelatin.

Here’s raw yogurt without any gelatin added:

thick homemade raw yogurt with gelatin (24)

Now with 2 teaspoons gelatin:

thick homemade raw yogurt with gelatin (26)

also 2 teaspoons:

thick homemade raw yogurt with gelatin (18)

And check out 4 teaspoons!

thick homemade raw yogurt with gelatin (22)

Doesn’t that look amazing? This thickness is actually a bit too much like Jello – my kids didn’t like it at all, and my husband and I decided four was a bit much. Somewhere between 2 and 3 teaspoons gelatin per quart is the perfect amount for us and makes a doggone enjoyable yogurt!

Just remember, when adding gelatin:

  • You may or may not be able to use gelatin-laced yogurt as a starter for the next batch.
  • You may or may not be able to strain gelatin enhanced yogurt into yogurt cheese and whey. It wasn’t supposed to work…but I did it once. Winking smile

Very cool added benefits of having gelatin in your yogurt include:

  • Additional protein: gelatin has 12 g protein per Tablespoon (3 teaspoons)!
  • Digestive benefits; gelatin is a digestive aid.
  • Having gelatin around means you can add it to your homemade chicken stock (or beef) as well to ensure that you get a good “gel” and add the digestive benefits even if you don’t have the best bird or most perfect process for getting lots of gelatin in your stock, like this.

Check out this soup that was made with broth that was totally liquid, and I added a bit of gelatin to the additional water I used while making the soup:

gelatin beef soup (1) (475x356)

The Only Bummer

I was hoping gelatin would be a “fix” for those mysterious batches of yogurt, even pasteurized, that turn out runny. I tried a few things to fix already-made yogurt, which I’m sure you want to hear about, right?

My very first attempt was to add ½ tsp. gelatin to one cup somewhat runny yogurt. It started out pourable but not totally liquid:

gelatin coconut milk yogurt (3) (475x356)

I shook the jar very hard, opened it, scraped gelatin off side/top, shook again until I was convinced it was incorporated. After I refrigerated just two hours or so, I took out the small jar and my eyes nearly popped out of my head.

Holy cow, I thought, Total gel.

gelatin coconut milk yogurt (4) (475x356)

I turned the jar upside down and nothing moved.

gelatin coconut milk yogurt (5) (475x356)

Somehow, just a bit of gelatin and a good shake had taken this:

gelatin coconut milk yogurt (9) (475x356)

to this!

gelatin coconut milk yogurt (11) (475x356)

gelatin coconut milk yogurt (13) (475x356)

I was amazed. I’ll be the yogurt hero of the world, I thought.

Then I tasted it.

Hmmmm. Something’s different. It’s still good, but there’s something very unique about this. I hope it doesn’t taste like beef broth like my husband feared…

gelatin coconut milk yogurt (14) (475x356)

A few more bites. I could almost put my finger on the underlying flavor…

It’s like…it’s like…aha! It reminds me of when I licked my finger after making those healthy homemade frozen popsicles with coconut milk yesterday for Paul’s birthday party! I wonder what it is about gelatin that tastes a bit like coconut milk? Guar gum?

It was a bit too thick, and I wrote in my notes:

It makes it taste like coconut milk, at least the coconut milk from the can. Maybe when I taste the coconut milk when I’m making a recipe, it’s actually the thickener I taste! Try ½ tsp. for an entire quart jar.

And the funny part about that story? I was tasting and taking pictures of the jar of leftover COCONUT MILK from making those popsicles the day before. For real.

I put a big scoop in with my yogurt. I can’t believe I didn’t even figure out my mistake when it was so much whiter than the yogurt and, hello, tasted like coconut milk!!! The actual yogurt that I shook up…didn’t gel at all. It only became completely liquid since I broke all the connections in the original runny yogurt. Fail!

I also tried “the fix” by dissolving gelatin into a bit of boiling water, allowing it to cool slightly, and then adding to runny  yogurt in the fridge. That also failed, but at least I picked myself up and tried again after taking all those pictures of coconut milk!!! That’s what I get for not labeling all my jars in the fridge.

