Sunday, January 18, 2009

Make Your Own Homemade Greek Yogurt

How to make your own homemade Greek style yogurt, a little less expensively!

Homemade Greek Yogurt

The first time that I tasted Greek yogurt I was hooked. Super tangy, rich and ultra creamy - I tell ya I fell in love right away.

Now Greek yogurt is not like the yogurt most of us Americans are accustomed to - that creamy, sugar laden, super sweet stuff with the fruit mixed in. Greek yogurt, like plain yogurt here, is tart, so you do have to sweeten it yourself, but isn't that better for you anyway? My favorite sweetener of choice for yogurt is honey. Some Greek yogurt, topped with a bit of chopped walnut and drizzled over with some honey - just delightfully yummy!

Used to be that Greek yogurt wasn't available at my local grocery stores - and we down here in the Deep South aren't blessed to have places like Trader Joe's - so I had to buy it at my local homegrown whole foods store and those folks are mighty proud of their Greek yogurt cuz holy moley was it high dollar! Thankfully, as I am updating this in 2013, Greek yogurt has become much more widely available, but still, not inexpensive.

Then I found out that while the authentic stuff from Greece is a bit different, Greek yogurt has basically come to mean any yogurt that has been strained to produce a thick and creamy tart yogurt. So I set out to figure out how to do it at home on my own so I wouldn't have to buy this high dollar fancy Greek stuff! And really, there is simply nothing to straining yogurt.

Not only is this delicious to eat my favorite way, plain with walnuts and honey, but it's also good with fruit, or with fruit jams, or you can use it anywhere you would normally use sour cream, and unlike regular yogurt, the strained yogurt doesn't separate so you can also use it in cooking. So good and so healthy - because it's natural and it's loaded with protein from being concentrated. In fact, check out this post on ways to reduce fat in your cooking using Greek yogurt!

You can, of course, start by making your own yogurt from milk, but a quick and easy way to get some good strained yogurt a bit sooner is to use a commercial product. I highly recommend using the Dannon brand All Natural plain low fat yogurt - because it's all natural, nothing artificial in there at all, and it works fantastic. I tried using a generic store brand before and it didn't work very well at all, which I later learned was because of some additive that is present in most yogurts out there, the name of which escapes me right now, but which hampers the thickening process we are trying to achieve with straining.

When I checked Dannon it did not have that ingredient, so that's what I use. By the way, the non-fat version of Dannon All Natural yogurt works just about as well as the low-fat, though it isn't quite as thick.

Homemade Greek yogurt - easy, thick, creamy and just delicious. Give it a try - it's fantastic! Here's how to make it.

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You'll need to start with a carton of yogurt - get a big one because the yogurt will concentrate down and reduce by at least one-half. Then you'll need a container to strain it into (here I use a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup), and a sieve or some kind of strainer (here I use a large strainer that fits over the Pyrex cup). And last, you'll need two regular sized coffee filters. You can use towels, or cheesecloth, but I have found that coffee filters work perfect, less mess and easy clean up. But you'll need two of them, not just one!

Lay the strainer on top of the Pyrex cup and set the two coffee filters in the strainer.

Turn the yogurt out of the carton and into the filters.

You can see that some of the whey begins to drain out of the yogurt immediately. (sorry 'bout the blur...)

Cover the whole thing with some plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours, or even overnight, until it reaches the consistency you like. The longer it drains, the thicker it gets. Overnight will produce a very thick yogurt cheese - Yo-Cheese! Course, there may just be times you will want it thickened that much - for a cream cheese type of texture.

I scooped a bit out to try and show you the difference in the texture and thickness before the straining. Here before, you can see that it's thin and not real smooth or creamy. Still good yogurt - but just watch the transformation.

So after about 3 hours check your yogurt. See how much liquid has drained off? Now I hear that if you want to use this whey it's full of nutrition, so supposedly you can use it to replace liquid in recipes - I have heard it's especially good with breads, though I admit when I have saved it, I never remembered to use it.

