You can make Greek Style yogurt from your own homemade yogurt or from yogurt you purchase at the supermarket. Traditionally, Greek yogurt is made from the milk of goats or lambs, whereas most yogurts purchased in the supermarket are made from cow’s milk. Therefore, it is more technically correct to call the thicker yogurt that has the whey strained off as “Greek Style.”
Some people claim that Greek style yogurt is better for you as it has a higher percentage of protein by volume. However, this neglects the fact that the type of protein in Greek style yogurt is casein. While casein is a good source of protein for humans and includes amino acids, whey protein is often thought of to be of a much higher quality. When you make Greek style yogurt, you are straining away the whey liquid which contains whey protein. The whey liquid can make up a large part of regular yogurt and of course, much of it is water. That is why the total protein in Greek style yogurt is higher by volume.
Many people enjoy the thicker texture of Greek style yogurt and it is quite easy to make. While some people will go out and buy a yogurt strainer for the purpose of making it, you can make it using coffee filters. The longer you strain it for, the thicker it can get – you could even get a consistency and almost taste of cream cheese – and some do refer to yogurt that has been strained of all its whey as “yogurt cheese.”
It does not matter what the butter fat percentage of the yogurt that you starting with is. You will end up with a higher fat content if you use yogurt that has made from milk that has butterfat in it. Of course,. many people find that yogurts with butterfat are much better tasting than those without, and some people who make their own yogurt will even add half and half cream to the milk before turning it into yogurt. But if you are on a fat free or fat reduced diet, you can use yogurt that contains 0 or 2 percent BF.
Here’s what I do to make Greek Style Yogurt from my own homemade yogurt:
First, I take out a 4 cup glass measuring cup and a metal strainer that is large enough to sit across the top of the measuring cup.
Then, I take out 2 basket style coffee filters and moisten them with water. Moistening with water seems to help prevent the final Greek style yogurt from sticking to the coffee filter material.
After they have been moistened, I place the coffee filters (one inside the other) into the metal strainer that is sitting on top of the measuring cup.
I then use a large spoon, and transfer the regular yogurt into the coffee filter, being careful to not put too much in such that the filters collapse and the yogurt begins running out at the sides.
I leave this on the table for several hours – sometimes up to 8 hours if I want a really soft cheese textured Greek yogurt. After you have the consistency of Greek style yogurt that you want, transfer it from the coffee filter into an airtight container. Refrigerate and consume it in any way you want – either plain, or add some fruit, nuts and honey for a very healthy and delicious snack.
The clear but greenish tinted liquid that is drained from the yogurt into the measuring cup is the whey. The photo at the side shows how much whey has been strained from the yogurt after exactly one hour has passed after starting the process – just over 1 cup. Bear in mind that this was started before I refrigerated my homemade yogurt. Refrigerated yogurt can take much longer! You can continue straining for several hours or until you get the consistency you want. The photo at the very top of this article shows the much thicker consistency of the yogurt after one hour of straining.
What can you do with the whey?
Many people throw out the whey, however whey is a very healthy liquid and the Ancient Greeks referred to it as “Healing Water.” It also contains the friendly bacteria that is found in yogurt. You could drink it but many find it unpalatable to consume in this manner (however, my taste buds are “different” and I rather enjoy it the tang of whey). It will keep for weeks refrigerated and you could add it to soups and gravies, although cooking will diminish the nutrient value and of course kill off the friendly bacteria, but the whey protein and minerals will still be available.
I’ve also used whey as a substitute for water when baking bread.
You can add whey to smoothies.
Some suggest that if you use a lot of dry beans in your cooking, you can use whey mixed with water to soak them. This apparently improves the digestibility of the beans.
I’ve also come across references for using whey as a shampoo substitute.
Enjoy your curds and whey!