The lesson learned here is that, so far, I can’t help you fix runny yogurt with gelatin, but if you KNOW you’re going to have runny yogurt, like when you make raw milk yogurt, you can add the gelatin before the culturing period and have amazing success.

Be sure to grab some gelatin from Radiant Life since it’s so well-sourced. The gelatin you buy at any big box store is not going to have quite the same health benefits, and it’s most certainly not from grassfed, well-raised cattle (if it’s made from bones at all).

Now go make some yogurt! (or just scoop coconut milk into your bowl and be a dork like me)

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Disclosure: I received a sample from Radiant Life to facilitate this paid post, but that can’t change my opinion or the fact that I don’t know what’s in my fridge. Winking smile I am an affiliate of Cultures for Health, GNOWFGLINS, and Amazon and will receive commission from any purchases you make there. See my full disclosure statement here.

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74 Comments so far ↓

  • Ashley

    Katie–I love how you started the post! Made me laugh first thing in the morning : ) I’ve been reading a lot about raw milk (largely from you!) and have been seeking a source (provided the WY laws don’t change…) I can’t wait to try making yogurt with it! I am lactose intolerant, so store-bought milk won’t do and goat’s milk is sooo expensive! If I’m going to pay that much for milk, I want the benefits of raw! ; ) Anyway, point being that I’ll be referring back once I have a milk source. Thanks for all the great info, and do the ‘leg work’ for me!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Brooks Reply:

    Hi Katie! Thanks for this post. After thorough internet research you post was by far the most thorough (and entertaining!). I am part of a herdshare so have access to Raw cow’s milk. I ordered some Bernard Jensen gelatin to thicken it up a bit and decided to pasteurize my first 4 quart batch. I added 1 Tbsp/quart of yogurt. After bringing the milk in jars to about 170 degrees, two of my Ball quart jar bottoms came clean off when I lifted them out of the liquid. Oops?! Then I added the gelatin, sugar, and stuck them in the dehydrator for 8 hours. I also tried a batch same method with 2 cans coconut milk/quart jar. Neither batch seemed to “gel”. I refrigerated them for at least 8 hours after fermenting. The cow’s milk yogurt is a little thicker, but the coconut milk yogurt didn’t seem to gel at all. Have you ever had this happen? Could my gelatin be compromised?

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Nicole

    Hmm. I made raw milk raw yogurt loosely following your directions of yesterday and it’s perfect. I incubated from 2 pm til 7 am in the oven with the pot of water and towel, adding about 4 c hot water around six. Maybe I’m just lucky? Or maybe it’s because I used actual yogurt starter? (yogourmet) Anyways, it worked! I usually do pastuerized version or coconut milk yogurt one qourt at a time in my yogurt maker but thought it’d be nice to have 4 qts. Glad I took the apparent risk. Gelatin is a great thickener for coconut milk yogurt as well…

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Nicole,
    Awesome! Sometimes the yogurt starter works wonders, but not always. Well done! It’s always nice to have something work out great!
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Renee Harris

    Ah, that first photo looks like what my kids forgivingly call “mistake cheese” – scoop that stuff out, spread over bread and put under the boiler. It’ll taste remarkably like Mozzarella cheese, and the kids will hope you mess up the yogurt again.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Deb

    I’ll have to try adding gelatin to my yogurt! I have a bottle left over from making baby formula, and I was wondering what to do with it all.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Shauna

    I always use raw milk for my yogurt, and it always comes out fabulous… but I use a crock pot. Sooooo easy!! Put 2 qts raw milk in the crockpot, turn it on low for 4 hrs. Turn off and let sit for 4 hrs. (I usually start it just after lunch) Then stir in 6-8 oz yogurt starter (either a carton from the store or a small jar from the last batch), cover with a couple of towels or a blanket and let it sit about 12 hrs. Next morning… yogurt! This usually makes it pretty thick, but it can always be strained if you want yogurt cheese. Like I said… sooo simple!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Joyce Reply:

    I use raw milk too, and will have to try this method; but I usually make a gallon at a time–do you think I would need to increase the time on low? I wouldn’t think so, but what do you think?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Shauna Reply:

    I would just do 2 qts at a time, back to back. Not sure if a crockpot could handle that much milk at a time, but you could always try. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Joyce Reply:

