Yogurt Thickening Techniques

delicious homemade yogurt from whole raw Jersey milk - look at the cream on top!

delicious homemade yogurt from whole raw Jersey milk - look at the cream on top!

I’ve been eating homemade yogurt for awhile now, made from fresh raw whole milk produced by pastured Jersey cows (the gold standard in raw whole milk).  I’ve been eating it because I have longstanding digestive issues, and eating yogurt once or twice a day just about eliminates those issues.  I recently did a blog post on making homemade yogurt with a yogurt maker.

However, as I noted in my blog entry referenced above, and as a little searching online would confirm, homemade yogurt does not have the consistently smooth, thick, creamy texture of store-bought yogurt (which is usually achieved with additives like vegetable gums, which are not always easily available for individual consumers).  Homemade yogurt tends to have a softly lumpy texture, with the “lumps” swimming around in the clear whey.  Now, it’s still really good for you, and probably far more nutritious than store-bought yogurt – especially if you don’t add any sugar to it.  But if you’re accustomed to store-bought, it can be a rough transition to eating homemade, and it’s also not something that looks very appealing to, say, houseguests, or anyone else you might be trying to convert to the homemade yogurt cause.

So, it’s not surprising that there are a number of ways to thicken homemade yogurt, in an attempt to give it a better appearance and mouthfeel.  I did some online research awhile ago, and I found four different yogurt thickening techniques:  straining to remove whey; adding powdered milk; heating milk to 180 degrees F; and adding gelatin.  I tried a couple of them, and didn’t try the two others for good reasons.  Below I discuss my experiences using straining and gelatin, and also why I did not try powdered milk or heating milk to 180 degrees.


This yogurt thickening technique is simple and makes sense – strain the finished yogurt through cheesecloth to remove whey (although some people mentioned using coffee filters, or a clean t-shirt).  I used a few layers of cheesecloth, draped over a sieve and set over a bowl to catch the whey.  I let it drain for about an hour.

However, as it turned out, I wasn’t able to just put the yogurt in the cheesecloth and walk away.  A film formed after awhile on the cheesecloth, impeding drainage, so I kept scraping the yogurt around, to open up some areas in the film to let the whey continue draining.  As you might expect, it’s a lot of bother to keep doing that.

Result:  the yogurt was definitely thicker, somewhat closer to smooth and creamy but still lumpy looking.  It had a much smaller volume than the original yogurt; I’d say I ended up with one-third yogurt and two-thirds whey.

Pro:  whey drained off yogurt is great for other stuff, like making sauerkraut or pickling fruits or veggies.

Con:  a lot of work, what with all the scraping, and resulting yogurt is considerably reduced in volume.  To be fair, some websites I read said to just leave the yogurt for several hours or overnight, but I wasn’t that patient; maybe it would have drained well on its own, with more time.

Recommendation:  I’d recommend using this method mainly for obtaining whey, and also if you’d like to use the resulting yogurt as a very tasty substitute for crème fraiche or sour cream (although again, it would not be as smooth and creamy as store-bought crème fraiche or sour cream, since like store-bought yogurt, they are usually made thick and creamy by additives).  I’d also recommend this method if you don’t want to use any of the other three methods discussed below, as it is the most natural of all four methods mentioned in this post.

Powdered Milk

A lot of people use powdered milk to thicken their yogurt, although I could not find a consistent suggested amount; recipes varied considerably.  I decided to not even try this method (after, of course, already buying a package of powdered milk) for a number of reasons:

Extra carbs: the only powdered milk available around here is the non-fat kind, which means I’d be adding extra carbs and protein to the yogurt.  The protein would be okay, but not the carbs, since I eat low-carb and milk is already a somewhat carby food (although yogurt is a bit less so, since some of the sugar is used by the fermenting bacteria).

Taste and texture:  some people commented that they didn’t like the taste of powdered milk, and I felt reasonably certain I wouldn’t either.  I don’t like skim milk – why would I like it powdered?  Others commented that sometimes powdered milk added a gritty texture – not what I’m going for.

Nutritional quality:  I honestly can’t imagine powdered milk being highly nutritious, especially since this milk is probably from the usual sort of conventional dairy cow – confined in a stall 24/7, being fed distillery swill, antibiotics, and growth hormones, never getting to soak in some sunlight or fresh air, or even just take a walk once in awhile.  Such cows produce poor quality milk (which is why it needs to be pasteurized and supplemented with vitamins), and the quality is reduced further by the pasteurization and dehydration process.  Yuck.

