DIY Greek yogurt

If you like Greek yogurt, read this post.

If you don’t want to be ruined on store-bought Greek yogurt, don’t read this post.

Warning: Once you realize how easy, inexpensive and way more delicious this yogurt is, you will be ruined on store-bought yogurt.

I had been wanting to make my own yogurt for quite some time and had researched a lot of recipes on different techniques. I think I settled on the most simple one. And no, you don’t need one of those fancy yogurt making machines that they sell for hundreds of dollars at the store. I simply used a pot, an inexpensive candy thermometer, my crock pot, cheesecloth, a strainer and a bowl. Most people probably own all of those things. I’ve already made it twice with great results and plan on making another batch this weekend.

Add 2 quarts(or however much you want) of milk to a sauce pan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the temperature reaches 180F. What kind of milk? I have only used cows milk, but you can use any fat percentage that you want. The higher the fat percentage the thicker and creamier the yogurt with turn out. I have tried with a lower fat percentage and a higher fat percentage, both turned out great.

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Once at 180F take the pot off the burner and let milk come down to a temperature between 110-120F. It is important to get the temperature in that range so that the bacterial cultures can work their magic. If the temperature is too high, they will be killed, if it is too low, they won’t incubate properly.

If you are using a pan with a tight fitting lid, you can move on to the next step. If not, I recommend using the ceramic liner part of your crockpot for the next step. Pour the milk into the inner part of your crock pot. Leave the outside metal part in your cupboard.

At this point, take a couple of spoon fulls of store-bought plain Greek yogurt. I have used Fage and Chobani. They are two of the more pure brands on the market. Under ingredients, you want the bacteria listed but not much other junk. No gelatin or pectin or fruit or fake sugar. Stir the store bought yogurt into your milk. The yogurt is the starter to make more yogurt.

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Next, preheat your oven to any temperature for one minute. Shut off your oven. Wrap your covered pot full of warm milk and a few spoonfuls of yogurt in a large beach or old bath towel. Put in your turned off oven for 8-12 hours. By turning on your oven for one minute and then shutting it off, it helps to take the chill out of the air and keep your yogurt in the temperature range that you want for the bacteria to work it’s magic. A lot of sites recommend turning on the light in your oven for a little extra heat. My oven is so old that it doesn’t have a light in it and I had no trouble making the yogurt without a light. It’s probably also a good reminder that you have something in your oven so you don’t absent mindedly turn it on and start the towel on fire.

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After 8-12 hours, your milk should look much more like yogurt than milk. Much like this:

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If you stir it all up at this point, you have runny yogurt. Which if fine, if you like that sort of thing. Congratulations. Put it in the fridge and you are done.

If you are like me and like a thicker and creamier yogurt, you will want to do this next step. Use a fine mesh strainer or a colander lined with cheese cloth set up above a larger bowl. Pour your yogurt mixture into strainer and let the excess liquid strain into the bowl below it. The excess liquid is known as whey. Some people save it and use it. I pour it down the drain. Place straining contraption in the refrigerator for 2 or more hours.

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When you come back, you will have a fair amount of whey in the bowl and a much thicker yogurt on top. Whisk or stir the yogurt a little to smooth it out. Move the yogurt to storage containers and refrigerate. The yogurt lasts for about a week.

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Your yogurt will taste like a tart, unflavored yogurt. You can add a tablespoon of vanilla(to a 2 quart batch) to make a nicely flavored vanilla yogurt. You can also add in sweetener at this point, if that if your type of thing. I have added vanilla and it tastes great.

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How much cheaper is this than store-bought? Well, you can make two batches like this out of a gallon of milk and one small container of store-bought Greek yogurt(about $4 total). It will make the equivalent of about 4 large containers of store-bought Chobani or Fage (about $5 each x 4= $20). I would say that is a pretty significant savings over time.

Since there is a lot of downtime on this recipe, this is the time frame that I like to do it in: I will heat the milk and let it incubate the 8-12 hours over night. A great time as I know I won’t need to use my oven again. When I get up in the morning, I strain the yogurt and leave it straining while I am at work. You can do it all during the day, but I don’t like having my oven tied up all day and unable to use it.

