It’s All Greek To Me – Straining Your Own Yogurt

strained yogurtI have been rather lucky to not experience too many crazy pregnancy cravings yet – but one thing is certain: I need yogurt every day.  I can’t explain it. Perhaps Baby R is demanding the probiotics, calcium and protein that comes packed in this delectable dairy treat.  But I get bored easily, so I have gotten rather creative when it comes to yogurt concoctions.  Sometimes I’m in the mood for plain yogurt, sometimes I like the Greek stuff, and sometimes I like a little bit of a fruit flavor. But I’m not interested in filling my fridge with a yogurt for every occasion.  The good news is, you can achieve all of these things with plain, full fat yogurt with a little know-how and some cheese cloth.

 

The ubiquitous “Greek” yogurt that has taken over the grocery shelves sometimes isn’t even the real stuff.  Greek Yogurt is essentially yogurt cheese – it’s regular yogurt that has been strained of its whey.  Where does all that whey go?  Many companies are having problems with whey disposal so some Greek yogurt companies are straining out less whey and adding thickeners and starches to achieve that luscious texture.  Yuck.  Other companies are going to great lengths to make the extraordinary amounts of whey they produce “dumpable,” as outlined in this super interesting NPR article about the Greek yogurt industry of upstate New York.

 

So what should you do? I suggest you buy your favorite plain, full-fat yogurt, and make the Greek version yourself when you’re in the mood or a recipe calls for it. Chances are the best-tasting yogurt you can get your hands on is a small enough operation that they’re not set up for Greek yogurt production in the first place (i.e. Ronnybrook Farms in New York – my favorite yogurt of all time).  So have a quart on hand, eat regular yogurt when you’re in the mood, and strain it when you want something thicker and more rich.  It just takes a few seconds of your time, a few hours in the fridge, and some cheese cloth.  And all that whey that collects at the bottom of your bowl? You can toss it, or save it and add it to smoothies for a protein and calcium boost.

 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Place a mesh strainer over a glass bowl line with two layers of cheesecloth
  • Fill the lined strainer with about 2-4 cups of plain, full fat yogurt
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let it do it’s thing in the fridge for 3-6 hours, depending on desired thickness.
  • Save the whey for later use, or simply discard it.

 

Use the strained yogurt in your favorite recipe for dips, labne, or just a simple Greek yogurt parfait, like mine pictured here:

parfait

 

Here’s a tip that you may or may not want to try – you can definitely reuse that cheese cloth. Simple rinse it out, let it soak with some dish soap in a bowl, and rinse it again.  Some people advocate putting it in the washing machine, but if you do that, make sure you’re using a fragrance and dye-free natural laundry detergent unless you want your next batch of yogurt to taste “summer fresh.”