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Fat Guy

Why is this yogurt different from all other yogurts?

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In the past few years, Greek (or, more specifically, Greek-style) yogurt has become more available and popular in the US. (I don't know about other countries.) In my opinion, Greek-style yogurt is far superior to any other style of yogurt I've ever tried. It's thick, creamy and tangy -- much more so than other yogurts. And I'm wondering why.

My first theory was that maybe Greek-style yogurt just has more fat. But the existence of nonfat, 1% and other low-fat-percentage Greek-style yogurt products would seem to disprove that theory -- those products are thick and creamy too, and they don't appear to contain food-science thickeners like gums.

So what's the deal with Greek-style yogurt? How do they get it that way? And do you love it too?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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.....How do they get it that way? And do you love it too?

Have NO clue how they do it, and will be quite interested in the responses to this query to see if someone does. But I absolutely do love Greek yogurt. No more runny raitas, for one thing ! The flavor is absolutely much superior to regular yogurt as well.


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

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Greek yogurt is just strained yogurt. Think along the lines of labneh, but perhaps not strained as much.

From the Fage website:

The milk and live culture then undergo a unique straining process which removes the watery-whey from the yogurt and gives FAGE Total its thick creamy texture.

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The flavor is absolutely much superior to regular yogurt as well.

I completely agree, to the point that I'm ruined for any other kind of yogurt. I have a little friend Brooke who just turned one and by chance, her first taste of yogurt was full fat Greek style with some honey mixed in. Her mom has since tried other types since the Greek ain't cheap and isn't carried everywhere but Brookie spits everything else out!

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Greek yogurt is just strained yogurt.

Exactly. Put your yogurt in a cheesecloth and hang it until it is about half the original volume, and you've got Greek yogurt. Let it hang until it is about a quarter of the original volume, and you can spread it like cream cheese.

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Greek yogurt is just strained yogurt.

Exactly. Put your yogurt in a cheesecloth and hang it until it is about half the original volume, and you've got Greek yogurt. Let it hang until it is about a quarter of the original volume, and you can spread it like cream cheese.

I've been straining my yogurt for, ummmm, decades. I even have a special strainer for it - looks like a Melitta cone filter; probably got it back when I was making my own yogurt...decades ago.

What's interesting is that as I use up a container of say, Fage, I try not to stir the yogurt. And each time I go to remove some yogurt, I pour off the whey. By the time half the yogurt is gone, what remains is extra thick and creamy - it's like eating sour cream! And it's just as delicious.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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I have strained yogurt many times over the years and never achieved a result like the Greek-style yogurt from Fage, Chobani, et al. I get something much more like a farmer's cheese in various stages of development, depending on how long I let it go. It's useful in various recipes and spreads -- and has been popular as a diet food for ages -- but it's not the same. I have to assume that if commercial Greek-style yogurt is strained it is processed differently than yogurt hung in a cheesecloth over a bowl in the fridge at home.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I find that the filters that are more like socks work better than cheesecloth.

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I was never very thrilled with yogurt until I read about Fage yogurt several years ago on an egullet thread. Tried it, loved it, and am thrilled that there are now a variety of greek-style yogurts available that means I can normally get one of the brands I like on sale every week. Before greek yogurt was readily available, I had to go to a health food store for my weekly supply of Fage at high prices. So I started making my own. It is easy to duplicate with a little practice. If you drain it too much and it ends up like farm cheese, just add some whey back in to get it back to the right consistency. Now that I can get it on sale, I have gone back to buying it again.

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I have to assume that if commercial Greek-style yogurt is strained it is processed differently than yogurt hung in a cheesecloth over a bowl in the fridge at home.

Perhaps that's why they say it's a "unique straining process".

They also say it takes 4 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of yoghurt. If you're making your own yoghurt, try straining your yoghurt till it's 1/4 the weight of the milk you started with.

Also consider the quality of the milk you're using to make your homemade yoghurt. Regular supermarket milk can be pretty crappy in flavour, but you may not notice until you start drinking better quality milk. I found that out, and now I can't go back to buying the cheap stuff on sale.

