Greek yogurt is becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. It's got a creamy, thick texture and it’s protein-rich. But how do we make it at home? Making homemade yogurt is simpler than you think, and making it “Greek-style” adds just one step to the process.
Greek yogurt has been strained of the whey, which is why it is so thick and creamy. You can actually take any yogurt and strain it to create a Greek-like yogurt. But for an even more authentic flavor and texture, start with a specific Greek culture when making your own. You can do this two ways: Buy a “live culture” unflavored Greek yogurt at the store, and use a couple tablespoons of that yogurt to inoculate your homemade yogurt batch. Or, buy a specific Greek yogurt culture to use. Cultures for Health sells one that you can use with yogurt makers. They describe their starter as making a slightly tangy and rich yogurt, which can be strained partially for a thick yogurt, and strained all the way for mascarpone cheese.
To make your own yogurt at home, there are several methods you can use. For a super simple method, you can use one of the many yogurt makers out there. I just recently bought a Euro-Cuisine yogurt maker, which I am looking forward to experimenting with.
For those who would like to make larger amounts of yogurt, you can buy yogurt makers that make up to 2 quarts at a time. After making your yogurt, you can strain it through cheesecloth laid over a fine sieve, or you can use a Greek yogurt strainer.
For those who want to make yogurt without a yogurt maker, follow these instructions. Yes, they are long, but it is a simple process.
You can make your own yogurt at home using supplies you likely already have on hand. I give directions for making one quart of yogurt, but I generally make at least two quarts at a time.
1 quart canning jar with lid and band, plus more for filling with water for a heat source
1 candy thermometer
A pot large enough to put several quarts of yogurt in
1 quart of whole milk
2 tablespoons plain, live culture Greek-style yogurt, or yogurt of choice
Start with sterilized canning jars (either run through the dishwasher on the sterilizing function or fill and cover with boiling water).
1. Heating the milk. In a medium-sized pot about half filled with water, place the sterilized canning jar filled with whole milk (leaving about 1 inch space on the top). Place the thermometer on the side of the pot so that its tip is sterilized as the water comes to a boil. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn down the heat to medium high. Place the thermometer in the milk by connecting it to the jar and heat until the temperature reaches 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Carefully take the jar out of the water.
2. Cooling period. Now we need to allow the milk to cool to a proper temperature (somewhere between 110 and 120 degrees). You can leave it on the counter (it will take more than an hour) or let it cool in cool water in the sink or the refrigerator.
3. Adding yogurt starter. Add two tablespoons of yogurt starter (don’t add more!) and gently stir in. Lid the jar. Feel the jar. This is the temperature that you want to keep your jar.
4. Keeping the yogurt warm. Now we need to grow that good bacteria for 4 to 24 hours.
My preferred method: Stock pot method. Place the yogurt in a large stock pot and place two jars filled with boiling water near the yogurt jar. Cover with towels and lid the pot. Replace the water in the jars as needed to maintain a warm temperature (every 3-4 hours).
Alternatives: Place the jars of yogurt in the stock pot and cover or wrap around with a heating pad.
Cooler method: Place however many quarts of yogurt you are making in a towel-laden cooler. Place a pot of very hot water beside it and cover with more towels. This should stay warm for a long time.
If you have a dehydrator, that will also work wonderfully. Just set the temperature for about 110-115 degrees. Or you can use a yogurt maker.
5. Cool. Place either in the refrigerator or freezer (for about 1 hour), treating the jars gently (no shaking!). Placing in the freezer may help make a smooth texture, by cooling the yogurt faster. After chilling completely, you can strain to desired texture for a thick, extra creamy yogurt. Enjoy!