Using cheesecloth to strain yogurt is so “old school.” I know, I know…..some people say it’s not that much trouble, but I disagree. You have to scrape off any left-behind yogurt without getting it on your hands, rinse, wash, dry, fold, and store the cloth when you’re done. No thank you. I prefer throw-away or the dishwasher for this task.
My solution has always been a high-quality bouillon strainer, but my favorite one is pricey. It works great until you make a batch of thin yogurt (sad face) that flows right through it.
Recently, a reader named Doreen left this comment detailing her method of straining yogurt:
“I wanted to say I found a great way to strain. I had bought a fine mesh sieve but, for some reason it stopped working as well- maybe dishwasher damaged it, not sure. I bought some institutional-size coffee filters and placed inside a standard sized colander and it will strain all 2 quarts in your recipe. I put the colander inside a mixing bowl and top it with the same lid that I incubated my casserole dish of yogurt. I put the whole straining setup in the fridge and leave it for a few hours. When it is thick enough it pulls right away from the filter. The whey is perfectly clear so there is no loss of yogurt. Thank you again for homemade goodness!”
Thank you for writing, Doreen. You are a genius, and you have changed my yogurt-making process for the better.
To those of you who already wrote to me suggesting coffee filters, I assumed you were talking about the little ones I use every morning to make coffee. It would take me forever to strain a gallon of yogurt with that size filter.
The very day I read about Doreen’s method, I went looking for large paper filters and found some 13 x 5 inch filters designed for a 1-1/2 gallon coffee brewer at my local restaurant supply. You can purchase them online here. I paid around $14 for 500 filters. If I use 4 a week, that box should last over 2 years. (Just discovered this same system works for straining the cold-brewed coffee I use to make my iced lattes. Forget 2 years.)
Besides the coffee filters, you will need a colander. The dollar-store variety works just fine. You could even use the basket part of your lettuce spinner if you like.
Why I love this method:
- No loss of solids (see picture above)
- Paper filters are disposable
- Cheap (My cost was $1 plus tax for orange colander and less than 3 cents per filter. I use 2 filters to make a double layer for ease of handling yogurt.)
- Strained yogurt easily separates from paper for quick clean up
- Cheap colander or a colander-substitute works fine to hold paper filter
- Strain 2 quarts of yogurt at a time (using 13 x 5 inch size filter)
P.S. I do not place my yogurt in the fridge to strain as Doreen does. The yogurt is acidic enough to sit safely on the counter for a couple hours of straining without spoiling. In my experience, yogurt will strain faster at room temperature so it’s most efficiently done straight out of incubation.