How To Strain Yogurt the Easy Way

Greek yogurt (straining)

Straining is the process that converts regular yogurt to thick, rich and creamy Greek yogurt.

Because I’m addicted to the dreamy, creamy white elixir called Greek yogurt, I learned to make it myself and along the way discovered how to streamline the straining process making it even easier. No problem if you don’t make your own yogurt at home. The same method will work with store-bought regular yogurt.

In the beginning of my yogurt-making career, everything I read suggested cheesecloth or coffee filters as part of the straining process to remove the whey (seen below). A coffee filter was much too small so I purchased cheesecloth to use in conjunction with the cheap strainer already bouncing around in my plastic container drawer.

whey

Whey–the clear, slightly yellowish liquid that can be drained out of yogurt.

The cheesecloth worked all right but I didn’t like it.  Too messy. Although the thickened yogurt peeled off easily for the most part, some of it stuck and I had to use a spatula to scrape it clean. Then I had to rinse the cloth, squeeze it out, find a place to hang it to avoid mildew, wash it the following weekend (because I refuse to do laundry more than once a week), dry it, fold it and then iron it. Of course, I still had to clean the strainer.

(I was kidding about the ironing.)

Then I got the idea to look for a strainer with mesh so fine no cheesecloth would be requiredThe end of my search was a bouillon strainer. The investment was well worth it in my book. I know some people claim using cheesecloth is not that much trouble but I prefer to skip it in favor of a good strainer that goes straight to the dishwasher. Talk about easy cleanup!

strainer mesh comparison

Compare the mesh of my favorite strainer on the left to the coarse mesh of the grocery store strainer on the right.

cheap strainer

A cheaper strainer but it will work.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A STRAINER:

  1. A very fine mesh is essential.  Bouillon strainers like the heavy-duty model pictured above left can be pricey (around $70) but they lose fewer solids and are easier to handle, especially when full of yogurt. Purchase at a restaurant supply store or online. I recently spotted a perfectly functional strainer at Tuesday Morning for $12  (also available at Costco online for more) seen in the picture to the right.  I’ve been told the fine mesh Oxo strainer also works although I haven’t tried it myself.
  2. Consider the configuration of the strainer as it can affect strain-time.  The conical shape of my favorite strainer seems to work faster than the shallow-bowl-shape of the cheaper strainers because of the larger surface area. Not a big deal I guess, but one more reason to pay a little more if you’re a serious Greek yogurt fan.
  3. Consider your volume requirements. The bigger the better. Straining in batches is a hassle. I make more than a gallon of yogurt a week so you can imagine how laborious it would be to strain 1 or 2 cups at a time. My favorite strainer will hold 2 quarts– a perfect match for the 2-quart batter bowl I use to incubate my yogurt.

THREE IMPORTANT SUGGESTIONS regarding the straining process:

  1. The temperature of the yogurt will affect the time required to strain.The colder the yogurt the longer it will take to drain the whey.  My yogurt will reduce to half in about an hour when strained straight out of the incubation process.
  2. Use my special technique to avoid losing too many solids. See pictures below.
  3. Avoid stirring yogurt in the strainer even if you see whey collecting on top. Tip it slightly to allow liquid to run to the sides. If you can’t help yourself, stir gently.

straining yogurt story board_edited-2

The strained yogurt will look something like ricotta cheese or even thicker depending on how much whey is drained. Whisk it well. If too thick, add some whey or milk back in until the consistency is perfect for you.

straining yogurt story board 2

If you have made the yogurt yourself and it runs through your strainer, it didn’t set up right. Check out this post about troubleshooting yogurt or consider one of the following solutions:

  • Add more fresh starter and try re-incubation. No guarantees on this. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
  • Use cheesecloth or paper towels to reinforce the strainer. (I do this only when desperate.)
  • Abandon the whole idea and drink your thin yogurt.
  • Use it in place of buttermilk in your baking.

Wondering what to do with the whey? I plan to write a post addressing that issue soon. Meanwhile, you can get several ideas by reading through the comments on my original post about making Greek yogurt. If you haven’t seen my video about making Greek yogurt, you can check it out here.

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{ 94 comments… read them below or add one }

Betty @ scrambled hen fruit June 9, 2011 at 6:42 pm

I’m saving up all of these tips and tricks for making my own yogurt. My AC is broken right now, so it’s probably the perfect time to try it- no problem keeping it warm here! I’ll have to look for one of those strainers. It looks like it would come in handy for lots of things. :)

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Paula June 9, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Oh Betty, I’m so sorry about your AC. What a way to start your summer. Yep, I’m pretty sure you could probably make yogurt on your kitchen counter right now. For sure you could do it on your back porch.

