How To Make Greek Yogurt

How to Make Greek Yogurt at Home - The Cheese Shark

Yogurt has become a very popular dairy product. Yogurt is pleasing to the palate, it can be combined with endless flavours, and it has health benefits due to its probiotic properties. Over the years, the variety of yogurt has increased. We see yogurt with different fat levels, specialty versions like Greek yogurt, Bulgarian type yogurts, and Icelandic yogurt called Skyr. The biggest growth has been in the Greek Yogurt category.

Check out our post on How to Make Cheese at Home to learn the art of making cheese. It’s a fun project for everyone.
For easy homemade cheese recipes check out our Cheese Making Recipes page.

If you are interested in the world of cheese making, visit our cheese Resource page and our How Cheese is Made post. 

We review and suggest Cheese Making Kits here if you would like to get started with making cheese.

Enjoy!!!

How to Make Greek Yogurt - The Cheese Shark

How to Make Greek Yogurt

What Characterizes Greek Yogurt?

Greek yogurt has a higher fat and protein content than regular yogurt, it’s thicker in texture, and creamier in taste. Originally, Greek yogurt was made from sheep milk. Sheep milk has a much higher fat and protein level than cow or most goat milks. Basically, yogurt made from sheep milk is the original Greek yogurt. 

Making this higher fat and protein yogurt from cow milk required the manufacturers to add extra fat and protein and name it for marketing reasons. Greek yogurt made from cow milk was created. 

The next step the industry took was to create a lower fat, or even zero fat, version of Greek yogurt. In essence, this is not a true Greek yogurt: However, it does well on the market and keeps consumers happy. 

In this article I will give you a recipe for the original high fat Greek yogurt, a lower fat Greek yogurt, and a non fat version. When the fat content is dropped, we lose the smoothness. Manufacturers try to re-create the smoothness with emulsifiers. As a home food maker, you want to stick to natural and easy to get ingredients. A non-fat greek yogurt without added emulsifiers will have a drier texture. 

There are two ways to increase the fat and protein content. One is by adding fat and protein to the milk. The other way is by draining water out of the finished yogurt. In this recipe I will show you how to make Greek yogurt by adding fat and protein. 

If you want to make yogurt from goat milk, have a look at my goat milk yogurt recipe. Goat milk reacts differently than cow milk when it comes to yogurt making.

How to Make Greek Yogurt - The Cheese Shark

Yogurt Culture

Yogurt Culture contains two types of  bacteria. Streptococcus Thermophilus and Lactobacillus Bulgaricus. These two work perfectly together. The SC Thermophilus gets the acidity started and the LB Bulgaricus brings the acidification to an end. By definition, every product called “yogurt” contains this culture. These bacteria have probiotic properties and are very beneficial for the digestive tract. Often the yogurt culture is supplemented with other probiotics, like Bifidus and Acidophilus.

Choosing a good yogurt culture is crucial for the success of homemade yogurt. There are 2 options: 

  • Use a store bought yogurt from a trusted manufacturer who advertises the yogurt with “active bacteria culture”, or “live bacteria”. Once you made your first batch of yogurt, you can use your own yogurt as culture.
  • Buy freeze dried yogurt culture online. I recommend this culture
How to Make Greek Yogurt - The Cheese Shark

A package of freeze dried yogurt culture

Ingredients in cheese - freeze dried cheese culture

Freeze dried yogurt culture, containing Sc Thermophilus, Lb Bulgaricus, Bifidus and Acidophilus.

I recommend using freeze dried culture, at least to get started. It is more reliable and will acidify faster. Often the store bought yogurt can take longer to work. The reason for that is that the older the yogurt is, the more Lb Bulgaricus it contains and less Sc Thermophilus. The thermophilus is the one that gets the acidification started and when lacking, can prolong the yogurt making process. If you make yogurt on a regular basis you can use your own yogurt as a culture, but switch to  freeze dried culture every now and then because your own culture might start to weaken over time. When you use freeze dried culture you know it’s high quality and your Thermophilus/Bulgaricus ratio is always perfect.  Your own yogurt could collect some contamination over time.

What You Will Need

Yogurt is a thermophilic culture, which means the bacteria thrive in warm temperatures, in the range of 38 C/ 100 F  to 45 C/ 113 F. It is important that you have a means to keep the yogurt at a minimum of 38 C/ 100 F for 2 to 6 hours. There are yogurt making devices available, which I do review in the review section, but you can make yogurt without one following my tips below.