Heating Milk to 180 degrees F

This method thickens yogurt a couple of ways, dehydration (which depends on how long you heat the milk) and protein denaturing, which occurs at high temperatures (here’s a really technical explanation).  I didn’t try this method either.  I don’t want to denature highly nutritious raw whole milk; I want the nutrient content to be as whole and intact as possible (although some people using high heat with raw milk do have their reasons).  Also, this method pasteurizes the milk, killing off a lot of beneficial bacteria that are naturally present in high-quality raw milk.  These beneficial bacteria are good for the digestive system, and they also fight off pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria, both in the milk, and in your gut.

Recommendation:  If the only milk you can get is store-bought pasteurized milk, you’ll have to use this method in order to produce safe yogurt.  Pasteurized milk has had all the beneficial bacteria killed out of it, leaving it extremely vulnerable to “infection” by pathogenic bacteria between the time it’s pasteurized and the time it gets put in your fridge.  By pasteurizing the milk again, prior to adding the yogurt culture, you are giving the beneficial yogurt culture bacteria enough of a head start that they can outcompete or kill off any new pathogenic bacteria that will inevitably get introduced into the milk in your home environment (no offense!  Bacteria are everywhere).


This is my preferred method for thickening yogurt.  I simply add a packet of a name brand gelatin powder (2 teaspoons) to two quarts (8 cups) of milk, as I’m heating the milk up to 110 degrees F.  (No need to “pre-soak” the gelatin in a separate container.  I just sprinkle the powder on top of the milk, distributing it as evenly as possible, wait a few minutes, and then whisk it in with a fork)  This method produces some very good, reasonably thick yogurt, although it doesn’t thicken up until after the finished yogurt cools in the fridge and the gelatin sets up.  Note:  You can also use more or less gelatin for different texture.  I just made a two-quart batch using only 1 teaspoon of gelatin (half a packet) and it turned out real well – still with a thick and creamy texture, but not as firm as when I had used 2 teaspoons.  UPDATE: I now strongly recommend you use Great Lakes gelatin.  It is a very high-quality gelatin that comes from healthy, humanely-raised cattle; also, it comes in a container, so no messing around with packets.

Pro:  considerable improvement in texture and thickness, with good appearance and mouthfeel.   I wouldn’t be ashamed to serve this to other people, although still with the caveat that it is homemade, because it’s not perfectly smooth and creamy like store-bought yogurt.

Con:  If you’re using small packets of dried gelatin powder, and you want to make significantly more or less than two quarts of yogurt, then you’ll have leftover gelatin you’ll have to store somehow (it needs to be kept dry).   You also won’t be able to strain whey out of this yogurt, since it is bound up with the gelatin.  Finally, if you are avoiding animal flesh products, then obviously you couldn’t use gelatin; there are, however, substitutes for gelatin, including vegetable-based ones, although you might have to experiment to figure out which one you like and how much to use.

Recommendation:  this is the easiest method for thickening homemade yogurt.   You could also use this with any of the other methods.  I’d recommend varying the amount of gelatin you use to see what texture you prefer.  It is possible to get little chunks of gelatin in the final product, but with practice you should be able to eliminate those.  I never find them annoying; I see them more than feel them.

Final note:  it is important, while the yogurt is fermenting, to not jostle the container(s); this will interfere with the formation of the yogurt texture, regardless if you are using any thickening technique or not.  Be sure to ferment your yogurt in an out-of-the-way place where it will not be disturbed.

I’m glad I finally got around to researching this topic and learning how to thicken yogurt up to a texture that I like.  Before I started thickening it, eating it could almost seem like a chore, since the texture and appearance were not appealing, and so sometimes I avoided it, to my own detriment.  I enjoy eating my yogurt now, though, and I certainly enjoy having a happy, well-functioning gut!

UPDATE, December 2014:  Sadly, I discovered last year that I have a sensitivity to cow dairy products, so no more yogurt for me!  But this is by far the most popular page on my little blog and the information is still valuable.  Thanks for reading!

Pastured Jersey cows - happy cows make great milk!

Pastured Jersey cows - happy cows make great milk!


  • By Janet, September 30, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

    Thank you so much – your information is extremely helpful. It covered alot of ground and answered my questions.
    I truely appreciate it.
    Thanks & God bless.

  • By Angel, September 30, 2009 @ 6:42 pm

    You’re welcome! I knew this information would be helpful to other people, so I wanted to share it. Yogurt is such a wonderful healthy food!

