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What’s the deal with chalky yogurt? June 10, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , , ,

Silence Dogood here (again). Given a choice, I’d rather eat plain yogurt than fruit-flavored. Mind you, I’ve had some wonderful fruit-flavored yogurts and I do enjoy them; I also like vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit. But I love plain yogurt as a cooling accompaniment to savory foods. I’ll serve it with dal and curry, with dal and rice, or even (if our friend Ben is away and I don’t much feel like cooking) with rice as a decadently soothing supper. (If you have a rice cooker, make the rice by stirring butter, salt, and whole cumin seeds into the uncooked rice and water before turning on the rice cooker. Stir again before serving. Yum! If you don’t feel like making an elaborate rice dish to go with your dal and curries, this works perfectly, too.)

But there’s this thing about plain yogurt: Since it has no added flavors, you can actually taste it. I enjoy its tangy, creamy flavor, whether I’m buying Dannon or making my own. But given a choice, when I don’t have time to make it (shame on me, it’s so easy), I’d rather buy locally made yogurt and support my local economy.

Recently, I bought some goat’s-milk yogurt at a farmer’s market. Turns out, it had a strange, smoky flavor. I love goat’s-milk yogurt, even more than cow’s-milk yogurt, and had never encountered any off-flavors in goat’s-milk yogurt before. And sheesh, how did that smoky flavor get in there? Fortunately, our puppy Shiloh, who gets two tablespoons of yogurt every morning, loved the smoky yogurt and lapped up the entire carton over the course of a couple of weeks.

I really didn’t want to eat yogurt that tasted like charcoal briquettes, however, so I opened a carton of  the only widely-distributed Pennsylvania yogurt I know of to eat while Shiloh was polishing off the goat’s-milk yogurt. Ugh! It tasted like chalk.

I’ve encountered chalky yogurt before, and always with the organic, regional brands. I’m here to tell you that organic yogurt shouldn’t taste like chalk. The best yogurt I ever ate—super-rich, creamy Greek-style yogurt excepted—was yogurt I made myself from raw organic milk (both cow and goat). Our CSA sells locally-made organic yogurt that’s delicious. So what’s the deal with the chalky flavor? What could make yogurt taste like that?

If anyone knows, please help me out here. It grieves me to think that small-scale yogurt-makers who are trying so hard to make a positive difference—the very folks OFB and I want to support—are making yogurt I can’t even eat. I’ve tried making chalky yogurt into yogurt cheese in the past, but the taste of chalk lingers. Yuck. (Hopefully, Shiloh won’t take exception to the chalky taste, either, so at least the yogurt won’t go to waste.) 

What could give yogurt a chalky off-flavor? And how could it be that the people who make and sell the yogurt are unaware of it?

          ‘Til next time,




1. Valeri - June 10, 2009

We used to make and sell yoghurt when we were farming, from our Jersey cows and it was noticed that the flavour of the milk had a lot to do with the flavour of the yoghurt. So if the cows ate something strange that could follow through to the end production. Maybe there has been something in the diet of the animals concerned which has altered the flavour. Some weeds are pretty strong tasting! Val

Thanks, Val! That’s an excellent point. Since they’re organic, maybe they’re giving the cows some sort of natural calcium supplement that’s affecting the taste. Just a theory…

2. Curmudgeon - June 10, 2009

Darn! You had to mention super-rich creamy Greek yogurt. Wing Nut brought home a container last week and it was delish. It was fig. I’d never tasted anything like it. Diva Dog wrinkles her nose up at yogurt and if she eats it by mistake she immediately has to lick the carpet repeatedly. Guess carpet fuzz helps get rid of the yogurt taste.

Ha!!! Poor Diva Dog, but at least she didn’t lick, ahem, anything else to get rid of the taste! I love Greek yogurt. It actually reminds me of yogurt cheese, or vice-versa. Yum!!!

3. EatsTooMuchYogurt - April 30, 2010

I had the same question. I had a hard time finding any information on it, but it seems in my homemade batches, that I have to use full fat milk and a little sweetener to avoid the chalky taste. The fresher the milk the better too.

The other possibility is the powdered milk, I know many recipes use powdered milk to thicken the yogurt, and if that is not very well mixed, I think that could easily be the chalky taste.

Thanks so much for the tips. I wish the folks who made that chalky yogurt were reading them!

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