Greek yogurt — γιαούρτι, pronounced yee-ah-OOR-tee — has a mystique all its own. There isn't just one true, bona fide Greek yogurt. As with any product, different manufacturers can put their own spins on their brands.
This is a basic recipe for homemade Greek yogurt. It uses full-fat milk, and it's delicious as is, but it can be made into the thicker yogurt that is such a favorite in Greek cooking by straining it. Traditionally, Greek yogurt is strained at least two or three times to remove the whey — the curdled milk liquid — and the lactose. This makes it less sugary and it reduces carbohydrates. This recipe explains the steps involved in making the yogurt before straining, but you can take this extra step to achieve that final traditional touch.
- 1 quart (32 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons full-fat sheep or cow's milk (pasteurized)
- 2 tablespoons previously homemade yogurt or plain unflavored yogurt with active live cultures
- Bring all the ingredients to room temperature before you begin.
- Heat the milk just to the boiling point. Pour it into a non-metal container.
- Let the milk cool to lukewarm, about 100 to 105 F. A skin will form on top.
- Mix the 2 tablespoons of yogurt — homemade or commercial — with 2 tablespoons milk.
- Add the yogurt/milk mixture to the lukewarm milk, carefully pouring it down the side of the container so any skin that may have formed on the top is not disturbed.
- Cover with a clean dishtowel and place the container in a warm, dry place for at least 8 hours or overnight, allowing it to thicken.
- Carefully drain any excess liquid.
- Refrigerate for 4 hours before using.
Variations and Tips
- The yogurt can be eaten as is, along with the creamy skin on top. Serve it with honey, chopped walnuts, pomegranate seeds or spoon sweets.
- You can store the finished yogurt in the refrigerator, but be sure to use it within 4 to 5 days. Don't forget to save a small amount to make the next batch!
- It's best to allow the yogurt to sit for 8 to 12 hours, but no more than 12 hours. If the yogurt coagulates beyond 12 hours, it will take on more of a sour taste.
- You can go the extra mile and strain the yogurt after Step 6. This will produce the thick yogurt that's used in so many Greek recipes, and it's actually very easy to do. It's a simple matter of squeezing the yogurt through cloth, forcing the liquid out. This should result in yogurt of a consistency and texture similar to that of sour cream.