Healthy Homemade Greek Yogurt (fat-free)

homemade yogurt with fruit tall

Make your own regular or Greek yogurt at home with this easy method.

Next to salad in a jar, homemade fat-free Greek yogurt is one of my most powerful weapons in the war against extra poundage. I eat it a minimum of twice a day–with my breakfast cereal and as an afternoon snack.

Benefits to eating more yogurt:

  • It’s satisfying. (Similar to milk–see Got Milk?)
  • It has luxuriously creamy texture.
  • It’s mild.
  • It’s full of calcium and protein (See more extensive discussion about protein here.)
  • It’s good for the digestive system.
  • It lends itself to many flavor variations.
  • It’s inexpensive when you make it yourself.

I honestly can’t think of a better snack. It’s that good! This yogurt  even helped me kick my ice cream habit and that’s saying something.

But it can be expensive to buy.  So I make it myself at least twice a week. Now that I have my system down, actual hands-on time is less than 10 minutes.

Keep reading for all the details or go straight to the recipe below. You visual learners might like this video.

These directions are perfect for making large batches as opposed to the individual servings produced by an electric yogurt maker.  However, the yogurt maker is easy and foolproof if your needs are small.

Directions:

First: Fill Pyrex batter bowl (my preference) or 2-quart glass container with 2 quarts of  fat-free milk. Microwave until bubbles begin to appear around the edge. Temperature should reach 175-180 degrees after you stir it. (In my microwave, it takes 17 minutes on HIGH). Do not skip this step. It is important to unravel the proteins so they will behave during the incubation process.

pouringmilk

Heat 2 quarts of non-fat milk to 175 degrees F.

If a skin forms, remove it,

Second: Allow milk to cool down to somewhere between 100 and 115 degrees. This can take 30-45 minutes.  Use a cooking thermometer to check.  I like this one with an alarm that goes off when mixture reaches a preset temperature.  If you are in a hurry, fill sink or large bowl with ice and set the container of milk in it.

thermometerinyogurt

Allow to cool down to 100-115 degrees F.

Third: Whisk  2-3 teaspoons of commercial or homemade yogurt into cooled milk. If you use commercial yogurt, be sure it have live cultures. Using some of your own homemade yogurt is the best in my opinion. I have now been using my own yogurt as a starter for over a year. It seems to get better and better despite what some people say about using it only three or four times or even just once. Since I make yogurt at least twice a week, it never has a chance to get old.

adding starter

Add 2-3 teaspoons of commercial or your own homemade yogurt as a starter.

Editor’s note: Some have asked about adding dry milk to yogurt. As you can see by the picture above, I used to, but no longer. It’s one more step, one more expense and in my opinion, gives the yogurt a subtle “chalkiness” I don’t like. My yogurt is plenty rich and creamy without it.

Fourth: Cover milk and place into a conventional oven that has been heated at 350 degrees F for one minute and then switched off. Wrap in towels.  Turn the oven light on.  In a gas oven, the pilot light may keep it warm enough.  See this post for other methods if your oven is unsuitable. Let inoculated milk incubate for 5-10 hours but it may need up to 11-14 hours. It’s difficult to make a hard-and-fast rule here since each environment is slightly different.

 

yogurtinoven

Place into the oven and cover with a towel.

How can you tell when it’s finished? Good question and the hardest part of the entire process.  You will learn by experience when it “looks right.”  It should be set– as in slightly gelatinous, even though you have put no gelatin in it.  There will most likely be a watery, slightly yellow liquid on top called “whey.”  I haven’t figured out a good use for the whey but let me know if you think of one.

yogurt before straining1

No gelatin has been added to this yogurt but see how thick it is when set?

At this point you could chill the yogurt and eat as is.  It is your choice to pour off the whey or stir it back in.  Straining  makes the yogurt thicker and less tart resulting in Greek yogurt.

From regular yogurt to Greek yogurt:

Fifth:  Very carefully pour yogurt into a bouillon strainer aka chinois.  This is where I part company with other directions I’ve seen for Greek yogurt.  Most suggest using several layers of cheesecloth to line a strainer or even a coffee filter (for a small amount).  What a mess to clean up! For more information see this post about straining yogurt the easy way.

Although a bouillon strainer or chinois can be pricey, it is well worth it. You will lose very few solids if yogurt has set up thick enough and the strainer is fine enough. If the solids flow through the strainer, you need to put it back in the oven for a few hours to thicken and get a different strainer.   (See editor’s note below and troubleshooting tips at the end of this post). Just to be clear, a bouillon strainer has a very, very fine mesh.  The only place I know to purchase one is a restaurant supply or look online (see link above).  A standard grocery store strainer is not fine enough. Read more about the process of straining here.

pouring yogurt into sieve

Gently pour yogurt into your strainer.

Let yogurt sit in the strainer till the yogurt is reduced by approximately half.  Time will vary according to the thickness of the yogurt out of the oven and your own preference regarding texture and sourness.  Tip the strainer or stir very gently if whey has pooled on top while straining.

yogurt in sieve

The yogurt will break when poured and may look like a curdled mess. Continue straining.

