Tips on Making Yogurt and Buttermilk

I’ve been making goat yogurt and buttermilk for many years and yet I keep researching to improve.

  • My once slimy yogurt is now creamy and smooth thanks to experimentation. The trick is to heat milk slo…wly for a creamy success. Gradually heated milk, heats evenly. A method used in cheese making.
  • Heat milk to 180F.

Some home yogurt makers heat their milk to 115 F. only – not 180 F. Their goal is to retain as much of the raw milk properties as possible. My focus is to create the most beneficial environment in which the added culture can multiply. I want it’s Probiotic properties. If I want the benefits of raw milk, I drink it raw.

The result of low temperatures is a thin, runny product. The culture barely developed. To compensate, they add powdered milk or gelatin to thicken the texture. A side note, commercial yogurts are made with these additions.

Think of yogurt and buttermilk as a soft cheese and you will be able to better understand the methods best to produce them. In cheese making you heat the milk to kill off wild bacteria, yeast or mold spores that might have fallen into the milk. This avoids culturing dangerous ones unknowingly. Even when you get the good guys, this wild bacteria competes with the preferred lactic-acid bacterial strains used in the culturing of milk. You may end up with a weak culture after the battle. The basic cultures used to make yogurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. In buttermilk it is Lactococcus lactis plus Leuconostoc citrovorum.

The second advantage to heating to a high temperature is that the protein in the whey of milk is lactoglobulin and it fully denatures at about 172-degrees. This allows the proteins to bind with other proteins in the milk called caseins. This creates a thicker, firmer curd.

  • Heat milk to 180 F. and hold at this temperature for 30 minutes is my new discovery from a master cheese maker.

It has made a huge difference and makes perfect sense since when you make cheese you hold a certain temperature for a set period of time to change the nature. For a saucepan I use cast iron with porcelain enamel coating and so when I heat to 180 F., I turn off the stove, put the lid on, and let it sit for 30 minutes. Amazing how much thicker the cultured milk is, — naturally.

I can make pudding with this milk and use only a few egg yolks for an ultra thick and creamy delight. No corn starch or other thickeners needed. Plus I can use milk and not cream which lowers the calories – a clear winner.

  • Heat to 180 F. and holding it for 30 minutes changes the length of time the culture remains alive.

Before, I had to make sure and culture yogurt or buttermilk at 7 days or before or the result was a weaker culture that ended up thinner. I could thicken it by culturing within a few days and then a few days after that to increase the bacteria numbers but it was stressful. Life happens, a lot, in our wild and crazy world so now I don’t worry so much. I’ve got more breathing room in which to culture another batch.

  • A naturally thicker product means a greater number of cultures are present. It is more vibrant and healthy which means healthier for you too.

Instead of 7 days I’ve gone 10 twice now and no adverse affect. As thick as it is, I’m sure I could go longer.


I keep a 1/2 pint of culture in the freezer for emergencies if something goes wrong. That way if I don’t have the opportunity to culture and mine dies, then I have a start in the freezer to thaw and start again. They say frozen cultures last a month. I’ve not pushed the limits.

To get out of heating the milk, I’m told you can use pasteurized milk. For some of you this is your only choice. Whether or not this milk without heating to a high temperature and held for 30 minutes creates a thick yogurt or buttermilk, I don’t know. I may have to try it sometime. Better yet, why don’t you try it for me and let me know.









4 thoughts on “Tips on Making Yogurt and Buttermilk

  1. Valerie

    Are you going to post your full recipe and method for making yogurt? I hope you do. I have wanted to try yogurt but have been leery of not having it turn out. Having a tried and true recipe and method would be wonderful.


    1. I will make available some time in the future lots of information on yogurt making along with a recipe. One of the things I will include is ways to use yogurt that did not turn out quite as hoped. Yogurt is alive and sometimes has a mind of its own. Also the milk makes a big difference. Right now I am researching and setting up future experiments to try.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s