How to thicken yogurt?

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snickerdoodle

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I make yogurt but it's always really runny, which I understand is pretty typical of homemade yogurt. What's the best way to thicken it other than straining? I don't mind straining it but the yield goes way down and I just can find that many applicable uses for whey in my kitchen.

I once used a package of instant jello pudding and OMG it was so good but I felt guilty adding the processed sugars and artificial ingredients to my otherwise organic yogurt. I've heard of adding powdered milk but haven't tried it. Thanks in advance!
 

taxlady

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How long are you letting the culture grow? I let mine grow until it looks like it is about as thick as I want. It does thicken a bit in the fridge. Mine isn't usually runny. However, the most recent batch was runny in the middle, but not at the top or bottom. Go figure.

You could also try using higher butterfat milk or cream. Oh my, yoghurt made with cream so yummy. It seems to thicken up easier than yoghurt made with milk.

You could also try adding gelatin or caragheenan (Irish moss). That's what some of the commercial dairies use to thicken yoghurt. But, I don't think it would be as good for cooking - the thickener would melt with heat.
 

snickerdoodle

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I do use whole milk and let it culture up to 20 hours. I guess the yogurt is thick by some people's standards, just not mine :) At what point do you think I would add the gelatin? Making yogurt from cream sounds somewhat sinful... but I like the idea! Hmm...
 

mcnerd

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Interesting. My homemade yogurt comes out almost like Greek yogurt. Very thick. I use 1%-2% milk and often a small amount of powdered milk. The culture should be fresh enough to give you a good thick yogurt. If it is old or diluted I don't think it would firm up.

If it is runny, drain off some of the liquid (whey). If you leave it draining for a long time you will end up with yogurt cheese.
 

jet

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I let mine culture overnight and it comes out thicker than any commercial yogurt. It is, of course, a gel and will separate if stirred.
 

taxlady

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I do use whole milk and let it culture up to 20 hours. I guess the yogurt is thick by some people's standards, just not mine :) At what point do you think I would add the gelatin? Making yogurt from cream sounds somewhat sinful... but I like the idea! Hmm...

Hmmm, good question. I guess I would add dissolved gelatin once I was ready to put the yoghurt in the fridge.

I just remembered that the whey isn't necessarily wasted, if you decide to drain off some whey. I've read that you can add it to smoothies or salad dressing.
 

snickerdoodle

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Hmmm, good question. I guess I would add dissolved gelatin once I was ready to put the yoghurt in the fridge.

That's what I was thinking.

I've always just used a small container of plain organic yogurt as a starter... do you think I'll get thicker yogurt if I use an actual starter?

Thanks everyone for your input :)
 

zfranca

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This will only work if you serve it cold. It is a trick I use to thicken whipped cream:
For one cup of yogurt, dissolve 1/2 tsp of gelatine in one TBS of whole milk.
Let it cool slightly and incorporate into yogurt mixing quickly, otherwise the gelating will lump up. It is a little tricky but it works. Chill in the refrigerator. You may adjust the amount of gelatine until you achieve the desired consistency.
This process will stabilize the yogurt rather than thickening it.
 
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snickerdoodle

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Thick like the custard-style Yoplait yogurts. I have messy toddlers so I'm trying to get it thick enough so it will stay on their spoons long enough for them to get it in their mouths, and they don't need a bath afterwards :)

Thanks for the gelatin pointers zfranca!
 

jet

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Thick like the custard-style Yoplait yogurts. I have messy toddlers so I'm trying to get it thick enough so it will stay on their spoons long enough for them to get it in their mouths, and they don't need a bath afterwards :)

Thanks for the gelatin pointers zfranca!

My yogurt holds its shape and is quite firm.

Can you share your recipe?
 

snickerdoodle

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My yogurt holds its shape and is quite firm.

Can you share your recipe?

