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Make or Buy: Greek Yogurt (part 1 of ?)

Well, it's Monday and I'm feeling ambitious, having posted a Make or Buy the past couple of weeks. I thought about skipping this week, but I had an easy one to share, so here you have it.

Raise your hand if you love the creamy goodness of Greek-style yogurt.

I confess that I had not even tried the stuff until very recently. Quick back story: a delicious new fro-yo place called Sweetlix opened up near my office, so of course I had to give it a whirl. It was love at first bite of the original tart flavor. As I was making an utter fool out of myself, groaning and drooling (only a little), the guy behind the counter said that some people say it tastes a little like Greek yogurt. It was ridiculous, this stuff. And I made a pact to return at least once a week.

Don't tell my food accountability partner (sorry Jennifer T.).

Well if THAT was so insanely wonderfulicious, how fantastic must Greek yogurt be? I had to find out. So I went to the grocery store and bought 3 small tubs and gave it a whirl.

And loved it.

And I shared one with my hubster and he loved it too.

It's pretty remarkable how much this stuff costs. I'm not sure why, but it's $2 a serving on a good day. I didn't check at Trader Joe's, who may have better prices, mostly because the headache of driving all the way out there would negate the couple of dimes I might save on the bottom line. Anyhoo, I digress.

My work buddy, Sarah, mentioned that it was possible to make it yourself, and immediately my ears perked up and the gears started turning. Make or Buy: Greek yogurt? I think we're onto something.

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I did a little internet research and found a few different methods of making Greek-style yogurt at home. Two looked fairly time-intensive and I was feeling impatient, so I decided to try the third, extremely easy peasy method. All you need to try this yourself, is a tub of plain yogurt with active cultures and a dish towel or cheesecloth. I opted for the cheesecloth because any trace of fabric softener in the dish towel could transfer over to the yogurt.

Can you say blech?

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The whole process is quick and easy. First you find yourself a bowl and a colander. Place the bowl inside the colander, making sure there's a couple of inches of room between the two. Line the colander with either your fabric softener-free dish towel or the cheesecloth. I actually triple-layered the cheesecloth out of sheer paranoia. Single- or double-layering would probably suffice.

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Spoon the yogurt into the cheesecloth-lined colander.

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Pretty much immediately, you'll start to notice some weeping happening inside the bowl as the whey from the yogurt strains through.

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Now place the bowl inside of the fridge and leave it alone for a few hours. I think I left mine for 4 or 5. During this time, all of the whey seeps out of the yogurt and into the bowl, leaving your yogurt super thick. The longer you allow it to sit, the thicker the resulting yogurt will be.

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You can check the thickness by standing a spoon in the yogurt after a few hours. Mine seemed about right when the spoon stood up on its own and didn't budge when I jiggled the bowl.

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imanimama's VERDICT: Meh. This method failed to impress. Sure, my yogurt was thicker, but it wasn't nearly as creamy and satisfying as the Fage Total 2%. Sean tried it too and said it just tasted like regular yogurt, only thicker. Don't get me wrong, I still ate it and it wasn't awful, but I'm not sold on this at all.

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Couple of other reasons why: after more time in the fridge, even after draining off so much whey, the new yogurt is still swimming in it every time I open the container. Maybe I should have let it set longer. Regardless, there's a lot of draining going on. Also, since regular plain yogurt has so much whey in it, by the time you strain it all out, you don't have nearly as much yogurt left. I put it back in the original container and it only filled 3/4 of the way up.

So I probably won't waste my time on this method again, but I am still intrigued by the whole make-it-yourself process. Next I'll try the crock pot method. But in the meantime, I'll just splurge on the Fage...for special occasions, of course. Like Wednesday or Friday or September. And maybe call Trader Joe's and see if I can stock up for cheaper.

So how about you? Have you tried to make your own yogurt? Any success stories out there?

Real Parents On: Family Time

Weekend Rewind: 5.24.10 (better late than never)

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