    Maybe I didn’t word this correctly, my crockpot holds a gallon of milk; that’s usually how I make my yogurt. I do, however, have 2 crockpots, so I could use both. Did you think that my crockpot couldn’t hold a gallon, or that it would be too much for the process you use? thanks, Joyce

    [Reply to this comment]

    Shauna Reply:

    Oh. Mine doesn’t hold quite that much. I think you’d have to play with it a bit… maybe try it the original 4 hrs, then add more time if it doesn’t look right. I’m sure you could do a gallon at a time, you’d just have to adjust the timing. Good luck!!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Melissa Reply:

    What a great idea to use a crock pot………..mine doesn’t get used for a thing anymore!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kimberly Reply:

    Hi Shauna, I have never made yogurt but thought the crock pot sounds easier. Do you keep a lid on it for the first part? Very nice post Katie. Thank you, Kimberly

    [Reply to this comment]

    Shauna Reply:

    Kimberly, I keep the lid on for the entire time, until it’s ready to drain… or eat!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Genet Reply:

    Can I ask what brand and how big your crockpot is?
    Thanks
    genet
    :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lauren Reply:

    hi Shauna- I recently bought a crockpot to make yogurt from my raw milk. At the last second I looked online to realize the temp on low is 176 so it will kill the enzymes, which kind of destroys the purpose. TOTAL BUMMER!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Joyce

    Hi Katie, thanks for the gelatin info–never thought of trying it. I use Organic dried powdered milk as an “additive” to make my truly raw milk yogurt thicker. I add 2 TBSP per quart; I mix it well with my starter, also 2 Tbsp of Stonyfield per quart and if it is too pasty, I take out some of my heated milk and add it into the mixture so that it is well incorporated before I wisk it into the yogurt. I usually works quite well–I may try 3 Tbsp per quart next time.

    In terms of the gelatin do you think you could take out some of the heated milk and mix it with the gelatin and put them in a Vitamix or blender and mix them really well and add them back in to the yogurt? It would seem easier than wisking the gelatin especially if it settles in the bottom of the jar. Any thoughts about that?

    thanks,
    Joyce

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Joyce,
    I don’t see why not – I never thought of that! I wonder about an immersion blender, too…hmmmm…higher tech yogurt making…might have to play around a little bit with this idea!
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Ashley Reply:

    So, I tried the immersion blender straight in my jars of heated milk…and got milk all over! The ‘whirring’ of the blender splashed the milk right out of the jar. I’m thinking next time I make yogurt (probably tonight) I’ll put a little bit of milk in, add gelatin, use the blender, then top off my jar & heat. I’m aiming to keep my yogurt raw anyway, so I figure it won’t hurt the gelatin any! And using the immersion blender shouldn’t make mixing into the cold milk an issue :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Ashley Reply:

    Just made another batch this evening and the blender with cold milk worked beautifully! Just keep the blender at the bottom of the jar, and don’t fill any more than half full. I sterilized my blender along with the other tools in boiling water. The milk will get a bit foamy, but it calms down as the milk heats.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jacqueline

    Haha, love the coconut milk story!
    I’ve been making yogurt from raw milk since I’m sure it’s still better than store-bought, even if I do heat the milk up to 180.
    But raw yogurt would be even better. I’m going to try the gelatin trick!
    Two questions:
    1. Does raw yogurt keep as long as regular homemade yogurt? (I’m single, and I make 4 qts at a time, which are fine for the 3 weeks it takes me to use that up.)
    2. Any thoughts on what causes the “elasticity” of homemade yogurt? I’ve discovered that incubating it a little longer takes care of that, but I’m just curious.
    Thanks so much for all your helpful information!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jacqueline,
    We go through it so fast, but I’m pretty sure the shelf life will be similar enough…

    As for the elasticity, that’s a good question. Any conjecture on my part would be such a shot in the scientific dark… ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Melizza Isip

    It is important also to teach them in their age on how to discipline their selves on how to maintain in being healthy. It is one of the best thing that you can give to them aside of things.