  • By Carrie O'Hara, October 12, 2009 @ 11:54 am

    DOH! I already made the yougurt, and it’s thin. I’m straining some; any other techniques for thickening a finished homemade yougurt? You’ve a very helpful page here. Thanks!

  • By Angel, October 12, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

    Hi Carrie,

    Hmmm … if you are willing to use gelatin, I would suggest adding some to the yogurt.

    My suggestion for thickening one quart of already done yogurt:
    1. Put a quarter cup of water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle 1 tsp gelatin over the top and let it soak for 5 minutes or so.
    2. Gently heat up the gelatin on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until dissolved, 3-5 minutes.
    3. Thoroughly mix the gelatin in with your whole batch of yogurt, then (if you wish) distribute yogurt into individual containers.
    4. Refrigerate for several hours to allow the gelatin to set.

    I haven’t actually tried this, Carrie, this is just what came to me when thinking about it. If you try it, please let me know how well it works!

  • By Mark Clark, December 9, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

    Hi, Angel,

    I just found your blog while looking for uses for whey. We make lots of smooth creamy yogurt so I’ll share our process. We make just over a half-gallon at a time.

    Our yogurt never has any lumps and comes out smooth and creamy at every stage. We add no thickeners or additives of any kind.

    Heat a half-gallon (plus a cup or so) of 2% milk in a non-stick sauce pan. The flame should be very low; barely visible. Heating takes about an hour and one half. By the end of heating, small bubbles have formed under the skin which forms but it never reaches an active boil and should never be hot enough to be in danger of boiling over.

    The hot milk is then transfered to a half-gallon lidded crock. I’ve run hot water into the crock to pre-heat it so it won’t crack. I remove the skin from the pan so it doesn’t get into the yogurt.

    In our house, the hot milk stands for 45 min. Enough time so you can hold your (freshly washed) little finger in the milk for ten seconds without feeling burned.

    Another skin will have formed and I remove that as well.

    At this point I add some starter. I’ll either use a tablespoon of Fage commercial yogurt or yogurt from my last batch. Don’t use common commercial yogurt, use good Greek yogurt with live cultures. I place the tablespoon of starter in a pinch bowl and spoon tablespoons of the hot milk one at a time stirring it in so as not to shock the culture. I add several spoons of hot milk slowly and stir so the starter becomes runny. Then I add the warmed starter to the hot milk.

    I use our over the stove microwave oven for the growing process. I don’t actually start the microwave. The MW oven has a built in light under it to light the stove top. This light keeps the inside of the MW oven at a perfect temperature. I set the crock on a small wooden cutting board inside the MW oven and place its cover on top. I then wrap the sides and top of the crock with terry cloth hand towels. I leave the yogurt to “process” for twelve hours.

    At the end of twelve hours, I transfer the crock to the refrigerator just to stop the culture from proceeding further.

    When cool, the yogurt is very smooth and creamy, much like commercial yogurt only much better.

    I always strain my yogurt using large commercial coffee filters. I found several hundred of these on eBay once for very little money and snapped them up. I’m guessing if my coffee filters were solid bowls, they’d hold about a gallon of liquid; maybe a little more. I place the filters in a wire mesh strainer of the same size and place that over a large mixing bowl then dump in the fresh yogurt. I put the whole thing back in the refrigerator for another day or so.

    The result is strained yogurt with a consistency somewhere between sour cream and cream cheese. It’s nearly identical in consistency to the Fage brand Greek yogurt but actually tastes better. We have it for breakfast with fruit and berries. It also makes a wonderful filling for crepes.

    If your readers are looking for a way to make their own high-quality smooth yogurt, this is it.

  • By Angel, December 9, 2009 @ 8:01 pm

    Wow, Mark, thanks for the detailed instructions. I’ll admit, I wouldn’t be willing to put all that work into making the yogurt, but I would be very willing to help you eat it!

    A question: about what temperature does the milk reach at it’s hottest point?

  • By Robin, December 18, 2009 @ 3:58 am

    Thanks for all the great information- my son got me into raw milk and I was wondering how that would work out with yogurt. Have you tried using xanthan gum as a thickener? Bob’s Red Mill now sells this- so it’s easy for anyone to get. You can buy online if you can’t get it in your grocery store. It is somewhat expensive at around $12 for 8 oz but only a small amt is needed. I’m thinking about buying a yogurt maker but thought I’d have a much better chance of actually using it, if I didn’t have to boil the milk and could get the texture right by simply adding an extra ingredient. Happy Holidays!

