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!
But ... Greek yogurt isn'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 have to buy it at my local homegrown whole foods store and those folks are mighty proud of their Greek yogurt cuz holy moley is it high dollar! I think it was $6 for a 17.6 ounce container of Fage! Yikes!
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. But 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!
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!
3.5 Weight Watchers Points as shown
1/2 cup of homemade low fat Greek yogurt = 1 point; 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts = 1.5 points; 1 tablespoon of honey = 1 point
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