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Make Your Own Greek Yogurt

March 11, 2013

I love Greek yogurt. I hate to admit it because it’s trendy right now, and I don’t like to like things that are trendy, but the stuff’s just good. It’s tasty and it has an unctuous texture without anybody having to add a whole lot of fat or gum Arabic. Unfortunately, it’s also expensive. You’ve probably seen those tiny little Greek yogurt tubs that are popping up in grocery stores all over the country. At least where I live, those little tubs are $1.79 for six ounces.

Now, I’m a science graduate student at the University of Minnesota, which means a couple of things.

a.) I like doing experiments.

b.) I have the budget of a grad student.

So I had the idea the other day that I’d try making my own Greek yogurt for way cheaper than those little $1.79 tubs. I tried it and it worked, so here’s how you do it:

Some yogurt.

Some yogurt.

Greek yogurt starts with regular yogurt. The picture above is some that I made myself, because this is something that I do, but I’m pretty sure that this will also work with commercial yogurt. (I will try this experiment with store-bought and get back to you guys.) I also used 2% milk because I was concerned about getting the texture right, but it’ll probably work with 1% or skim.

The next thing you need is a cheesecloth:

Some cheesecloth.

Some cheesecloth.

Cut it into squares and lay four thicknesses of it into a bowl.

Cheesecloth in a bowl.

Cheesecloth in a bowl.

Spoon the yogurt into the cheesecloth and gather it up by the corners. Check this out: look at all those droplets that are coming out of the cheesecloth.

Yogurt in a cheesecloth.

Yogurt in a cheesecloth.

Look at all those whey droplets coming out already!

Look at all those whey droplets coming out already!

That stuff’s the whey, or the watery part of the yogurt, that’s coming out while all the coagulated proteins are staying inside the cheesecloth bag. This is why Greek yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt: it’s had a lot of the liquid removed.

Hang your bags of cheesecloth up to drip somewhere.

Note the use of two shoelaces and a broom handle in this setup.

Note the use of two shoelaces and a broom handle in this setup.

In a couple of hours, enough whey will have dripped out of your yogurt that it’ll be one half of its original volume. Untie your yogurt, unwrap, and this is what you get:

Creamy deliciousness.

Creamy deliciousness.

What you get is a soft, creamy stuff that is tangy like yogurt and a little bit stiffer than ricotta cheese. Is it good? I think I’ve found a satisfactory alternative to ice cream, thank you very much. And is it cheaper than store bought Greek yogurt? Oh, yes. Here’s a cost analysis:

Homemade Greek Yogurt

1/2 gallon of 2% milk: $2.19

cheesecloth: $3.99

all other equipment: already owned it

The cheesecloth I can reuse, so I’m only going to count half the cost of that. Total cost to make 32 ounces of homemade Greek yogurt: $4.19.

Store-Bought Greek Yogurt

Cost of one 6-ounce tub of Chobani Greek yogurt: $1.79

Cost of 32 ounces of same yogurt: $10.74

Homemade Greek yogurt wins! Try it, and you, too, can hack Greek yogurt. What do you think? Have any of you guys out on the Internet had experience, good or bad, with making yogurt?

* Update: I tried this again with store-bought nonfat yogurt, and it works. It’s just way slower because of all the stabilizers that are added.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 3Davideo permalink
    March 11, 2013 7:23 AM

    “I hate to admit it because it’s trendy right now, and I don’t like to like things that are trendy”… You hipster.

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