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Homemade "Greek" Yogurt

I love Greek yogurt and fruit for breakfast, but got tired of paying for high priced smooth, creamy Fage. So not I make my own.

I take a quart of fat free plain yogurt and drain it in a cheesecloth lined strainer. Put the strainer over a bowl and put in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, it is ready to use. I like combining it with a sweetener and fresh grated ginger before putting in to fruit. Sometimes I use a flavored stevia extract, english toffee is my current favorite, and drizzle a little over the yogurt and fruit.

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  1. Excellent! I too am getting tired of paying a high price for the stuff. Used to make my own yogurt, and this week I saw that my Whole Foods carries yogurt starter now so I bought some and plan on doing a test run soon. How much yogurt are you left with in the morning once the
    water drains off? And do you use the water (whey?) for anything else? I know I've read it's good for something, maybe baking, but can't remember now.

    Where do you get flavored stevia extract or do you make it yourself?

    5 Replies
    1. re: poptart

      Hi pop,
      I also make my own strained yogurt all the time and I can answer you question.

      The Whey can be used for a number of things:
      1.) It is very high in protein and quite healthy, as you might imagine. It is very refreshing to drink on a hot summer afternoon.
      2.) In India, historically at least, it would be fed to children that seemed "weak" or "sick". Again, it is a complete protein, lush with Amino Acids.
      3.) It can be, and should be, used for soaking grains and beans overnight. Some might remember Grandma or Great Grandma always telling us to soak the beans/grains overnight. This was often done in an acidic environment by adding lemon juice. Well, Whey is even better.
      4.) Lastly, but probably most importantly, it can be used for Lacto-Fermented Vegetables. That is just a big, fancy word for veggies that have been pickled. But you use whey instead of vinegar. It is a very healthy way to pickle vegetables. Actually, you can also use it to make Mayo. I have done this numerous times and the mayo, made with Raw Eggs and Raw Egg Yolks lasted for months. That is not a typo.

      If you need any more info on it just look up Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon or Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.

      They also have info on making home-made chutneys, relishes, mustard and ketchup. It is sort of like getting the bacterial benefit that we get from Yogurt, but from all of these things as well.

      1. re: DougRisk

        Wow, thanks for the great info! I am so excited to learn more about this...will
        definitely be checking out those books..in fact my local bookstore has
        the Katz book on their shelves right now so I am going to get it tonight!

        Thanks again, can't wait to try making the yogurt and incorporating the whey into
        my diet.


        1. re: DougRisk

          Thanks for the info. I have a jar of whey in the fridge right now I poured off a batch of homemade yogurt. I was under the impression, though, that the nutrients in whey were largely carbs (since lactose is water soluable) rather than proteins, which are what coagulate.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            I am a little late in replying, but, yes, Whey is high in Carbs. That is why when you strain Yogurt it has, basically, no carbs. But, it is also relaticely high in protein. That is, high in grams of protein per ounce.

          2. re: DougRisk

            You sound like a Weston A. Price fan....I use my whey for all of the uses you mention...and make bread with it.....YUM!!!

        2. Stonyfield Oikos Organic is a little cheaper than Fage and better in my opinion but I commend your homemade efforts! Sounds delicious. I'm impressed.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Chew on That

            Do you still feel the same about Oikos? I had loved the honey flavor before it went AWOL and since its return, it tastes just like the Trader Joe's version which is okay, but not great. Maybe it's due to the bigger containers (higher yogurt to honey ratio?), but I think the mouthfeel is different, too. That is, I'm wondering if there are additives in there now that weren't there previously (sort of a chalky feel). : (

          2. I did this for a while, but when I looked at the yield of yogurt per quart it wasn't really that much cheaper than Fage if I used good quality yogurt. Now that Fage is made in the US, though, there's been a noticable difference in the product. So sad. I started making my own at home, using the last of my made-in-Greece Fage as a starter.