Empty whey from batter bowl and pour yogurt out of strainer back into the original bowl.  Use a good whisk to beat until smooth. (Tip: Rinse the strainer immediately.  Do no let any residue from the yogurt dry on the mesh or it may be impossible to get clean. However, they clean up beautifully after a trip through the dishwasher.)

whisking Greek yogurt

Whisk strained yogurt for smooth and creamy product.

Since I like my yogurt mellow (one reason why I strain the whey out of it) and not quite as thick as sour cream, I add some kind of milk back to it until it is the perfect consistency for my tastes.  Start with 2-3 tablespoons and mix to suit yourself. Good choices would be skim milk, sugar-free vanilla-flavored soy milk, sugar-free vanilla almond milk or splurge with heavy cream. I recently tried adding light coconut milk and it was oh so creamy and velvety smooth on the tongue.  I couldn’t believe it!

At this point you have several options. Pour into glass jars as is.  Mixture will be very thick when cold (and reportedly keeps longer when thicker).  Or you can continue with one of the following:

* Add sugar, sweetener, honey, flavorings, or Torani Syrup– sugar-free or not. My personal favorite is a combination of almond and vanilla sugar-free syrup.

 

Healthy Homemade Greek Yogurt (fat-free)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Homemade Fat-Free Greek Yogurt
Serves: 1 quart
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts fat-free milk (may substitute with your favorite milk)
  • 2-3 teaspoons yogurt (commercial or your own homemade)
Instructions
  1. Fill Pyrex batter bowl (my preference) or 2-quart glass container with milk.
  2. Heat in microwave until bubbles begin to appear around the edge. Temperature should reach 175-180 degrees after you stir it. (In my microwave, it takes 17 minutes on HIGH).
  3. If a skin forms, remove it.
  4. Allow milk to cool until temperature drops to between 110 and 120 degrees.
  5. Whisk in 1 tablespoon yogurt as a starter You may use yogurt from a previous batch of your own homemade yogurt.
  6. Cover milk and place in a warm environment where the temperature stays around 100 degrees.
  7. Allow to incubate for 5-12 hours.
  8. At this point you could chill the yogurt and eat as is. It is your choice to pour off the whey or stir it back in. Straining makes the yogurt thicker and less tart resulting in Greek yogurt.
From regular yogurt to Greek yogurt
  1. Very carefully pour yogurt into a bouillon strainer aka chinois. If the mesh is fine enough, you won’t need to use a cheesecloth or paper towel.
  2. Let yogurt sit in the strainer till the yogurt is reduced by approximately half. Time will vary according to the thickness of the yogurt out of the oven and your own preference regarding texture and sourness. Tip the strainer or stir very gently if whey has pooled on top while straining.
  3. Empty whey from batter bowl and pour yogurt out of strainer back into the original bowl. Use a good whisk to beat until smooth. Add milk if yogurt is too thick along with any sugar or sweeteners you prefer.
  4. Chill.

 

Please don’t be discouraged if at first you don’t succeed. Check out the troubleshooting guide and try again. If you have time, reading through the comments may give you some additional hints. I’ve also listed other posts at the bottom of this post that may help you.

Troubleshooting Failed Yogurt

  • Did the milk cool below 120 degrees F but not below 105 F?  Above 120 degrees F, the bacteria in the yogurt starter will be murdered.
  • Did you heat the milk sufficiently to kill the bacteria in it and rearrange the proteins? It should come just short of a boil.
  • Where did you incubate your yogurt?  Is it too warm or not warm enough?  In the past, I have forgotten to turn on the light in my oven.  Didn’t work. Not warm enough. Temperature needs to stay around 100 degrees.
  • Was your yogurt starter too old?  Did it have active cultures? Don’t forget to save some yogurt from a previous batch so you won’t have to buy it again. Some people recommend you start over with commercial yogurt every 3-4 batches but I  find it unnecessary if you use starter from your homemade yogurt not over a week old.
  • Did it incubate long enough? Times will vary. 12-14 hours may be necessary. Watch for gelatinous texture.
  • Was the yogurt mixture disturbed during incubation?
  • Did you add too much starter to the warm milk?  Only 2-3 teaspoons-not over a tablespoon– are needed.  More is not better.  The bacteria need room to grow.  (Sorry about that last sentence.  I know it doesn’t sound very appetizing, but it’s true.  That’s why yogurt is so good for the digestive system.)
  • Are you using a strainer with a very, very fine mesh?  If you don’t have one, you must use several layers of cheesecloth to line your strainer instead.
  • When pouring the yogurt into the strainer, did you pour it too rapidly or let it fall a long way to the strainer? This can cause you to lose too many solids through the strainer.
  • Do you feel little bits of “skin” in the yogurt?  You may have missed some attached to the side of the bowl as the milk was cooling. Stirring at least 2-3 times during the heating process may help prevent a skin from forming.

Not working out for you?  Email me, leave a question in the comments, OR  . . . break down and buy yourself some Fage Greek Yogurt.  Just be sure you get the Total 0% variety for lowest calories. At least it’s cheaper than a bag of chips.


Want to read more about making yogurt? Check out these posts.

