Making yogurt is totally easy. But goat milk yogurt can be a bit tricky—it wants to come out runny, which is fine for smoothies, but not for that custardy sweet treat the kids love. I have tried making goat yogurt with different cultures (some unbelievably tart, some too gooey, some too runny), and I have heard of, though haven’t tried yet, adding various things such as gelatin, pectin, non-fat dried milk powder, and rennet for firming it up. But lately, I’ve hit on a method that produces a smooth, thick yogurt, mild enough to need just a bit of honey and even my picky kids will eat it up.

Here’s what I use:

- A quart of goat milk.

- A digital thermometer.

- A Yogotherm, which is basically a yogurt-container-shaped polystyrene cooler for incubating the yogurt sans electricity. You could use a regular cooler plus a heating pad or bottles of hot water to add heat. The downside of that is you have to keep checking to make sure things aren’t too hot or too cold, and I’m way too lazy for that. The Yogotherm just makes things really easy, and I use it for making chevre, too.

- And finally, see that little bottle on the left? That is my secret ingredient, a direct set yogurt culture, in this case, ABY-2C from the Dairy Connection (thank you, once again, Molly at www.fiascofarm.com for turning me on to this). I have found this culture to produce a thick, custardy yogurt without having to add anything else. Yes, of course, you can put in a few tablespoons of active live culture yogurt from the grocery store instead of a direct-set culture, but I’ll tell you, I just haven’t had good results with grocery store yogurt in my goat milk. I get runny, sour yogurt that way. Shrug.

You also need one of these:

My trusty kettle! In service for twenty years and counting!

And you’ll need one each of these:

That is, a stainless steel pot for heating the milk, and a stainless steel spoon of some kind. I use my cheesemaking slotted spoon thingy.

Okay. Let’s get started!

First you pour your quart of milk into the pot and heat it up to 180 degrees. This kills anything in the milk that you don’t want to culture, leaving all that sweet, delicious, bacteria medium that is warm milk for the good bacteria you’ll be putting in. It also changes that structure of the milk proteins, making a smoother yogurt. You can also make yogurt with raw milk if you are really, really confident that your milking practices are CLEAN. I would never make raw milk yogurt from goats that were not mine, just because I would be able to be sure, you know? And eating bacteria food is weird enough without wondering. You don’t want to be wondering with your yogurt.

Stir your milk frequently, so as not to scorch it (yuck), and measure the temperature often.

180! Bingo!

Now you wait for the milk to cool back down to 115-117 degrees, the temperature that the yogurt culture thrives in.I use this time to boil water in the kettle (you were wondering what the kettle was for, weren’t you?) and pouring it into the yogotherm and on the inside of the lid to get it all sterlized and prewarmed.

Okay, 115 degrees. We’re there….

Next, sprinkle in 1/32 teaspoon of the direct set culture into the milk and stir it around. Yes, they make measuring spoons that small. I have some stainless steel sppons I picked up for 2 bucks. You can eyeball it, of course, but I like to be precise with as many variables as I can, so I can figure out what went wrong when something does. Especially when dealing with bacteria. For example, you find that your yogurt is too gloopy, try using less culture, something easier to do when you know exactly how much you used. A teeny tiny dab is really all it takes for a quart of milk.

Did you know that ‘smidgen’ is the official name of 1/32 of a teaspoon? Really! Look, it says so right on my spoon.

Moving right along, you pour the inoculated milk into the yogotherm and close it up.

Six or seven hours goes by so quickly! All the while the bacteria eat the sugars in the warm milk and turn them into acids. Weird, huh? Try to time it so your six or seven hours doesn’t end in the middle of the night. Or, be like me and forget, only to wake up with a start in the small hours of the morning to go put your yogurt in the fridge.

But look, POOF, open it up six hours later and you’ve got thick, delicious yogurt!

