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Why Did My Homemade Yogurt Get Grainy? (4 Ways to Fix It)

You cannot fix grainy yogurt that is already made. However, you can avoid the issue in the future by using the right amount of starter and making sure you use starter without any additives. Additionally, you should avoid overheating the milk or heating it too fast.

This article will look at how you can avoid grainy yogurt in future batches easily. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be ready to make delicious, smooth yogurt like a pro.

Bowl of grainy yogurt

Why Does My Yogurt Feel Grainy?

Some reasons your yogurt feels grainy are:

  1. You used a starter with additives, like pectin or gelatin.
  2. You used too much starter.
  3. You overheated the milk while making the yogurt.
  4. You heated the milk too fast.

Luckily, these are all issues that can be avoided while you’re making yogurt. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Use Starter Without Additives

There are several additives that can be found in yogurt starters, depending on which starter you’re using. These additives can interfere with the yogurt-making process and result in grainy yogurt.

The best option is to use a starter that is free of all additives. I recommend the Yogourmet 1 Freeze Dried Yogurt Starter from Amazon. This starter has hundreds of great reviews and is both gluten-free and halal. It contains neither preservatives nor coloring agents, making it the perfect starter for smooth yogurt.

Alternatively, if you’re using yogurt as a starter, make sure it’s a yogurt without any additives or additional ingredients. Plain Greek (or regular) yogurt is the perfect option – but if you’re using a store-bought variety, make sure to read the ingredients before you go forward with it!

What Is the Best Yogurt To Use as a Starter?

Plain Greek yogurt is the best yogurt to use as a starter. However, you can use any yogurt you like – as long as it doesn’t contain any additives. Additionally, the fresher the yogurt, the better it is for use as a starter. Don’t use expired yogurt or yogurt made over 7-10 days previously.

Can You Use Strained Yogurt as a Starter?

You can use strained yogurt as a starter. You can also use whey – the liquid leftover from the strained yogurt – as your yogurt starter. Both will produce smooth, creamy yogurt if you follow the recipe correctly.

Bowl of homemade yogurt with a spoon

2. Use the Right Amount of Starter

Too much starter doesn’t only risk making your yogurt grainy; it can also make it thin and bitter. In such situations, you’ll have no choice but to throw it out or attempt to sweeten it with sugar or another flavoring to make it palatable.

It’s essential to use the right amount of starter. According to Washington State University, that means using about 2-3 teaspoons of starter per cup of milk you use. This works out to 10-15 g of starter to about 236.59 ml of milk, or 0.35-0.53 ounces of starter to about 8 ounces of milk.

Additionally, make sure you stir your yogurt properly. Not stirring enough can cause the starter to clump, leading to a grainy final product. 

At the same time, avoid over-stirring the yogurt because it can make your final product thin and clumpy. The best way to avoid over-stirring is to avoid whisking it while making it. Instead, use a spoon to stir it thoroughly but gently.

3. Don’t Heat the Milk Too Fast

One mistake many people make that consistently causes grainy yogurt is heating the milk too quickly. As I’ll discuss in the next step, boiling milk is to be avoided – but, more importantly, end up with grainy yogurt.

Instead of boiling or scalding, it’s essential to simmer your milk until it reaches the desired temperature (which I’ll discuss below). At the same time, you shouldn’t wait too long – this can result in curdled milk rather than the yogurt you’re looking for. 

One rule of thumb you can consider is to take about 45 minutes to heat up about a gallon or two (3.79-7.57 liters) of milk. That said, this is something you’ll get more familiar with the more yogurt you make, so don’t worry – you’ll get the hang of it before you know it!

4. Don’t Overheat the Milk

Heating the milk to too high a temperature – or boiling the milk – can result in the final yogurt being grainy and unpalatable. If you let the milk remain at too high temperatures for too long, it will eventually curdle and split, becoming unusable for making yogurt.

Given these risks, it’s essential to ensure your milk is at the right temperature. You will need to heat your milk to 170-180 degrees Fahrenheit (76.67-82.22 degrees Celsius) for perfect yogurt. While it is possible to go a little over, make sure the milk never rises over 190 degrees Fahrenheit (87.78 degrees Celsius).

Because of the exact temperatures needed when making yogurt, I prefer to use a food thermometer to ensure the milk is heating correctly. I recommend this KT THERMO Instand Read Thermometer from Amazon. The dial is large and easy to read, and the temperatures go up to 220 degrees Fahrenheit (104.44 degrees Celsius) – high enough that I can easily measure the temperature of my milk when making yogurt.

If you do boil the milk accidentally, let it cool down to 104-113 degrees Fahrenheit (40-45 degrees Celsius) before you add the bacterial cultures. This may result in yogurt that is a little thicker than normal, but if you’re okay with thick yogurt, it shouldn’t be an issue.

However, if you’d prefer not to have overly thick yogurt, you can continue to heat it until it curdles. Once your milk curdles, you can use it in a variety of recipes, including desserts like Dulce de leche Cortada.

Should Yogurt Be Grainy?

Yogurt should not be grainy. It should be smooth and can be as thick or thin as you like, ranging from the texture of buttermilk to that of sour cream. However, graininess generally signifies something has gone wrong during the yogurt-making process or that your yogurt has curdled.

Final Thoughts

Grainy yogurt is a sign that something has gone wrong while you were making the yogurt – or that your yogurt has curdled. While you can’t fix already grainy yogurt, if the issue was in the making process, you can follow the steps above when making yogurt to ensure you make the creamy yogurt you’ve been looking for.

For more, don’t miss How Long Does Yogurt Last? | Proper Storage Guidelines.