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Lorraine June 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm

You really are a serious Greek yogurt fan ~a gallon of yogurt a week. That’s more than four 1/2 cup servings a day if you don’t share or use in cooking/baking. I bet you have strong bones and teeth.

Your strainer method works perfectly! I also like the ease of cleaning by popping the strainer into the dishwasher. No ironing cheesecloth for me! :)

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Paula June 9, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Lorraine, Just to clariify, I do make a gallon of yogurt but remember I am straining it so I end up with only 1/2 gallon of Greek yogurt. And yes, I easily eat 2 1/2 cup servings a day. I also bake with it so you can see why I need quantity.

Re: strong bones– the Dr. says I do have some bone loss. What???? Guess my body is missing some of those young-girl-hormones.

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j March 21, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Know its an old post, but most docs *don’t* know that “rare earth minerals” are vital to preventing bone loss, especially in middle-aged & elderly. Don’t remember it all [nearly 60 myself], but but boron, silica/silicon, vanadium, & others are *necessary* for “strong bones”.
Hopefully helpful, sl0j0n.

Have a GREAT day, Neighbor!
PS
Thanks for the yogurt page; just starting w/ homemade yogurt, need the probiotics, so thanks again.

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maggie June 9, 2011 at 7:41 pm

I’ve recently started making bread with the leftover whey and it’s really good! Who’d've thunk it! Thanks for your pioneering methods…it’s helped me enormously!

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Paula June 9, 2011 at 7:55 pm

You’re welcome Maggie. I’ve tried it in bread too. It was good but I honestly couldn’t tell a difference. I guess it has more nutrients than plain water though.

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Meal Plan Mom (Brenda) June 9, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Ok, I am reinspired to try making my own yogurt again! I may have to break down and get a finer mesh strainer. Not that much $$ in the big picture if it does a better job than the grocery store style strainer I have. Thanks for the tips!

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Nickeletta June 10, 2011 at 8:19 am

Excellent idea! I’ve been using coffee filters and I was only straining a small bit at a time, much nicer to be able to strain the entire batch at once. I never did try cheesecloth. The fine mesh strainer seems like a great kitchen investment. Should be good for straining chicken stock too.

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TheKitchenWitch June 10, 2011 at 8:56 am

Thank God you were kidding about the ironing. I was questioning your sanity. :)

Gorgeous pics!

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Paula June 10, 2011 at 9:48 am

I truly admire the fact that you make your own yogurt! Your recipes for it and your straining tips are wonderful and very encouraging for one who has yet to venture forth to make their own.

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The Café Sucré Farine June 10, 2011 at 11:35 am

Love these tips! I have had trouble straining yogurt in the past, especially store-bought yogurt. And I totally agree with you about the cheesecloth – that is the biggest mess I have ever seen! You’ve re-inspired me, thanks, Chris

ps and BTW maybe you could substitute Greek yogurt for the cream cheese and butter in the Peanut Butter Pie, what do you think? :)

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rere June 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm

the fine strainer tip is great. please tell me, can i buy a store bought plain yogurt and just strain it and make the greek yogurt with that? thank you, i really enjoy your blog!

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Paula June 11, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Rere, Yes, works great with store bought plain yogurt.

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Debbie June 11, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I admire your tenacity to produce and perfect this item. I am not that big of a yogurt fan, even though I have tasted yours and it was wonderful! You go girl!!

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Staci June 14, 2011 at 5:01 pm

WOW!!! Just found your site through Pinterest!!!! Love your salad in a jar idea!!!! And I am soooo making those powdered sugar donuts!!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!!!

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Paula June 14, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Staci, Glad you found me. I haven’t thought about those donuts in awhile but now I want some. Thanks for writing.

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RetroNesters June 21, 2011 at 11:04 am

I am so glad I found your site! :-) I love your salad in a jar idea – great excuse to finally get a foodsaver. I’ve also been wanting to make Greek yogurt since my 18 mo. twin grandsons eat it daily. They love it plain. Silly me, but I had never used the proof feature on my oven. So I followed your instruction for Greek yogurt (microwave then proof in oven) and it came out perfect. I didn’t have any cheesecloth, but I do have a Mirro strainer that I use for my jellies and liquor. I figured I’d give it a try. It worked perfect. I made an 8 cup batch and I was able to put the full amount in the strainer. First time I made it I strained a bit to much whey, but the taste was wonderful. The strainer bag is easy to rinse out and I have additional bags which are relatively inexpensive. I’ll be able to make organic full fat for the boys, but non-fat for myself. Thanks again for sharing. Kathleen

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Piper@GotItCookIt June 24, 2011 at 6:22 am

I tried this the other day with a fine mesh strainer, worked great! I do want to get a cone strainer for more capacity though. Thank you for all your help on yogurt making, never going back to store bought!

