Heating the Milk

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Traditionally the milk for yogurt was given a prolonged boiling to concentrate the proteins and give a firmer texture. Today, manufacturers can boost protein content by adding dry milk powder, but they still cook the milk, for 30 minutes at 185°F/85°C or at 195°F/90°C for 10 minutes. These treatments improve the consistency of the yogurt by denaturing the whey protein lactoglobulin, whose otherwise unreactive molecules then participate by clustering on the surfaces of the casein particles. With the helpful interference of the lactoglobulins, the casein particles can only bond to each other at a few spots, and so gather not in clusters but in a fine matrix of chains that is much better at retaining liquid in its small interstices.