Sunday, February 5, 2012

Homemade Greek Yogurt

CDN Thermo Probe
I really like greek yogurt.  It is a great way for me to incorporate non-meat protein into my diet.  It is also incredibly versatile and tasty and keeps me from eating a lot of otherwise super fatty creamy alternatives (like mayo, sour cream, and cream cheese).  What I don't love about greek yogurt is how much it costs.  I recently purchased some organic greek yogurt from Whole Foods for a whopping eight bucks.  That is two dollars a cup!

"Riiiiiiiidiculous!" I said to myself.  "I bet it wouldn't be that hard to make it myself."  This thought prompted me to do a web search into the process of making greek yogurt and guess what, I found out that it is actually incredibly easy and inexpensive to make.  So I headed on down to the market, bought a gallon of organic skim milk and got started.

6-8 cups of organic skim milk (depending on the size of your yogurt maker)

Euro Cuisine yogurt maker
Don't forget to use the lid :)
1 T. of fresh plain yogurt with active cultures

So here's what you do.....
Place the milk in a pyrex bowl and microwave on high for 16 minutes (stirring every 4 minutes) until the milk reaches a temperature of 175-200 degrees.  Then let the milk cool down to 110 degrees (about half an hour).  I use a thermometer that has an alert built in so it just yells at me when the yogurt has dropped down to the right temperature.  If any skin has formed on the top of the batch, make sure to skim it off at this time this will make sure that your final product is nice and creamy.  Whisk in the fresh plain yogurt and place the mixture into a yogurt maker for 8-12 hours.

While I highly recommend owning a yogurt maker, some people don't, so you can also put the yogurt in an oven at 100 degrees (covered) or just outside (also covered) if it is a hot day.  The main goal is to keep the yogurt at a steady temperature of about 100 degrees.  If your oven doesn't go down to a hundred degrees or it is the middle of the winter, you can use the technique on this blog.

The way I test to see if the yogurt is done is to take a scoop out with a spoon.  If it holds up on the spoon pretty good then it is done.  It will kind of have the consistency of flan.  You can let the yogurt ferment longer if you like it to be a little more sour.

When the yogurt is done, line a mesh strainer with a thick blanket of cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Then scoop the yogurt into the strainer and allow to drain for about 20-30 minutes depending on how thick you like your yogurt.

Once your yogurt has reached the desired consistency, scoop it back into the original bowl and whisk until smooth.  There you have it, greek yogurt at a fraction of the cost :)

Note: If you let the yogurt drain overnight, the next morning you will have yogurt cheese which you can use to replace cream cheese in just about any recipe.  Do I hear a low-fat cheesecake experiment coming on?

Double Note: Make sure to save the liquid (whey) that strains out.  It is full of wonderful nutrients and lots of protein and also has many other uses such as:

  • Substitute for buttermilk
  • Substitute for water or milk in baking and cooking (I am going to use this instead of water the next time I make multigrain bread)
  • Stir it back into the yogurt to thin up the consistency and add tang
  • Instead of protein powder, use yogurt whey to make protein shakes
  • Boil it down to make ricotta (best if you are making whole milk yogurt)
  • Use it to soak your beans or steel cut oats before cooking
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