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Crystal June 30, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I started using your recipe a few months ago and I LOVE it! I also used cheesecloth for my first batch since I didn’t have a fine strainer. Then a friend of mine gave me a round strainer which she picked up from an asian grocery store (H-Mart) and it’s PERFECT! It was only a few dollars and holds all the yogurt from a 3Q bowl. The strainer is round with metal sides like a springform pan. The mesh isn’t super fine (like the uber-expensive chinoise), but I’ve never had a problem with any yogurt going through the mesh.

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Julie July 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I just bought a yogurt maker, with 2 qt capacity. In reading the instructions, it tells me to add 1 cup store bought yogurt to the milk as starter. One cup?? Your recipe advises 1-2 teaspoons…so I’m not sure what to do. I bought Fago greek yogurt to use as starter. Any good ideas?

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jeannette July 5, 2011 at 11:06 am

this is awesome Paula!! i have always wanted to make my own yogurt and now i can turn it into greek yogurt?? i think i’ll have to put this on my bucket list and stop paying $7 for a big container of yogurt!!

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Laurie July 6, 2011 at 10:28 am

No need to spring for an expensive strainer. If you wet the cheesecloth or a clean white cotton towel before you put the yogurt in, it will not stick. This works even with terrycloth toweling!

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Cheryl July 14, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I use the store bought strainer as shown and line it with 2 coffee filters to line it! It works perfectly for 1 qt of yogurt, I strain for 6 hrs. For really creamy I use 3 c whole milk and 1 1/2 half n half and 1/2 cup yogurt and incubate in the quart jar for 4 hrs with a tea light candle in my oven, I only do 4 hrs because I like my yogurt mellow vs tart.

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Marcia July 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm

You won’t believe this but you can use cheap knee high hose for the straining. I learned this from my dad 40 years ago. He used to catch fish and deep fry. He found it gave the best results in straining the oil and not absorbing it. They are pretty cheap, places like WalMart, and can be laundered or tossed away. I use a Ball jar and wrap the opening of the hose over the outside of the jar. Use a rubber band if it’s not secure enough.

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Paula July 19, 2011 at 6:25 am

Marcia,
Thanks for another alternative-especially for small amounts of yogurt. Do people still wear those? Can you still buy them? I’m just kidding. thanks for sharing.

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Renata July 21, 2011 at 7:47 am

Paula! You are the Greek yogurt expert! Thanks so much for all the very useful tips and tricks. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at Greek Yogurt for a while now, and you have encouraged me :)

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Judith M Helie July 21, 2011 at 11:11 am

I use a colander lined with an old thin dish towel. Works great!! I put my milk in a stone crock in the micro for about 25 minutes ( half gallon of 2% milk), then after cooling and adding the fresh yogurt ( About 6 oz.) I put it on heating pad on low, cover with stonewear cover and wrap with a quilted material .After 5 or 6 hours, it’s usually ready and then strain for about an hour. I haven’t whisked it, but will try that today to make it creamier. Thanks!!!

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Julia August 6, 2011 at 1:19 am

For cheesecloth, I use the more tight-woven white cotton batiste. It works very well for mascarpone, and other hard cheeses. Whey is very good for the body…whatever you do, USE it! Microwaving anything dairy is a no-no…it kills the beneficial enzymes and bacteria, if there are any after pasteurization.

I make my gallon of yogurt with raw milk in the oven with it set at 105 degrees, after bringing it to about 185 degrees on the cooktop, blending 1/2 cup of storebought plain yogurt into about 1 cup of the heated milk and then into the rest of it, and then chilling in an ice waterbath down to 110 degrees. This will take 6-8 hours, depending on the thickness and tartness you like.

Anyone with a older oven that has a pilot light can proof their bread in that…or, some of the newer ovens have a 100 degree setting that can be used. Trouble is, you have to know when to stop proofing and turn the oven up to your bread-baking heat so, I set mine in a dish cabinet that has a fluorescent light attached to the underside of it and turn the light on and proof my breads on that lowest shelf of my dish cabinet. I’m getting far better breads now that I’m using the dough cycle of my bread machine.

Butterfat from raw milk is very good for you and will have retained the omega-3 oil and conjugated linoleic acid if the cow/s from which it came is/are fed only on grasses, no grains at all. Also, butterfat contains lauric acid which is beneficial for our bodies…mother’s milk has that in it. I usually become ill a few weeks after having to go off raw milk for lack of providers locally at times.

