How to tell if homemade yogurt is a success?

I attempted to make yogurt yesterday. I mixed a store-bought yogurt with hot milk, reconstituted from nonfat powder.

After three hours of “incubation,” I had a very thick mixture with watery stuff on top. I stuck it in the fridge.

This morning, I tasted it and it was the most painfully sour yogurt I had ever tasted in my life. I stirred in some fructose and it ended up tasting only a little better.

How do you know when your homemade yogurt is a success, and how do you know when it’s stuff that shouldn’t be consumed? I threw mine out because it was icky, but I actually don’t know if it was “bad.”

I applaud your efforts but City Super sells a very good organic yoghurt from the US.

As I recall, we used to incubate the yoghurt longer than 3 hours. Seems like it was more like overnight (8 hours or so).

It’s really important to have a good thermometer to make sure the milk is going into the incubator at just the right temperature. When I was living in Taiwan (before you could get nice yoghurt in the store, for the most part) I bought a “YogoTherm” on the Internet. It wasn’t anything other than a plastic shell with styrofoam insulation – you could just as well use a thermos or any kind of insulated container – but it worked well as long as you were careful about the temp going in and let it work long enough. I also had a book on making cheeses, and we used to make soft cheeses sometimes.

I’d say check your temperature, and try incubating overnight instead of just 3 hours. I used to make yoghurt using just plain President brand as a starter, and ours tasted better than the starter when it was finished. I don’t remember having a bitter taste either. Not sure what your specific problem is but try those things first. Also have everything scrupulously clean before starting – could it maybe be residue from something else affecting the flavor?