  • By Angel, December 18, 2009 @ 2:14 pm

    Hi Robin,

    We have both xanthan gum and guar gum, but I have not tried using them yet as thickeners. The main reason is that, as you pointed out, a little goes a long way, and it is very easy to overshoot the mark and end up with food that has more of a slimy feel to it than smooth and silky. Gelatin is much more forgiving!

    If you develop a nice recipe that uses just the right amount of xanthan gum, please do comment again and share it. I would like to try it sometime, but I’m willing to let someone else do the hard work of figuring out the right amount. :)

  • By Robin, December 19, 2009 @ 12:07 am

    Hi Angel,
    Interesting info about the gelatin..well I bought the yogurt maker online tonight. When it gets here I’ll see what I can do with xanthan gum as a thickener. (Let’s see if my training as a chemist gets me anywhere!) I’ll post back with the results!

  • By Angel, December 19, 2009 @ 7:29 pm

    I would very much appreciate that! I am interested in trying different thickening techniques. If I like the results that I get using your suggested method, I will update my post (with appropriate credit to you, of course). We’ve hardly used any of our xanthan gum or guar gum, so it would be nice to have something to use them in.

  • By Erynn, January 30, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

    Hi! I was wondering if anyone has used Irish Moss as a thickeining agent for the yogurt?

  • By Cathy, March 25, 2010 @ 4:53 pm

    I stumbled on your sight looking for ways to thicken my homemade yogurt…I will definitely give the gelatin a try.

    But I have a tip for you! I never get lumpy yogurt and there are two things that I do differently than you. First, I use a 6 oz tub of Chobani fat free plain yogurt to introduce my culture. And second, I take about two cups of the warm milk out of my crock pot and mix it in a separate bowl until there are no lumps. Then I introduce the yogurt and milk mixture to the rest of the milk. The yogurt that results is beautiful! Though now that I’m writing, I wonder if this is because I’m using pasteurized milk and so don’t have all the same ingredients in my milk as I would if I was using raw like you. I’d love to try that, but I simply don’t have access, I’m afraid.

  • By Angel, March 29, 2010 @ 1:50 am

    Cathy – Thank you for your tips for avoiding lumpy yogurt. I use your same technique of mixing the starter with some warm milk beforehand (my husband taught me that).

    I don’t know to what extent temperature affects consistency, but of course it does. I’m assuming that since you are using pasteurized milk, that you are also heating it up to 180 degrees (prior to adding the culture, of course). So the milk is getting heated up twice, which alters protein structure, which therefore alters texture. My understanding is that heating the milk produces a more consistently thicker and smoother texture than keeping the temperature at around 110 degrees.

    Gelatin can also affect texture, by producing small lumps, if you aren’t careful. I usually don’t have problems, but there have been a few times when I didn’t get the gelatin dissolved and mixed in sufficiently before it eventually cooled down, leaving very small lumps of gelatin in the yogurt. The lumps were very soft and tasteless, but they were definitely present! I could see them too. Harmless, obviously, but not something I’d be proud to serve to a guest. :)

  • By Kempro, April 8, 2010 @ 1:39 am

    have you confirmed that protein does not renature when the temperature is dropped, as commonly occurs? (Note that, assuming renaturation does occur, it will not likely be absolutely perfect.)

  • By Angel, April 8, 2010 @ 3:00 am

    Hello Kempro,

    I have not heard of protein renaturation before now, and a quick Google search didn’t turn up anything useful. If anyone wants to comment, please feel free to do so.

    Regarding the healthfulness of the renatured protein – I feel somewhat safe in assuming it would not be as nutritious or as easily assimilated as the original protein. That is a somewhat educated guess based on the information that many people do not assimilate pasteurized milk as easily as they do raw milk.

  • By Paula, April 21, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

    Thanks for this information, Angel! I just made a batch of yogurt and even though the consistency is fine for me, I think my kids would prefer it to be thicker. I’ll try the suggestion you made to carrie because the yogurt culture I use doesn’t require any heating (viili yogurt from finland).

  • By Angel, April 22, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

    Hi Paula,

    I hope that technique works for you. Please comment back and let me know how it works!

  • By Robin, April 28, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

    Finally did my experiment with xanthan gum! I’ve been eating yogurt all day! Yum! All info here is based on my use of the EuroCuisine yogurt maker and also info in their instruction manual. Here’s my recipe that includes using xanthan gum- please read my whole post though before making it:

    42 oz pasteurized milk at room temp (whole, part skin or skim)
    2 1/2- 3 teaspoons of xanthan gum (you can buy online from Bob’s Red Mill or some local grcery stores carry it)
    5 oz package of yogurt starter (I used Eurocuisine ordered from Amazon).

