The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Thicker Yogurt?

MNBäcker's picture
MNBäcker

Thicker Yogurt?

Hi, all.

I am hoping there are some people on the list who maybe make their own yougurt along with baked goods.

I have been making my own for a while - pretty straightforward. In the past, I have added a couple of packets of gelatin (boiled shortly in a little water and then stirred into the hot milk) to my half-gallon of milk, and it really did the trick to thicken the yogurt. HOWEVER, I am now looking to see if a plant-based thickening agent, such as Agar, might be able to do the same job.

Have any of you used Agar in your yogurt? What is your dosage and preferred method?

I have also tried to add dry milk powder, but found that it didn't seem to work as well as the gelatin, and the dry milk is quite expensive...

Thank you in advance,

Stephan

G-man's picture
G-man

Well, I do know the way you make thicker yogurt in the Greek style is to place the finished yogurt in a colander lined with cheesecloth suspended over a bowl on the counter overnight. You can keep it that way for about a day if you want it even thicker. You can strain it to the point where it has a consistency a lot like cream cheese if you really want to.

If you're looking for other ways to do it I have no idea.

MNBäcker's picture
MNBäcker

Thanks, G-Man.

I'm familiar with that technique, but would rather keep all the "goodies" in the yoghurt instead of draining them out. Plus, I'm a little concerned what sitting out on the counter (or in the fridge, but "in the open") would do to the life expectancy of a batch. Right now, it stays perfectly fine in my one large container until it's finished (about a week).

Stephan

G-man's picture
G-man

Sorry, I'm realizing I should've been more clear! The reason for straining the yogurt over a container is to catch the whey that drips off so you don't lose it. You could just as easily strain it into the sink and lose everything. You keep it to use in a lot of things, like, for example, making bread.

Greek yogurt is just like any other kind of yogurt, just more concentrated.

If you're eating it within a week, I wouldn't worry about it going bad at all. It may get more sour, but homemade yogurt shouldn't spoil in the same way commercial yogurt can. Without all of the additives and preservatives and with a native culture, it should act much the same way a sourdough starter does.

Felila's picture
Felila

I have a Donvier yogurt strainer that I bought on Amazon. I like thick, Greek-style yogurt and I don't want to pay extra for it. I fill it up with full-fat yogurt (commercial, but homemade would work just as well), put it in the refrigerator, and hours later have Greek yogurt and a fair bit of whey. I put the whey in bread. 

Indeed, I like to leave it in the strainer for days. It thickens towards a cream-cheese consistency, but is lower fat than real cream cheese. If I left it long enough, it would turn into lebneh, yogurt cheese. 

I don't see why this solution should be rejected as inauthentic when it's traditional in yogurt-making cultures. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

But strain it in the refrigerator instead of on the counter.  I make my yogurt non fat and add 1/4 c of non fat dry milk powder to each quart of milk and2@ T of yogurt starter per quart of milk.  I let the yogurt culture sit for 16 hours undisturbed at 110 F (on a heating pad).

The colinder trick is the ticket to thikness because you can control it and you don't have to add anything extra.  Any thickness is possible.   You can salt the yogurt after it has drained for 24 hours, squeezing out as much water as possible and make yogurt cheese that way too, by forming it under a weight in the fridge for a day.

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

My yogurt-making point of view is a little more purist, I don't want to add powdered milk or gelatin/agar.   There are two ways that I have found to thicken yogurt without additives:  first, before culturing, bring the milk to about 200F (scald) and hold it at 195F or higher for at least ten minutes.  This denatures whey proteins, which allows them to join in the thickening process- effectively increasing the amount of protein that is available to thicken the yogurt.  For even thicker yogurt, gently simmer the milk (stirring constantly and being careful not to boil over- messy!) until it is reduced by about 25%.

The second factor I have found to be important is the choice of culture:  some store-bought yogurts (if that is what you're using for culture) work much better than others.  I like one called Sidehill farms, which lists l. paracasei (as opposed to l. casei) as one of its cultures- it makes a huge difference in the texture of the yogurt.

Straining works well, of course, coffee filters are as good for that as cheesecloth, and more widely available.

I work with agar in pastry, but not yogurt- it will produce a firmer set than gelatin and takes a little more heat/time to dissolve than gelatin.  It also sets up at about 90F, so you may want to make sure that you culture above that temp as I'm not sure what a loss of mobility would do to the bacteria, they might not be able to come into contact with enough lactose to do their job properly.

MNBäcker's picture
MNBäcker

Thanks for those tips. I usually heat to 180 degrees, but then cool down immediately to 110 and add the culture. Don't know which culture it is, but I will look for the one you recommended. I will also try the "ten minute at 200 degrees" method next time.

My yoghurt maker keeps the batch at 110 degrees until I shut it off and put it in the fridge, so the Agar should work with it - I might try that after I try the other method you mentioned. Looks like I might have to experiment to see what amount of Agar I'd have to use for a half-gallon of milk.

Stephan

mendozer's picture
mendozer

so you get better results from storebough cultures rather than commercial grade concentrates? i thought about buying these for better consistency

MNBäcker's picture
MNBäcker

Personally, I was told to just buy a yoghurt I like in the store and use that as my starter culture. So far, that has worked o.k.

The other thing about those starter packets is that they are outrageously expensive. What's the point of buying a starter packet for making your own yoghurt if it will cost you two or three times more for the same amount? Unless I'm missing something here...?

