Monday, April 21, 2014

Greek-Style Yogurt

In case you haven't noticed, there is something about this tangy and creamy dairy product that Americans are obsessed about. It's Greek yogurt (or Greek-style yogurt, for those that are not made in Greece). At first I thought it was another fad diet people are through, like dehydrated fruit pieces in dry cereal. But it looks as if Greek yogurt are the parasites of the refrigerated section. This yogurt phenomenon is growing so rapidly that it is taking over the dairy section. Supermarkets are to make space for new products that good ol' margarine has to move out of the space (so long margarine in a spray bottle). Brands even have to make cuts among its products to include Greek yogurt to fulfill people's crave.

There's an excellent podcast from BBC Food Programme on the Greek yogurt bloom. Yes, the obsession extends beyond America. I think this obsession caught on the end of the yogurt train starting from the 70s and got off at today's healthy-loving era. Simultaneously, people are on this "I need more protein!"kick. The reason Greek yogurt has more protein is because the yogurt is strained with more liquid (whey) removed. This makes a more concentrated product than regular yogurt, hence more nutrient dense especially protein.

Its texture and tanginess that often off puts people. My self included, at least at first until I tried Fage. It's one of the best tasting Greek yogurt I ever had. But at more that $5 a carton, sometimes the cost throws me off. It's a love-hate relationship.

You probably guess by now, I did what any frugal foodie would do.

I made my own yogurt. I can't exactly call this "Greek yogurt" since this was not made in Greece. (Read about the debacle on Chobani's loses on "Greek Yogurt" Legal Battle in U.K.  over the use of the word "Greek"). But the idea is I make yogurt, strain yogurt, enjoy yogurt.

The process is very simple, but requires some "babying" and time. I used a neck heat pad to maintain the temperature at 90-110 degrees. But there are lots of methods on maintaining the temperature, such as setting the oven at warm (or cooler) and incubate the yogurt over warm water. Some recipes called for dried milk powder for better texture, but mine turned out great. Straining time all depends on how thick you like the yogurt to be. The leftover liquid (whey) can be used to make bread, ricotta cheese (if you are bringing this homesteading to the next level), juicing, soups, etc...

Homemade Greek-Style Yogurt
Recipe adapted from

4 cups of good quality milk (fat percentage is up to you)
2 tablespoons of yogurt (as starter; Greek or regular is fine)
Cheese cloth

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, bring milk to 180°F, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Once milk has reached temperature, allow it to cool to 110°F.
  2. When milk has cooled, add 2 tablespoons of yogurt to the pot and whisk thoroughly to combine.
  3. Pour milk and starter mixture into a 4 quart container and cover with saran wrap. Place the container in a warm environment and keep the temperature around 90-110°F overnight (6-8 hours) until yogurt has set. (Yipee! You've successfully made yogurt!)
  4. Pour the yogurt over a large container with two layers of cheese cloth over it. Allow yogurt to strain through the cheese cloth for 6-8 hours or until desired thickness is achieved. 
  5. Refrigerate and enjoy!
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