    Use a stick blender to mix all ingredients and pour into yogurt maker jars. Incubate for 7-10 hours- less for whole milk, more time for part skim, longest for skim. Add fruit/jam if desired.

    If you don’t have a stick blender I’m sure a regular blender will do.

    Additional thoughts/ more info:
    I bought the Eurocuisine for its glass jars which are harder to come by these days- there’s alot of plastic jars out there- yuk. The yogurt maker instructions say that if you use pasteurized milk, you don’t have to boil it, just bring it to room temp, add the yogurt culture and then incubate about 7-8 hrs for whole milk, 10-12 for lowfat milk. So- I used pasteurized milk, both 1% and whole milk and added 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum per 8 oz of milk plus divided up the packet of yogurt starter (5 gram pack) between the two different milk types. The yogurt starter I used is also from EuroCuisine and bought on Amazon. So- room temp milk (no boiling), starter and xanthan gum- easy yes? Well not at first, since dissolving the xanthan gum was not happening by using a hand implement. So I brought out the big guns- my stick blender – 60 seconds- poof- everything nicely blended and already the mixture thickened- sort of the consistency of baby bananas. I put it in the yogurt maker, incubated and that was it. I got a softer smooth and creamy yogurt that I added some strawberry/banana smoothie mixture (just strawberries and bananas mushed up with the stick blender. I could hardly tell the difference between the lowfat milk and the whole milk yogurt. The instructions said that if you don’t boil the milk, the curd will be smoother and if you want a very firm mixture, you have to boil the milk. I noticed that this yogurt did not have the strong acid bite I’m used to with plain yogurt from the store. So- one question I have is did the xanthan gum interfere with the fermentation at all. I’m going to make more, some with xanthan gum and some without to see if they are different. The instruction book mentioned using raw milk and recommended boiling it. I would also like to try this with raw milk and I’d like to try another batch with less xanthan gum to find a minimum required amount. OK back to the kitchen!
    PS you can go to Eurocuisine website (wwww.eurocuisine.net) and download manual for the YM100 yougurt maker- it has lots of useful info and recipes.

  • By Angel, April 30, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

    Thanks Robin! I’m surprised at the amount of xanthan gum you used for what is essentially five 8 oz servings of yogurt (because it seems just a little bit goes a long way, but then, I haven’t used it to make yogurt either). I’ll try your recipe sometime, though, only I’ll use raw milk and my own starter.

  • By Kempro, May 7, 2010 @ 8:24 am

    The following goes rambling off topic:
    One reason people do not assimilate pasteurized milk as they do regular milk is possibly the reason you mention, that the bacteria is killed off. However, I’ve not really noticed a difference personally. Also the process of pasteurization generally implies that the milk is not going to be fresh. That is, if I was to have a cow right next to me, I would not need pasteurization, however if I were to send the milk hundreds of miles away, I may need to stem bacterial growth. This lack of freshness may affect the milk in some other way making it less tolerable.
    Properly renatured protein, is the return of the protein to its native state, (the unraveling process that is denaturation, is reversed exactly), once the process that is causing the denaturation is stopped. It looks as though some milk protein would not properly renature when heated to creamy-yoghurt-making temperatures. (There are several journal articles which discuss this at least a little bit.)
    Since denaturing the protein does not destroy the underlying chain of molecules, the nutritional content would be very similar. Since protein is effectively denatured during digestion, i.e. chopped up into amino acids, for some people this may be easier to digest, e.g. hydrolyzed whey is pretty popular for building muscles. Key here would be not to heat the protein to an extent that the amino acids that make up the underlying chain start to break apart, and nutritional content is lost, but this would not happen at these temperatures. Also this would go beyond denaturation by definition.

    However, some proteins may take on an active role in the gut before digestion, and prior denaturation would render these useless, e.g. milk immunoglobulins, bacterial proteins.
    Denaturation would probably also change the taste of the milk.

    I, like probably everyone here, unsurprisingly like the taste of the raw milk more than fullfat grocery milk. So I agree that the heating process to improve yoghurt is less desirable.

  • By Kyle, May 31, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

    I own an all-natural, grass-fed cows milk yogurt company. I just wanted to add that there is no real difference in taste between pasteurizing milk at 145 and 180 with a double boiler slowly heating milk. This is after thousands of gallons of experience.

