How to Make Yogurt Thick and Creamy
In my Hub on how to make yogurt at home, I explained how to turn milk into your own homemade yogurt. I've had some questions on how to make yogurt that's thick and creamy, so here's how you do it.
There are two ways to make yogurt that's thicker and creamier than ordinary yogurt:
- use whole milk—the full-fat method
- strain it (remove some of the liquid/whey)—the Greek method
The full-fat method
Using whole milk instead of lowfat or nonfat milk will certainly make your yogurt richer and creamier. Milk fat gives yogurt, and other dairy products, a rich mouth feel and enhances its creamy taste. Of course, the same thing that gives yogurt that wonderful mouth feel and taste is what's full of calories, so I can understand people's hesitation at keeping the fat level high. Full-fat yogurt derives half (yes, half) of its calories from fat, most of it saturated.
However, if you're like me, and don't freak out at eating natural fat (even the saturated kind), then try making yogurt with whole milk. If you can get your hands somehow on non-homogenized whole milk, try that, too—it will make "cream-top" yogurt, which, after it's cultured, can be mixed with a spoon and, in my opinion, yields a far tastier, creamier version of full-fat yogurt than yogurt made from homogenized whole milk.
Also, unlike lowfat or nonfat yogurt, full-fat cream-on-top yogurt does not pool whey (liquid) on top when mixed (something I've always found a little stomach-turning, even though it's perfectly harmless).
The Greek method
The Greek method of making thicker, richer yogurt involves straining the yogurt, removing some of its whey. For those who don't mind an extra step in their yogurt-making, this method is good if you want to make a thicker yogurt but still want to avoid fat (you can use lowfat or nonfat yogurt in this method). You can, of course, also use it with commercial yogurt.
This style of yogurt is sold commercially in the US as Fage and Choban. Trader Joe's has a Greek-style yogurt, too.
The process is fairly simple:
- put a strainer, lined with either a couple of layers of cheesecloth, or a large paper coffee filter, over a bowl
- emulsify your yogurt (mix it up well)
- pour your yogurt into the cheesecloth or coffee filter, and allow it to slowly drip whey into the bowl
- scoop out the thickened yogurt when it has reached the desired consistency
Note that the resulting whey doesn't have to be thrown away. It's full of protein, vitamin and minerals, with a relatively neutral dairy taste, so you can incorporate it into your cooking as you would a mixture of milk and water (baked goods, soups, stews, etc.).
Fun fact: The dairy-loving Swiss and Dutch even make a soft-drink out of whey, called Rivella. In the Netherlands, its advertising tagline is "een beetje vreemd, maar well lekker" (a little strange, but still delicious). I lived in the Netherlands, and saw ads for it constantly, but was never compelled to try it!