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Powdered milk has been used in making yogurt for a long time. In commercial yogurt it can be called modified milk ingredients and is used to thicken and provide added structure to the yogurt. This helps the yogurt to remain firm during transportation and handling.
Powdered milk can be used to thicken homemade yogurt, alter its texture and add additional protein to the yogurt. Adding powdered milk to homemade yogurt alters the flavor of the yogurt slightly and can add impurities from the industrial equipment used to produce it.
Most homemade yogurt recipes do not use powdered milk as an ingredient normally as there are many other ways to thicken yogurt (for a list of other choices check this article out here) but it can be used if prepared properly. Before you use powdered milk to make yogurt you should know for what purpose you are using it.
Add powdered milk to thicken homemade yogurt
Using powdered milk for the purpose of thickening your homemade yogurt is a good option for a variety of reasons. Since it can be easily measured the amount of powder used can be controlled to achieve the result you want. By adding more or less powdered milk you can achieve the thickness you desire.
Why powdered milkthickens homemade yogurt
Before you start using powdered milk to thicken your yogurt it is a good idea to understand why it works. When making anything new, having the knowledge of why it works is valuable as it helps you to diagnose problems and alter the ingredients to get a specific result. Here are two reasons why yogurt is thickened with powdered milk. For 11 additional ways to thicken yogurt read this article here.
Powdered milk absorbs some of the water in the milk
This is the most obvious way powdered milk thickens yogurt. The milk is heated and sprayed in a fine mist where the liquid evaporates away while the solids in the milk fall to the bottom of the evaporation container. This process provides a milk product which is high in protein with very little water. When it is added to the milk you are going to use to make yogurt it absorbs some of the water in the milk until it is the same hydration level as the surrounding milk.
Powdered milk adds additional protein to the milk
The reason why yogurt thickens into yogurt during incubation is the proteins in the milk form a loose association with each other forming a loose matrix. This happens due to the acidification of the milk as the lactic acid bacteria in the starter use the sugar in the milk (lactose) and produce lactic acid.
With an additional amount of protein from the powdered milk the acid produced by the starter forms stronger protein bonds in the milk forming a stronger matrix. This firms the texture of the yogurt and helps it to maintain its form during transport and serving.
The added protein will help the yogurt’s structure to remain intact while being handled and jostled around during transportation.
Another benefit is the added protein content for those who want to increase the amount of protein they consume. Powdered milk is high in protein as it is mainly made from low fat milk. Low fat milk is higher in protein than that of whole milk because as the fat is removed from the milk the protein remains behind. Since the water is then removed you are left with a powdered milk which has a higher than normal protein content.
When powdered milk is added to liquid milk it increases the amount of protein without adding to the volume of the milk significantly. As a result the yogurt made from such milk has a higher protein content.
How to use powdered milk to thicken yogurt
When using powdered milk to thicken yogurt you have to understand that powdered milk has a different flavor than fresh milk. Fresh milk has not been processed to the extent that powdered milk has and as a result does not take on the chemical flavor which powdered milk has.
When using powdered milk to thicken yogurt add 1-2 tbsps per quart of milk. The milk powder will absorb some of the water as it rehydrates and add some protein to the yogurt, making it thicker. Adding too much milk powder can alter the flavor and texture negatively.
- Incubation chamber
- Double boiler
- Non-reactive container with lid
- Measuring spoon
- One quart (½ liter) Milk
- 1-2 tbsp Milk powder
- 1 tsp Yogurt starter
- Add milk to the double boiler
- Add milk powder and whisk until thoroughly mixed
- Heat the milk gently to 180℉ (82℃) stirring frequently
- Maintain temperature for at least 20 minutes continue stirring
- Pour milk into non-reactive container
- Cool to 115℉ (48℃)
- Add starter
- Incubate 6-12 hours
- Refrigerate 1-2 hours before consuming
Why make yogurt with only powdered milk
When given the option of using fresh milk or powdered milk to make yogurt the choice should be clear but there are circumstances for which using powdered milk for yogurt is a good option.
- limited access to a reliable source of fresh milk
- Limited access to refrigeration
- Lack of space
For most of us in North America there is little reason to use only powdered milk for yogurt making as we have access to all of the above in ample quantities but on occasion such resources are in limited supply.
When camping the space needed for fresh milk and the added weight can be too much. Most RV’s have limited refrigeration space as well as have restricted access to fresh milk. Refrigerators are also power hungry appliances that add to the desire to not store items which need long term cool storage.
Backpacking is another scenario in which these limitations apply. A backpacker will not want to carry fresh milk as it is heavy, must be consumed quickly and has a poor weight to food value ratio. In this case using powdered milk to make yogurt is ideal for a morning breakfast.
Powdered milk is a highly processed food. The process of dehydrating milk requires specialized equipment which heats the milk, places it under high pressure and forces it though small nozzles to form a fine mist. As a result the valuable enzymes, proteins and many vitamins found in fresh milk are lost. When it is made into yogurt some of these drawbacks are ameliorated.
The lactic acid bacteria found in the starter produces various vitamins and enzymes of their own which provide food value to yogurt made with powdered milk. The tangy flavor of the yogurt masks unwanted flavors found in normal powdered milk and improves the storage time without refrigeration.
How to make yogurt with only powdered milk
Two methods which can be used to make yogurt with powdered milk are described below. The first is relatively the same as the above procedure with the addition of preparing the powdered milk prior to making the yogurt. The other is a simplified method for backpacking and can be made with only a thermos and a spoon.
When preparing the powdered milk add additional milk powder to ensure the yogurt will have enough protein to gel and form yogurt. By adding ½ to ⅓ more milk powder than the instructions call for you can be sure the yogurt will thicken. Too little milk powder and you will end up with mostly whey, which is good for you but does not resemble yogurt.
How to make yogurt with only powdered milk: method 1
This method assumes you have access to a kitchen such as an RV or other camping vehicle.
- Double boiler
- Measuring spoon
- Incubation container
- Incubation chamber
- Powdered milk
- Yogurt culture
- Mix the milk powder and water until thoroughly mixed in the double boiler
- Heat the milk on stovetop until it reaches 180℉℃
- Remove from heat and cool to 115
- Add yogurt culture and whisk together
- Place lid
- Incubate milk for 6-8 hours (over night)
- Refrigerate yogurt at least an hour before serving
How to make yogurt with only powdered milk: method 2
This is a simplified method of making yogurt for backpacking or other forms of light equipment camping. It uses a minimum amount of equipment but requires some practice to make successfully.
- Camp Stove or other method of heating water
- Camp pot
- Hot water
- Milk powder
- Yogurt starter
- Heat water to boiling in pot
- Pour into thermos
- Add milk powder and stir
- Let cool to slightly higher than skin temperature (115℉ (48℃))
- Add yogurt starter
- Place lid on thermos
- Store somewhere out of the elements
In the morning the yogurt culture should have converted the milk into yogurt. Serve it with granola or sweeten it and eat it with a spoon.
Uses for yogurt made with added milk powder
As mentioned above the flavor of yogurt made with added powdered milk is different from yogurt made with only milk but if the proper amount of powdered milk is used it is not detectable for uses such as fruit topping, adding to oatmeal or adding to a morning smoothie.
Extra thick yogurt is often used in sauces, dips and as an ingredient in recipes to improve the texture of a recipe. The thicker structure of the yogurt helps the sauce to coat the other ingredients which adds to the presentation of the dish.