  • By Angel, May 31, 2010 @ 10:20 pm

    Hi Kyle! Thanks for your comment. I checked out your website – you have a lovely dairy!

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still a newbie to making yogurt, so I really appreciate your comment and everyone else’s.

    Other readers – if you live in the southeast part of the U.S. I hope you get a chance to eat Dreaming Cow yogurt – it looks delicious. Here’s their website if you’d like to learn more about it and where to buy it: http://www.dreamingcow.com.

  • By TSGordon, July 4, 2010 @ 1:02 am

    I haven’t met any real *Yogurt Freaks* for years, but there are at least three things that I must add to this discussion, if just to keep things interesting.

    The inherently ‘thickest’ Greek yogurt I have found lately was purchased at a Fiesta Mart in Florida. Unfortunately, I threw out the container without writing it down, but it was called something like Yukos, –note it definately began with a ‘Y’. If I could get some, I would be cooking up a batch right now.

    Otherwise, in order to thicken yogurt, all I have needed to do is increase the time it sits at 110 degrees. While 8Hrs is sufficient to get a smooth, consistent batch, it is no where near the ideal texture. One word of caution is that ALL yogurt will taste stronger as you let it culture longer. By using WHOLE MILK and Brown Cow- Cream Top for the starter you can get it seriously thick in just 9Hrs of cooking. At 12Hrs it is about as thick and rich as you will ever need. You can take either batch and invert the cups upside down! Once you stirr it, some of the thickness disappears.

    As to ‘OPTIMUM TASTE’, I strongly suggest you try some NATREN STARTER, as this is about the only place in NA to procure the vital, Lactobacillus 51-Super Strain. Although the AMA shut them down, its inventor was originally granted a patent for its anti-carcenogenic qualities. Natren used to be commercially available as “Continental Yogurt,” which went out of business about 3 years ago. This product tastes much like warm butter, noticably more ’sweet’ than any other yogurt.

    Because none of us have access to raw milk, they suggest you hold the milk at a full 185-degrees for 5 minutes, which definately affects the creamy-ness. Turn down the burner when you get to 180, and as you stir the milk it will have foamed about 1″ thick, producing none of the usual ’skin’ effects in the end.

    The question I have is how can we get anything resembling the real, 900 year old culture, from Romania, or Bulgaria?

  • By Danielle, August 23, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

    What great ideas I got from reading this article and all the wonderful comments while sitting a the computer and “drinking” my homemade yogurt. :)

  • By Earth's Bounty, September 17, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

    Homemade yogurt is really good, I’ve only had some of it, but the little I had was great. :) However, I’ll make sure to check out how to make it without the yogurt maker.

    And making it thicker? That’s a good idea, espercially since I don’t want to be drinking my yogurt rather than eating

  • By Renee, October 11, 2010 @ 2:07 am

    Thanks for the help! I was looking for an alternative to powdered milk, as nobody likes the taste of it (and how it sits on the bottom) Going to try the gelatin tonight!

  • By Jill, January 11, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

    I just made my first batch of yogurt ever and it turned out quite thick, somewhat lumpy, with a creamy layer on top. It wasn’t runny and the taste was great. This is all I did: I started with raw milk, did NOT heat it, whisked in Greek Stoneyfield yogurt as the starter, poured it in the jars and set my yogurt maker for 11 hours, then into the fridge. VERY SIMPLE, and after the way it turned out, I am not understanding why anyone heats the milk first.

  • By jane, January 15, 2011 @ 6:35 am

    I use the easiyo maker- just put powdered milk into a container- mix, top up container add 2-3 Tablespoons culture from previous batch and put into the easiyo- a thermos like container which you put boiling water into, leave for 8-10 hours and you have 1 litre of yummy yogurt every time. I don’t always use the easiyo powder- just ordinary milk powder and culture or I am sure you could use fresh milk and culture -none of the mucking around with heating milk, temp control etc.
    the website is http://www.easiyo.com

  • By Pam, February 22, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful tips! I always make my yogurt out of powdered milk as an effort to rotate my food storage items, and I have never been able to taste any powdery or gritty feel. You have to make sure to stir it very well. (of course, if you don’t want to use powdered milk, there is no reason to!)

    You are right on the money with the ‘do not disturb’ advice. Any disturbance messes with the consistency of the yogurt. I also find that my yogurt firms up a bit after a couple of days in the fridge.

    I don’t mind the runny consistency so much, I use the yogurt mainly for smoothies, or I just stir and drink. It is handy at work or on the go. And SO much better than store bought. I don’t have to play ingredient roulette! I know exactly what is in there.