            1. I've done that before but wasn't as crazy about the taste compared to Fage. It does yield a thicker, smoother product but it's not quite the same.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Miss Needle

                Miss Needle, are you adding any dry milk powder to your fluid milk? Is all your fresh, fluid milk non-fat? Nonfat dry milk powder - MUST be non-instant type from health food store; instant makes yogurt gritty - adds a lot of thickness and body as well as nutrition. And a little fat from the fluid milk (like 2%) helps, too.

                1. re: rexsreine

                  Rexsreine, I was referring to making my "greek style" yogurt from buying ready-made yogurt and straining it overnight, as opposed to making my own yogurt. I have purchased Stonyfield Farms (full-fat and low-fat) and have tried straining it. It's just not the same as Fage, even the full-fat.

                  And I have indeed made my yogurt from scratch before and with whole milk and nonfat dry milk powder. It was also not the same. Not sure exactly what it is, but I just can't replicate the taste of Fage.

                  NB: I haven't had Fage since they started producing it in the States -- so I'm talking about the Greek product.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    The Fage does not have the dried milk or pectin or gelatin or other stabilizers, which most yogurt does have. To me, it totally affects the mouth feel when the pectin or gelatin are included....making a slimy, wet feel.
                    I have been making my own Greek yogurt for years and it is delicious and easy. I only use whole, organic milk. The reason many people add powdered milk is for stabilization, but it tastes funny. If you want the real Greek yogurt taste, youmay have to make it yourself...mine is so delicious, I make a big batch every week (using 3 or 4 gallons of milk at a time) and I provide Greek yogurt for my elderly father and some neighbors who do not cook. The yield is about 50% yogurt to 50% whey. I use the whey for making bread and for soaking grains, and even drink it plain. I will send you the recipe if you would like.

                    1. re: texas grrrl

                      I would LOVE it if you would send me your recipe. I eat Chobani almost everyday and would much prefer to make my own. Yours sounds most like what I'm looking for.

                      1. re: jacquijeanne

                        Here is the recipe I have used for years, using just milk and starter....nothing more....the Greek yogurts do not use dry/powdered milk or sugar...just milk and starter.
                        1. Heat your milk on the stove top SLOWLY to 180 degrees. Do NOT STIR once you start heating your milk, stirring causes your yogurt to be grainy.
                        Use a heavy bottomed pan. I start with at least 1 gallon of milk (up to 4 gallons of milk). Your yield will be a little less than half of the starting amount.
                        2. Cool your milk mixture to 110 degrees to no more than 115 degrees. Remember, DO NOT STIR.You can do this by letting it cool at room temperature (this takes a while) or by filling your kitchen sink with cold water and placing your pan in the water bath. Sometimes I add ice or re-freezable ice packs.
                        3. When milk mixture has cooled, add your yogurt starter, just dump it in, DO NOT STIR, then cover the pan with a tight fitting lid or with plastic wrap.
                        4. Place milk mixture in your incubator....an oven with a proofing temperature of around 100 degrees, or an old style oven with a pilot light (this is also around 100 degrees), or use an ice chest and jugs of hot water. (see photos) Let incubate for 12 or more hours.
                        5. Your incubated milk mixture should resemble custard with a little watery film. Strain off the watery when using a collander lined with cotton fabric, cheesecloth or commercial coffee filters (found on-line) having a container below to catch the whey. when you have about half as much whey as the original amount of milk you started with, that is a good breakfast consistency. If you want the yogurt 'cheese' let it drain longer. DO try some of the 'Stash' yogurt at room temp before you refrigerate it....delicious....Place your Greek style yogurt in containers and refrigerate....in the photos you can see the drink dispenser I use to drain the whey. I make gallons of yogurt each week and share with family and neighbors. The grandkids love helping, and eating, this yogurt, too. If you have other questions, please contact me.

                        1. re: texas grrrl

                          Thanks so much! I'll try it next week - school vacation should give me the time as I'm a teacher.

                          1. re: texas grrrl

                            I am in the middle of making your recipe (with a few aside's, assists from other comments), will report back.

