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Turn Regular Yogurt into Greek Yogurt? It’s Easy!

Note: The yogurt and cheesecloth used in this blog entry are BOTH available at Scotts Valley Market!

Remember the old Nursery Rhyme? “Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her Curds and Whey...”

That is what yogurt is; just one type of Curds & Whey.

All dairy products, either from Goats, Sheep, or Cow’s milk, if not properly refrigerated, will “turn sour”. By “turning sour”, we mean that bacteria have gotten into the milk and are “digesting” it. What’s really happening is that the bacteria are fermenting the milk.

Good and Bad Bacteria...

Depending on the type of bacteria, fresh Milk can become: Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Ricotta, Mascarpone and more! There are also “bad” bacteria that can “infect” fresh milk but we’ll just focus on “the good guys”.

Let’s get the question out of the way: “What’s the difference between “regular” yogurt and Greek Yogurt?”

Answer: None... All yogurt is made by the same few strains of bacteria: Lactobacillus bulgaricus or Lactobacillus acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Something else that’s also very interesting about these bacteria is that once they have inoculated the milk, they keep bad bacteria (which can make you very sick!) from “infecting” the milk!

You might be asking: But “regular” yogurt is not as rich and creamy as Greek yogurt, right? So there is some difference, right?

OK yes, there is a difference but it’s pretty simple. It’s the amount of whey (liquid) in the yogurt. That’s it! Mystery solved!

You’ve probably had the following experience: You have a container of yogurt at home that’s been partially eaten, and you’ve noticed in the ‘spooned out’ part of the yogurt, a small pool of a golden, syrupy liquid. That’s whey. The main, edible part of the yogurt is the curd. When you see the liquid, you usually pour it off, right?

You were halfway to making your own Greek yogurt and didn’t know it!

All it takes to make any regular yogurt into “Greek” yogurt is simply a matter of straining off the whey liquid. That’s ALL there is to it! There’s nothing special about Greek Yogurt at all. Once the liquid has been strained off, the yogurt becomes much thicker and much richer. Instant Greek yogurt!

OK, not exactly instant. It does take some time, but mostly, it’s hands-off! You can get this started before you leave for work and come home to rich, homemade Greek yogurt!

We’ve Chosen Mountain High® whole Milk yogurt because it’s a high quality product and easy to make into Greek yogurt, but you can use most any plain, regular yogurt. We do not advise trying this with flavored yogurt, although it couldn’t hurt! You might even make a discovery of your own!

You’ll need a colander (preferably stainless steel), some cheesecloth and a wide, fairly deep dish to catch the whey liquid. Place the strainer in the dish...

Now place the cheesecloth over the strainer

Invert the strainer and cheesecloth and place it on top of your (opened) yogurt container.

Now, holding onto the yogurt container and the strainer together, invert it upside down and place the dish under the strainer. Wait a minute or two and pull the container upward. If you feel the weight of the yogurt staying in the container, put it back down and give it a gentle squeeze or two and lift again.

When you lift and it feels light, the yogurt has let go of the container. It will look like this:

There may be some small bits of yogurt left in the container.

You can use a spatula and add the small bits to the yogurt, or just discard it. Clean the container well and dry it with clean, unused paper towels. At this point, place the yogurt, with the strainer, cheesecloth and the whey catch dish in the frig and forget about it for a few hours at least, ideally, 6-8 hours.

After 6-8 hours your yogurt will look about 1/3 smaller (which it is!) and it will look like this:

You can see how it has collapsed somewhat. Now, here's the big reveal!

Take a spoon or spatula and scoop it back into the original container. Right away, you’ll see how much thicker and richer the yogurt looks!

Give it a taste and you’ll see:

Viola! “Instant” Greek yogurt from plain, regular yogurt!


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