While many people enjoy yogurt fresh from culturing, some like to improve it by thickening.
Methods for Thickening Yogurt
Depending on the type of milk used and the culture chosen, yogurt can be as thin as buttermilk or as thick as sour cream. Choosing a different type of milk for making yogurt, or selecting a yogurt starter with different properties are two ways to increase thickness of the final product
Here are some other ways to produce a thicker yogurt:
- Heat the milk: When preparing the milk, heat it to 160º-180°F, and maintain the temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Then cool to culturing temperature.
- Add thickeners: This is a process that is most successful with direct-set cultures, or when maintaining a separate mother culture, since the thickeners may interfere with reculturing. Yogurt usually will not thicken until cooled, especially non-dairy yogurt. In some cases, thickening may take up to 24 hours. Even if the yogurt is thin, it is still a cultured food and may be consumed.
- Milk solids: Powdered milk solids generally come in cow, goat, and soy varieties. For every 3-4 cups fresh cow milk use ½-1 cup powdered milk. If using fresh goat milk or soy milk add ¼-½ cup powdered milk.
- Gelatin: For every 3-4 cups milk, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of gelatin into 1 cup of milk. Gelatin must be heated to at least 95⁰F to activate. Mix well to combine. For mesophilic yogurts, cool to culturing temperature before adding starter culture.
- Pectin: For 1 quart of yogurt, pour 2 cups of milk into a blender. Add 1-2 teaspoons pectin (depending on the type of pectin), and blend until pectin is incorporated. Add to the rest of the milk and heat to 140⁰F. Cool to culturing temperature and add culture. The quantity of pectin may need adjusting depending on the milk or pectin used. Sugar-activated pectin may require additional sugar in the milk to be effective. Calcium-activated pectin uses the calcium in the milk to set up. When using non-dairy milks, add the amount of calcium water specified by the recipe.
- Agar: For every 3-4 cups milk, dissolve ½ teaspoon powdered agar into the milk. Heat to 190⁰F and hold for 10 minutes. Cool to culturing temperature and add culture.
- Guar gum: For every 3-4 cups milk, add 1 teaspoon guar gum to a small amount of milk, heated and cooled to culturing temperature; mix well, then combine the small amount of milk with the larger portion of milk.
- Tapioca starch: For 3-4 cups of milk, dissolve 2 tablespoons tapioca starch into the milk and heat to 140⁰F. Cool to culturing temperature and add culture.
- Arrowroot starch: For 3-4 cups of non-dairy milk, dissolve 1½-2 tablespoons of arrowroot starch into the milk and heat to 140⁰F. Cool to culturing temperature and add culture. (Note: arrowroot is not recommended for dairy milks)
- Ultra-gel (modified corn starch): For 3-4 cups milk, add ¼ cup Ultra-gel to the heated and cooled milk. Mix well to combine. While regular corn starch can be used, it is not particularly stable and can yield an odd consistency.