Nutritional Stats per 6 ounce serving:

  • Calories 90
  • Total Fat 0
  • Cholesterol 0
  • Sodium 65 mg
  • Carbohydrates 7 g
  • Fiber 0 g
  • Sugars 7 g
  • Protein 15 g

 

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{ 566 comments… read them below or add one }

peggy August 10, 2009 at 8:28 pm

We use the whey in protein shakes. it is very healthy. i sometimes drain the whey off for 48 hours, making a low fat yogurt cheese. this can be used for a low fat cheesecake.

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Mara March 30, 2013 at 10:35 am

Hi Peggy,

Can you explain more about your comments? I didn’t understand what you meant by draining the whey off “for 48 hours”. Did you mean that for the first two days after making a batch of yogurt you drain the whey off? Why for 48 hours? Does the whey itself then automatically turn into a “yogurt cheese”? Thanks for explaining!

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Romaine August 10, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Good idea about the protein shakes. But is it a little bitter/sour?

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Vanessa August 16, 2009 at 5:33 am

hello,
is there any particular reason that you decided to use the torani sugar free syrup? also would it be possible to add the torani syrup to the hot milk mixture before it cools and before adding the yogurt and dry milk? please email me at vanessaaishacoleman@gmail.com if you have any tips. i would like to try the vanilla syrup because i have been adding vanilla extract to my homemade yogurt and all i can taste is the alcohol.

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Barb August 17, 2009 at 9:43 pm

You mention “Cover milk and place in a conventional oven that has been preheated for only one minute. Wrap in towels. Turn the oven light on”. I have a question about the preheated point. In my oven I have to set the temperature to 350 or 400 or whatever. I’m assuming it doesn’t matter what temperature you pick since it’s only preheating for one minute?

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Romaine August 18, 2009 at 5:26 am

Barb, you are correct. You just want to take the chill out of the oven.

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Debbie August 22, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Where do you buy Fage Greek yogurt?

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Romaine August 22, 2009 at 9:54 pm

I’ve seen it at Krogers, Central Market, Whole Foods and Target. Walmart sells Oikos which my sister likes but I like Fage better.

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Laral July 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Costco has a 1000g (35.5 oz) container of it for like $4.59. The best buy anywhere for Greek yogurt.

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Paula July 28, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Thanks for the info Laral. Not everyone likes to make it.

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Laral August 7, 2012 at 10:28 am

I didn’t realize just what a bargain price this was until I found the exact same size of this brand at Smart and Final this weekend. It was a whopping $8.99! That’s double Costco’s price. I have found that if Costco has what you are looking for, no one beats their price, or their, usually unlimited, return policy. S&F usually has great prices on dairy products too. For instance, they have manufacturing cream (40% fat), which is heavy cream (36% fat) on steroids, for just $6.65 for a half gallon! Heavy cream is $4.99 a quart and that’s actually a good price, since it goes for like $3-something a pint at any supermarket, so you do the math. They usually have good prices and a lot of restaurant type supplies and ingredients, but this time they really struck out. I should tell them. ;-)

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Paula August 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Hi Laral,
Love Costco….for more than just their prices.

Damjana September 4, 2009 at 2:17 pm

I use a simpler method because I don’t have so many appareil available: I heat the milk to about 60-70 degrees, mix into it some probiotic yoghurt, cover the pot with thick layers of clothes all around, let it sit overnight, then let it strain for 45min-1h. I get 70% of greek yoghurt and 30% of whey. though my greek yoghurt (from full-fat milk) has 95 kcal/100g. It’s a great idea to add some milk if it gets too thick, you’re very smart! I’ll see how much thicker it will get this time (I’ve just put it in the fridge). Actually I was looking for another weblog about greek yoghurt but as there are so many entries in google, I was curious to see your page too! Here greek yoghurt is expensive too, 150g (5oz) costs 1.2eur – I bought it once only where there was a special offer 2 for the price of one but I was not too persuaded by it – it was not so tasty but it was very thick, yes. Sorry for such a long comment

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Damjana September 4, 2009 at 2:20 pm
Trish September 9, 2009 at 7:58 am

I am a bit skiddish about making my own, not sure but maybe someday. I do love the greek yogurt but price does keep me away.

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Jill September 16, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Thank you for the tips! I eat a lot of yogurt and I make my own with skim milk also. I’m going to look for a fine strainer and give that a try. I use coffee filters and it’s gross to have that soggy paper and try to scrape the yogurt off of it! I never thought of adding milk to thin it out if it’s too thick – another great tip.

I love mixing in some all-fruit jelly and I’m going to try your suggestion of espresso powder. I haven’t had a problem with skin on the milk. I stir it a couple of times during the microwaving time – not sure if that would help or not.

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Romaine September 16, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Really? You never get a skin on the milk? I’m going to try stirring mine next time and see if that does the trick. I usually just put it in the microwave and forget about it. I’ll let you know.

Something else I’m going to try is steeping some chai tea bags in the milk after it has reached 180 and is cooling down. Think it may have possibilities. Today I put sugar-free lime Torani syrup in my yogurt and crumbled up a gingersnap on top. Very close to Key Lime Pie.

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Becky August 16, 2012 at 2:39 am

Did the chai tea bags work???? Sounds yummy!