Well I think I want yours instead LOL.
Here's mine (yes, I use my crock pot):


8c (1/2 gallon) pasteurized milk ( NOT ultra-pasteurized)
1c active culture plain yogurt (to use as your starter)
3qt (or larger) crock-pot
large thick beach towel


1) Turn crockpot on low.
2) Add milk; cover & cook on low for 2-1/2 hours to 3 hours.
3) Unplug crock-pot. Keep lid on, and completely wrap crock-pot in large, thick beach towel or 2, for insulation, and let sit for 3-4 hours.
4) At the end of 3-4 hours, in a small bowl, whisk 1c active culture plain yogurt with 1-2c of the milk from the crock-pot. Return it to the crock-pot.
5) Keeping crockpot unplugged, completely re-wrap in heavy beach towel.
6) Allow to sit for 8-20 hours in a warmish place (on top of fridge).
7) Yogurt will have thickened.
 

jet

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I'm no yogurt expert, and I've never used a crock pot. My first question is about temperature. What temp is the milk at when you shut off the heat, and when you add in the yogurt? Is the container still warm when the yogurt is finished?

Here's how I make mine. Turn on the oven light, then heat 1qt of milk on the stove over high heat until it is almost 200°, stirring frequently. Take it off the heat and allow to cool to below 120°. Combine milk with about 2T of yogurt in a bowl. Wrap in a towel and put in a turned off oven (with the light still on). Leave overnight. The next morning, the bowl should still be warm to the touch.
 

Poppi G. Koullias

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Oct 23, 2010
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To make thick yogurt, avoid using low-fat milk. I’ve always made yogurt with an electric yogurt maker which is no trouble to use because I leave the machine to make it overnight. The longer the yogurt is left, the thicker it becomes. As a general rule, don’t leave the yoghurt in the machine longer than 9 hours, or it will curdle.

The machine is really just a simple electric device that was bought cheaply in Walmart. You will need a starter. I use “live” yogurt from a health store. Make sure on the container it says “live bacteria cultures”. I add a couple of tablespoons mixed in with UHT milk (up to 1 litre). You can use full fat fresh milk, but I’ve never it.

Plug in the yogurt maker to pre-heat it. Into a jug containing up to 1 litre of full fat UHT milk add the two tablespoons of “live” starter. Don’t whisk it in. Slowly stir it in. Then pour it into the yogurt maker, put the lid on and go to bed. That’s what I do.

Next morning, pour the freshly made yogurt into a container and put in the fridge for between 4 and 6 hours. After chilling you can use it for whatever you want.

I find making yogurt on a Friday night, perfect. Means I have it to hand throughout the weekend. It reminds me of home when I used to add wild thyme honey, slices of peaches and melon - anything really. And the yogurt always came out consistently thick.
 

taxlady

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I use an electric heating pad. Before the first time, I tried with a jar of water with a thermometer stuck in the water. That way I could figure out what setting is appropriate for yoghurt making. I did this test over several hours.

With my heating pad, medium can get too high after several hours and low can get too cool. When I make yoghurt, I put cling wrap over the top of the jar of milk/yoghurt culture and stick an instant-read thermometer through the cling wrap. That way it doesn't touch the sides or bottom of the jar and I can read the temperature. I wrap the heating pad around the jar and tie it in place with a string, though an rubber band would probably work. Next time I will put the jar on a small inverted bowl, because the last time I yoghurt, it seemed that the very bottom of the jar wasn't as warm as the rest.

I don't have a crock pot, so I don't know what sort of temperatures the lowest settings would give. If I had a crock pot, I would do the thermometer test.
 

blissful

Master Chef
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Mar 25, 2008
Messages
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I heat mine up to almost boiling, then cool to 100 degrees, add some plain dannon, stir well, and put in the oven--it's a gas oven with pilot lights and it stays just warm enough, leave it over night.
I strain it if I want it thickened, in a clean flourcloth dishtowel, tied at the top and hung over the sink.
 

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