Ever get home from the store and notice that you bought the wrong yogurt? You know the “normal” runny, gloppy kind that separates into all kinds of weird textures. When I discovered rich, thick, creamy Greek yogurt there was no turning back. Sometimes containers will say on the label “thick, creamy, Greek style.” The only thickness about it can be my disappointment when I break the seal. Unless it is strained (and strained well), it will probably not be the kind I prefer.
Strained yogurt is rich, silky, creamy and decadent. It has a much higher protein to carb ratio than standard ones and the texture is so much more fabulous. Unstrained versions can get all runny, soupy and the texture can be clumpy. Strained ones stay thick and creamy. Its is sort of like a rich sour cream, with none of the guilt. When I turn my spoon upside down I like my yogurt to stick to it. Not budge. It works amazing in baked goodies too. We also like to use it as a sweet or savory dipping sauce.
Yogurt is a great treat to replace other high calorie, sugary, fatty munchies. I prefer to use fat free varieties and I add healthy fats to the mix. Ground flax seeds, toasted nuts, sunflower seeds and various nut butters are all excellent choices. With a drizzle of honey or maple syrup I can psych myself and my kids into “treat” mode with it’s custardy creaminess. It appears very decadent when you eat it, but your body will benefit from all the calcium, protein and dairy based vitamins.
All you need on hand to strain regular yogurt is a cottonCheese Cloth which you can find virtually anywhere at your local cooking store or supermarket. Your cheese cloth can be cleaned and used over and over. Just don’t throw it in your washing machine with fabric softener as it will pick up a nasty “floral” flavor! Rinse it thoroughly with dish soap and let it hang dry……easy. Yes, I threw mine in with the wash and my yogurt had the flavor of a dryer sheet, not good.
Most of us can all find greek strained yogurt in our markets these days. I think it has more flavor when you make it on your own……what doesn’t!! The nice thing is you can control the thickness when you DIY.
Quick Thick Greek Yogurt
Each 16 oz container of unstrained yogurt will yield about two 4 oz portions
All you need
- Organic Plain Non-Fat Plain Yogurt (any source will do Cow, Sheep, Goat or even Soy based yogurt) A 16 oz container will yield about 8 oz of strained yogurt so you might want to use 2 containers. The volume is usually reduced by 1/2 after straining.
- Colander and a Bowl to nest it in: Make sure there is room on the bottom for the liquid whey to drain into
- 1 Cheese Cloth
- Piece of String or Elastic band
Fold Cheesecloth in half so it is about 1 1/2 feet long. Line colander with cloth, add yogurt. Grab corners of cheesecloth and pull together tightly. Working over the sink squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Once most of the liquid has drained, tie bundle with string or elastic band so yogurt is bound and compressed. Set colander into bowl with enough room underneath for yogurt to continue draining.
Put in fridge. Let liquid drain out for a number of hours. I leave mine overnight, sometimes more. The amount of time to strain depends on how thick the yogurt was to start with and how thick you want it to turn out. I like mine very thick. I can actually hold the yogurt in my hand when it’s done it’s so thick! Remove from fridge, keeping tie on, place yogurt over sink and press out any remaining liquid. Open Cheesecloth, and scrape yogurt out into bowl with a spoon or spatula.
- Yogurt is great used as a Mini-Meal or for breakfast. It is very satisfying and you can add so many flavor twists.
- Spices: add Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger or Cardamom
- Healthy Fat: Any Nuts, Seeds or Nut Butters add more flavor and body to your yogurt.
- Fruit: Add some fresh of Frozen Fruit chunks or Berries. Dried fruit is great too!
- Carb Crunch: Add a handful of rolled oats, puffed cereal, or granola for a textural variation. The carb addition also makes this a slightly larger meal.
Family Fresh Cooking Recipe Links
Options if you opt out of the home made version: