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Make Greek fat free yogurt in 4 easy steps

Updated on November 18, 2014
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A long-time whole grain baker, Kathryn discovered the thrill and ease of cooking with whole, fresh foods decades ago. Still chopping!

Test your knowledge: What do you know about Greek yogurt


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You may be surprised how easy it is to make Greek-style, fat free yogurt

Why buy expensive Greek yogurt in one-use plastic tubs when you can make your own with very little effort? This is one of my all-time favorite Green Tips because it is so easy and so good.

See that bowl of yogurt and granola? That's all homemade! I made the maple almond granola last week, and the yogurt yesterday--in a thermos!

This morning, it took less than five minutes to set the yogurt to straining. Then I went for a nice walk in the fresh, dewy air, showered, enjoyed my first cup of coffee and leisurely set the saucers and bowls for our granola and Greek yogurt breakfast treat.

By then, about ninety minutes later, we had creamy, rich Greek-style yogurt to dish over our fruit and cereal.

On this page I take you through the four super-easy steps, from choosing your plain yogurt to packing the creamy Greek goodness into a lovely jar. It takes almost no time at all!

Set the process in motion in five minutes or less, then walk away and do something you love for an hour or two. Gravity does the rest.

Eat and enjoy!

Greek yogurt, also referred to as European style yogurt, is thicker and creamier than the regular packaged yogurts on American supermarket shelves. That's because it's been strained to reduce the whey content.

How to Make Greek Yogurt in Four Steps

It will take you longer to read these steps than to set your yogurt to straining. Once you know how to do it, you'll never have to buy expensive, one-use plastic tubs of Greek yogurt again.

Step 1: Assemble utensils and containers - Only four!

Gather just four tools you likely already have on hand to convert your regular yogurt to nonfat Greek yogurt. You will need the following items.

  • 8-Cup Measuring cup or sturdy 2-quart bowl
  • 8-inch diameter fine mesh strainer
  • Sterile unbleached cheesecloth
  • Clean, tight-sealing jars

The items below are the same, or very similar, to the tools I use.


Pyrex Prepware 8-Cup Measuring Cup, Clear with Red Lid and Measurements
Pyrex Prepware 8-Cup Measuring Cup, Clear with Red Lid and Measurements

Large symbols and numbers make this glass measuring cup easy to read.

 

Start with a 2-quart measuring cup or sturdy bowl

This 2-quart measuring cup with lid is so versatile in the kitchen, and is perfect for making Greek-style yogurt.

Let the whey drain into the cup, then easily pour into your storage container.

One reason I pick this brand: It's made right here in the United States, a rare find these days.

Next, you need a sturdy, good-sized mesh strainer

This 8" fine-mesh strainer is exactly like the one I've been using for a few years now.

It fits nicely over the 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup so you can strain your yogurt easily.

To prevent rust, wash and pat dry immediately after use.

Choose unbleached cheesecloth for health

Why unbleached? Chlorine bleach has been identified as a factor in breast cancer, so I avoid bleached products whenever possible.

The cheesecloth helps the whey to drain more slowly, leaving more of the creamy yogurt in the strainer.

Always boil any cheesecloth before using with food. Store boiled, air-dried cheesecloth in an airtight container so it's ready when you need it.


Fido jars seal tight and keep yogurt fresh longer

You will need two containers: One for the yogurt and one for the whey. My favorite storage containers are Fido jars. Their near-vacuum seal keeps food fresh longer.

Our great grandmothers used this type of jar for canning and preserving food. I wouldn't go that far today, but the rubber rings do make a nice, tight seal.

Chilled homemade yogurt in thermos, ready to strain
Chilled homemade yogurt in thermos, ready to strain | Source

Step 2. Start with 1-2 quarts good quality, fresh non-fat yogurt

Commercial or homemade, either works fine. To make a healthy fat free Greek yogurt, start with fresh, live-culture, nonfat yogurt. Use your own homemade or a commercial brand you know and trust.

Most often, I use my easy, thermos-incubated, homemade yogurt, because I know exactly how fresh it is and what's in it.

When I haven't time to make a fresh batch, I use a local San Francisco Bay area brand called St. Benoit, because of its superb taste and the fact their Jersey cows are pasture-fed year round on small family farms.

Whenever I need to refresh my mother (that's what we call the portion we set aside to inoculate our milk when we make a new batch of yogurt), I buy a small quantity of their unadulterated, live-culture yogurt.

If you can find a similar operation that makes small batches of yogurt in your neck of the woods, all the better. If not, I also trust Nancy's organic non-fat yogurt, which I have used in a pinch, and which is available in one-quart and half-gallon sizes.

If using a commercial yogurt, read the label and check the "use by" date. You want a yogurt made from nonfat milk with no added pectin. The fresher the better. The label should state that live cultures were added after pasteurization.

Step 3: Pour the yogurt into a triple-cheese-cloth-lined sieve over a 2-quart bowl, cover loosely, and wait

Draining yogurt
Draining yogurt | Source

Fold the cheesecloth into three layers, large enough to hang over the sides of the strainer. Pour the yogurt into the lined strainer, then fold the corners of the cloth over the top, as shown in the next photograph, to protect your yogurt from air-borne dust.

Wrap the ends of the cheesecloth over the top of the yogurt; walk away and let gravity do its job for an hour or two.
Wrap the ends of the cheesecloth over the top of the yogurt; walk away and let gravity do its job for an hour or two. | Source
Ready to eat - It looks weird, here, but if you were to stir the yogurt, you could see how creamy it is
Ready to eat - It looks weird, here, but if you were to stir the yogurt, you could see how creamy it is | Source

When yogurt reaches desired thickness, it's ready! After ninety minutes, our yogurt is just how we like it.

One of the nicest things about making your own Greek-style yogurt, apart from the taste, is that you can stop the draining process at precisely the texture you prefer. It usually takes 1-2 hours, depending on the consistency you want, the quantity you start with, and the type of yogurt used.

If you get busy and leave the yogurt too long, no worries! Just stir a little whey back in, a teaspoon at a time, until you get that Goldilocks just-right creaminess you're looking for.

Step 4: Fold the creamy yogurt from the cheesecloth directly into a storage container

Cheesecloth-dimpled Greek-style yogurt turned into storage container
Cheesecloth-dimpled Greek-style yogurt turned into storage container | Source

When the yogurt is just as you like it, carefully lift the cheesecloth by the corners and fold the creamy goodness directly into your storage container.

It should come off in a nice, fat, little mound, like the one in the picture, here. Right now, it shows all the cheesecloth wrinkles, but whisk it a few seconds and it turns into creamy, thick luscious Greek-style yogurt goodness.

Pyrex Simply Store 6-Piece Round Glass Food Storage Set
Pyrex Simply Store 6-Piece Round Glass Food Storage Set

Versatile Pyrex bowls are safe in the freezer and in the oven (Don't bake with lids on, of course!), and they are nice enough for serving a casual supper.

 

One more storage option - Pyrex rounds with lids

In addition to the Fido jars I showed earlier on this page, I store my yogurt in glass Pyrex containers like the one you see above.

Pyrex seals tightly and keeps the yogurt fresh for several days with no worries about phthalates, BPA and other plastic molecules leaching into the food.

I have to admit, though, ours rarely lasts more than a day or two, because we gobble it up.

Green Tip

Reuse your cheesecloth (Wash, boil and dry, then store in airtight container) until it's lacy with big holes, then toss it in your Halloween decorations box for decorating with next fall.

Save the whey! It's packed with protein and other healthy goodness

Greek-style yogurt and whey, ready to eat or refrigerate
Greek-style yogurt and whey, ready to eat or refrigerate | Source

Whey is the thin, nearly clear liquid that accumulates on top of your yogurt container after you've used it a time or two. It is also the liquid that drains away when we strain for Greek yogurt.

Full of protein, other nutrients and pro-biotics, whey is a good source of calcium, potassium and vitamin B2.

Use it in salad dressings, to ferment lentils, beans and grains, as part of the liquid in breads, soups and stews, or for cooking rice.

When you heat the whey, you will lose the pro-biotics, but you'll still get the proteins, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are not heat sensitive.