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Paula August 16, 2012 at 4:55 am

Hi Becky,

Yes, it did work. But it wasn’t a favorite so I forgot about it. :-)

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Becky August 16, 2012 at 5:49 am

Good to know! I might just try using spices to make chai-spiced yogurt. That might turn out yummier :)

Doola October 31, 2009 at 7:28 pm

I have been making yogurt myself for 15 years now. Keep stirring the milk as you heat it up and do NOT let it boil. Keep stirring it as you cool it down in your sink filled with cold water, that way no skin will form.

By the way, there are yogurt cultures that do not require heat, so you can make them on the counter top. Google “Fil Mjolk” – I just got my culture and am already making the second batch, but it may be too soft to make strained yogurt with it. Maybe something for your readers?

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Mera November 20, 2009 at 12:18 pm

FYI If you use organic milk, it only needs to be heated to 110/120 before adding the yogurt starter. This is because organic milk undergoes UHT (ultra high temperature) processing rather than just pasteurization so all the bacteria are already dead. Just check your milk and if it says UHT, you’re good to go.

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Sis December 1, 2009 at 3:07 pm

After a few attempts making this yogart, with only moderate success, I finally made a great batch the last time. Yeah! What I learned along the way was the importance of temperature, temperature, temperature. My first two attempts were fairly decent, but then I moved to a different house, different oven, different microwave, etc. things didn’t go as well. Then I discovered while I was making candy for Thanksgiving that my candy thermometer had a place marked at 150 degrees for scalding milk. So armed with my thermometer and a new 2 qt. heavy glass mixing/ measuring bowl with a tight lid like Romaine’s picture, I microwaved my milk for 16 minutes on high. Wonder of wonders, when I stuck the thermometer in, it was almost right on 150 degrees. Meanwhile, I also discovered that I could set my baking oven on exactly 100 degrees and it would maintain that temperature. Thanks for digital controls! It was very convenient to just clip the candy thermometer to the side of the bowl as the milk cooled, and I knew precisely when the milk reached 110 degrees. After adding the dried milk and yogart culture, I placed the lid on it, forgot to wrap it in a towel, and left it in the oven for 13 hrs. It did perfectly what it was suppose to do. The moral of the story – forget the towel! :+) No, I think it was just maintaining the proper, consistent temperature. My oven just didn’t get hot enough with only the light on, and the heavy glass bowl holds the heat really well. I feel sooooo healthy now that I can make yogart!

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shalom February 10, 2013 at 8:04 am

If the pilot light doesn’t get hot enough, fill a couple jars with hot tap water, cap them and set them in the oven. It will add a bit of extra heat.

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Paula February 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Good idea Shalom!

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tia December 30, 2009 at 12:05 am

eeks! this looks like way too much work for me!

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Vivian Leventis December 30, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Being a true Greek, of course I have a use for the whey from the yogurt. If you like feta cheese, you can buy your favorite when it’s on sale and then keep it fresh by submerging it in the whey. It lasts a really long time like this. The whey keeps it fresh. If you have ever noticed at a Greek deli counter, the feta is always in a yellowish water. That’s what this is, the whey from the yogurt.

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kalamazoo January 6, 2010 at 12:56 am

I just bought a yogurt machine at Tuesday Morning for $25; well worth the money. It gets the yogurt to the perfect temperature and shuts off automatically after preset hours. I always warm the milk on the stove using a electronic kitchen thermometer then cool it using the same. My yogurt is perfect every time. When eating it, I like to add some of the sugar free liquid coffee flavorings like vanille, hazelnut, or chocolate. I have added fresh and frozen berries and sweeten with stevia, a natural sweetener. This is the best yogurt I’ve ever eaten. I strained mine with a tea strainer since it’s finer mesh.

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stephanie January 15, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Thanks for the recipe although we do not have a microwave, I am assuming that heating on the stove slowly until bubbles appear will do just as well?

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Romaine January 15, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Stephanie, Heating on the stove works great–but requires a little more attention. Hope it turns out well for you.

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Dianna Lord January 24, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Hello Romaine,
I just found your delightful website. I was especially pleased to see the scripture on your pages… bless your heart.. I found the site looking for the reason for my utter and complete failure in making greek yogurt. I had found a recipe online from someone with a greek last name and was so excited, I ran to the store, bought the ingredients, and followed the very vague and inadequate instructions… which by the way said 70 degrees for 8-12 hours…. and to my dismay… as I am sure you have already guessed….I still have liquid. After reading your fabuous detailed instructions, I am encouraged and can’t wait to go try again. I look forward to trying some of your other recipes, and maybe have an opportunity to share with you as well… I will let you know how it turns out. Thank you and God bless you.

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Romaine January 24, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Oh I do hope it works for you. Let me know. IMHO, it’s worth the effort to try and try again until you get it–if you really like Greek yogurt. Also thanks for your kind words about my website.

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Dianna Lord January 25, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Well… I am truly excited. After reading your “troubleshooting” section, I put my failure back in the oven and this morning Voila! Yogurt! My only issue is the texture which is mostly like ricotta cheese… I think it is probably because it is a do over…. but before I whisked it… it was beautiful…. creamy with no “grainy” look or texture… not sure why the whisking changed that … also… did not cover with a towel… gas oven …worried about fire?? Hoping the next batch, with your instructions, will be creamy and wonderful… any specific instructions for towels in gas oven? and creamy issue? Thanks so much!

