Done easily enough

Lately I’ve been reading—both in current cooking magazines and on the web—a lot of recipes that call for Greek yogurt. Apparently this new food is all the rage (it may be an old rage for all I know, but it’s new to me and in this case, that’s what matters). Naturally, I was curious and I wanted to know what all the hoopla was about. So, in my periodic runs to the grocery store, I began to pause in front of the yogurt section, carefully raking my eyes back and forth over the rows of little cartons, searching for the new food wonder but never finding it.

That is, until several weeks ago. There! Up on the top shelf was a small selection of Oikos Greek Yogurt, a 5.3 ounce container for a dollar eighty-nine (if I’m remembering correctly). I picked up the small blue-and-white carton and studied the label, pondering the wisdom of such a purchase. Eventually I heaved a regrettable sigh and put it back—it was just too much money for too little yogurt.

However, the very next time I went shopping and passed the yogurt section, I glanced up at the Greek section as was my custom and stopped short. “Reduced for quick sale,” the sign read. “Fifty cents.” Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had thought the yogurt an extravagant purchase! I snatched up three or four of the little darlings and tripped merrily on to the peanut butter.

Back home, I tore off the foil seal and spooned some yogurt into my mouth. It was yogurt, but thicker and creamier—it was like sour cream, but yogurt. Amazing. I mixed some of the yogurt into a baking recipe where it served its purpose well (but because I didn’t make the same recipe with regular plain yogurt, I can not say if it was any better or worse), and the rest we dolloped into our bowls of spicy split-pea soup.

I had read somewhere that Greek yogurt was cultured with a variety of different bacteria, more than regular yogurt. But I read somewhere else that it was just drained regular yogurt. I didn’t think I could do much about the bacteria part, but I figured I could drain my yogurt easily enough. So I did. And guess what? I got Greek yogurt. (I also got a couple cups of whey. Now I understand why it’s so expensive in the store—it’s yogurt in concentrate form. One quart of regular yogurt yields two cups of Greek yogurt.)

Greek Yogurt

I’ve only done this with my homemade yogurt, so I don’t know if you can do it with store-bought. If you try it with the store yogurt, please report back—I’d like to know how it turns out.

Take care not to drain the yogurt for too long because then you’ll get yogurt cheese.

By “cheesecloth” I don’t mean a porous, loosely woven cloth, but a thin cloth with a regular weave. In other words, not a fuzzy tea towel, but something that is woven tightly enough that the yogurt won’t ooze through.

1 quart homemade yogurt, freshly made and still warm
A cheesecloth (or other thin tea towel)
A thick rubber band
A wooden spoon
Some hooks from which to hang the bag of drippy yogurt

Place a colander in the sink and line it with the cheesecloth. Dump the warm yogurt into the cheesecloth. Gather up the ends of the cheesecloth and fasten it shut with the rubber band (as you would fasten a ponytail), looping it over three or four times.

Stick a wooden spoon through two of the rubber bands segments, and then lay the wooden spoon over two hooks (I use vacated coffee mug hooks) so that the bag of yogurt is hanging down, dripping whey all over your counter. Remedy the problem by quickly placing a quart-sized bowl under the bag of yogurt to catch the whey (if you’re smart, you’ll slip an empty bowl under the bag of yogurt before you transport it to the hanging station). Let the yogurt drip into the bowl for one to two hours, or until the whey has mostly stopped trickling out.

Take down the bag of yogurt, remove the rubber band, and scrape the yogurt into a pint container. Cover the container tightly with a lid and store it in the refrigerator. Toss the whey, or use it in baking, or feed it to the dog.

Eat the yogurt plain, or use it in baking or as a garnish for soups and salads. Use it any place that you might use sour cream (though I’m not sure how it would hold up to stove-top cooking—I think it would probably curdle).

Yield: About two cups Greek yogurt.

About One Year Ago: Oatmeal Bread.


  • Muzo

    Be aware:If there is something( as food )precalled “Greek” is “Turkish”.The thing you talk about is “süzme yogurt “, drained thick plain yogurt. You can make search on google .
    The funny thing is ,there is no Greek yogurt , but Turkish ,there is no Greek Coffe but Turkish,there is no Greek baklava but Turkish and on and on…Its bad to be Turkish but to sell Ottoman culinary heritage as Greek is good.

  • karen

    I have been making “greek” yogurt since the late 80s (yeah, I’m old) to make a cheesecake recipe.. You can strain any plain yogurt as long as there is not gelatin in it. Yes, you do lose a lot but remember that the whey is also a good think, can be used in baking, yogurt starter, culture for fermented foods, smoothies/protein drinks, dips, dressings, etc….
    Just my .02 worth

  • Anonymous

    I heard on a cooking show that you can just drain yogurt and get greek yogurt. I am sure that they don't make their own. This greek yogurt thing has bitten many of us. I looked at it, held it, looked at the price of it, and put it back, while still thinking about it all the way home. Maybe next time,

    L. from Elkton

  • Unknown

    i make this all the time and love it! the only sad part is how much yogurt volume i lose when i strain it. also gotta be careful not to strain too long or you get cream cheese, which really isnt that bad of a mistake 🙂

  • Anonymous

    hmmm…. interesting.
    Some people call this yogurty cream cheese (I think).
    You saved me the trouble of research.
    A few weeks ago I spoke with your Aunt Rose in the grocery store – over the greek yogurt. And it got me to thinking…. couldn't I make my own?

    By the way, I always put a bit of thermflo and plain gelatin in my yogurt and if you do that, this 'greek yogurt thing' will not work (my yogurt doesn't separate much), I already tried it some time back.


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