How to thicken your homemade yoghurt

If, like us, you enjoy a thick and luxurious yoghurt, there are various things you can do to help achieve this when using your YogurtNest. So here's a checklist of useful tips that you can try with your next batch:

1. Use a Better Cloth
Separating the whey liquid from your creamy yoghurt is the simplest way to thicken up your creations, and you can literally watch it happen before your eyes. It's very easy and we actually wrote a blog about it before - Introducing The Better Cloth. Straining your yoghurt with a cloth removes the runny liquid that's thin enough to pass through the fabric whilst leaving the creamier stuff on top. The longer you leave it the thicker it becomes. Leave it for a really long time and you'll be left with a spreadable consistency that's great with added garlic and herbs. Line a sieve with your cloth, place a bowl underneath to catch the liquid and pour in your freshly made yoghurt. Leave it for a long as you like, until you have the desired thickness. We suggest just giving it an occasional stir.

2. Use a creamier milk
Simply, the higher the fat content in your milk, the thicker your yoghurt will turn out. Try switching to a whole milk if you are using skimmed or semi-skimmed.

3. Leave the yoghurt in the YogurtNest for longer
After 6 hours your yoghurt will be ready to eat, but leaving it a bit longer in the warmth of your YogurtNest just gives the milk a bit more fermentation time to thicken up. 8 hours or overnight works well, but leaving it longer than that could run the risk of developing a sourness or too much tang. Unless you prefer a soured flavour, of course.

4. Heat the milk slowly and go beyond 50 degrees
It really doesn't take long to heat milk to 50 degrees, so do it on a low heat to prevent scorching. Ideally bring your milk nearly to the boil so that the molecular characteristics of the whey protein are disrupted, making it easier for the yoghurt to ferment. This denaturing bit is about as much 'science' as you need know. Once heated, leave the milk to cool to just below 50 degrees and then add your starter.

5. Use a thickening agent
Probably the bit we recommend the least because it adds another step and another ingredient which you don't really need (unless you are making a non-dairy yoghurt). It also requires more experimentation because the quantity of thickening agent will need to be carefully measured against the volume of milk to ensure that you create the preferred texture. Guar gum, agar agar, arrowroot starch, cornflour are some of the possible thickening agents you could try, and some people sing the praises of adding a teaspoon of milk powder which increases the protein content and aids the thickening.

6. Try not to agitate the YogurtNest
Once you have put your yoghurt to bed inside the YogurtNest try to leave it alone. There shouldn't be any need to move or shake it, but there's a theory that disturbing the milk while it is fermenting can have a detrimental effect on the quality of the yoghurt.

One final thing...

Don't be tempted to add more starter yoghurt or sachets in the hope of making a thicker yoghurt. Sachets have a carefully calculated amount of bacteria which won't impact the thickness and adding more spoons of yoghurt as a starter (if that's your method) will just make your milk too cold to incubate and ferment properly.