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Making yogurt at home is a fairly straight-forward process. Heat milk to 180F (82C), cool that milk to at least 110F (43C), add live cultures, usually in the form of yogurt with said cultures, incubate, then chill.

There are several variables in the process, some of which are: The fat content of the milk (I typically use whole), how long to hold the milk during the initial heat step, how long it takes to cool the milk, the temperature of the incubation step, and the length of time for incubation, to name a few.

While length of time for incubation, and temperature at this stage, clearly contribute to sourness, I am trying to nail down the variable that contributes to a creamy texture. I'm not referring to breaking or clumping, as described in Why isn't my homemade yogurt smooth?. My yogurt comes out smooth.

My initial hypothesis is that holding the milk for a length of time at the initial 180F(82C) (rather than immediately removing from heat and/or chilling) has an impact on final texture. Any thoughts or experience that might inform my hypothesis?

  • What do you mean by "creamy texture", do you want it the way it is sold in the supermarkets? These yogurts are stirred before packaging. Or did you mean something else? – rumtscho Oct 9 '17 at 13:31
  • Basically, I am curious about which variables impact the texture of the final product. Clearly, straining and stirring impact texture. However, I am specifically wondering about the impact of holding at 180F (82C). I hope to run some experiments soon, but thought I might probe the collective knowledge. – moscafj Oct 9 '17 at 14:17
  • In McGee’s “on food and cooking” he comments that milk is surprisingly stable while heating and boiling. You would certainly lose water and concentrate protein and fat, but apparently the structure of the fat globules does not change appreciably. He goes on to say that freezing milk is a different thing altogether, which dramatically alters the structure of the emulsion. Based on this, it might be more interesting to see how previously frozen milk responds to the yogurt process. I know this does not have much to do with your question, but it’s something to mull over. – Kevin Nowaczyk Oct 9 '17 at 14:23
  • @KevinNowaczyk an interesting perspective, and thanks. I didn't think to reach for McGee. Heading to the bookshelf now. – moscafj Oct 9 '17 at 14:27
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The initial heating stage takes a little time to denature the water soluble proteins in the milk.

The hotter your milk, the faster the process. At 180 it takes 30 minutes. At 190 it takes 15 or so. Heating the milk longer than this won't improve the texture. I don't believe the texture will change very much unless too much water is lost.

Heating for a shorter time than this will make the yogurt significantly more fragile and less creamy.

"The milk mixture is pasteurized at 185°F (85°C) for 30 minutes or at 203°F (95°C) for 10 minutes." http://www.milkfacts.info/Milk%20Processing/Yogurt%20Production.htm

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    Thanks. This leads me to believe that it is not sufficient to simply arrive at 180F. The milk must remain there for at least 30 minutes (or 15 at 190F). Thanks also for the link. – moscafj Oct 9 '17 at 20:27
  • That is correct. – Sobachatina Oct 9 '17 at 22:09
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I've been experimenting with goat milk yogurt - changing things up one variable at at time. I've been able to get a consistently creamy texture with 10 minutes at 195, one hour at 120, and then lowering to 86 and incubating until it reaches a pH of around 4.3. A lower pH or a higher incubation temperature result in a more tart (of course) but also more firmly set yogurt. At 4.3 I get something silky smooth.

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