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Ginny August 6, 2011 at 10:47 am

Thank God I finally found your advice on making Greek Yogurt! I love that stuff, and I agree, I can be as happy with greek yogurt as I am with ice cream. I’m gonna try it this weekend!

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Davo August 17, 2011 at 5:05 am

I’ve used a tee shirt to strain, it works fine, but next time I’ll wet it first as Laurie suggested.

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Paula August 17, 2011 at 6:27 am

Thanks for writing. I’ve started wetting my strainer also as the result of Laurie’s comment

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Donna August 29, 2011 at 12:15 am

Spread the word about yogurt straining…. the Greek style yogurt is so expensive… i buy yogurt in a large quantity when it is on special, maybe $1.50 a quart and strain it myself. i also use the whey in baked goods.

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Nicolethe GREEK September 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm

As a fellow yogurt maker I can relate to the need for large quantities. My father almost lost it when I asked him if he used cheese cloth or a metal strainer. He told me to save my money and use a good white t-shirt ! I have and it works everytime.

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Shannon October 3, 2011 at 9:43 am

I had been using a grease splatter screen to strain my yogurt. It worked well besides the fact I couldn’t put a lot on there at once, or it would run off the sides. A couple of weeks ago I was at my local hardware store which happens to have a ton of canning supplies. I noticed a “jelly strainer” which came with a type of nylon cheesecloth that fits into a frame. It only cost $11 and works amazing!!!! Since the the strainer mesh is nylon it cleans right up and can be reused again and again!

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martha January 3, 2012 at 9:33 am

Hi, I love my thick yogurt but I wonder about the nutritional value that is lost when I strain it. Can you explain ?? thank you martha

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Kristi February 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Actually, from what I’ve read, Greek Yogurt is actually more nutritious than regular yogurt. It has more protein and probiotic bacteria as well as less sugar and sodium. Some of the calcium is lost however. That is because as whey is drained away (along with some of the calcium, sodium, and sugar) the protein and bacteria is concentrated in the yogurt.

The best part for me, since I am lactose-intolerant, is that much of the sugar that is drained away with the whey is lactose. The lactose that is left in the yogurt is metabolized by the natural yogurt bacteria and causes very little trouble with my digestive system.

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Paula February 20, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Hi Kristi,
Sounds like you enjoy eating Greek yogurt as much as I do. Some time ago, I wrote about the protein content of Greek yogurt here.

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Tina January 23, 2012 at 10:31 am

Hi,
I stumbled upon your site. I get my yogurt from my MIL, she makes goat milk yogurt for me. It’s delicious! Anyway, it’s a little too runny for me and makes a big mess when I give it to my kids so I am going to start straining it. Was wondering, while it’s in strainer draining out the whey, do you leave it on the counter or in the fridge?
Thanks!
Tina

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Paula January 23, 2012 at 11:19 am

Tina,
That is a VERY good question I can’t remember answering before. If you have just taken your yogurt out of the “incubator” (oven, ice chest, crockpot, etc.) and it’s still warm, I would just strain it on the counter. What is one more hour? And it will strain much faster than when chilled. However, if you are starting with it chilled, either because you purchased the yogurt, somebody gave it to you, or you didn’t have time to strain it when first made, then I would keep it in the fridge while straining because it will take much longer–anywhere from 4-24 hrs depending on the yogurt itself, the strainer you use, whether or not you use cheesecloth, and how thick you like your yogurt. Since my refrigerator is always rather crowded, that would be a huge hassle.

So, “no way” in the fridge for me. Usually takes less than an hour to strain my own homemade yogurt–fresh out of a 100-degree oven–down to at least half the volume using a very fine strainer and no cheesecloth. Whip it, flavor it, pour in jars, then chill. Done! pr

P.s. wish I had a goat in the back yard although my neighbors probably wouldn’t like it. :-)

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Nancy in NW PA March 1, 2012 at 8:44 am

I just got a chinoise (they called it a SS China Cap Bouillon Strainer) today from directwares.com. It is stainless steel and 8 inches across the top of the cone-shaped utensil. It works great and cost me $30 which included the shipping by FedEx. It arrived in a big box with lots of bubble wrap. I’d been using two small (1 cup capacity) yogurt strainers that teetered in mugs in the fridge – now I can strain the 2 quarts I make at a time just once and have it handy. Thanks for all of your help in the kitchen. Anything that makes it easier to eat good, healthy foods more often is a good thing.

