Learn how to make your own easy Greek yogurt to save money and feed your family preservative free!
I love Greek yogurt. It is thick and creamy, packed with protein, lower in sugar and carbohydrates than regular yogurt, and tastes great plain. Unfortunately, not all Greek yogurts found on the grocery shelf measure up to my standards.
Why is this?
It is because some yogurts are actually “Greek-style” yogurt or more simply put … plain yogurt that is thickened with additives to the consistency of Greek yogurt.
How Greek Yogurt is Made
Yogurt is made by heating then fermenting milk with live bacteria cultures. At the end of this process you have traditional plain yogurt.
To get real traditional Greek yogurt you take an additional step and strain the yogurt so that some of the liquidy whey is removed. (Whey is the bitter watery white liquid you see in a container of natural yogurt before it is stirred.)
After straining out the extra whey you have thick, creamy Greek yogurt.
Profits vs Quality
Some yogurt manufacturers are producing “Greek style” yogurt using thickeners and emulsifiers to turn traditional yogurt into a thicker substance without removing any whey. This is great for profits, as 1/2 gallon of milk will produce 1/2 gallon of “Greek style” yogurt, but it is not nearly as delicious as real Greek yogurt and it has icky unnecessary stuff added to it!
The Benefits of Whey
My recipe uses one-half gallon of milk and produces 4 cups of lovely, thick Greek yogurt and 4 cups of whey.
Don’t throw out the whey!
Milk is made of two proteins, casein and whey. The whey leftover from Greek yogurt making is full of protein that can be used in other recipes.
Consuming whey protein has a host of health benefits of including weight loss, fighting cancer, decreased cholesterol, improved immune response in children with asthma and reduced blood pressure, according to Medical News Today and WebMD.
Add the leftover whey to baked good like pancakes or muffins, stir it into soups, or use it to make a smoothie. I freeze my whey and use it to make Knock Your Socks Off Pancakes.
My favorite store bought Greek Yogurt costs around $8.50 for 36 ounces or $0.24 an ounce.
This recipe makes 32 ounces of Greek yogurt for $4.20 ($4.00 for ½ gallon of milk and $0.20 for 2 oz. plain yogurt) or $0.13 an ounce
You can make it for even less if you get a good deal on milk!
How to Make Greek Yogurt
Here’s how I make Greek yogurt:
- ½ gallon milk (use your desired fat level, I have the best results with 1% fat or greater- do not use ultra pasteurized milk)
- 1 small container plain unflavored yogurt with active cultures (must say “live active cultures” on the label)
- Food or candy thermometer that will measure to 180 degrees F
- Glass or ceramic dish or bowl that will hold 10 cups and has a cover
- Cheese cloth or a thin, clean kitchen towel that has been washed with fragrance free detergent and no fabric softener
- Pour milk into the glass or ceramic dish, reserving ¼ cup for later
- Heat milk in microwave until it reaches 180 degrees F
- This takes about 15 minutes in my microwave.
- I heat for 5 minutes, stir and take the temperature, then heat for another five minutes, etc.
- When you get close to 180 degree, start heating in 2 minute increments
- Place hot milk on counter and cool to 110 degrees. This takes about an hour in my house.
- Preheat oven to 100 degrees F, turn off oven, turn on oven light and keep oven door shut.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt with the remaining ¼ cup milk and stir until there are no lumps.
- Mix into the hot, 110 degree F milk and stir well.
- Cover milk bowl or dish and wrap in a towel.
- Place the dish and towel in your oven (which you preheated to 100 degrees F and turned off in step 4). Keep oven off but oven light on (this makes a nice, warmish, non-drafty place for the yogurt cultures to multiply).
- Leave your yogurt alone for 7-8 hours.
- Remove from oven, unwrap and see if your yogurt is thick. You will see that the milk has separated and there are pools of yellowish whey on top of the yogurt (just like an unstirred container of store bought plain yogurt.) If it is not the thickness of regular yogurt rewrap and place back in oven for a few hours.
- Congratulations! You made yogurt! You can stop at this step, pat yourself on the back and put your yogurt in the fridge……OR…….
Make Any Yogurt into Greek Yogurt
When I’m feeling lazy or see a bargain price, I buy good quality plain yogurt and strain it to get Greek yogurt fast.
- Select a large glass or ceramic bowl that can hold your colander.
- Place the colander in the bowl and line with several layers of cheese cloth or your super clean kitchen towel.
- Pour the yogurt into the colander.
- The whey will seep through the towel and collect in the bottom of the bowl.
- Cover the colander and place the entire contraption in your refrigerator for 2 or 3 hours.
- Remove from fridge and check the thickness of your yogurt. The longer you strain the yogurt, the thicker it will become. I like to taste it when checking the thickness. It will get sweeter and creamier as the hours pass.
- When you are happy with the consistency (usually 3 or 4 hours), carefully scrape your Greek yogurt into a container and store in the refrigerator.
- Save the whey in a covered container and use in baked goods such as The World’s Best Pancakes. Whey can also be frozen to use later.
- Now, pat yourself on the back and relish the feeling of conquering Greek yogurt…like a Laura Ingalls Wilder-ish, super pioneer, self sufficient (but without the cows) type of person. Yeah, you rock!
The yogurt and whey will keep for about 2 weeks in your refrigerator.
Try making this Greek yogurt into my easy Whipped Yogurt Bars with Honey and Granola.
Like my easy recipes? Sign up for my free newsletter below and never miss a thing!