Homemade Greek Yogurt

This tip is so simple but makes your homemade yogurt even more amazing.

First of all, I think it’s amazing to make yogurt.  Or maybe I’m just a science geek.  But I can’t get over the transformation of warming milk, stirring in a tablespoon of yogurt starter, letting it sit overnight – et voila! Yogurt.  If you haven’t made yogurt before, go do that now!

I’ve been making my own yogurt for over a year now.  But it always turns out really thin.  Which hasn’t bothered me too much if I eat if over homemade granola or with some fruit compote.  But it’s not always the picture-perfect yogurt you might serve to company.  (Does anyone serve yogurt to company?  Well, I will now that I can make thick, creamy Greek yogurt!)

The secret to making thick Greek yogurt?  You have to strain your homemade yogurt.

Straining is easy, just use some cheesecloth and a strainer over a bowl.  The liquid (whey) drips into the bowl and you’re left with a cheesecloth full of thick, creamy yogurt.  It’s a bit messy, but oh-so-tasty.

So that’s it.  No step by step tutorial required.  Just make yogurt, strain it, chill and eat.

I like to eat my yogurt with walnuts and honey, like in the picture above.  Yum!

But what is this “whey” stuff in the bowl?

At the end of the straining process, you’ll have a bunch of liquid whey.  Yes, just like the stuff Little Miss Muffet ate.  Whey is a bi-product when you turn milk into cheese, and it’s also a component of yogurt.

It turns out you can do a lot of stuff with whey … including making lacto-fermented sauerkrauts and other vegetables (for lots, lots more on this subject, read  Nourishing Traditions), making ricotta cheese (I’m going to try this one!), adding it to bread dough, and just drinking it (I’m not ready for that one yet!).

How do I store whey?

I put the liquid whey in a clean jar in the refrigerator – clearly labeled!  The whey should last for 3-6 months.  As with any traditional ingredient like this, trust your senses.  Always look and smell ingredients before using them to make sure they’re in good condition!  I’ve had my first jar of whey for one month, and have been using it without a problem.

If you make your own yogurt, try straining it next time – you’ll love the results!  And if you have any experience using whey, let us know in the  comments.

7 Responses to Homemade Greek Yogurt

  1. Leila Rigaux says:

    I am lactose intolerant and really missed yogurt – but now I make it with Lactancia lactose-free milk. I heat it up in the microwave in a pyrex bowl, cool it in the sink, and keep it hot on top of a heating pad for 8 hours or so. The pyrex bowl has a lid to keep my cat from getting into it and licking it! I put the heating pad on a cutting board and wrap the cutting board, heating pad, and pyrex bowl up tight in a towel. I usually just keep pouring off the whey as I portion out the yogurt for lunch each day but I will certainly strain it now. And, I think I’ll stop using 2% milk and try it with 4% lactose-free milk. I’m so happy to eat yogurt again!

  2. Brittany says:

    I strain Greek yogurt all the time! Once I found out how easy the transformation was, I felt silly for buying tubs of it. Next I’ll have to try making the yogurt from scratch.

  3. Rhonda in WNC says:

    Erica, strain the yogurt for hours to make yo-cheese. I do it in the fridge overnight, or while I’m at work.

  4. Erica says:

    Awesome! And I just read the post about making yogurt, and I’m excited about that, too!

    Question, though: for how long does one strain one’s yogurt? I know the time can vary depending on desired thickness, but are we talking minutes or hours?

  5. Tajah says:

    Much like Rhonda, I don’t have much problem making a thick yoghurt – I do much the same kind of method she does – I bring my milk almost to the boil (I use a 2% milk for yoghurt because it makes a richer tasting product, and I also add a tbsp or two of powdered milk to the milk for the same reason). I then cool it down to blood temperature (I use my hand to judge it), and then stir in a couple of tbsp of leftover yoghurt from a previous batch. Then I put it in jars and put them in the oven overnight. My oven has a proving setting for bread and I have discovered that this is perfect for making yoghurt as well.

    Next day I carefully stash the jars in the fridge and I get thick yoghurt every time. The only time it has ever gone thin on me was the time that one of the kids “helpfully” shook the jar.

    Having said that, I do sometimes stain my yoghurt because it makes a very nice soft-cheese type product if you also season it with salt.

  6. Rhonda in WNC says:

    I’ve just started making yogurt this year, and it took a while to figure out how to make it thicker. I read somewhere that yogurt cultures like it better if they’re not disturbed.

    I heat my milk in a saucepan to 180°, and then I put the pan in a sink of cool water until the milk is 110°. (Cooling in the sink is not necessary; I’m just in a hurry.)

    I put 1 Tbsp. of yogurt from my last batch in a pint canning jar, add some of the milk and stir it well. Then I fill the jar with milk and close it with a canning lid & ring. I usually make 2-4 pints of yogurt at a time.

    I keep the jars at 105-110° for 8-12 hours, whatever’s convenient, and then carefully carry the jars to the refrigerator. I don’t disturb them until they’re cooled down, and I get thick yogurt every time.

    When I first began making yogurt, I made a pot-full and transferred the warm yogurt to jars before refrigerating — it never came out as thick as it does now.

    By the way, this is how I keep my yogurt-to-be warm: I have a Presto multicooker (something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Presto-06006-Kitchen-Electric-Multi-Cooker/dp/B002JM202I/). Although the temp gauge only goes down to 200°, I partially filled it with water & figured out the place on the dial that hold the temp at about 110°. I add my filled & sealed pint jars to the pot with water to cover the sides of the jars, and put the cover on the pot. Works very well for me.

    I sometimes strain yogurt to thicken it to a cream cheese consistency. It’s very good with fresh garlic & rosemary added. I use a piece of cotton muslin placed in a colander or strainer to strain the yogurt. A paper coffee filter in a strainer also works well if you’re not straining a large volume.

    Rhonda in western North Carolina

  7. Laurie says:

    Definitely going to try this soon, but still need a cheese cloth. Oh where can I find one in Amsterdam…? Thanks for sharing!!