Bacillus Bulgaricus culture is super strong, so strong that it makes the so-thick-it-doesn’t-fall-off-the-jar-when-upside-down kind of yogurt even when using skim milk.
Yogurt thickness, in general, does not depend on the culture you using. Of course if you are using super weak culture you won’t get good yogurt but today’s cultures that are available on the market are usually 1 bln cfu per gram, which is strong enough to make a nice thick yogurt.
Yogurt thickness depends mainly on the milk you use, and to be more specific, on its fat content and the type of proteins in it. If you are using store-bought milk, then you usually can’t control the latter, so you are only left with playing with the former if you want to get thicker yogurt.
BUT! There are a few more things that you can do in order to make a thicker yogurt at home.
So here are some pointers and things to have in mind when making yogurt:
- The greater the fat content in the milk, the thicker the yogurt. You can either use whole milk or add half-and-half (sweet cream) to your milk to make it even fatter. Many people recommend adding dry milk powder, which would also work, however I am personally a fan of simply using a fatter milk or cream.
- Avoid UHT milk. It makes thinner and blander yogurt in general. UHT milk is ultra-pasteurized and that process usually breaks down the proteins that the lactic bacteria needs in order to produce a nice thick yogurt.
- Goat milk makes great yogurt, however it has type of fat molecules and proteins that are a bit harder for the lactic acid bacteria to break down, so if you are using goat milk, then allow for a couple of more hours incubation time. Consider using more starter than recommended as well.
- Heat the milk longer. The first step we recommend when making yogurt at home is to bring the milk to a boil. This is not only done in order to kill off any residual bacteria in the milk but also it helps re-align the fat molecules and the milk proteins in a way that makes it easier for the yogurt starter to do its job. So try to keep the milk at boiling temp for about 10-15 mins, even longer. This also allows the water in the milk to evaporate and helps concentrate the milk solids.
- Give the yogurt more time to incubate, then pop it in the fridge. Usually yogurt will be fully set in about 6-7 hours but giving it a bit more time will give it a nice tangier taste and will also make it a bit thicker. Once it is ready, move the yogurt to the fridge for at least 2 hours – that will ensure the incubation process has finished and will further thicken it.
- Add a thickening agent. You can achieve great results if you add a thickening agent and you can do that in a perfectly save, bio and eco-friendly way if you use a natural plant-based thickener, such as agar-agar for example. I mention agar-agar here because it is fully inert, tasteless and completely natural, so it won’t mess up your healthy routine, but it will help thicken your yogurt. There are plenty of other thickeners you can consider too (gelatin, starch, tapioca, etc.)
- Strain the yogurt. This is what many manufacturers do to make their yogurt appear thicker. While this is a perfectly fine method, it does remove the whey from yogurt which is the most nutritious part of it. The results of a strained yogurt could be great tho – put a liter of yogurt in a cheesecloth, hang it over the sink and check it in a day. Thick yogurt – awesome!