Let’s start:

Ingredients Full Fat Version

The milk should have about 6% fat. Store bought homo milk has 3.25%, so we need to add cream. If you are using fresh raw milk, the fat might be 3.8% or, if you have access to Jersey milk, your fat might be 5%. It’s really not that important that your fat content is dead on. If you reach 7% you will have a beautiful yogurt as long as you don’t mind the extra calories. If you have a higher fat milk, just slightly reduce the cream amount from the recipe below. If you want to make larger batches you can simply multiply the recipe.

  • 1 l/ 1 qt of whole milk, or store bought homo milk, 3.25% fat 
  • ½ cup of whipping cream 
  • 2 generous tbsp of skim milk powder
  • 2 tbsp of plain yogurt with active bacteria culture, or approx. ⅛ of a tsp freeze dried culture. You can buy this culture here.

Ingredients for 2% fat version

  • 1 l/ 1 qt of whole milk
  • 4 generous tbsp of skim milk powder
  • 2 tbsp of plain yogurt with active bacteria culture, or approx. ⅛ of a tsp of freeze dried culture. You can buy this culture here.

Ingredients for nonfat version:

  • 1 L/ 1 qt of skim milk
  • 8 generous tbsp of skim milk powder
  • 2 tbsp of plain yogurt with active bacteria culture, or approx. ⅛ of a tsp freeze dried culture. You can buy this culture here.
How to Make Greek Yogurt - The Cheese Shark

Procedure for all fat versions

  • Mix all the ingredients, except the culture, in a large pot. Don’t fill a small pot to the top.
  • Heat the milk, while constantly stirring, to 90 C/ 194 F. Increase the temperature of your stove top gradually to avoid burning the milk.
  • Once the temperature is reached, take the pot off the heat, cover the pot, and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Prepare cold water in the kitchen sink and place the pot into the cold water while stirring the milk. The milk has to cool down to 45 C/ 113 F. You might have to add more cold water to keep the milk cooling. 
  • If you have a yogurt maker, cool the milk to 40 C/ 110 F. Stir in the culture, pour the milk into the individual containers, and place it into the yogurt maker. Make sure the culture is well dissolved. If you use another yogurt, it may stay as a lump in the milk. Stir it well with a whisk. If you are interested in a yogurt maker, have a look at my yogurt maker reviews. 
  • If you don’t have a yogurt maker, put the pot aside and stir in the yogurt culture (see above, make sure the culture is stirred in well). You can either leave the milk in the pot, or pour it into smaller containers. 
  • You have to keep the yogurt warm. A good technique is to heat your oven to about 60 C/ 140 F, best is if you have a “warm” setting. Turn the oven off and place the yogurt milk inside. Leaving the milk temperature at the higher scale and in the warm, well insulated oven, will be sufficient to acidify the yogurt.
  • Depending on your temperature and the activity of the culture, it will take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours to acidify the yogurt. The rule is, it’s better to leave it in the warmth for too long than not long enough. If you happen to have a pH meter, that would be ideal. Once the pH reaches 4.5, you can remove the yogurt from the warmth and refrigerate it. If you don’t have a pH meter, check that the yogurt has become firm, and it should taste acidic. Once this is the case, refrigerate the yogurt. As soon as it is cooled down it is ready to eat.

Homemade yogurt will easily keep for about a month. The challenge is always mould growth, so keep the yogurt in a well sealed container in the fridge.  Make sure all dishes and tools are super clean.

As a recipe idea check out our Peach Yogurt Muffin Tops.

How to Make Greek Yogurt at Home - The Cheese Shark

Troubleshoot

1.The yogurt is not thickening. This is the case when no acidification or slow acidification happens, which can have 3 reasons:

  • You added the yogurt culture too early when the milk was still too hot. That can happen if your thermometer is not accurate. Don’t add the culture as long as the milk is over 50 C/ 120 F. 
  • Your yogurt cooled down too fast. The yogurt should keep a temperature of 38 C/ 100 F minimum during the first 2 hours.
  • Your yogurt culture was not active. That can happen when you used a store bought yogurt that didn’t contain live bacteria, or was close to expiry and the bacteria were not active enough anymore. Or your freeze dried culture lost its activity due to not being kept in the freezer, or it has expired.

If this happens, give the yogurt more time. Even at room temperature, if there’s any bacterial activity, it can eventually come around.

2. The yogurt has an unpleasant taste.

  • You didn’t use fresh milk. 
  • Your tools were not clean
  • You exposed the milk to direct sunlight or fluorescent light.

3. The yogurt starts to mould after a few days. Mould spores are airborne. Clean your yogurt containers thoroughly before filling the yogurt in them. 

Please let me know how these recipes work for you. I am curious to hear how you made out. 

Have fun!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *