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Monday, January 3, 2011

Making Yogurt With "Brothers and Sisters"

I have recently been successful in making
a batch of Greek Yogurt.
I've made my own yogurt regularly before,
but paused for a bit...
and came back wanting Greek!

So, I want to share with my dear reader(s?)
how to accomplish this
while watching your favorite Sunday
evening program on T.V!

If you love Greek yogurt as I do,
it HAS to save you some cash making
it at home - since it's $1.19
for 6 oz...

So here it goes. 
I will just give a straight procedure
exactly how I do it first, and
then some variations I
have tried...and
maybe some I have not yet tried.

I should probably put a disclaimer here:
I make yogurt all the time in my own home.
None of my family has ever gotten sick
from my home-made yogurt.

I am just a homemaker trying to cut some
pennies out of the family budget, not a
professional yogurt-maker.
So I put this up on this blog as general
info only.  Use common sense!
I take no responsibility for what you do in
your own kitchen.

There.  I said it.

You will need:
A quart jar (Ball or Mason canning jar), preferably with a lid
A medium size sauce pan
Milk (can use any from skim to whole)
The best-tasting plain yogurt you can find in the store - make sure it has live and active cultures in it (and don't try using already made Greek...it doesn't work)*
Small bowl
Wire Whisk
Somewhere warm to put the yogurt (heating pad, crock-pot, oven)

It is helpful but not absolutely necessary to have a candy thermometer (I actually use a candle-making one, and it hasn't failed me yet)

If making Greek yogurt you will also need:
Coffee filters


1. Fill the quart jar up with milk. Not to the top, because you will end up with slightly more at the end than in the beginning.  Mine has measuring marks on it, so I just fill it up to the highest measure.

2.  Pour milk into the saucepan and heat to about 150-180 degrees Fahrenheit.  The goal here is to try to kill any potential nasties that may have gotten into the milk to this point without also killing the good bacteria that is going to grow you some yummy yogurt!  So don't boil the milk.  If you do not have a thermometer, you want to take it off the stove just before the boiling point, but it should definitely be too hot to touch comfortably.  In my experience it takes roughly one segment of "Brothers and Sisters".  (seriously, that's when I check it. lol.)

3.  Once milk reaches 150-180 degrees Fahrenheit, remove it from the heat and let cool down to 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is the longest hands-on part.  It generally takes the rest of Brothers and Sisters to get cool enough, but check it on the commercials. lol.  If you have no thermometer, it should be cool enough that you can comfortably handle a drop on your wrist.  (I'd say what you would warm baby formula to, if that helps)

4. While you are waiting for it to cool, measure out 2 Tablespoons of your store-bought yogurt into the small bowl.  I am not real precise - sometimes it's slightly heaping, sometimes slightly less.  You want to have this ready to go because when the milk gets cool, you want to work quickly. At this point I also turn my oven on the lowest setting possible to get it warmed up.

5.  When your milk gets to 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit, take a little bit of it (say, a gravy ladle full) out of the pan and mix it with the store-bought yogurt in the bowl using a whisk.  Obviously, you can use a fork or whatever you have handy - just make sure to get it all incorporated.  Then quickly dump that mixture into the pan full of milk and whisk it around to get it all incorporated again. **

6.  Now dump the pan full of milk and yogurt culture into your quart jar, put the lid on. TURN OFF THE OVEN, and then place the yogurt carefully in the oven, turn the oven light ON and shut the door.  Now Brothers and Sisters should be done and you can go to bed.  The oven will hold enough heat to constitute a "warm place". 

7.  In the morning (anywhere from 8 to 12 hours later) *** take the yogurt out of the "warm place" and put it in the fridge. 

* Once you have successfully made a batch at home, you can use your own yogurt.  This is called chain-yogurting and each time you do it, the final product will get progressively more runny.  I have not actually tried chain-yogurting because I usually freeze the left over store-bought yogurt and use it again...and by the time we have used that all up, we are so sick of yogurt we need a break.  My yogurt-making sources say you can probably chain-yogurt about 4 times before something funky gets in there and you need to start fresh.  Again, if you freeze some of your batch, it could be months before you ever need to buy yogurt again.