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Romaine January 25, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Congratulations on making yogurt. But have you strained it yet? That is how you get Greek yogurt, which is much thicker than regular yogurt. After straining (for about an hour) you will have 50% or more whey–which I throw away. Whisk the solids that are left and add only a little milk or soy milk for maximum creaminess. At this point I also add Torani syrup to sweeten. Write back and let me know how it goes.

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Dianna Lord January 25, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Yes I had strained it… muslin cloth. After being refrigerated it is nearly like a thick ricotta cheese, or a textured cream cheese. I think there may have been a little skin on the top since I didn’t cover it… it cracked on the side and the whey was around the sides. It has a good flavor… I think the next batch will do well. I will let you know. I probably won’t sweeten it, hubby is a newly diagnosed diabetic, hates the taste of the stevia, etc… I have already used it as a substitute for mayo in our chicken salad… dill for him and curry for me… and it is fabulous! Thanks again!

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donna February 10, 2010 at 9:47 am

Romaine,

Please forgive but I just want to clarify how much milk you started with. It states to use a 2 quart container; is that the amount of milk I would need? I would like to make my own yogurt to save money.

Thanks so much!
Donna

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Romaine April 6, 2010 at 7:43 am

Yes, fill the container with 2 quarts of milk.

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donna February 14, 2010 at 11:31 am

Romaine,

I made the yogur this weekend.. It turned out great. I let it strain for 24 hrs very thick and creamy. Next time I may not strain for as long. Instructions were very clear and easy to follow. Thanks for sharing!
Regards
Donna

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Romaine February 14, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Thank-you for reporting back on your success. 24 hours is a very long time. Sounds like you had cheese. I usually drain for about 1-2 hours. No matter, if you add a little milk and whip it with a whisk, you will have the smoothest, creamiest yogurt ever.

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Bread and Beta February 23, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Thank you for sharing the easy yogurt recipe. I’ve found a good bread recipe that uses whey – see my recent post on Italian Feather Bread. I’m not sure if it’s part of the skinny diet, but it is really delicious.

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The Errant Cook April 5, 2010 at 9:36 pm

I’m making this now and I’m worried- ten hours in and no gelling yet. Reading other blogs leads me to believe I didn’t get the milk hot enough in the beginning. I followed your instructions and got edge bubbles, but my instant-read infrared thermometer registered around 148…other sites say 180 to start. Here’s hoping the next 3-4 hours provide some good goop!

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Romaine April 6, 2010 at 7:41 am

Errant Cook, Yes, you are correct. Temperature should reach 175-180 after you stir the milk. Sorry I did not specify originally. I have added it to the instructions.

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The Errant Cook April 6, 2010 at 9:47 am

After a night in the fridge, I returned my bowl to the microwave. After about 8 minutes, it had separated to half whey and half curd. I drained it (a large tea strainer worked well) and wound up with about 2 cups of a texture similar to fine ricotta. (I started with almost a half gallon of whole milk.) I added a little milk back to it and blended with an electric mixer.

It’s not quite smooth, but it’s very mild and good and the curd is barely noticeable. I think I’ll use this batch for some homemade ranch dip- garden-grown fresh chives and parsley, plus garlic, should do nicely. Next time it should be better for fruit! :)

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Holly May 5, 2010 at 8:52 am

you can use the whey to ferment food. my friend makes great sauerkraut, fermented bean dip, beets, etc and the whey helps the fermentation along with some salt.

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Romaine May 5, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Thanks Holly, great idea.

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Iris September 23, 2012 at 11:17 am

I’ve just discovered “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods” by Wardeh Harmon. The author has a Jersey cow and makes yogurts and cheeses all of the time (recipes in book too), which leaves her a lot of whey, and this book is nearly entirely filled with a wide variety of recipes for healthy pickles, krauts, and everything you can imagine deliciously fermenting – using whey, which also allows you to use less salt in the process.

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Paula September 23, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Iris,
I’m not into fermenting food, at least not yet but I have readers who are so I greatly appreciate this information. Thanks for taking the time to write.

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diana henretty May 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm

I’ve been making my own yogurt for 20 yrs. now. So far the best recipe is adding 2T. of honey and 2 T. of vanilla to 2 qts. of milk.
Also, for a thicker, creamier yogurt, add l cup of powdered milk per qt.
of milk. Or a pkg. of Knox’s gelatin (mixed with water before adding to yogurt) added before you put in a machine works great.
I worked for Head Start, got strep throat every 6 weeks until I faithfully ate 2 c. of yogurt a day, now I never get it. Also, you can pick up the older Salton machines at thrift stores or yard sales, most of the time for about $2.

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Romaine May 21, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I have always added dried milk but never that much. I will try it. Do you use skim milk to start or something else?

Your story is a great testimony to the health benefit of yogurt.

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Magi May 22, 2010 at 6:26 pm

I finally hooked my husband on yogurt with fruit and granola, but now our grocery budget is taking a big hit. I was looking for a way to make my own, and this sounds great. I was wondering though, have you tried using a crock pot instead of the oven? Would that work, or does it get too hot?

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Romaine May 22, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Magi, I have not tried the crock pot myself but hear it works great. Since I make mine in 2 quart batches, it’s easier in the oven. If you try it, come back and let us know how it works. You would need a warm setting that will last at least 6-8 hrs.