    Mel– proud to be a healthy Mom.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Christy

    I so love your refreshing honesty Katie! It’s such a confidence boost to see that I’m not the only one that does these crazy things :). I’ve been making raw milk yogurt for almost a year now and over time it has become thicker. I’m not sure if that’s the bacteria adjusting itself to my milk from batch to batch? Who knows. My kids are yogurt snobs though and only like it greek-style so we still strain 1-2 cups of whey off of each quart to make it super thick. I’d like to try your gelatin method though to see if I cold skip the straining step. Do you think a stick blender would mix the gelatin in faster/better?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Another gal wondered about using an appliance – why not? It’s definitely worth a try…
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Tonya

    First off, you actually ATE the oopsies pictured above? That looks VERY much like spoiled milk on the farm when I was a kid. I’d be curious to see the bacteriology on that. It may actually have ‘bad’ bacteria in it & I wouldn’t recommend eating it.

    2. It’s okay to add gelatin to yogurt if it’s from grassfed cows? it seems to me that if found in a grocery store product, gelatin would be labeled by the real food crowd as an unnecessary additive or filler. instead, here you do what food chemists have been doing for some time, improve the texture/flavor/longevity of a product with an additive.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Tonya,
    The yogurt was just separated – the worst offenders were the ones where I added too much starter on purpose. But they didn’t smell badly and were as cleanly stirred/stored as the other jars.

    As for gelatin, sure, I suppose it’s an additive, but so is salt. For me, as long as it’s still *food* and not some weird chemical unrelated to plants or animals, it makes sense to me. Gelatin is what we’re shooting for when we make homemade stocks; this is just a concentrated bit of it. ??

    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Amie from Weight Loss Oklahoma City Reply:

    The gelatin you found in a product at the store would be low-quality gelatin from (likely) unhealthy animals. The gelatin she is recommending is beneficial, as it is sourced from healthy cattle.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Katie G.

    I don’t think I could justfy making my yogurt with raw milk. The only raw milk I’m able to get (from a local farm) is $12 a gallon… so we get some of that for drinking and I use pasturized fo the yogurt.

    Also, to Tonya, the milk was just separated. Cheese looks like that at one point, too, it doesn’t mean it has bad bacteria, that you can tell by the smell.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Melissa

    Your story about the coconut milk is a real tickler!! I am going to experiment with carrageenan as a thickener as I live on the coast and it is so easily available to me. Does anyone have any advice or experience with using it?

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Pat

    Thanks for the excaliber note worked perfect. I did 2 jars – I used 3 packages of gelatine… and have what looks like spackling paste… gonna try it on pizza lol

    Second jar I used 1/2 c of powdered milk and it turned out close to store consistency.

    I am using goat milk, btw….

    Very interesting… thanks for the info :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Elizabeth

    Katie, I’ve never had raw milk in my life (63), but yesterday I bought some and today I am making my first batch of raw milk yogurt. I’d just made a batch of yogurt from pasteurized milk so I used one gallon of raw milk and 3 cups of the pasteurized yogurt. In all I’ve read today about raw milk yogurt I haven’t heard anyone mention draining it, but that’s what I’m doing now. So far, it seems as though this batch is going to turn out fine. I believe it will even be the consistency I want when its done. I might be wrong, eh?! Better go check on it. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kristi

    How many quarts of yogurt do you think you will get from the container of gelatin?
    This is a very timely post for me. Our Jersey cow had her first calf this week and we will be up to our eyeballs in milk very soon!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kristi Reply:

    Just saw the answer on Radient Life’s website. It says 26 servings that are 1 T. each. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kcaarin

    I’ve made raw milk yogurt and I think it just takes less time to incubate. More like 5hrs than 8. If I kept it in longer it started to separate.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • My Homemade Yogurt Sucks. | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page

    [...] I found this: How to Make Perfect Thick, Creamy Raw Milk Yogurt (Plus How to Fail Miserably and Laugh at Yourself)… Reply With Quote « Previous Thread | Next Thread [...]