Think you'll give this method a try?

See results

I hope you enjoyed this page

If you love Greek yogurt, but hate the cost and want to reduce the calories, making your own is easy.

© 2012 Kathryn Grace

What do you think? Can you save money straining your own Greek yogurt?

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    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 12 months ago from San Francisco

      I would love to hear what your guests thought of it, if you care to share. I only just now discovered that HubPages has a spam comments filter and somehow yours got sent there, so I apologize for the delay in responding. We made some of the dip just yesterday. The grandkids are old enough to help with that and with cutting up vegetables for dipping. They had a blast and were thrilled with the pretty platter we made of it. Fantastic way to get kids to love eating their vegetables!

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 23 months ago from San Francisco

      You're welcome. You can practically make it in less time than it takes to read the instructions, and so worth it!

    • Taranwanderer profile image

      Taranwanderer 2 years ago

      Wow - you really show us the ropes on how to make homemade greek yogurt. Thanks for taking the time!

    • profile image

      Papu 2 years ago

      I'm actually hainvg a Tupperware party next week and am going to try this out for it with the garlic and herbs! I must admit I'm rather excited about it too!Will let you know how it goes over!

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @Brite-Ideas, thank you. Me too! I'm always shuffling between kitchen and computer. The time goes way too fast!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 2 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Another fantastic page Kathryn, honestly I want more time to cook!

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @MsBertie: You're welcome. Let me know if you think it's just as good as the expensive stuff. We surely do enjoy it at our house.

    • MsBertie profile image

      MsBertie 3 years ago

      I love Greek style yogurt with fruit and granola. Can't wait to try this. Thank you!

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @Michey LM: That's wonderful to hear. Let me know how your family likes it.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 3 years ago

      i like Greek style yogurt, it is part of my Mediterranean diet... The way you explain... it looks easy to make it, so I'll try it!. Thanks

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      I eat Greek style daily. My fav? Mixed with fresh pomegranate seeds and a teaspoon of tart cherry juice. You do need a bit of honey or other sweetner, but this is heaven. Or raspberries with some fresh lime zest. Great lens.

    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @choppy6: Thank you for participating, choppy, and welcome to Squidoo.

    • profile image

      choppy6 3 years ago

      All of the above and as a substitute for sour cream - yum!

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @othellos: I hope she loves it as much as we do at our house. The other day I used a batch as the foundation for the creamiest homemade frozen yogurt in my Cuisinart ice cream maker. So good!

    • profile image

      othellos 3 years ago

      I always thought that it was more complicated to make Greek yogurt. Your guidance shows the opposite. Very well done. I must show your lens to my mother asap!!

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @Nutrisimohealth: You're welcome. Glad it turned out so well. Can't get enough of the stuff at our house, that's for sure.

    • Nutrisimohealth profile image

      Nutrisimohealth 3 years ago

      I recently made greek yogurt and was so pleased with the results. It is much easier than I had ever anticipated. Thanks for the great lens! :)

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      @MaureenCee: I get that. There have been times I've eaten a whole pint of fresh-made yogurt right from the jar.

    • MaureenCee profile image

      MaureenCee 4 years ago

      I just gobble it out of the yoghurt maker, fortunately there's only me here so nobody else gets my germs.

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      @flinnie lm: Thanks for visiting again, Flinnie. Do let me know how your homemade yogurt turns out and don't hesitate to ask questions! I'll do my best to answer them.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi thanks for sharing these easy tips for making greek yogurt. I like how this save me money.

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      @KimGiancaterino: Thank you for your lovely comment, Kim. I'm always curious whether the true Greek yogurt people find, such as yours from the Armenian grocer, is made with sheep's milk and how it tastes.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 4 years ago

      I'm with you ... why pay for expensive "Greek" yogurt. I buy my yogurt at the local Armenian grocer and it's pretty tasty. I avoid overprocessed yogurts that contain pectin. My cats are the best indicator -- they are very picky and only eat the real thing.

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      @flycatcherrr: I agree!

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 4 years ago

      Any way to eat yogurt is a good way to eat yogurt!

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