I’ve been making my own greek yogurt for almost a year now. I make a new batch every week, so I always have it on hand for breakfast (with homemade granola, yum!) or can use it as a base for dips, sauces, soups, smoothies, etc. I love having it…especially since I know it’s as pure as the milk I use and it only costs as much as a half-gallon of milk. I’ve had a myriad of friends and family ask me how it’s done, so after sharing it via e-mails and facebook messages, I decided I should just post it here and share it with all!
- 8-cup glass bowl (Pyrex makes an 8-cup batter bowl with a lid–it works perfectly for this if you have one)
- 8 cups (half-gallon) of milk of your choice (I prefer 2% because it doesn’t taste sour and is creamier, but you can do skim milk and you end up with 0% fat yogurt)
- kitchen thermometer that goes up to at least 180 degrees
- fine-mesh metal strainer (the bigger the weave of your strainer, the more milk solids will slip through, which you don’t want)
- 1 Tbs. of plain yogurt (store-bought or you can use some from your last batch, once you get started, if it’s less than a week old)
Start by pouring the milk into your glass bowl. It’s not necessary to cover it, but I place the lid over the bowl (I don’t push it down and seal it) so that it heats up faster. (You can heat your milk over the stove, but you have to continually stir it, so I just like to put mine in the microwave and leave it.) Regardless of how you heat your milk, heat it to 180 degrees. This takes 13 minutes in my microwave, but microwaves can vary a lot, so you’ll have to check yours every couple of minutes the first time to make sure you’re not over-heating it…then, once you know, you know. You are denaturing the proteins in the milk, which opens them up to grow live cultures later in the process.
Once it reaches 180, let it cool back down on your counter to 110-120 degrees.
*Note: while your milk is cooling, it will likely develop a “skin” on the surface. Don’t mix this in or else you’ll have small pieces of it in your yogurt. Rather, just pull it to the side and scoop it off with a a spoon.
Stir in your Tbs. of yogurt–this is your live culture starter, so if the temp is above 120 degrees, you will effectively kill the culture and have to start all over.
Now, you need to incubate it for 12-14 hours. I’ve done this in both the crock pot and in the oven and the oven works best for me. You need to keep it around 100-110 degrees the whole time, so that the bacteria can grow. Some ovens can be set as low as 100, mine cannot, so I place the lid back on my bowl, wrap it in a towel (not pictured), turn the oven on for 60 seconds to take the chill off, turn it off, turn the oven light on, place my bowl right in front of the oven light and close the oven for 12-14 hours. The light should keep it warm enough. (I always start my yogurt the day before and then it can just hang out overnight, so I don’t run the risk of needing my oven for something.)
Once it’s done incubating, it will be like one gelatinous solid (there will probably be some clear-yellowish liquid hanging out on top–that’s whey). If you just want yogurt, stop now–you have yogurt. If you want greek yogurt, proceed to strain off the whey, which is what makes greek yogurt so thick.
Place your strainer inside of a bowl if you want to keep the whey (you can use it to make ricotta or, my favorite use, I substitute it for water in my whole-wheat bread recipes and it keeps the bread from becoming too dense!), otherwise just place it in the sink and pour your yogurt in. Try not to let it splash into the strainer, but pour it gently. Let it strain for an hour.
Once it’s done straining, pour the yogurt into a bowl, letting it “fall” out of the strainer on its own…if you use a spatula to scrape it off, you will essentially scrape some of it through the strainer.
(I pour my whey into a mason jar and refrigerate it until I’m ready to make bread!)
Now you’ll whisk the yogurt until it’s smooth. Refrigerate it and once it’s cold, it’s all ready for you to add fruit, granola, honey, etc. or just eat it plain (or use it in recipes). It is SO handy to always have it in the fridge!
It sounds like an involved process, but once you do it, you’ll realize that your actual hands-on time is really minimal. If you’ve read all the way through this, you’ll have no problem. If you let yours incubate over night and think through having time to strain it when it’s done, it will be really simple to incorporate it into your weekly routine and you’ll be saving yourself a lot of money and will have pure greek yogurt!