Stephan

mendozer's picture
mendozer

I was looking into the bactera blends that come in tablet form i believe.  i'd still carry over some into the next batch though so the concentrates wouldn't be used every time, only when something happens like i forget to save some

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Below is a link for the site  where I bought my original culture for Villis-which is a room temperature cultured yogurt. I pour milk ( 1% milk right from the refrigerator) into a jar and stir in a few tablespoons of culture from the prior jar. I admit I do add powdered milk to thicken. Evaporated milk (or concentrated milk) can be used and if you use a higher fat milk, it will also be thicker.It sits on the counter at room temperature for 12-20 hours with a paper towel over the top and then gets refrigerated.Warmer kitchen cultures faster. I make 1 pint every 2 days and have for the last year from the same starter culture. An intitial investment of about $10. I've produced hundred of pints.

https://www.culturesforhealth.com/choosing-a-yogurt-starter-culture

I used to do gelatin but didn't like the hassle. No experience with Agar. I notice corn starch is in some of the commercial brands (Yoplait custard style??).

I also make kefir and it has a very soft,spoonable curd if you let it get a little tangy. That also is cultured at room temp. I usually whisk that and drink it like the finest buttermilk or in a smoothie. Yum!

chouette22's picture
chouette22

Hallo Stephan,
I always make my own yogurt too and actually love the creaminess of it (I am from Switzerland and there, the store-bought plain yogurt is wonderfully creamy, whereas in the US, most store-bought plain yogurt is very thick). I am using 2% milk, by the way. I have started, about a year ago, to use greek yogurt as my starter and I love it. However, I do have a problem, and this is something I have always had, not just since I started using the Greek yogurt. After using my own yogurt to feed a new batch, after about 2-3 batches, I need to use a store-bought one again, because my yogurt gets 'grainy' versus being completely smooth (it has small grainy particles in it, which I don't like). I have looked at yogurt sites and cheese forums, but I have never found anyone else who seems to have the same problem. As far as I know, most people just keep going with their own yogurt to replenish a new batch. This just doesn't work for me and I wonder why this is? Any ideas? 

 

MNBäcker's picture
MNBäcker

, but I usually "refresh" my yoghurt batches with store-bought every few weeks. I guess, in theory, you shouldn't have to do that, but my suspicion is that, since most kitchen environments are not as sterile as a lab, there is some slight contamination happening everytime you make a new batch. So, over time, your batch could become... let's say "changed".

The gal that showed me how to make my own yoghurt also mentioned that I should probably "start over" every so often.

Stephan

chouette22's picture
chouette22

I might just have to experiment with different cultures, as is made evident by some posters here. Great thread!

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

We used to use two tbs of plain dannon yogurt gently stired into 3 qts of milk (heated and brought down/cooled as Flour child says,).  That was before the proliferation of yogurts that have 3-5 strains of bacteria as you often see these days.  I haven't tried those but they should work given thats how the "store bought" came to be in the first place...

Used to make in glasses, serving size covered in plastic wrap once culture is added.  I found that these would keep for months without spoiling and after several weeks of aging the flavors seem richer.  Not neccessary of course, but like wine aging, you will notice a difference the first few days, a week or two later and yes, a month later...

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I have made my own yogurt for years, and have used many different techniques as well. My current process achieves the same effect as gently simmering the milk to a 25% volume reduction but by adding non-fat dry milk to achieve the same milk solids loading but without the associated time and the off flavor that I find results from long simmering.  This definitely helps to thicken the yogurt so that an additional thickener is not needed.  If you don't want to go that way, then gelatin, or pectin, or a combination will work. 

  As for agar, the best way to decide is to consult a good text on hydrocolloids and then try some.  I would recommend Texture by Martin Lersch, available at http://blog.khymos.org/recipe-collection/.  As noted agar must be heated to about 180°F to melt it and it will have to be mixed with the milk at a temperatuer above the point where it gels. After that I am not sure what will control the process.  It is possible that agar will immobilize the bacteria but I don't know what that would do for the end product either.

Draining is easy once you find a filter and a seive and a container that fit well together with the amount of yogurt you will be making. I have made a gallon at a time and used a big collander with some nylon tricot as a filter and it work great.  Just need to find a pot that will support the collander and fit into the refrigerator.  Six hours is enough for Greek yogurt, and lebneh (three days draining time) is really really as thick as cream cheese and quite good with a tablespoon of boiling hot jam poured over it or served instead of cream cheese or sour cream on a baked potato.  I often keep a chunk of yogurt cheese in the refrigerator for at two weeks and so long as you don't touch it, and keep it cold, and don't expose it to the air by keeping it covered with plastic wrap, it is just fine.  It does not freeze well in my opinion.

The commercial yogurt makers have discovered that they get a better flavor, and texture by using multi-culture mixes to prime each batch.  But each bacterial species has a different growth curve so that when you buy it and use it to start a new batch, you are starting with a different relative amount of each one than the dairy did (and I suspect you eventually wind up with a single species after 10 or so batches). So just be aware that what you buy is not necessarily what you make, unless it is a single species variety.  Purchasing a starter culture may be a better option, but I have had no problem with propagating my last batch to make my next one, and if you want to try something different just ask a friend for a start from theirs and see if you like it.

 

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

German cheese for cheesecake and ordered those expensive packets of yogurt starter which incidentally also contained rennet. 

http://www.cheesemaking.com/cheeserennets.html   

This rennet made from vegetables, can also be purchased separately in tablet form and, I believe, is what gives the texture to the resulting yogurt/cheese.  It worked very well, easy to do, and tasted great, albeit not like the real Quark I remember.

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

I have one from years ago which I set on top of a measuring cup, but I also noticed that its netting, the little holes, are the same size as the coffee filters that you get with a new coffee maker and use instead of the paper ones.  Whereas the yogurt filter is plastic, the netting on the coffee filter is a very thin fine metal, I believe, one is even gold colored :)   So, both work really well.