  • By Bill, March 10, 2011 @ 3:08 am

    Thanks so much for this, I have a supply of raw jersey milk too and just bought a yogurt maker. The instructions said to “boil the milk a few minutes longer if using raw milk” which I thought was crazy talk, so I’m not doing it!

    I have only made a couple batches, and tasting great, but was curious about uniformity of texture, and curbing a somewhat enthusiastic amount of whey. I’m going to try shorter and longer times, and seeing if there’s anything to the idea of whisking in the starter a bit more.

    Also was wondering if the fresh milk folks skim the cream off or use it all. I just use it all.

  • By Angel, March 10, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

    Skim the cream off???? That’s the best part!!

    I’ve made yogurt from raw milk in which I’d added a lot of extra raw cream, and it was the best yogurt I’ve ever made – absolutely delicious. I didn’t measure anything, so I couldn’t tell you how much cream to add if you wanted to, so you’d have to experiment. I added a lot of cream though – it wasn’t just a few extra teaspoons – more like a cup or so in place of whole milk.

    My husband and I firmly believe that saturated fat is healthy and that it would difficult to get too much in our diet, so we’re not afraid to add cream to anything. Raw cream from healthy, happy, pasture-fed Jersey cows in particular is a superfood.

  • By Molly B., April 19, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

    I make my yogurt from store bought unsweetened, organic soymilk. I have used both regular and Greek fat-free yogurt for starter, and have even used commercial soy yogurt by skimming the yogurt off the – omnipresent – sweetened fruit at the bottom. They all work equally well. I get a rather bland product, though; it’s not got the sour taste that’s one of the pleasures of cows milk yogurt. This time I think I’ll let it sit a couple of hours longer in the incubator.
    I use a Coleman cooler with two quart jars of boiling water to keep the yogurt mixture warm while the culture grows. I heat and cool and incubate the yogurt in one pan, to avoid contamination and extra cleanup. I put it in separate containers after it’s spent a final period in the refrigerator, which helps keep separation to a minimum.
    It’s cheering to me to know there are other people in my culture (ooh, a pun!) who find this subject worth our time.
    Molly B.

  • By Corinne, April 28, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

    Does anyone have a suggestion on how to make lactose free yogurt? I can get lactose free milk, but can’t find lactose free yogurt for starter….

  • By Angel, April 30, 2011 @ 1:50 am

    If you Google “lactose free yogurt starter” (but don’t use the quotes) you’ll get a lot of hits … such a product is available.

    I don’t know why you are avoiding lactose, but here are a couple things to consider:

    If it is legal to buy raw cow’s milk in your area, I would suggest trying that. A lot of people (but not all) who think they are lactose intolerant and can’t have cow’s milk have no problems with raw cow’s milk. Try getting your milk from pasture-fed cows, preferably Jerseys, who produce milk with more cream than other cows … yum.

    If you can’t handle raw cow’s milk, try goat milk – preferably, raw goat’s milk. Again, some people handle goat’s milk much better than cow’s milk. If you are especially lucky, you might be able to get goat’s milk from dwarf Nigerian goats, who also produce milk with a high fat content.

  • By Daniel, May 9, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

    Lactose is a form of sugar naturally found in dairy milk. Some people are allergic to this substance.

    Yogurt is a fermented milk. The fermentation is done by Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB). The LAB transform the lactose into a form of acid called lactic acid. Lactic acid will be no problem for most people, even ones who are allergic to lactose.

    So, grab some fresh yogurt, devour it with no worries. It’s great.

    ps. I’m Daniel, Food science student in Indonesia.

  • By Joni, June 2, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

    What about thickening with glycerin? I already use it for liqueurs and it works beautifully. I have a runny batch of yogurt made with the crock pot method that could use some improvement.

  • By kristi, June 20, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

    I use the knox to thicken my yogurt made in a crock pot. I use one gallon of whole milk and add three packs of knox. The whey does seperate but is thickened. Is it still ok to use in things.

  • By Gina, June 22, 2011 @ 4:18 am

    Hi, all! Interesting discussion. I was wondering if I could add probiotics (best one I know is by Biotics research – BioDoph-7 Plus). But to thicken, I will try agar-agar, or even organic tapioca. The whey is healthful and shouldn’t be strained out and as a recovering vegetarian, I’d be hard pressed to use commercial gelatin, mostly because its origins are sketchy.
    I’ll check back to see your comments!