Two weeks, one post

This summer is going way too fast, but it sure has been a lot of fun!

Last weekend, I had a girls weekend at a friend’s lake house and they surprised me with a mini bachelorette party. We had a lot of fun, took in a lot if good food, drink and time in the water. I love to build a nice fire.

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While having our coffee out on the dock Sunday morning, two trumpeter swans swam right past us.

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This week I made my second batch of homemade Greek yogurt. This batch turned out even better than my first batch. I really need to blog that recipe. While I was making the yogurt, I also started the base for some homemade ice cream.

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I took a night off from the kitchen to celebrate National margarita day with my friend Katie.

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Thursday night I spent making really good banana bread and the homemade ice cream.

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My parents came into town on Friday and we introduced them to ice cream at Margie’s Candies after dinner. We all left with full and happy bellies. Saturday morning we participated in the Big 10 5k. After last years sweat fest, this years cooler temperatures were much appreciated.

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We spent our afternoon making important decisions on our wedding food menu by trying lots of food. It was all really delicious.
I spent Sunday creating a meal plan for the week with the goal of having to buy as few groceries as possible and use up what we have. I am a visual person, so I had to map it all out in writing.

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Being that my parents brought me a bunch of tomatoes from their garden, I knew that BLTs were in my near future. I spent $8.37 on groceries for the week(most of that was on bacon) plus leftovers we had from buying groceries this week and we should have stuff for more than enough meals this week.
Today’s lunch for me was a mustard, feta and veggie open faced sandwich, chips and fruit.

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Supper was an AMAZING BLT, pretzels, fruit and super 7 salad. This meal made me incredibly happy.

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I’ve also been enjoying the fresh flowers my parents brought to us out of their yard.

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And I spent time at my garden multiple days this week. I’ve started getting cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, pulled the last of my radishes, gotten a few carrots and am continuing to get kale. I’m getting really anxious for my full-size tomatoes to ripen after indulging in my parents home grown tomatoes.
Fresh food in the summer makes me incredibly happy!

The early morning

Wow. It’s only 9am on Sunday and I feel like I can already give you the weekend update.

It’s amazing how productive a weekend can be when I don’t over schedule myself, go to bed at a decent time and get up at a decent time.

Friday night, Brian had plans with a friend to see Pacific Rim, because I refused to go see it. I brought dinner home and relaxed on the couch. It was awesome.

I went to early morning yoga yesterday. I hadn’t been in a few months and was so glad I went. My knee has been killing me lately from a combination of running and biking and yoga is the only thing that seems to help. On the way home I stopped and Whole Foods to pick up something to drink as I was super thirsty. I tried a new beverage. It was delicious!

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Then I hurried home to change clothes and meet my friend Katie at the pool for some aquatic exercise. There was a super creepy guy in our class which made us giggle uncomfortably most of the time. It was really awkward.
I spent the afternoon running errands and had a delicious dinner of a bleu cheese burger and vegetables.

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For dessert, I roasted myself a giant marshmallow over the stove. The mega marshmallow was an end cap clearance find at Target. While it was amazing, it was almost too much, but I’m sure it won’t stop me from eating another one today. And more importantly, how did I ever live without a gas stove?

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It’s been another early and productive morning. I got up, started laundry, ate eggs with sriracha and got to work on my first ever batch of homemade Greek yogurt.

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After heating up the milk and letting it cool, it has an 8-12 hour incubation period. I got antsy waiting for the milk to heat and we know a watched pot never boils(a good thing in this case as you only heat the milk to 180 degrees), so I swept the house. While I was waiting for the milk to cool, I cleaned the bathroom. The yogurt is now at the incubation stage. Just hoping it turns out well!

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I also have another recipe in the works right now. It’s a raisin bran muffin batter that has to sit and refrigerate. Can’t wait to bake those up later.
Well, off to aquatic exercise, then I plan on spending most of the rest of the day pool side! See, it pays to get up early and be productive!