So what is Greek Yogurt? Well, you'll find different opinions on this but it is yogurt with all essential pro-biotics still alive and thicker & creamier then regular yogurt.
Much of what you buy at the store is not really "yogurt" in my opinion it should be illegal to call it such. By the time they get through adding color additives, thickeners and sugars any pro-biotics that may have been in there are dead...thus it is no longer yogurt but a "dessert item" in my opinion with no health benefits! (more on pro-biotics after the lesson).
- I take a binder clip and clip it on the pan to hold the digital thermometer in place (learned this from Alton Brown) just thread the therm through the 2 holes and let rest in pan (not too close to bottom)
- I slowly bring the temp up to 180 degrees to kill off any "bad" bacteria
- You will need to stir as the temp rises or it will burn/scorch on the bottom
- Once you hit 180 you'll want to move the yogurt off the burner
- Let yogurt rest until it reaches a temp of 117
- Some people immerse in an ice bath to make this quicker, I just walk away and check the temp periodically
- If you forget, and I've done this before, and the temp goes below 110 - don't worry just bring back up to 180 and start the process again
- I usually set a timer to go off every so often to remind me to check the temp
- Yes, you need yogurt to make yogurt, you need the live culture (pro-biotics)
- You will need to stir in 2 - 4 heaping Tablespoons
- You need the right kind of yogurt for this, one that contains "live culture" I like Stonyfield plain but Dannon plain will do (do not buy flavored....only plain will work)
- Hint: If it says made with live culture it usually means they started out alive but then we killed them with sugar and additives....it needs to say "Contains Live Culture" that means the little buggers are still alive.
- Once you have stirred in the yogurt wait for the temp to go down to about 110
- Once it comes down to about 110 set on a heating pad set to low
- I usually keep the therm in place so I can monitor the temp
- What we are doing in this stage is setting up just the perfect environment for those cultures you introduced to "do their thang"....that's right we want them to multiply. Gross I know! Let's just not think about that part.
- The milk will slowly become Yogurt if you keep the temp between 105 & 110
- If it is getting to high ( move therm to the middle of pan half way down to get true reading)...just take off the heating pad for a short while.
- Wrap a couple towels around to keep it warm
- If it is getting to high ( move therm to the middle of pan half way down to get true reading)...just take off the heating pad for a short while.There are many different ways people choose to "incubate" the yogurt this is just what I do.
- Some have had luck with turning their pilot light on in the oven and throwing the wrapped yogurt in or if you're lucky enough to have an oven that enables you to set the temp at 100 that would work also
- Let incubate for at least 7 hours or over-night!
Step 7 - Now to "Greekify" it!
- To make it Greek Yogurt you'll need to drain off some whey
- I wet coffee filters and place in bottom and sides of strainer
- Then place the strainer in a larger bowl
- Let this sit and drain, the amount of time will depend on "how loose" the yogurt was when you put it in.
- Usually one hour for a gallon of milk sometimes a little longer
- Remember that the yogurt will thicken up over night in the fridge, I always put mine away slightly looser then I like as it will get thicker
- Set a timer and check on the yogurt during this process....because if you cheese out and forget about it (I've done it)....and it drains too long, you'll have cheese!
- If it is "sitting in the whey" pour it off so it can continue to drain
Step 9 - Enjoy
- After it has set-up in the fridge overnight....enjoy. I like mine with strawberries, bananas, honey and Kashi Go-Lean....as for stir ins, you're only limited by your imagination
- There are about a bazillion ways to make yogurt this is just what has worked for me
- Your first time around you might want to try 1/2 Gallon of milk that way if it does not turn out you've wasted less milk & money
- 2% Milk seems to work best for me. Organic seems to come out creamier, tastier and of course more healthy. Experiment see what works best for you.
- Yogurt machines work well, but they make so little that you'll end up making it every other day...if you eat as much as we do anyway!
- Keep a notebook and write notes at the beginning. Keep track of temperatures, incubation time etc...eventually you will learn what process makes the yogurt turn out the way you like! (yes, anal retentive that's me)
- Whey - don't waste it, do some research many people use whey for baking, protein shakes, etc...
- You can use your own yogurt as a starter for your next batch, but don't do this indefinitely, you need to reintroduce new culture at some point. It's a genetics thing.
- Use your Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, it's healthier and cheaper!
- Don't add sugars to your yogurt unless it is in your own bowl ready to eat. If you sweeten your whole batch of yogurt while it's stored in the fridge you risk your pro-biotics "freaking out" and it may kill them off. Just sweeten your portion before eating!
- Pro-Biotics if ingested on a regular basis will make your digestive tract more acidic and a less hospitable place for viruses and other unwanted "bugs". ie...you'll get sick less often
- Pro-Biotics have a by-product of Vitamin B. If ingested regularly they can be a constant source of Vitamin B
- They consume the gross stuff that is just sitting around in your gut rotting (totally gross I know!)
- Helps regulate your digestive system naturally
- Warning you may feel gassy when you first start eating a pro-biotic product, this will go away in a week or two!