Homemade Greek-Style Strained Yogurt

Its been a while since I last posted anything on here-in fact, a year and a half since the eventful birth of our son Isaac. It’s been a busy year and a half, full of many ups, downs, and deep, tough, life lessons. However, I’m now at a place where I’m feeling inspired and encouraged to write/share again on here.

I met my friend Behnaz about a year ago. She, being from Iran, knows some practical culinary things that I had yet to learn. Thankfully, she has taught me. My favorite culinary skill learned from her thus far is making yogurt.

I find many people asking questions about this mysterious world of yogurt making. I tell them about it when they’re curious about it, then I re-tell them when they’re feeling bold enough to try it.

Now I’m going to record the simple steps to serve as a reference point for my friends as well as any others who may stumble across this post or who are curious about the wonderful world of yogurt making.

Homemade Greek-Style Strained Yogurt

1. Heat, uncovered, 1 gallon of milk in a large pot to 180 degrees, just before boiling. This kills off the good bacteria in the milk, that if not killed off, would compete with the cultures you are trying to grow in your yogurt. I use either 2% or whole milk. I have yet to try it with skim or 1%, but have no reason to believe that it wouldn’t work.

On medium-high heat, it takes about 20-25 minutes on my electric range, but on a gas range, the time is closer to 15-20 minutes. Sometimes I try to set a timer to help me remember I have a pot of milk boiling on the stove. I am notorious for starting one project, and then forgetting about it and going and playing outside with the kids, and then returning inside to a pot of milk that’s boiled all over the stove top. Burnt milk…how I despise cleaning thee!

2. Partially fill your sink with cold water, and then set the pot in there to cool. Be careful not to fill the sink so high that the water goes over the edges when the pot displaces the water.

3. Let the milk cool to 110 degrees (the ideal temperature for the cultures to reproduce).

4. Add your yogurt cultures in at this point. For me, this involves stirring about a 1/4 cup of existing plain yogurt into the cooled milk. When you first start, if you already have some plain yogurt, just spoon some in. If not, buy a small container or ask for a few scoops from a friend. Then, after you make yogurt this time, pull some out and place it in a container so you can use it as your starter for the next batch.

5. Place a lid on the pot, and wrap the pot completely in a bath towel.

6. Wait about 4 hours and you have yogurt. (Remember to scoop out a 1/4 cup of starter for next time).

7. If you want to strain your yogurt, line a colander with a flour sack cloth. Pour your yogurt into the colander and let it set (I place my colander over the pot and then put a lid on it) in the fridge for 4-8 hours.

8. The yellow-ish liquid that has strained off is whey. You can use this to make whey bread, etc. Sometimes I dump mine, other times I use it. Here is a link to the recipe I use to make Italian Whey Bread.

9. I typically place the yogurt in my blender to smoothen its consistency a bit. If its too thick, I add a little whey back into the mix. After blended, I pour some of the plain yogurt into a container to use for sour cream throughout the week. To the remaining yogurt, I typically add honey and vanilla and re-blend. I have found that it is much easier for me to eat yogurt when it is already blended and ready to go as it is, or with a little homemade granola and frozen berries sprinkled on top.

Mmmmm…homemade granola. I’ll have to share that recipe with you soon.

Cost wise, this method is certainly more effective than purchasing cartons of Greek yogurt. Essentially, you get roughly 8 cups of the yogurt for the cost of a gallon of milk ($2.99 in our neck of the woods). The cheapest store-purchased Greek yogurt I can find is at Costco, where I can get 2, 1 quart containers of the Kirkland brand Greek yogurt for about $7. So, this puts the cost at roughly half the price. Not to mention the neat fact that you can actually make your own yogurt. I never even knew it was possible until Behnaz enlightened me. I am forever changed…and I love the rebellious part of being able to make something that you’re “supposed” to buy at the store.

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