  • Tam

    Thank you for the detailed post; I made yogurt from raw goat’s milk once and it turned out great! The second time…not so much! Your post helped me realize I overheated my microscopic charges, and the details about the inconsistencies with raw milk convinced me that the cost of our milk made continued attempts prohibitive…either way, I linked your post from my blog here: http://backwardisgood.blogspot.com/2012/07/first-attempt-at-making-yogurt-i-am.html

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Julie

    Thanks so much for this post! We have been drinking raw milk for a while now and I recently ventured out to make our yogurt from our yummy raw milk. It has been going wonderfully, but I am always in search of new and improved ways to achieve the ideal creaminess my kids prefer to get them to eat as much of it as possible. One question: the incubation time you have listed is very broad– 8 to 24 hours– WOW. What is the difference between the 8 hour incubation and the 24 hour? Does it get thicker and richer? Or do you find the texture to be pretty much the same regardless?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Julie,
    I talk a little about incubation time in my original yogurt post here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/04/13/monday-mission-homemade-yogurt-the-easy-way/

    Incubation time can change the flavor a lot – it does get more sour, but we still really like it after 24 hours. Also supposedly almost 100% of the lactose is gone after 24 hours, which is the only reason I’d go that long (we have someone with an autoimmune disease in our family). The texture can change, too, but I never know which way it will go – time interacts with temperature so much, so sometimes longer inc. gets creamier, sometimes it begins to separate. It’s a bit of an experiment every time! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Nicole

    Argh! I made yogurt last night using these directions for the 2nd time. 1st time was great :) This time it came out basically tasting like milk. I came back to troubleshoot and see what I did wrong and I realized I forgot to put in the yogurt starter!! I am so bummed!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Nicole,
    You are a busy multi-tasking mama! 3rd time’s the charm! ;) Katie

    PS – use your warm milk to make baked goods, pancakes, etc.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Iris

    Do you think it is okay to use organic gelatin from pigs? I can’t find any gelatin from cows here in the Netherlands, let alone grass fed which is not a label used here…

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Iris,
    I would think so! (But I’m guessing along with you…) :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Iris Reply:

    Thank you, I’ll just give it a try then:-)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Judy Messenger

    Has anyone sweetened the milk before culturing? If so, what did you use, and what was the result? : )

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Judy,
    I’ve never tried that; don’t want to mess with the culturing and it’s easy to add afterward. ??? Lots of people ask this question though…
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    sara Reply:

    I have tried to sweeten mine – with sugar, with honey, and with stevia – and eat time it has lost its sweetness by the time I finished the incubation period. If you want it sweetened, it’s best to sweeten it afterwards.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Sara Reply:

    I have tried to sweeten mine – with sugar, with honey, and with stevia – and each time it has lost its sweetness by the time I finished the incubation period. If you want it sweetened, it’s best to sweeten it afterwards.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • laura

    Thank you! This is just what I have been looking for; a comprehensive step-by-step for raw milk yoghurt (as well as an “I told you so” for someone who insisted it wouldn’t work! lol. But I won’t actually say it)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Homemade Raw Milk Yogurt | Good Life Farm

    [...] Homemade Raw Milk Yogurt Adapted from Nourished Kitchen and Kitchen Stewardship [...]

  • Michelle V

    Hi! I’m new to raw milk yogurt, even though I’ve been making yogurt for a while. I haven’t tried the gelatin yet (genius idea! Mine is on the way!) but I’m having a problem with making GAPS legal raw milk yogurt – it’s really sour, almost tasting bad. I was hoping you could help me troubleshoot!! Thanks!! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Michelle,
    You really need to keep it at 100F or so, so if you’re doing the cooler method for 24 hours, you have to add boiling water at least once if not twice. A dehydrator does a good job. Also, you can sterilize the milk first and get used to 24-hour yogurt that way, then go back to raw. ?? I don’t know if that was helpful, but it’s what I could come up with! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Maryanne

    Katie: I so enjoy your Blog and I laughed (really hard!) at the coconut milk story! So like something that I would do! Thanks for sharing great info! I love the idea of the gelatin for raw milk yogurt. Just ordered …