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Magi July 21, 2010 at 8:48 pm

This summer is just speeding by! It seems like I was either out of yogurt starter or low on milk every time I went to make yogurt. Finally got it all together today.

My crock pot only has a low and high setting. I tested it, and the low was too high to maintain the right temp, so I used your oven method.

So far it all looks good. I strained it for a little over an hour. The texture was perfect after I whisked it, and the flavor is good. Can’t wait to try it in the morning after it has chilled.

Thanks for the recipe and method.

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Romaine July 21, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Congratulations on a successful batch. Most of the time it works perfectly for me but I still have the occasional fail when I don’t get my temperatures just right or my starter isn’t quite as fresh as it should be. The more you do it the easier it becomes. You will soon be totally spoiled with your own homemade yogurt.

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Magi July 22, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Had it for breakfast with a spoonful of cherry preserves I canned two weeks ago and a handful of Trader Joe’s granola. It was delicious and a big hit with my 4-year-old. Thanks again!

Elizabeth May 24, 2010 at 7:34 am

I’ve been using your recipe in my crock-pot. Works great.

I have a ‘warm’ setting on my crock. I heat my milk in the crock in the micro, let it cool to 115, add my starter and place it in the heater base(unheated, NOT turned on at this point).

I use a thermometer with an alarm that sounds at a preset temp(100). When the milk gets to 100, I turn on the crock (to warm, not low) for just a few minutes, watching the therm. Takes just a few minutes to get it up to about 103, then I turn the heater off. I maybe have to do this every hour or so. The therm lets me know.

I’ve not lost a batch yet by this method. I get good whey in about six hours, sometimes I let it go longer, though. A bit of babysitting, but very much worth it, esp when you add a bit of honey to the finished product along with some newly picked ripe strawberries!

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Romaine May 26, 2010 at 6:23 am

Great to hear the crock-pot works for you. Are you picking those strawberries yourself? YUM!

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Elizabeth May 30, 2010 at 6:05 am

Yes indeed. They are terrific this year, but we are about through with the crop. We’ll have to wait on the raspberries.

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Gwen Howard May 28, 2010 at 10:05 am

If Greek yogurt is plain yogurt with the whey removed and whey is 100% protein, then why is Greek yogurt higher in protein than plain yogurt?

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Lenore June 11, 2010 at 9:41 am

I’ve got yogurt!! Staining now! Woo hoo!
I followed the temperature instructions to a Tee, but may have put too much yogurt in as a starter. I popped in a dehydrator at 100 degrees overnight and in the morning I had warm milk and a skin. hmmm…pulled off the skin, added some probiotics and popped it back in the Deyhydrator again for the day. Got home late and..yes! I have yogurt. So I don’t know if it was too much yogurt starter OR the cultures in my yogurt weren’t actually live. ??? I was using Oikos organic plain so I’d be surprised if it wasn’t active. Since it was so late when I got home last night I popped the whole thing in the fridge but I already had another firm skin which I peeled off before straning. And yes, I stirred while it was heating. Still happy with the outcome. Thanks!!

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mellowknees June 24, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I’m trying to find a good digital thermometer that will beep at me when the milk is at the right temp. Can you tell me what brand/model you have in that picture? It looks like a good one! :)

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CeeBism June 26, 2010 at 11:51 am

Great site! The whey has many positive health properties and can be added to soups etc.. Also, the whey can be used to stir back in at the end of the process if yogurt has become too thick.

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Meal Plan Mom (Brenda) July 1, 2010 at 11:56 pm

I have been wanting to try making my own yogurt for some time now and this looks great. I have been intrigued also with all the talk about Greek yogurt. This is on my summer cooking to-do list for sure! Thanks!

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Margaret Catherine July 2, 2010 at 10:41 am

The whey can also be used in baking. (Or as a facial treatment, but I haven’t tried that one myself.)

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Romaine July 4, 2010 at 7:33 am

Facial treatment? Considering how much of this stuff I pour down the drain, I should have no wrinkles at all if I could figure out a way to to use it on my face. :-)

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Tina July 3, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Why the non-fat dry milk? Can I leave it out?

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Romaine July 4, 2010 at 7:20 am

Yes, you can leave it out. I sometimes forget to add it and it works fine. It does make your yogurt a little richer (and more nutritious) which is nice, especially if you are using non-fat milk.

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Bridgette July 5, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe. I’ve always loved yogurt but never realized how easy it is to make nor how expensive it is to buy (especially the greek style!). I was happy when my first batch turned out perfectly and am now looking forward to experimenting with some of the flavors you suggest.

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Romaine July 5, 2010 at 10:41 pm

So glad to hear it worked for you. Enjoy!

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Naomi July 12, 2010 at 10:11 am

I’ve been straining regular lowfat yogurt to mimic greek yogurt. I was wondering how to estimate the amount of calories and the serving size. The yogurt definitely is reduced in size (I poured off more than 1 cup of liquid from 4 cups of yogurt) but I’m not sure if the end product is more calorie dense or less. I guess my question is what is the caloric value of the strained liquid?