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Paula March 2, 2012 at 7:12 am

Hi Nancy,
I have never used the stainless steel type you describe. Does it strain without using a cheesecloth? The price is certainly right and the cone-shape is also right.pr

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Rebecca C January 18, 2013 at 12:52 am

I went to that website to find the product. The website wasn’t working, it was kind of weird. I closed it because I thought it might be a scam. I hope not, but there was nothing on the site. So I was hoping to find a specific name and website or store I can get a strainer that will work. Can anyone else give specifics?

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Paula January 18, 2013 at 8:18 am

Hi Rebecca,
I just tried the link on that post and it worked great. It is a Matfer strainer available from Ace Mart and also Amazon. Pricy–but for me, a major yogurt maker, very worth it. Also good for other things, like straining cold-brewed coffee.

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Jason Valentine March 26, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Another person who just found your site. Three weeks ago I was eating gas station pizza and fast food. Long slide down for someone who used to be macrobiotic. Month ago, unsurprisingly the doc said I have stage 2 hypertension. That’s a month of 194/120….I refused meds and asked for 3 months to clean up my act. So..I’m eating only 1,500 mg of sodium daily, no processed sugars, no over processed flours, and absolutely no cheese. Which is a killer for this Wisconsin boy. I’ve lost 10 pounds in about two weeks, water weight, and my socks no longer leave indentations in my legs. And some of my blubber as well. I bought Fage and as soon as I pick up tahini (I’m out in the boonies, the nearest health food co op is an hour away) I’m looking forward to making hummus with greek yogurt. I like it so much, I went looking for a “how to make” site..and here you are. Wish me luck… I’ll be trying my hand at Greek yogurt soon enough.

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Jason Valentine March 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Ok..I used the Red Green method of straining out an all natural yogurt I picked up today.(Ruths low fat)..

Need
1 Four legged kitchen chair with stretcher bars, intact seat a must.

2 A white muscle t shirt…redneck speak a “beater”…can also be used for buffing car, cleaning tools, wiping sweat or wrapping up a bass after you gut it just so you can get it home. Only make sure the shirt hasn’t been used for all these things before hand. You know..the one all the way at the bottom of the drawer.

3 about a yard of Parker Mccrory 533 Bayshock Single Strand Aluminum Electric Fence Wire.

4 clean bucket. I mean one you washed with soap, not just rinsed out with a hose.

5 Duct tape..optional

Instructions.

Let the yogurt stand til room temperature

Cut the yard of wire, and lay across the seat area of the chair leaving enough wire to reach to the stretcher bar in back. Make sure the wire that’s laying across the seat is flattish, but not tight, you want a little give on this. This sophisticated devices operates on tension..the weight of the yogurt in the shirt tightens the loop
on the stretcher bar and helps gravity pull out the whey. (This is the point where all the guys listening to you BS nod and act like what you just said makes sense.)

Wrap the back end of the wire around the stretcher bar and loop it shut. The weight of the hanging yogurt should provide enough counter pull to keep it from unwrapping. Put a twist of duct tape around the loop if you’re not sure. Just put duct tape on it. You have it, you might as well use it.l

Wet the T shirt and open it up. You’re going to plop the yogurt in the center inside. Scoop out any that doesn’t slide out. Oh make sure you wash your hands BEFORE scooping, or the yogurt might taste funny. Like motor oil..or something.

Once you have a nice plop in the middle just pull twist both open ends into a knot above the yogurt. Same way you would to hide that pint of Southern Comfort you took out of the truck so the rest of the guys don’t ask for some. The yogurt should be in a nice round ball in the shirt.

Loop the wire under the knot and slide the bucket underneath.

Let hang for an hour..longer if you missed the part where you let it warm up to room temperature. And if you’re a guy you probably did, cause..well..just cause.

Move the bucket..and put the whey in a mason jar in the fridge label it “Moonshine:…chances are your best buddy, brother in law or that moocher that hangs around with either will try to drink it and your fridge raiding problems will be solved. It’s alot less risky than ex lax brownies…

When you open the shirt you should have a creamy mass in it, just put it in some old tupperware..or a well rinsed out plastic bait container that you got from the service station..unless of course you like mealy worm flavored yogurt..then have at it. Stick in fridge.

Just hand rinse out the shirt in the sink. You don’t want dried yogurt on your truck when you wax it. You can leave the wire there if you put a cushion on it..won’t hurt nothing and it’s less work for next time.

Hope you got a good laugh out of this..I actually DID rig up a yogurt strainer the way I described. With a new bought shirt of course, and it worked like a beauty.
Thanks for all the tips I’ll let you know if I make yogurt from scratch, and how it turns out. Unless this post gets me booted..

