Greek yogurt is really popular, and with good reason. It’s jam packed full of goodness. You get Vitamins B6 and B12, calcium, potassium and zinc, which your blood and heart will thank you for.
You also get a significant hit of protein. Greek yogurt gives you more protein per spoonful because much of the liquid is strained away. You don’t just get a richer, creamier yogurt, you get one that stops you getting hungry quite so quickly.
Plenty of dairy companies have cottoned on to the potential of Greek yogurt and are making it in large quantities and charging large prices for it. You can make it at home economically and have the certainty of knowing exactly what went into it. You can also use the yogurt whey that you strain off as an ingredient in your cooking, so there’s absolutely no waste. You won’t have a pile of yogurt pots sitting in your recycling either.
Pop your ingredients in your yogurt maker before you go to bed, and your yogurt will be ready in the morning, alternatively, get it started before work and it’ll be ready when you get home. It takes a minimum of eight hours to make the yogurt, but I often leave it for 10-12 hours for maximum thickness.
I like this style of yogurt maker with the one large pot as it allows me to make a lot of yogurt in one go. It’s easy to use, and easy to clean which is really important as you’re dealing with live bacteria. This one has the minimum of extra features, which means less fiddly bits to clean and less to go wrong.
Start By Making Regular Yogurt
You can start with store bought plain yogurt and go straight to the straining step, but that’s no fun.
There’s nothing so dull as the ingredients for home made yogurt.
You need milk and yogurt.
Er … that’s it.
I get fancy and add milk powder to up the solids, giving yet more protein, but that’s just showing off.
For two quarts of yogurt you will need:
- Two quarts less half a cup of milk*
- One third of a cup of dried, powdered milk
- Two tablespoons of fresh live yogurt**
*I use UHT shelf stable milk. This guarantees that the only bacteria you’re growing are the ones you want to grow. This is important. The way to make yogurt is to create a really healthy environment for the yogurt bacteria to feast on the milk and make yogurt. That environment can be kind to bacteria with altogether meaner intentions, so if you’re not using milk that’s been heat treated to keep it shelf stable, particularly if you’re using raw milk (lucky you), you’ll need to boil and cool it first.
** Once you get going you can use the last two spoons of each batch of home made yogurt to start the next batch, but to get started you’ll want fresh live yogurt. Make sure it is live and as fresh as possible, you need those little yogurt making beasties to be at their best.
You can buy shelf stable milk online. You don’t need to keep it refrigerated so it’s easy to store. As well as being necessary for yogurt making, it’s ideal to have on hand for emergency preparedness as you can still have milk when the power goes out.
Yogurt Culture Starters
I use yogurt! Right now I’m using the yogurt I made last week as the starter for the yogurt I’m making this week. If I have no homemade yogurt I’ll buy a small pot of live organic yogurt from the little deli down the road, but I’m a city dweller so that’s easy for me.
If you don’t have a yogurt maker you can do it in a slow cooker or even in the oven. You need to maintain a constant 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the whole time, and keep any moisture from escaping, you can’t allow any hot or cool spots.
Strain Your Yogurt
Once your yogurt is ready you’ll need to strain it. If you have shop bought yogurt you can start here.
There’s no need to wait for your yogurt to cool before you start work, you can strain it as it’s cooling. You can buy a yogurt strainer with exactly the right sized mesh, but they tend to tear and they’re expensive to replace, so I suggest sticking with muslin.
Stand your muslin lined colander in a large mixing bowl to collect they whey. Pour the yogurt into the colander, making sure none slips down the sides (you can always pop it back in the top). Scoop out all of the yogurt to make sure it all gets used.
Muslin is cheap, but this brand is cheap and good. It’s the right thickness so you don’t have to double it up, and it survives many washes. Muslin is so cheap that many people only use it once, then throw it out, but I’m a cheapskate so like to choose a brand that can be reused. Cut about a foot to line your colander, give yourself a little bit extra just to be safe.
Once your yogurt is good and thick pop it into a container and into the refrigerator. It’s ready when you are.
Don’t throw the whey out. It looks a little odd, as it’s a cloudy yellow liquid, but it’s got plenty of nutrients in, and you can use it in your cooking. I store it in the refrigerator until I’m next making bread and use it instead of water or milk.
It’s used as a commercial animal feed, so if you have pigs or chickens add it to their food, otherwise your dog or cat will enjoy it.
Whey is great as part of a meal replacement drink, or fitness shake, but I always have trouble getting the powder to dissolve properly so get a lump at the bottom of the drink, or chunks in my teeth. Yuck. Bender bottles are great because they have a little widget that helps mix everything up. I store whey in these, and if it doesn’t go in bread, it goes in a shake.