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Romaine July 14, 2010 at 6:14 am

Naomi, Check out this page on my site for nutrition information on Greek yogurt. http://www.salad-in-a-jar.com/a-discussion-about-protein-in-greek-yogurt. It contains a link to another page with specific information on whey itself.

Specifically, there are 59 calories in one cup of whey.

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Claire July 12, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I have a question.. please email me the answer….

I have been making yogurt this exact same way for some months now and it comes out ok, but I only let it set 4-6 hours. Will it be thicker if I let it set longer, or just tarter? I like the taste of my yogurt, but it can be a bit thin… I use fat free milk and do not add any powered, although I am thinking of trying that next batch. Thanks… will be looking for an answer in my email.

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LaNette Bendix July 25, 2010 at 8:52 am

I have been dying to make greek yogurt so I ordered a strainer, and I’m not sure if it is fine enough,. It is a double mesh strainer, the outer mesh openings are approximately 4mm X 4mm and the inside mesh is about
2mm X 2mm. Is this fine enough? Thanks!!!

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Paula July 25, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Lanette, I am skeptical. The mesh on mine looks like metal fabric. It is very, very tightly woven. Here’s the link. http://www.acemart.com/prod9922.html

I have no experience with any other strainer except the one above. The spaces in mine are way less than a millimeter. If you put your hand inside, you can not see it through the mesh unless you hold it up to a window and then you can only see a shadow.

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The Errant Cook July 30, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Hi! I’ve made yogurt 4 or 5 times now thanks to your instructions, and it’s fantastic. I set the covered bowl on top of a heating pad on low, check it frequently with an infrared thermometer (a lovely gadget from my husband), and after about 11 hours, it’s ready to go.

I made about a quart of yogurt the other day from a half-gallon of milk I got for $0.99. (Take that, expensive grocery store brands!) I’ve been eating it for breakfast (and dessert!) sprinkled with some brown sugar, fresh blueberries, and homemade honey-walnut granola. Yum!

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Paula July 30, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Infrared thermometer?? Do I need one of those? I think I might. So glad to hear you’re doing well with the yogurt. It is so addictive!

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The Errant Cook August 2, 2010 at 8:05 pm

My thermometer is not a cooking gadget per se, but Alton Brown used one on his show a few times and then my computer-guy husband bought me one as a gift. It’s fantastic. I use it for the yogurt, frying oil, you name it. Apparently, they’re used in the food service industry to check walk-in temperatures and such. Genius!

http://errantcook.blogspot.com/2009/07/my-new-toy.html

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LaNette Bendix August 10, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I love your website and appreciate all your expertise in making greek yogurt. I spent the money on the strainer and intend to buy the thermometer with the timer. The cost of these items will soon be paid for with the savings I get making my own yogurt. I make a double batch each week and figure I easily save $12.50. I use my electric roaster oven (which I rarely used before) to incubate my yogurt. I tested the oven with a thermometer to 108 degrees and made a little mark with a Sharpie. No need to wrap in towels and my yogurt is perfect in 6 hours….love it!!!!!!

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Linda Farina September 6, 2010 at 5:56 pm

That’s a good idea! Do you put water in your oven?

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Paula September 6, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Water? No. Why do you ask?

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Bethany August 12, 2010 at 11:43 pm

If you are feeling the budget crunch, and don’t mind fat-free yogurt, you can use only powdered milk and it works. Of course, you can probably taste a difference between the cheap powdered milk and the good brand(s). I, however, can’t taste a difference between real milk and the Similac powdered milk.

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Vicki August 19, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Hi, Romaine – I just discovered your website, am anxious to explore more . . . it looks as if you do many of the things I do, and I hope to learn some new shortcuts from you! I make two to three batches a week of greek yogurt – have a nice little Salton yogurt maker, and use adams’ peanut butter jars for my yogurt. I always use only nonfat dry milk, and use a greek yogurt starter. The brand differs depending on what grocery store I’m in when I need starter, but all of them make such a nice thick yogurt, I never need to strain (I do drain off the whey for my husband) – unless I want yogurt cheese, that is. My husband just absolutely loves the yogurt I make, the flavor is wonderful, and it is so thick, we eat it every day. I substitute it on occasion for mayonnaise or for sour cream in cold dishes, haven’t been brave enough to cook with it. I also culture my own buttermilk – it is even easier, because you don’t need the heating step, nor does it need to culture at 100-110 degrees – it will culture in a jar on the kitchen counter – room temp is fine, eight to twelve hours usually does it, sometimes longer – it “gels” in the jar, and you can easily tell when it is done. Buttermilk is one of my husband’s favorite comfort foods, and he is very happy with the home cultured product. One of my tricks for both my yogurt and my buttermilk cultures is to freeze the culture (newly cultured yogurt or buttermilk) in ice cube trays, pop them out and keep in freezer containers, and thaw a cube in the jar before adding the milk. (Don’t forget to label the containers, the cubes look the same!) I, too heat my yogurt milk in the microwave – in my mw, it takes 13 minutes at .8 power. That varies, of course, with the power of the microwave. Each person can determine for themselves how long, at what power, their microwave will bring the milk to 180 degrees.

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Paula August 20, 2010 at 4:59 am

Hi Vicki, Sounds like we may be kindred souls. Have never tried making buttermilk. We don’t drink it around here and I’ve found I can substitute yogurt for buttermilk in my baking. But will definitely give it a try. Thanks for commenting.

