We eat a lot of Greek yogurt in our house. 2% Fage is our favorite and the two of us go through a large container in a week. Even at the Commissary, this doesn't come cheap. So when I saw a recipe for homemade Greek yogurt and it didn't look too hard, I gave it a shot. I have to admit, I was intimidated at first and postponed making it several weeks. But after making it once, I couldn't believe how easy it was!
This is simple to make although it took a little more time than I expected. It probably took about 10 minutes for the milk to heat to 180 degrees and close to 10 minutes to cool to 120. However, that's just waiting time and besides occasionally stirring and checking the temperature (I checked every 2-3 minutes), there's very little hands on time (or expertise) needed.
The thickness of the yogurt will depend on how long you drain it. I let mine drain all day while I was at work (stored in the fridge, of course) and actually had to add some whey back into because it had drained too much. You can play around with the consistency to see what you like best.
In our opinions, this ended up tasting exactly like the Fage yogurt that we love! I couldn't believe how similar it was (not to mention about a third of the price of store-bought yogurt).
I'm also looking for ways to use up the whey (which is the liquid that runs off when you drain the yogurt). I might try soaking grains in it before baking bread and I've heard that helps with nutrient absorption. Any ideas?
Homemade Greek Yogurt
Taken from: Annie's Eats (she also has photos of the process if you need it)
Makes 3-4 cups
- 2 quarts milk (I used 2%)
- 2 tsp. plain yogurt
- ¼ cup instant dry milk powder (optional, I omitted)
- Flavorings, if you desire, like 1 tbsp vanilla (we prefer ours plain so I omitted this)
- EQUIPMENT: instant-read thermometer, medium size pot with a lid, some kitchen towels, an oven, a mesh sieve, and some paper towels/cheesecloth
- Add 2 quarts of milk to a medium pot (I use my Dutch oven or my stainless steel skillet) and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. (You can use whatever type of milk you prefer. I like 2%, but skim, 1% or whole are all fine too.) Continue heating until the temperature reaches 180˚ F. (This denatures the milk proteins so that they do not interfere with the incubation process.) Remove from the heat.
- Set aside and let cool, stirring occasionally, until the temperature has dropped to between 110-120˚ F. It is important that the temperature is within this range so that the bacterial cultures can do their thing. If the temperature is too hot, the cultures will be killed. If it is too low, they won’t incubate properly.
- Stir in 2 teaspoons of plain yogurt. This will provide the live active cultures needed to make your yogurt work – essentially, yogurt is a starter for making more yogurt. (Some people say that you shouldn’t use your homemade yogurt as the starter for more yogurt because it may cause a sour taste. Some people say it is fine to use your own yogurt as a starter. You’ll have to experiment and see what works for you.)
- Preheat the oven (to any temperature), shutting the oven off after 1 minute. This serves to slightly warm the oven, taking any chill out of the air. Turn the oven light on. Put the lid on and wrap the covered pot in a couple of thick kitchen towels. Close the oven and let the mixture incubate in the warm oven. (It is important that the mixture stay within the aforementioned temperature range during the entire incubation period. If you feel that the oven may be getting too cold, you can do additional 1 minute preheat periods every couple of hours. I did one additional 1 minute preheat right before going to bed - just make sure your oven is off!)
- Now you just wait and let the yogurt incubate. The incubation period can vary significantly, probably taking between 8-12 hours. I prep my milk mixture before going to bed at night and let the yogurt incubate overnight.
- When the yogurt magic has happened, you will know because the mixture has become thick, gelatinous and, well, yogurt! At this point the yogurt will have a lot of excess liquid and be fairly runny. (I often refrigerate the whole thing for several hours as that seems to help set the yogurt more.)
- Place a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl, and line with a thick paper towel, coffee filter, or cheesecloth. Pour the yogurt into the sieve, place the straining set up in the refrigerator, and strain until most of the liquid has been drained from the yogurt (this liquid is known as whey). Play around with the consistency to your liking.
- Place the yogurt in a storage container, whisk to smooth it out and store in the refrigerator. This keeps for at least a week. I also store the leftover whey separately and use it as a buttermilk replacement in recipes.