help. i've been buying nonfat store-brand vanilla yogurt and draining the excess water out of it thru cheesecloth. has been working well. today i bought nonfat dannon vanilla yogurt and tried to do the same and the yogurt was so runny, all the yogurt just drained thru the cheesecloth.
i tried it twice, doubling the layers of cheesecloth the second time. still no luck.
any suggestions? and why would one brand of nonfat yogurt be some much more firm/runny than another?
My suggestion is to make sure that you are using "real" cheesecloth - most supermarket brands are more like mosquito netting, whereas the good stuff is more densely woven, closer to muslin. You can even use unbleached muslin from a fabric store, although you'll want to be sure to wash it first (using unscented detergent or soap) to remove any mill finish.
Yogurts can vary in thickness and smoothness due to the type of culture used, whether milk solids are added, whether gums are used, and the quantity of sugar.
Since you are willing to spend the time draining your yogurt, you might also be interested in spending the time making your own. It gives you complete control over the ingredients, and is slightly cheaper than store-bought. Joy of Cooking or any comprehensive Indian cookbook will have good instructions.
those small appliance yogurt makers (with the row of glass cups) work great -- it keeps the milk at a low temp, the process is effortless. THEN you get out the cheesecloth/coffee filters and make that fresh cheese . . .
Is there something else (other than fresh cheese) people are using this drained yogurt in/as?
I use coffee filters for draining yogurt (shhh, don't tell anyone but since I don't drink coffee and have no reason to buy them I "liberate" the big, flat bottomed ones from the office coffee set-up).
Seriously, though, a package of coffee filters is cheaper than buying good quality cheesecloth and you can just toss them each time.
I have to point out that Yogurt is a living thing, usually made from milk. And (we'll leave it at cow's) milk depends on the feed of the animal.
"Store-brand" vanilla yogurt is the most variable type, as they buy on price and don't try to match batch to batch. If you buy a 'real' brand, for better or worse, they attempt to produce a uniform product, regardless of season or other externalities.
The thickness of yogurt is also a stylistic choice and not necessarily an indicator of quality. I've found Stoneybrook Farms to actually be on the runny side.
But if you're going to be draining it, better to start with a firmer yogurt to begin with.
When Total was unavailable for a while I tried draining several different brands of yogurt and liked Pavel's the best. I agree you generally get much better results with low fat, which is why nonfat Total is such a miracle.
re: Ruth Lafler
Are you talking about Fage 0% total?
I tried that and it just tasted terrible to me, like the worst of nonfat yoghurt. I eat the 2% now and it's delicious (especially with fraises des bois or black raspberries, mmmm!)
The market down the road from us is run by Armenians and they have a fantastic selection of Greek- and Armenian-style yoghurts which are quite thick enough without needing drained.