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RSN August 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Thank you for listing this recipe- I’ll have to try it out.

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Julia August 29, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I have finally gotten up the nerve to make my first batch! I have it in the crock-pot as other reader has done and I “borrowed” the hubby’s infrared thermometer. We shall see how it goes. I am super excited to see how it turns out! I have been buying tubs of this little pricey must have for a while and I never knew that it could be done with just a few little items that were already in the house. :) Thank you for your blog!! It is great! :)

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Laurel August 31, 2010 at 1:22 am

Thank you, Romaine, for the wonderful instructions. My mother has a recipe that comes out perfectly for her, after 4.5 hrs in her incubator. She uses 1/2 gallon of 2% milk, 1/2 cup of powdered skim, and 1 cup of non-fat yogurt. I really want to use skim milk, so I’ve experimented with my own variations, and after discussing my attempts with Mom, I have some questions:
1) Does adding powdered milk to skim milk reduce the amount of whey strained off for making Greek yogurt?
2) Recipes that I see calling for much smaller amounts of starter all seem to incubate for much longer. Does the shorter incubation time that my mom uses (4.5 hrs) need the larger amount of starter that she uses (1 full cup)?
3) Does it make any difference if you use Greek yogurt for your starter?
4) You are straining your yogurt as soon as it finishes incubating. Do you put it into the refrigerator to strain, or leave it on the counter?
5) I read somewhere else that when the yogurt is finished incubating, if you stir it vigorously and refrigerate it, it will halt any further fermentation, which prevents it from becoming as tart over the next few days.
If you have time to answer any/all my questions, I would be so grateful. I LOVE homemade yogurt, and I especially like adding organic powdered recipe envelopes to the Greek yogurt for making dips for vegetables & chips. But my favorite way to eat yogurt is with stevia, almond extract, poppy seeds, and fresh strawberries or blueberries!!!!!

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Paula August 31, 2010 at 6:05 am

Laurel,
You pose some great questions. I will attempt to answer based on my experience but I’ve noticed that this whole yogurt making process tends to vary from house to house and what works for one may not work for another and I can’t always figure out why.

1. I don’t think powdered milk reduces the amount of whey. It just makes it a little richer which is good especially if you are using skim milk.

2. I do not have good luck when I use too much starter–seems to be too much competition for the “food”. If fact, I have made a half gallon of yogurt by scraping out the last of a jar–probably less than a teaspoon. Is your mom using her own yogurt as a starter? When it is fresh, you don’t need as much as using what you buy from the store. I usually ferment over night so 4 1/2 hours is a little short for my lifestyle. :-)

3. No, not in my experience. Again, it just needs to be fresh. Those little bacteria don’t live forever.

4. Very good question. I strain my yogurt immediately–on the counter. Once you chill the yogurt, it takes MUCH longer to drain and won’t whip as smoothly. My goal is to reduce the finished yogurt by at least half when I drain the whey off. Usually takes an hour if you do it immediately. If you chill first, it can take many hours.

5. Cold temperatures will halt fermentation. I drain my yogurt till very thick and add milk back in to make it the thickness I like. Whisking vigorously after adding a little milk makes an extremely creamy, velvety smooth product that does not separate much and sends me over the moon every time I eat it. It also is not very tart because I have removed so much whey, which is just the way I like it.

Happy yogurt eating!

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renee September 1, 2010 at 8:41 pm

My understanding from a nutritionist is that the whey contains a lot of nutrients, including calcium (1/2 cup has 25 percent of the RDA for calcium), so if you want to retain more of the nutrition but still have a thicker yogurt, you can use some gelatin to thicken things up a bit and still have a very similar product to greek yogurt. I add the gelatin to 1/2 cup cold milk and stir in 1/2 cup hot milk, then add the dissolved gelatin and milk to about 3 cups of finished yogurt. If you want it thicker, just use less milk or more gelatin.

Whey can be used in baking and soups, it could be added to the liquid for preparing rice, noodles, etc. I wouldn’t toss it down the drain. At 25 percent of your RDA for calcium, add it to just about anything for a little extra of this hard to get mineral.

Something else the nutritionist told me that I didn’t know … you can only absorb about 500 mg of calcium in a single setting. Or about the amount of calcium in 1.5 cups of milk. Any more than that is not absorbed by your body, so those insanely high (and expensive) calcium supplements are not a very good value for your money. Buy the ones with less calcium per tablet and you can save a little bit, and get more of the calcium you need.

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Hen & Chickens September 3, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Thanks for sharing the various ways to use whey. The only thing I had thought of using it for was smoothies. Also interesting about calcium and its absorption levels. Another thing to be aware of with calcium is to make sure one is taking enough. My friend was taking 1 capsule a day without realizing she needed to take multiple capsules to get 1,000 mgs.

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Hen & Chickens September 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm

If I need to stir in more starter, can I do it at the 100 degrees or does the temperature need to be raised? And should the starter be at room temperature? Thanks!

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Paula September 3, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Hen and Chickens, Yes, you may stir in starter as long as milk is below 120 degrees F. It is not necessary that starter be at room temperature although I have seen it printed that way. I mix it in straight out of the fridge and it works great.

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