Peace and brownies…Jason

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Paula April 1, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Jason, I hope you have your own blog ’cause you have way too much imagination to let it go to waste. Sounds like you enjoy writing–even if it’s a little…or a lot CRAZY.

p.s. You really should try making your own yogurt. Maybe… :-) pr

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Wronknee April 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm

My Chief Cook and Bottle Washer brought home some Greek Yogurt last week and I really enjoyed it so I went to the internet and found your site. Since your description sounded stupid proof I thought….never mind. First time I tried it I have to hand it to me as it is perfect. Questions: Why wrap it in a blanket when you put it in a warm oven? Since whey is nothing but skinny yogurt why can’t that be used for a starter? I put some of the finished plain yogurt in the freezer for use the next time I need starter, hope it works. Only saw one guy in your comment section so I almost did not send this, again I thought and again, never mind. I have thought up lots of flavor experiments; peanut butter yogurt, chestnut flour yogurt, garlic vodka is good but perhaps not garlic yogurt. Oh well, try anything at least once. Thanks for listening and the instructions.

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Frances Marshall April 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I made your Greek yogurt and don’t have a bouillon strainer. I have cheesecloth but that sounded like a lot of work to clean up and a lot of waste to throw away every time. So I put the yogurt in the refrigerator while I thought about what else I had and came upon my splatter screens that I use over skillets to keep grease from popping out of the pan. Perfect! I placed one over a large bowl, dumped the yogurt on the top across the top in large spoonfuls, and over not-too-long a time another quarter-cup of whey dripped out in various places across the bottom of the splatter screen. I had poured off the whey standing on top of the hot yogurt prior to putting it in the fridge. No solids went thru the splatter screen and my Greek yogurt was smooth and creamy after I took it off the screen and whipped it. Thanks!

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Dana May 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm

If you’re looking for an easy way to strain plain yogurt [no additives], google “yogurt strainers”. I bought mine from Amazon.

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Paula May 10, 2012 at 4:55 am

Hi Dana,
Yes, you are right. There is a good variety out there. A couple words of caution. Most of them are much too small for me. I make yogurt in quantity and need something that will hold 2 quarts of yogurt going in. Also, the cheaper ones often require additional liners such as a coffee filter or cheesecloth. The cheap ones can also be quick to rust. Just saying…know what you’re buying.

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John May 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I found your website very informative, thank you. I was wondering what strainer would you highly recommend when straining yogurt?

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Paula May 16, 2012 at 9:51 pm

John,
This is the one I have and absolutely love. http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00069ZUXW/ref=dp_olp_new?ie=UTF8&condition=new

I know it’s pricey but it’s sturdy and the finest mesh I have ever seen. I have been using it over 3 years now, several times a week, and it looks like new. The increased surface area because of the cone shape means the yogurt drains fast. pr

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Dee Walker June 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

Paula, does it make any difference if you put in plain culture or can you use one mixed with flavorings? Also, I really can’t afford the expensive strainer but if you ever find cheaper ones, would you please post them. Must tell you this is the greatest thing that has happened to me in years. Absolutely love the yogurt and my health (70 years old) is amazing. I make 3 gallons of milk in a little over a week!! Thank you for your wonderful site. I have told so many people. Absolutely loved your coconut shortbread cookies. I still work!!! and people here just raved!!! Thanks again. Dee

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Paula June 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I use yogurt mixed with flavorings as a starter all the time. I do not use yogurt mixed with any kind of fruit. Works great for me. Since you only need a couple of teaspoons, you can’t really taste it in the new batch of yogurt.

Regarding the strainer, keep your eyes peeled. One of the strainers I talked about in this post only cost me 12$ at Tuesday Morning.

Love those shortbread cookies myself. Dangerous!

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HotFlash June 24, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I got a metal ‘micro-mesh’ filter with a coffeemaker I bought a while back. I only used it a couple of time (made terrible coffee, IMO) before I went back to paper filters, but couldn’t manage to throw it out. OK, I know there’s a show about people like me.

But guess what? Turns out it’s a fabulous (and *free*!!!!!) yogurt strainer! Thank you, SiaJ.

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Paula June 24, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Hotflash, I’m impressed with your ingenuity. Thanks for writing.

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Isabel July 19, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Hello Paula, your yogurt looks lovely! My whey isn’t as clear as yours though – it came out quite milky and cloudy… I have been using an old t-shirt to strain – do you think I should go for something with finer weave? Or is it the yogurt-making process itself that needs to be tweaked? Would love your advice, thanks!

