Struggling To Set Curd At Home? Avoid These 5 Mistakes

Setting curd at home is not hard especially if you don;t forget to monitor it. The process involves just a few ingredients and some attention to detail. First, choose the right type of milk. Full-fat milk is ideal for a creamy texture, but low-fat milk can also be used. Boil the milk to eliminate any unwanted bacteria and then let it cool down to about 40-45°C (104-113°F), the ideal temperature for the starter culture.

Next, use a good starter culture. This could be a tablespoon of plain store-bought yoghurt with live cultures or a bit of curd from a previous batch. Mix this starter into the cooled milk.

Maintaining the right temperature is crucial. Keep the mixture in a warm environment to encourage fermentation. This can be achieved by placing the container in a pre-warmed (and turned-off) oven, wrapping it in a warm towel, or using a yoghurt maker.

Once the mixture is set up, avoid disturbing it for about 6-8 hours. Check if the curd has set; it should be firm and slightly tangy. Finally, refrigerate the curd to halt the fermentation process. If you struggle to make curd at home, make sure you are not making these common mistakes

Choose the Right Milk

The type of milk you use plays a crucial role in the texture and taste of your curd. Full-fat milk is ideal for making creamy and thick curd due to its higher fat content, which contributes to a richer texture. However, if you prefer a lighter curd, you can use low-fat milk, though the result will be less creamy. It's essential to always use fresh milk as milk close to its expiration date may not yield the best results. 

Start by boiling the milk to ensure it’s free from any bacteria that could hinder the curdling process. After boiling, let the milk cool down to about 40-45°C (104-113°F), which is the optimal temperature for the bacteria in the starter to thrive.

Use a Good Starter Culture

The starter culture is crucial as it contains live bacteria that ferment the milk, turning it into curd. You can use store-bought yoghurt, ensuring it's plain and has active cultures. A tablespoon of this yoghurt can be used as a starter. Alternatively, if you already have homemade curd, you can use it as a starter. 

There are also commercial starter cultures available in some stores specifically meant for setting curd. When preparing the starter, add 1-2 tablespoons to your milk, ensuring the starter is at room temperature before mixing it with the milk to avoid shocking the bacteria.

Maintain the Right Temperature

Maintaining the right temperature is crucial for setting curd. After adding the starter to the milk, the mixture should be kept in a warm environment to encourage the bacteria to multiply and ferment the milk. The ideal temperature range is between 40-45°C (104-113°F). You can achieve this by placing the container in a pre-warmed oven (turned off), wrapping it in a warm towel, or using a yoghurt maker. In colder climates, placing the container near a heat source or in a warm water bath can help maintain the necessary temperature

Use the Right Container

The container you use to set the curd also matters. It’s best to use a non-reactive container like glass, ceramic, or food-grade plastic. Avoid using metal containers as they can react with the acidity of the curd, potentially affecting the taste and quality. Ensure the container is clean and dry before pouring in the milk and starter mixture. Cover the container with a lid or a clean cloth to maintain the warmth and prevent any contaminants from entering.

Avoid Disturbing the Mixture

Once you have mixed the starter with the milk and placed it in a warm environment, avoid disturbing the mixture. Movement can disrupt the fermentation process, leading to uneven or failed setting. Leave the container undisturbed for at least 6-8 hours, or overnight. The exact time needed can vary based on the ambient temperature and the quality of the starter used. Check the curd after this period; it should be set and firm.

Check for Proper Setting

After the fermentation period, check the curd for proper setting. It should have a firm texture and a slightly tangy smell. If the curd is still runny or hasn't set properly, it may need more time. Place it back in a warm environment and check again after a few hours. If the ambient temperature is too low, you might need to use a warmer setting method, such as placing it in an oven with the light on.