                            Have to say, the pic's of the grand kid's ladleing out the white gold are great. Perhaps a stepstool, tho, is in order?

                            I find for my kid's cooking classes, that being above the countertop increases zeal x skill 100%):).

                            Thanks for your help! Excited about how this turns out...

                            1. re: gingershelley

                              I agree, a countertop their height would be great....I do have stepstools, but they didn't use them...we do have sturdy bar stools with a back, so they really are above the countertop...they just get excited....these kids are so much fun, they come here and cook 3 meals a day, bake bread, and make their own salad dressings, lattice pie crusts........I have pictures of my grand daughter, on top of the butcher block holding the hand mixer....when she was 2 and a 1/2.....and they are master cookie decorators with royal icing...these kids use really sharp knives and do great. We do talk about it a lot before, I do demos...I would love to teach a kid's class, bet you love it!
                              Let me know about your yogurt....we make it into 'pudding' with pureed berries, make the yogurt cheese, frozen yogurt and more....this stuff is magic!

                            2. re: texas grrrl

                              Hi there! I finally got to make your recipe last weekend, and to my delight, it was excellent. Better than that, my 13 year old with a sweet tooth took some for lunch with fruit; she did not realize it was unsweetened, and she loved it! I'm ashamed I ever paid $1.20 for my 6 oz. cup of Chobani when I could have been doing this, but then I'm thrilled now for the savings - plus, it's better and organic. I made twice the amount tonight because we ran out in four days, but I was wondering how long the starter works. I used a packet for my first batch and about 2/3 cup of my first yogurt for 2 gallons of milk this week. Can I use a portion of the yogurt I make each week indefinitely? SO many thanks to you for being willing to share - JJ

                              1. re: texas grrrl

                                I've just started on this whole greek yogurt making thing. I've been trying to sesrch for nutritional values made with fat free milk and fat free powdered milk. Calories per say cup and sugars, carbs, fats, proteins. Would any one know how to figure that out or has that been done already.

                    2. Does anyone know what to add to the homemade greek yogurt to increase the protein content? I'm trying to double the protein vs. carbohydrate ratio. (like the Fage 0% fat yogurt)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: domesticdiva

                        The reason it has a higher protein content is that they drain a lot the whey out. Whey has some lactose (sugar/carbs) but very little protein. The yogurt that's left has the same amount of protein but less sugar and water, thus a higher ratio of protein to sugar and more protein per ounce. In other words, if you have 10 ounces of yogurt and you drain out 4 ounces of whey, you have almost the same amount of protein as you started with, but it's concentrated into six ounces of yogurt, and there's a lot less sugar.

                        I've never seen a formula for calculating the nutritional content when you drain it yourself, though.

                      2. oh yeah me too - I make yummy yoghurt, then let it drip to get a thicker, creamier version. Sometimes I let it drip for a couple of days and end up with "labneh", a spreadable cream-cheese-like concoction. Mix with salt and fresh-cracked black pepper and herbs - mmmm.

                        A couple of tips:

                        - If your original yoghurt is too thin it might drip right through the cheesecloth (even several layers). A basket-shaped coffee filter will work better in this case. (I imagine that paper towel would also work, although I haven't tried it.)

                        - You can also use the resulting whey as the liquid in your bread dough. It gives a very nice mild tart flavour.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: jenzed

                          Paper coffee filters are the “whey to go”. Sorry, couldn't help that. Filters cost less than a penny and do the job just as well as the cheese cloth. You are limited to the amount that you can strain at a time. Though I guess you could use multiple ones to line a good size strainer, never tried it. I find a 32 oz. container just fits (mounded in the center) in a basket type filter nice. Of course the filter is placed in a metal strainer to maintain its shape. I like putting in cucumber (small dice of peeled & seeded), garlic, salt and fresh herbs. After reading these replies, I would like to try the sweeter concoctions. Does anyone have any recipes that start with a 32 oz. container of yogurt? Thanks in advance if someone would post them in a reply.