** A lot of places that I have found yogurt recipes tell you to be careful not to disturb the skin that tends to form on the milk when you heat it...they make it sound like it will ruin the whole ordeal if you disturb this precious skin.  THAT'S BALONEY!  Whisk that stuff in there...I even take the skin off and it still makes fine yogurt.
     Also at this point, if you want VANILLA flavored yogurt rather than plain, you can add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract at this point.  I haven't tried this yet because I forgot to add the vanilla last night...but NEXT week, it's going in there!

*** Make sure you let it sit undisturbed at least 8 hours.  I accidentally took it out after 4 and ended up with slime....  I used it for smoothies, but the texture was not at all yogurt-like, and it hardly had flavor at all.  The longer you let it sit, the more tart it will get. I've learned that from experience too.  TART!


Okay, so now you've made your yogurt and are wondering how to get that luscious, creamy, almost-like sour-cream-tasting Greek Yogurt that you pay an arm and a leg for in the store. 

You're going to kick yourself!  lol.

Greek Yogurt is nothing more than strained yogurt.

1. Take a cup of regular, plain yogurt. (when I tried it I used my left over store-bought from above, so it was actually not quite a cup)  Place it in the center of a double-layer of coffee filters.*

2. Gather the edges of the filters, being careful not to rip them, and tie them together with a string that is long enough to also be tied to something to hang. (I used a ribbon from one of the kid's balloons. It's what I had on hand!)

3.  Hang it over a bowl overnight ** and voila!  You have Greek-style yogurt!  I believe if you leave it one more night, you get "cream cheese"! ***

* I used coffee filters because it was an off-the-cuff experiment.  All the sources say to use cheesecloth or a clean dish towel.  Next time I'm serious about the Greek thing I am going to relegate one of my brand-new flour sack towels that I've been meaning to embroider to the task.

** My sources don't ever specify WHERE to hang the yogurt... when I did my experiment I hung it right over my kitchen sink (boy the husband must have been wondering if I'd lost my marbles when he got up for work).  I ate the product and am still alive, so it doesn't seem to be a hazard to let it sit unrefrigerated overnight.  Next time I do it, I may try hanging it from the rack in the fridge to see if it makes a difference or not.  Also, if you are a non-waster like I am, you can use what drips out (whey) in your smoothie for breakfast. Just FYI.

*** If Greek yogurt is all you are interested in, you can just buy regular yogurt (which is much cheaper than Greek) and strain it yourself. 

Obviously with both regular and Greek yogurt, you will want to add sugar and fruit to taste...if you want flavored yogurt.  Have fun and enjoy the process!

Just Amy


  1. Amy...don't know if you've tried this or not, but baby food bananas mixed with greek yogurt is absolutely delicious! It's not too sweet, but takes the edge off the tartness. I use one container of Gerber bananas mixed with 4 oz greek yogurt. Yummo!

  2. I have not tried that yet. Usually I use the freezer jam I made this summer or apple butter my niece made for me...both are also very yummy. I'm going to try the bananas though because that was always my favorite thing to feed the kids. :-)

  3. I was going to make greek yogurt this weekend and then got lazy and just bought regular plain non-fat yogurt and tried your hanging technique. I did hang it in the fridge. I was nervous when I got it out this morning and saw that it was a solid ball. I thought surely I had hung it too long, but once I got a spoon in it, it was just perfect! I think it was going to cost me $5.69 for a quart of greek yogurt and it was $2.09 for a quart of plain yogurt, which turned into about a pint of greek yogurt...saving me $1.51 for a quart!

  4. That is so awesome! I had the same concern when I saw it the next day! It looked like a shriveled mess...but it was perfect! Here's to experiments!