Try not to think about that whole bacteria thing, and instead, drizzle some honey on your yogurt and eat it up…

If it’s still not thick enough for you, you can drain some of the whey out using a coffee filter set up, which is how they make greek yogurt, like that Fage stuff. I love that stuff. Making my own is a heck of a lot cheaper, what are those little Fage containers, like two bucks or something? Yikes. And hey, if you drain the yogurt a bit more you get yogurt cheese, which you can use for all kinds of things.

We eat tons of yogurt around here. Sometimes I think Luc is about 47% composed of yogurt. It doesn’t seem to be doing him any harm.

Enjoy!

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19 Responses to how to make goat milk yogurt

  1. ~Katherine says:

    Oh Maya! You’re the yogurt goddess. Thanks so much for the visuals! (And the LINKS.) Goat milk is just what I want to use. :D Muchas gracias.

  2. Mom says:

    You are truely an Earth Mother. Kiss the kids for me. I love you.

  3. Deborah says:

    The whole making-my-own-yogurt thing is waaaaay too advanced for me, but I’ll give you your props! Seems there is NOTHING you can’t do. With THAT said, I just GOTTA ask: Is your pot missing it’s handles? (Careful, that could be the Quote of the Day.)

    • maya says:

      OMG my poor pot! One handle is totally gone, leaving only this stainless steel tab sticking out like a weapon. The other side has this melted, twisted black lump of a handle still clinging to the tab like an amputee stump. The bottom is warped, so it rocks precariously back and forth on the stove—added danger for added fun! And the lid has been missing for years, though I can’t imagine where a lid would go. On vacation? The sandbox? Maybe the kids were using it as a shield or something. Yes, my pot is rather pitiful. Still in near daily use, though. One day I’ll think getting a new one is a good idea. I’ll be this little old lady, trying to make cheese in it….

      And you could totally make yogurt. It is dead easy.

  4. elliot says:

    Hi,
    Once you get the yogurt made w/the starter ABY-2C can we use the yogurt itself as the starter for future batches w/same results?
    Tx, elliot

    • maya says:

      You know, that’s a great question. I’ve never tried it. If you do try it, will you let me know how it comes out?

      Also, for anyone interested, we have found that, for a quart of milk/yogurt, two tablespoons of sugar and a quarter teaspoon of stevia, plus a half teaspoon of vanilla makes for sweet yogurt almost indistinguishable from Stonyfield Farm French Vanilla, both in texture and in taste. Stonyfield is Luc’s gold standard. There is a slight difference, but even Luc says this recipe does not have any ‘sour’ [him making his sour face] in it.

  5. maya says:

    In another thread, Teren wrote me saying:
    “Hi, Maya.
    Congratulations on your healthy spine! It’s always wonderful to be able to “see” one’s own progress.

    But I need HELP with making goat yogurt. I read your great instructions, bought a Yogotherm and the culture, followed the instructions and BLECK! The yogurt didn’t set up, was runny with little threads in it, and tasted really bad. I tried it twice, making sure the inner plastic rim sealed tightly and even put a heavy pot on top of the Yogotherm while incubating. However, when I tested the temp after 6 hours the disgusting liquid was only at 88?. So, it would seem my Yogotherm isn’t keeping the heat in.

    Any suggestions?

    BTW, I love your blog!
    Thanks!”

    I responded:
    “Hi Teren! Thanks so much for coming by! Huh, you know, I’ve never tested the temp of my yogotherm after 6 hours, that’s interesting, I’ll have to do an experiment to see how well it does holding in the heat. The main thing that comes to mind is did you sterilize all your stuff, the inside of the yogotherm, the spoon you stir with, the measuring spoon, everything that comes into contact with the milk? I mention pouring boiling water all over the equipment while waiting for the milk to cool. Your mention of little threads and the bad taste makes me think some other bacteria is getting in there and growing in your milk. If you feel really confident that you got everything clean beforehand…hmm. The next thing I would do is double check the temperature of the milk when you put the culture in–if it is a few degrees too hot, it will kill the culture and you get a runny mess. If it’s too cool, it won’t grow. It did take me a bunch of trials to get the hang of it, I threw out several batches of yogurt early on while I was figuring out the routine. Take heart! Don’t give up! Goat yogurt is wonderful. (I’m going to copy your comment and put it on the goat yogurt post, in case anyone else looking up goat yogurt can get any clues from our conversation…)
    Maya”