                          1. re: TimCarroll

                            I just use 1-qt fine mesh stainless steel sieve (strainer). You can buy one in any good cooking department. Most of the whey drips through in ~5-10 minutes and then I roll it around a few times to get out a bit more. I guess you could let it sit there longer to make it dryer but I like the consistency I get with minimal effort.

                            1. re: TimCarroll

                              A plain white Bounty paper towel costs even less and works just fine to line a colander for a quart of yogurt. When it's done draining, I put a bowl over the top of the strainer, invert to plop the now strained yogurt in the bowl, and then peel off the paper towel.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Yeah, but the basket coffee filter is a better shape, since it's actually designed to hold something.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Are you trying to mold your drained yogurt into a shape and carry it around? I'm not seeing the advantage.

                                  A paper towel provides greater surface area in relation to volume, which might increase draining speed. Bounty paper towels are also part of the sommelier's tools of the trade to filter fine sediment from the last dregs at the bottle of a vintage port.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    I prefer to use a round coffee filter in a round strainer than a rectangular sheet of paper in a round strainer. It just fits better.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      I see your point when using a smallish strainer. In a large colander like I use, the paper towel is just about flat against the bigger surface. For the non-coffee drinkers among us, also no need to stock coffee filters when a paper towel can do the job. The one disadvantage of the paper towel is that its not that strong once wet and it will tear if you try to lift up the weight of the yogurt in it.

                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        The strength is an issue, too. Coffee filters are designed to drain liquid and contain wet solids.

                                        I don't drink coffee, but a couple of bucks invested in coffee filters will last me for years, so I always have them (unlike paper towels, which my household always seems to be running out of, even though I rarely use them (The roomate and the housecleaner must use a lot, because when I lived alone, a roll of paper towels lasted for months.)).

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          I would be in the major paper towel user category and always have several packs on hand. Fwiw, a white Bounty paper towel makes a better filter for wine sediment than a paper coffee filter. The strength is only an issue if you're planning to heft something it it alone without the underlying colander.

                          2. If I use the cheap fat free plain does the result give it the high protein amount? in the Fagee yogurt there is 23 grams of protein and that is why I eat it.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: yogurt1

                              I've never used fat free milk (i use 2%) but i suspect you will get a higher protein concentration (by definition). Of course you will get less yogurt for a given amount of milk. I've also read where people add powdered milk to their yogurt (after culturing) which would increase the protein component even higher. Good luck.

                              1. re: DavidRx

                                I have to keep mine in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days to get the thick consistency of Greek yogurt. But it's worth the wait! I do worry about losing the protein too when I strain it. Is the protein all in the whey? But I freeze that whey and add it to soups. Now I've learned I can also use it to make ricotta cheese. Whatever nutrients are in that whey, I don't want to lose it.

                            2. Am I correct to assume then that Greek yogurt is just strained yogurt? Not from a specific type of milk or processing -- just with the same ingredients but with less whey?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: neighborguy

                                Conventionally, yes. However, I am sure that there are many from various parts of Greece that cringe a little when all strained yogurt is referred to as Greek yogurt since many of the yogurt makers in Greece use Sheep's milk (which is richer, and different in taste, than Cows Milk) and many of them have their Sheep grazing on specific pasture giving different specific flavors to the milk (and, subsequently, the yogurt)...add to that that, traditionally at least, much of the milk products in Greece would have come from Raw Milk, well, that adds yet another dimension.

                                1. re: DougRisk

                                  That -- the different milk bases-- I would pay for.

                                  Here in Toronto the stuff they sell as 'Greek yogurt' tastes like strained versions of the yogurt on the same shelf but they charge as much as double for it. Often a 750ml tub of plain yogurt can be purchased on sale for $2 and straining it will yield the same volume as a 500ml tub of 'Greek yogurt' which tends to be priced from $4-5. Today I heard what a fast-growing category Greek yogurt is. Gotta love the marketers...and their consumers...