Homemade yogurt tastes so much better than store-bought as it’s fresh out of the fridge. You made a fresh batch of yogurt, but how long does it last?
Homemade yogurt is generally good for eating for up to 2 weeks when it is stored in the refrigerator. If you are re-culturing, we recommend eating the yogurt within 7 days to make a new batch.
I usually eat my yogurt within 2-3 days. I make a large batch on Sunday and finish it mid-week. There are a lot of things that affect the length of time yogurt will last fresh. For example, is it kept in the refrigerator, the type of milk used, and the length of the incubation time.
Let’s look at some frequently asked questions regarding homemade yogurt.
How Long Does Yogurt Last In The Refrigerator?
Homemade yogurt that is refrigerated at 37F (3℃) lasts for up to 2 weeks. After that, the yogurt turns very sour as the lactic acid continues to acidify the bacteria.
It does not become palatable, just not as sweet as before. Yogurt is a live culture that consumes sugar in the milk with time even when it is kept in the refrigerator. As it consumes sugar, it turns the yogurt more sour and less sweet.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do to prevent this situation. If you dislike the sourness of your yogurt, I recommend using it in salad dressings, pancakes, overnight oats with yogurt mixed with sweet ingredients, or any other recipe that calls for yogurt.
Yogurt can also be a great substitute for buttermilk in baked goods.
If you’re feeling apprehensive about making yogurt for the first time and are concerned after reading this, don’t worry. I suggest giving it a try before concluding that your yogurt is too sour to consume after just one week.
Tips to Make Homemade Yogurt Last Longer
If this is your first time making yogurt at home, here are some tips to make it last longer if you cannot consume it fast enough.
Use Milk With a High Sugar Content
If you want the yogurt to last longer, I recommend using milk with high sugar content. Generally, low-fat content milk such as 1% or skim contains a high amount of protein and lactose.
Yogurt made from such milk is sweeter and has more sugar in it which will extend the freshness period of your yogurt. It provides more sugar for the lactic acid bacteria in the yogurt to consume. Hence, it turns sour later.
Therefore, yogurt made from 1% milk or skim is sweeter as compared to one made from whole milk. Keep in mind that no matter the type of milk you choose, yogurt is going to turn sour if kept for too long.
Incubate the yogurt for a short amount of time
When you add milk to the starter culture, it immediately begins to use lactose acid and with time turns to yogurt. The lactic acid prevents the growth of unwanted bacteria and encourages the protein in the milk to form loose bonds.
This is how milk and culture turn into yogurt as it acidifies. It is necessary to incubate the milk for a short amount of time, that is until it solidifies.
As a rule of thumb, incubate the milk until it reaches the minimum pH of 4.5. Refrigerate it at this point and it will last longer.
Store in the Fridge at Low Temperature
Lactic acid is active over a range of temperatures. To slow it down, it’s best to store your homemade yogurt in the coolest part of your fridge. It’s usually the upper parts of the refrigerator.
Avoid placing the yogurt in the door of the refrigerator because it’s warmer than the inside.
Pasteurize Milk Before Inoculating It
Pasteurization of milk is important when it comes to homemade yogurt. To prevent unwanted microorganisms in your yogurt, you need to heat the milk to 180F. Pour the warm milk into the incubation container and cover it with a lid.
It will not only prevent unwanted bacteria in your yogurt but also increase its shelf life.
Don’t Use Thickeners to Make Your Yogurt Firmer
Using cornstarch or other thickeners is a great way to make the yogurt thick, but it shortens the shelf life of the yogurt. Because of thickeners, store-bought yogurt begins to mold after a week or so in the fridge.
If you wish to add thickeners to your yogurt, make sure to use it within seven days, otherwise, mold will begin to grow and it will turn inedible.
What Can You Use Sour Yogurt With?
If you find yourself with some leftover yogurt that has become sour and cannot be eaten by itself. There are plenty of ways you can still use it.
First, make sure there is no spoilage from mold and look for green spots. If there is no evidence of spoilage, you can use the yogurt to make a dip. It can be served with some chips, crackers, or tortillas.
You can also use it to make sour cream cheese and spread it on bagels, or make it into a cheesecake. Sour cream is also used in egg wraps or sandwiches.
Chicken marinades also require honey. You can use sour yogurt in the chicken marinade as it offers some acid and thickener.
To summarize, homemade yogurt lasts around 2 weeks. However, as more time passes, it will become slightly sour. Make sure to store the yogurt in the fridge and keep it nice and cool.
Furthermore, don’t add any fruit or nuts to the yogurt if you wish to make it last longer. You can add whatever you want to the yogurt when you want to eat it.