I’m a bit of a control freak – ok, a lot of a control freak – and that definitely extends into my relationship with food. But part of that is being a purist too. And the best way to keep my food as pure as possible is to use quality ingredients, as close to whole foods as I can, and make it myself.
Plus, let’s face it, I like the challenge.
Growing up my mom went through a period where she made yogurt – I remember a big pot sitting out on the counter wrapped in heavy towels. The unsweetened, tart results was a far cry from the sugary cereals I longed for (and wasn’t allowed) and no stir-in of homemade raspberry jam was going to change my palette or my mind.
Even as an adult I got used to the flavor of mainstream yogurt, thinking I was making healthy choices – hey, I was eating yogurt after all – until one day I actually read the nutritional label and was blown away to realize my “healthy”, low-fat option was packed with sugar – not to mention a whole bunch of other stuff I was pretty sure I didn’t want to be eating.
It definitely took some getting used to but eventually I weaned myself off those sugar bombs and was able to switch to plain, unsweetened yogurt – organic when possible. Are there lots of good options out there that fit this bill? Absolutely. Am I saving lots of money by making my own? Not a lot. But does it challenge the purist, control freak in me? Oh yeah.
But when I say “challenge” there’s really nothing tricky to making homemade Greek yogurt. You’ll need:
• 1/2 gallon of milk – fat content of your preference. I used 1% organic milk.
• 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt – yes, it takes yogurt to make yogurt. Make sure the package says it has live, active cultures, and save out some of your homemade yogurt as a starter for your next batch.
• Candy thermometer
Start by reserving two tablespoons of the milk and pour the rest into either a heavy-bottomed pan or a double boiler. I chose the latter as it greatly reduces the risk of scorching the milk. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat. If you’re using the double boiler, you can put a lid on to help raise the temperature faster. If you’re using the heavy-bottomed pan, stir and watch the milk very closely!
Heat the milk to 180°F. Once it has reached temperature, remove from the stove and pour into a glass or ceramic casserole dish with a lid and let cool uncovered to around 110°F. Meanwhile, heat oven on “warm” setting or to 150°. Mix 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt to the 2 tablespoons of reserved milk. When the milk is cooled, stir in the yogurt mixture thoroughly. Put a lid on the casserole dish and wrap the whole thing with a towel. Place this in the oven, turn the oven off and turn on the light in the oven as that will provide just enough heat to enable the process. Leave 7 to 8 hours or overnight.
In the morning you’ll have yogurt! It’s just that simple. Stir and refrigerate.
The yogurt is good to go at this point, unless you like thicker, creamier Greek-style yogurt like I do. In that case, after the yogurt has been in the fridge for a few hours, pull it out, line a strainer with a couple layers of cheesecloth, place over a bowl and let the liquid (which is whey) drain out. You can alter the draining times depending on how thick you prefer your yogurt. I actually left my yogurt to drain overnight and I had the creamiest yogurt I could imagine – much more so than store-bought versions.
Transfer to a container, and violá, that’s it. Now while I’m feeling all Greek maybe I should whip up a batch of tzatziki with my fresh Greek yogurt. Opa!