  6. Lynne Biernacki says:

    Maya, Would you please tell me how to get to ABY-2C on the Dairy Connections website? Guess I’m a ninny, too. Thanks for your wonderful site!

    Lynne

  7. Yolanda says:

    Hi, I’m trying to make cow dairy free goat’s yogurt – do you know if the ABY-2C culture is cow’s dairy free? if not, have you used “Tribest Yo Life Yogurt Starter” (http://www.everythingkitchens.com/tribest_yolife_yogurt_starter_yl01_yl02.html)? Thanks!

    • maya says:

      Hi there Yolanda. I do not know if the ABY-2C cyktyre us cow-dairy free. Interesting question. I haven’t tried the starter you mention, no. I’d ask the Dairy Connection people. :)

  8. Serell says:

    Hi, I was so excited to read your instructions about using the ABY-2c culture to make thick goat milk yogurt. I cannot seem to get a thick yogurt from my goat’s milk no matter what I do so I ordered ABY-2c culture from the dairy connection but alas, I got thin, runny yogurt again! (It does taste good though.) I am beginning to wonder if it is my particular goat. Last year I had a different goat and I was usually able to make a thick yogurt with her milk just using a regular live culture starter. But with my new goat- no sucess, even with ABY-2c. I’m so discouraged! Any suggestions?

    • maya says:

      Hmm. More culture? Longer incubation time? Also, you could get a greek yogurt strainer thing and let some of the water drain out for thick, creamy yogurt. It’s kind of like making yogurt cheese but you don’t leave it in that long. Tasty and thick. Good luck!

  9. Barb Gerry says:

    Hey – loved your blog. It’s a great help as I’m about to make my maiden voyage with goat yogurt. I thought I would use cow milk yogurt starter – but all I could get was fat free. Is that going to work? Goat milk is delicious. Maybe I’ll chuck that nasty fat free yogurt, drink the goat milk and wait for the arrival of the direct set starter which I am about to order. By the way, What’s a fage? Thanks.

    • maya says:

      You know, I have no idea about the starter you mention. I’d say experiment. Oh, wait, I know what you mean, you bought yogurt to use as a starter. Well, I never had any luck with that, just got really runny stuff with my goat milk, but some people say it works for them. It won’t matter that one is cow and one is goat, I don’t think, it’s just not the best starter for milk that doesn’t want to set up to start with. Fage is a brand of yogurt, I think, isn’t it? thanks for stopping by my blog!

  10. Brent says:

    Hiya Maya, (you get that all the time?)
    Brent here, Americano living in the GORGEOUS hills of Tuscany, central Italy. In the mountains with my 80 goats where I make cheese, pick olives and do my internet stalking for anyone who makes anything goat related. I have a licensed dairy and cheese kitchen and will go into full yogurt production next season. I loved your explanations and the add for thongs that appear on the side bar?? Nice touch. If traveling through Italy please stop by and see me and my goats.

    • maya says:

      80 GOATS!?!?! Holy crap! Now that’s a lot of goats! Thanks for the invite, one day you’ll have this stranger (me) show up on your door-step, demanding cheese and insisting you said I should come over… :)

  11. anish says:

    can i use cows milk’s culture to prepare goats milk yogurt

    • maya says:

      Hi Anish, you know, I haven’t made much cow’s milk yoghurt. My guess is that a different culture will work better in cow’s milk than the one I list here which is specifically great in goat’s milk. The rest of the steps are probably the same, but that culture might need to be adjusted.

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