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Pepperminti WInd Farm

    Thanks-this is so helpful! I’ve been milking my own cow for about a month now. I ordered the gelatin and just got it yesterday. I love thick yogurt so was just waiting for the radiant life gelatin to arrive so I could give it a try- it’s percolating as we speak.
    What I did is measure my 4 quarts of milk into my stainless milking bucket and whisked into that the appropriate amount of gelatin. that worked real well – I thought whisking each quart would be hard with my whisk that is kinda big. Then I poured the milk into individual quart jars.
    I’ve got the individual jars sitting in a crock pot with water right now- still looking for the cooler-LOL! I know it’s in a barn SOMEWHERE! I think the milk in the crockpot itself might work really well for me I’m gonna try that next.
    I don’t know anyone who does any of this stuff so I am so grateful for those of you who take the time to write blogs and share pictures and directions- A BIG THANK YOU to all of you.
    I’ve got kefir percolating on the counter for the first time, done butter twice now and sour cream has worked great. I’m going to try some soft cheeses this week I think. I’ve got so much milk I’m eager to find even more ideas for recipes and such.
    quick question: If I “accidentally” heat my yogurt up past 115 degrees have I killed off my yogurt starter? I tried putting a jar in the oven with it off (the oven) but forgot to turn the oven off and the milk got up to 155 degrees before I realized! Can I just add some new “starter” to that quart and sort of start over?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    What an adventure!

    If you heated the jars quickly to 155, you’re probably ok. The internal temp surely didn’t get that high. It’s really a “guess and check” system. Sometimes you can add more, but usually that causes weird clumping problems, in my experience. Often better to just make some baked good or creamy soup out of the milk and start over with new milk. Enjoy your cow!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lindsay

    I’ll have to check out the gelatin. I wonder if standard unflavored gelatin works also? I take my slimy, runny batches of yogurt and let them sit over a fine mesh strainer for a bit. After about 30 minutes they drain to a yogurt consistency, and if I let them set 3-4 hours I have a thick, spreadable yogurt that we use in place of cream cheese for all sorts of things!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Laura

    thank you!! I tried this week, and this was so easy! So much simpler than my yogurt maker, I will never use that again!

    I used 3 tsp of gelatin (just the knorr packets, all I could find on short notice, since I had 3 gallons of milk in the fridge). That was a bit much- so thick. So, I put the yogurt in the blender with some water and maple syrup, and now it is super yummy! I’ll use less gelatin next time, but it’s still the best yogurt I’ve ever made, thanks for the recipe!!!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Easy Crock Pot Yogurt Tutorial | Modern Alternative Kitchen

    [...] Before we get started with the tutorial, note that this method does lightly pasteurize the milk. If you’re trying to make raw milk yogurt, the milk can only be heated to between 105-110 degrees. The living organisms in the raw milk will compete with the bacteria in your yogurt starter culture, and you may end up with runny or separated yogurt. If you want thick, raw-milk yogurt, check this method from Kitchen Stewardship that uses gelatin. [...]

  • Maria

    So I had my first flop this morning and unless a miracle takes place in my fridge while I am at work, I am pretty sure this batch is a lost cause. That is how I found your website. This is brilliant!! But I was wondering … Do you think I could use my vitamix to heat the milk and incorporate the gelatin? It seems like the perfect idea, but I wasn’t sure if I was somehow affecting the enzymes? Seems like it would work if I don’t let the milk go over 100 degrees. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Maria,
    Now that’s an interesting question. Seems like a great idea, although I’m wondering whether the Vitamix will denature the milk proteins…although come to think of it, I wonder if it does that with my smoothies, too. I think it would be worth a try! Good luck! (failed yogurt makes good smoothies or soup) :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Tara

    Hi Katie,

    Thanks for all your tips. I’m going to try the gelatin on the next batch because I’m pretty sure this one isn’t going to work. For 1 quart I used 3 capsules of Advanced billion dophilus. I put the bowls into my dehydrator and set the temp at 95. I took a peek and about 80% of whats in the bowl is brown liquid and there’s a tiny amount of white on the top. Fingers crossed it works this time…this is my 6th attempt and I’m getting tired. :-(

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Tara,
    Ugh, 6 failed attempts! Total bummer. I hope you’ve been able to salvage the milk for cooking. I’ve never used capsules – are they for starting yogurt or just supplements? Brown is definitely not good…hope no. 7 works like a charm! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Fajr

    Hi,

    Do you think this method would work for making yogurt with mesophilic cultures? Thanks