See how much the yogurt has thickened from where it was?

There's been a whole texture change to it now.

And don't worry about it being difficult to get out of that strainer. The whole thing will easily lift right out.

And because the yogurt has thickened so nicely, it just really slides right out of the filter all in one piece, easy and clean!



Hardly a trace of yogurt left behind ... and no clean-up. Just toss 'em.

And here's the after.

Let's have a look at that again - Before and After! Look at that thick, creamy goodness you have created! And the texture is so smooth and so different from where it started, that being thin and kinda grainy. I love the creamy texture. Course, as I already mentioned that means you have a good bit less than you started with which is why I say get the big container. And don't forget also that this is a plain yogurt, now concentrated and thickened, so you will need to add some sweetness to it yourself. I highly recommend honey, fruit, or both!



Perfect for my favorite way!



If you think this sounds yummy, I'd sure it if you'd click to pin it, tweet it, stumble it, or share it on Facebook to help spread the word - thanks!

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Posted by on January 18, 2009
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10 comments:

  1. Wow Mary, I am going to strain mine next time. I did notice a bit of water around the edges and wondered how to get it all out. I will be doing this again. I wil let you know. Such a simple solution.

    ReplyDelete
  2. And it is really good too! I haven't made my own homemade yogurt yet, so this one using the store bought plain yogurt really needs the honey or some kind of fruit and/or sweetener added, but it is so thick and creamy and just heavenly, I think you'll love it! Please do come back and let me know what you think.

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  3. I made a blog recipe post for this last fall when i discovered Greek yogurt too and hate paying high dollar at Whole Foods for it, since I eat it a couple times a day...daily! I do the very same, except use cheesecloth! Fabulous!! :)

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  4. This homemade version sure satisfies my craving for Greek yogurt Jennifer - that Fage was just way too pricey at my little whole foods store! It's family owned and the only one in town so they have no competition. I'm hooked on this too, just plain with honey and walnuts. And with the higher protein content thanks to straining it, so good for you too. Love it!

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  5. I use the same yogurt as you. I know if you leave it to strain for a couple of days it makes yogurt cheese. I've never used Greek yogurt but I've seen it in recipes and just used plain yogurt but now I'm gonna make my own. I buy three of those large containers a week! I know crazy. I eat about 1/2 cup every mornin' plus more for cookin' and my yorkie and inside cat have to have theirs too each morn. They are addicted. I think it must be like a drug to 'em. I can't hardly get into the kitchen each mornin' 'cause they are carryin' on wantin' their yogurt!
    I got me a dehydrator and I'm gonna make my own yogurt. I've been told once you try homemade you won't go back to store bought.
    The ingredient you were tryin' to think of is 'live and active cultures'. If it don't have 'line and active cultrues' it's useless yogurt. Might as well be eatin' sour cream. That big chain that rules the world? Their store brand does not have 'live and active cultures'.

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  6. Oh my gosh... I have a feeling then that you are going to get hooked! It is so thick and creamy - nothing like what it starts off as. Just don't go too long and end up with the yo-cheese!

    Remember now that the straining does reduce the yogurt by about half depending on how thick you let it go. You might want to do 2 containers - one after the other maybe.

    Let me know what you think!

    I can't believe your dog and cat like yogurt - wonder if little Boo would like it??

    ReplyDelete
  7. I bet he would. We have a good family friend who owns pet shops in Springfield and they give all their puppies and kittens a teaspoon every day. It's good for their insides too. My cat's coat is incredibly shiny, I credit the yogurt.
    Thanks for the tip on the yogurt.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Never thought about it, but you know my lab seems to have stomach issues on and off alot. I'll bet she would benefit from a daily dose! Thanks for that great tip.

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  9. If you do end up with yo-cheese, you can use it in place of cream cheese! I once used it to make cheese cake, adding an extra egg to make sure it set alright. It was delicious...and so much cheaper than buying that much cream cheese!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never tried it in cheesecake but that's good to know!

      Delete

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