  • By Angel, June 22, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

    Hi Gina,

    If you’re going to be adding probiotics before starting the fermentation process, they would have to be the kind that turn milk into yogurt; otherwise they might out-compete the yogurt cultures and you’d just end up with a soupy mess (if it even got to the point of being soupy). If the probiotics are not for culturing yogurt, then you’d have to wait to add them until after the fermentation is complete.

    Once you have tried thickening with the agar-agar and/or the tapioca, I’d be very interested in hearing about your results – not just the thickening results, but taste and texture as well. I think there are a lot of people who would prefer not to use gelatin, for various reasons. Personally, I have had uneven results with it – sometimes I’ve ended up with little chunks of clear, tasteless jello in my yogurt, which is not the texture I was going for!

  • By Gary Bishop, July 17, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

    I thought I’d share an interesting reference on using xanthan gum in yogurt. Anyone can read the abstract at http://www.springerlink.com/content/98pgeum5wxpmg9×4/ and if you have access to a university library, as I do, you can read the article. It appears highly technical but the take away is xanthan gum used at 0.01% concentration (must be by weight) rated very highly. If I’m doing the calculation correctly, 0.01% would be about 1/16 of a teaspoon in 1/2 gallon of milk. Robin’s recipe is for a 0.7% concentration. Again, this is assuming I doing the math correctly and understanding this article far outside my discipline.

  • By Angel, July 18, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

    Thanks Gary! I’m a science geek so I always like hearing about any relevant research.

    For those who decide to click through to the link Gary provided above, “syneresis” means “the extraction or expulsion of a liquid from a gel.” Full definition with some more science-y words at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syneresis_%28chemistry%29

  • By Gary Bishop, July 28, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

    Here is another interesting reference for xanthan gum http://www.lucidgroup.com/knowledge-center/xanthan.pdf. It is mostly about the various ways and reasons it is used but at the very end they have a table “Maximum usage level of xanthan gum in various food products”. It includes “Fermented milks (plain), heat-treated after fermentation” which might include some kinds of yogurt. The maximum level in their table is 0.5%. Seems that indeed very little goes a long way.

  • By Gary Bishop, July 29, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

    Another interesting paper. This one is Industrial Yogurt Manufacture: Monitoring of Fermentation Process and Improvement of Final Product Quality and can be found at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022030207700759.

    Much of it was difficult for me to decipher but I found the following useful tidbits.

    “yogurt prepared with unheated or inadequately heat-treated milk, is characterized by poor texture, weak gel and firmness, and increased susceptibility against wheying off.” They tested two heat treatments: 80°C (176F) for 30 min or 95°C (203F) for 10 min. Much longer than I have yet done.

    “Generally, the addition of 2% of protein concentrates is considered adequate for amending the textural quality of yogurt.”

    “The size of the inoculum was set at 2.5% (wt/wt).” So they added about 0.8 oz of starter to 1 qt of milk.

    “Sensory evaluation revealed that the use of skim milk significantly improved (P < 0.001) all of the examined quality characteristics. Non-fat yogurts were characterized by a firm, consistent, and viscous texture. Moreover, non-fat yogurts exhibited enhanced flavor and they were also rated as more palatable. Brauss et al. (1999) observed that low fat yogurts (0.2% fat) release volatiles more quickly and at higher intensity but with less persistence than whole fat yogurts." So they claim skim milk produces the best tasting yogurt.

    "Thus, yogurts fortified with SMP had enhanced firmness and consistency, good mouthfeel performance, and were less prone to syneresis." So adding 2% skim milk powder (dry non-fat milk) improved things all round.

    "In general, xanthan gum had the best stabilizing effect, enhancing firmness and consistency without developing brittleness or excessive gumminess. Moreover, xanthan addition prevented the wheying off defect." They added it at 0.01% and clearly specified that was by weight.

    Finally, "Skim yogurts containing skim milk powder or xanthan gum were found to be the most acceptable samples in terms of sensory quality."

  • By David, August 5, 2011 @ 11:31 pm

    I find my yogurt made from unheated pasteurized milk (nonfat, 2% and whole milk) to be smooth but thin and it does separate into a whey layer when chilled and stored in the refrigerator. My solution is to heat to 180 F for 30 minutes as rec’d by several authors. It is my understanding that the casein proteins change shape during extended heating and promote a better texture and contribute gelling power to the yougurt after the culturing process is complete. I find the gum thickened yogurts to have an objectionable mouthfeel and stickiness that the unthickened yogurt avoids.

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