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Paula July 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Isabel,
What kind of milk are you using? Milk with higher fat content seems to produce more cloudy whey. Also, the whey you see in my pictures was probably sitting there for a little while so any solids would have settled to the bottom. The weave of your t-shirt is likely tighter than my strainer so doubt if that is the problem. If you like the way your yogurt turns out, no reason to worry.

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Isabel July 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Thanks Paula! I use full-fat non-homogenized milk. After my whey sits overnight, the milky solids rise to the top, but the bulk of the liquid is still really cloudy! I was worried I was doing something wrong, and I also don’t want to lose so much milk solids. Probably means my whey won’t keep very long? I may just try stirring the whey into the yogurt, so I don’t have to worry about using it up. I also kind of like the extra tang it gives, just not so keen on the loose texture. Thanks again for sharing your experience and tips. Its wonderful having fresh yogurt at hand :)

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squirrelly September 10, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Paula, thanks for your site, which has been a wealth of info about straining yogurt. I am diet-controlled diabetic and use yogurt at bedtime to prevent nighttime fluctuations in blood sugar. I don’t particularly like plain yogurt, and finding sugar-free flavored yogurt was a problem. I strain non-fat, plain, super-market yogurt a quart at a time and sweeten a small helping with Splenda. Does the trick. Will now try the whey in bread-making, I have had good success using two (NOT torn apart) “select-a-size” paper towels in a regular wire-mesh kitchen strainer over a 2-quart measuring cup. Don”t let the towels tear apart solids will leak. But still not a big deal. Do you have any info against using paper towels for this?

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Paula September 11, 2012 at 4:55 am

Hi Squirrelly,
Haven’t done any research but I don’t know of any problem with using paper towels. However, there seems to always be someone with a dire warning about nearly everything one can do in the kitchen so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it could cause all your toes to turn purple and orange, and your kids to turn into Martians. :-)

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dee October 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Hi Paula and Squirrelly! Love this site and have learned lots. I am now an official gallon-a-week greek yogurt maker! Just wanted to mention that I also struggled with an effective way to strain….just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money of expensive strainers, and cheesecloth was just too messy. I now use paper towels. I just dampen three paper towels and spread them inside a colander, then place the yogurt inside. Works fantastic. The yogurt just slides right out (I tend to over strain, then add some milk or whey back in to desired consistency, only because I usually go to work while it’s straining). I do use plain white paper towels, and wondered too about “chemicals”, but realized not much surface area of the yogurt comes in contact with it, even if there is something in there. I guess I’ll continue to do it this way until someone warns me otherwise!

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Brenda October 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Hi,
I purchased a double layer fine mesh strainer at a local kitchen store for $35. I tried straining my yogurt with it and all the yogurt went through, not just the whey. I am making my yogurt with whole raw goats milk and it is not quite as thick as yours, though will still heap some in a spoon. I spooned it in and everything. I don’t want to pay $70 more and still have it not work. Do you have any idea if the goats milk is enough different that it wont work in a strainer? I drain it through cheese cloth all the time, but it is very slow and a pain, I thought this would be the perfect solution! But so far am disappointed.
Thanks!
Brenda

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Paula October 8, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Hi Brenda,
Oh how frustrating!! I am so sorry. I have never worked with goats milk so can’t really advise you on it. I assume you are heating the raw milk to 175 or 180, then allowing it to cool down. This rearranges the protein to make thicker yogurt. You could try chilling your yogurt before straining it and see if that will work. It may also have something to do with the milk being raw to begin with. I’m just not sure.

Is your strainer a recognized brand? Just curious. I agree that cheesecloth is a pain despite what some people claim. That’s why I was so happy to find a better way. Good luck.

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Kelly Jo October 23, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Paula,
i just want to say thank you!! i found your blog through my sister who started making yogurt a while back. I love Greek yogurt and so do my four kids. Four to eight half cup servings every day is extremely expensive, so when i found out that i can make it from skim milk so easily with NO extra expensivepurchases i was hooked! I just finished batch number two about an hour ago and it will be cold and ready for breakfast when the kids get up. I use a large plastic bowl to heat and incubate the milk, a $2 candy thermometer from Wally World, and a never worn “free with purchase” t shirt that was hanging in my closet to strain it. It has worked perfect both times and i don’t plan to buy Greek yogurt again!!

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Paula October 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Hi Kelly Jo,
Sounds like you’ve got your system figured out. Enjoy all that money you are saving. :-)

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Jack December 29, 2012 at 4:21 am

Thank you, Paula, for this great video on making Greek style yogurt. I’ve been making my own yogurt for years, but have always heated the milk on the stove, and after seeing your video, you’ve enlightened me about doing it in the microwave. It’s so simple, and so brilliant of you. It never occurred to me to do it that way. I must be on another planet – lol. After using other methods of straining, I bit the bullet and bought the strainer that you suggested, from Amazon. You’re right, it is pricey, but it is worth every penny to me. I eat a lot of yogurt these days, and your time saver methods and tips are really appreciated by me. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge, and wisdom.