    Fajr

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Fajr,
    Do you mean yogurt that cultures at room temp? I’m really not sure – it seems like that’s a different set of rules, but you could always try a cup and not be out much if it’s a failure! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Tammy

    Hi Katie,
    I’m assuming if I use my Excalibur , I follow the same instructions up to the putting the yogurt in the cooler. Then just put it in the Excalibur at 100 and incubate for said amount of time.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Tammy,
    Yes exactly – the Exalibur really does a nice job with raw yogurt; I think the yogurt likes the consistent (and low, 100F) temp. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lita

    I have also found that keeping raw milk culturing at a constant temperature is important for the yogurt to come out thick. My favorite way to keep my raw milk yogurt culturing at a constant temperature is to use a Wonderbag (a heat retention bag), which is a highly insulating bag-like thing that retains cooking heat very well. I heat the milk to about 110 F, add the starter, then immediately set the glass jars into the Wonderbag. I usually leave mine to culture for about 12 hours before setting the jars carefully into the fridge for about 8 hours. Years ago I read that yogurt does not care to be jostled, and I find that to be very true when the yogurt is still warm.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Victoria m

    So I have been experimenting with raw milk yogurt for the past few months…my first 5 or 6 batches were fabulous! Runny, but had a great taste! However, since just prior to Christmas every batch I make turns out horrid, there was one day where I actually made 3 batches before eventually giving up and accepting defeat for the day. I use the same method, but my last batch was very ruuny, sweet tasting and sort of gelatinous…any suggestions or trouble shooting ideas? ….note: I use very fresh milk that is never more than 2 days old (I have a farm), I use plain yogurt with active cultures from a grocery store, and I use the oven method because I don’t have a yogurt maker or dehydrator. Thanks everyone!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amy D.

    So…is there any reason that I can’t add the gelatin while the milk is still really hot? It seems to me like it might be easier to dissolve it that way.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Amy D. Reply:

    I should clarify – I don’t use raw milk (can’t get it close enough), so my milk is always 160 or above when I take it out of the water bath.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Amy,
    That’s a good question – It wouldn’t hurt to try; I suppose the only risk would be that the milk might (?) start to thicken while it cools? Although I doubt it. Let me know if that works better! Although if your milk is getting up to 160 anyway, you can just fiddle with incubation temp and time (100F for 12 hours is the perfect formula for me) to get your yogurt thicker. You won’t need as much gelatin as is called for in this post. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Catherine

    Hello, Katie!
    I came across your website while looking for an online answer to my slightly watery raw milk yogurt.

    Until I read your article, I didn’t realize there was any real difference in the preparation of raw milk yogurt vs pasteurized. But my first raw milk plain yogurt came out fine! Then, wanting to duplicate the yogurt from my local farmers market, I put a bit of honey with vanilla on the bottom of a couple of jars then put 1.5 T of organic fruit (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries) mixed with honey on the bottom of the others. The honey/vanilla came out fine but the ones with berries had about 2 tsp of water between the yogurt and the layer of cream that comes to the top. The yogurt itself was fine. The girl at the farmers market, however, doesn’t get the water. Her raw milk, fruit on the bottom yogurt comes out FABULOUS! Incidentally, it is called “French Culture Yogurt” because of the layer of cream at the top. When you are ready to eat the yogurt, just mix it all together with a spoon and it is the creamiest ever!

    You are probably wondering why I didn’t ask the girl at the farmers market–I did but she wouldn’t tell me!

    Thanks for your help!
    Cat

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Catherine

    Oh, I meant to tell you that I have a food thermometer that beeps when it gets to whatever temperature you set it. The unit sits on the counter with a long wire attached to the 6 in metal spike with clip that you place in/on the pot. The brand is Polder and here is the link on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Polder-Digital-In-Oven-Thermometer-Graphite/dp/B000P6FLOY/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1396199143&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=polder+thermometer

    I set it for about 5 degrees cooler (to give me a little extra time) and it goes off when it reaches it! No constant watching!

    Cat

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Catherine,
    That’s a great tool! wow! I wonder if the farmer’s market yogurt is a totally different culture, like a countertop yogurt or something? Or if they add the fruit afterward? ;)

    I’m curious too! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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