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Paula December 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Thanks for your kind words and great ideas, Jack. Never heard of the “Specific Carbohydrate Diet.” Interesting.

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Jack December 29, 2012 at 7:09 am

A few more ideas that might be helpful, …
I use the glass bowl from my KitchenAid stand mixer, when I microwave the milk. It’s microwave safe, and it’s a nice big size. Don’t forget to remove the plastic ring on the bottom of the bowl before microwaving.
I use a Yogourmet Yogurt maker. It’s a nice large size – holds 2 quarts. One thing that is important is that you really need to use a dimmer switch. There are several types that are available. I monitored the first batch of yogurt using the dimmer, along with a thermometer, to check so that I could adjust the temperature so that it doesn’t get above about 110 degrees. I then put a little mark on the dimmer switch with a sharpie pen, so that I always know that that is the correct place. I ferment my yogurt for 24 hours, which is the recommended fermented time for people on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. It sounds complicated at first, but it really isn’t. I find that if you don’t put a dimmer switch on the yogurt maker, and fermenting that long, the yogurt temperature gets too high, and kills the good bacteria that is so beneficial with yogurt.

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The Zil January 27, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I started making my own yogurt about 6 months ago when I found an incubator on clearance for less than $20, including extra jars and a second tier. After 2 batches I was hooked. Every morning I eat vanilla yogurt sweetened with pure maple syrup over a cut-up banana and 10 almonds. It’s like starting my day with dessert. I now make at least a gallon per week as my daughter is hooked too. We can’t bring ourselves to eat store bought anymore.

I found a recipe for a chip dip using Greek yogurt so I decided to make a quart of plain Greek yogurt to use in this recipe. It is straining now. I’ve also come across a recipe to make nitrite free corned beef using Greek yogurt. Hmmm

BTW – I haven’t had so much as a sniffle since I started my homemade yogurt adventures. Everyone around me has been sick with coughs and colds. I attribute my good health to my yummy yogurt which I eat several times per day. What do you think? Am I just lucky or is yogurt magical?

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Paula January 28, 2013 at 6:53 am

The Zil,
I like the way you start the day.

I’m not sure yogurt is magical, but it might be. Sounds like we are both addicted. :-)

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gail February 15, 2013 at 9:59 am

There are 10 inch strainers and 12 inch ones. Which one holds 2 quarts?

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Paula February 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Gail, My cone-shaped strainer is only 8 inches across but quite deep. The bowl-shaped strainer is 10-inches across. They both hold two quarts. If you are really into making your own yogurt, I highly recommmend my favorite cone-shaped strainer. Here is the link.http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00069ZUXW/ref=dp_olp_new?ie=UTF8&condition=new

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MelissaT March 16, 2013 at 11:33 am

I stumbled upon your website a few months ago and have been making my own yogurt a couple times a week since. Love love love your site! Didn’t want to splurge on the strainer and cheesecloth made the yogurt taste gross. I found very very fine mesh fabric at the fabric store on sale for $5/yd. It was 60″ wide on the roll, but was folded so it was actually 120″. I cut off 14-16″ squares to line my strainer. The yogurt falls off it after being strained. No mess. And it was cheap so I toss them after each use. Plus, you can pick it up by the four corners during straining to speed up the process (if you’re impatient like myself) and tip the whey off the surface.

I, too, think the probiotics in homemade yogurt have kept me healthy. Everyone around me at home and at work has had multiple colds and coughs this season. I have to limit myself otherwise I’d eat it for every meal. My family thinks I’m crazy. I’m just addicted.

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Paula March 17, 2013 at 7:20 am

Hi Melissa,
Love your idea here and so glad you added it to this post. I especially like the idea of picking it up from the four corners to speed the straining process because I am impatient like you. Happy yogurt eating…from one yogurt addict to another.

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Gizmo March 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm

A very important thing to add to the instructions is do not disturb the yogurt after you start the slow cooking process. Do not stir or move it around.

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Helene June 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I have 2 coffee filters and just invert one and stack the other on top of it, in a bowl, to drain 2c at a time. Comes off with a spatula and the filters wash in the dishwasher. Perfect!
Now all that smancy-pancy WAY-OVERpriced Greek yogurt can stay in the cooler and not in my grocery cart. AND i get all that wonderful whey to use in my kitchen!
WIN WIN WIN :)

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