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We don't get Greek yogurt here so I strain regular, full fat yogurt to get a thicker product. You might also want to try whisking the yogurt, it makes it more creamy and gives it a better texture. I also believe Greek yogurt has cream added, so maybe if you strain regular yogurt and then whisk in a little cream it will be more like Greek and solve your texture problem. I think I'll have to try that.


Abigail Blake

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The Greek-style yogurt I've been getting from Fage and Chobani (Costco now has Chobani in multi-packs for a great price) is either lowfat or nonfat, so I'm thinking the texture of Greek-style yogurt is not due to fat content. As for straining, I'll try some experiments, but based on past experience I'm skeptical. I've both made and purchased a lot of yogurt over the years, exploring a dizzying array of milk types, methods and brands. I've also done a bunch of straining. I guess I need to do more. Maybe I'll stumble across someone who can demo it and convince me.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I am assuming that the above Greek yoghurts cost more than regular yoghurt...supermarket or not. Here's my puzzle:

In Canada there is a dairy, Astro, which produces several kinds of yoghurt: regular fat, medium fat, low fat...I don't know. Granted this is all supermarket yoghurt and thus not meant for dedicated foodies. Our dogs have yoghurt every day and they are not fussy.

However, for the same low price as the other varieties, Astro also produces Balkan style yoghurt which tastes much better than the rest. How do they do it? And do I really want to know in this case, seeing as it's the same price... :hmmm:


Darienne

 

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Since it's so easy to get Fage here I haven't even tried any other Greek-style brands, although there seem to be more than ever on the shelves. Do you like Chobani as much as Fage? What about any other brands? The 2% Fage tastes like a whole-fat product to me, and I find it can work well as a sub for sour cream in many dishes. I don't find regular yogurts very appealing, expecially not ones with lots of jammy fruit in them.

My mother used to put sour cream and brown sugar on grapes and my brother and I were addicted to it. Try any seedless grapes with a dollop of low-fat Fage and a sprinkling of dark brown sugar. It may sound strange, but it's compelling, and works well even if you have grapes that are less than perfect. My daughter loved it as an after-school homework boost.

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I like Chobani better than Fage. I'll have to do a side-by-side comparison in order to explain it, but the first time I tried Chobani I decided to ditch Fage.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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hat's interesting is that as I use up a container of say, Fage, I try not to stir the yogurt. And each time I go to remove some yogurt, I pour off the whey. By the time half the yogurt is gone, what remains is extra thick and creamy - it's like eating sour cream! And it's just as delicious.

Trader Joe's has a product they call "Mediterranean Cheese Style Yogurt" and it has the taste and consistency you're describing here. TJ's Greek-style yogurt is the one I usually get, but this thicker one is also excellent. REALLY makes a nice thick relish or raita. It could convince me to quit buying sour cream.


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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I am curious if any one knows if you reduce the protein content of yogurt by straining your own...I used to do this until the Greek-style's came more available in my area, now almost ubiquitous. The Greek-styles' commercially have MORE protein per cup than regular yogurt, but if you are straining the "whey" so I assume "whey protein" from the yogurt, the protien content should be less...no?

my fav's are Fage (sorry FG) and the Trader Joe's; I buy the non-fat, and it is quite creamy and delicious(along with berries and honey and granola), and has replaced years of milk and box-cereal for breakfast...

shanty

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I've been straining my yogurt for, ummmm, decades. I even have a special strainer for it - looks like a Melitta cone filter; probably got it back when I was making my own yogurt...decades ago.

You were caught up in the yogurt craze of the 70's too, I take it. I still have my yellow Salton Yogurt Maker, which I eventually discovered was entirely unnecessary, but it is still handy to have a thermostatically controlled thing for making yogurt. I never got around to getting one of those strainer cones, so whenever I've made yogurt cheese, I've used a cheesecloth.

Also consider the quality of the milk you're using to make your homemade yoghurt. Regular supermarket milk can be pretty crappy in flavour, but you may not notice until you start drinking better quality milk. I found that out, and now I can't go back to buying the cheap stuff on sale.

I agree with this. The flavor, texture and acidity of any given yogurt depends on the cultures involved, the milk, and the length of time of culture, and then straining time will affect the thickness. Some commercial (and even homemade) yogurts also add nonfat dry milk to the regular milk, which usually yields a firmer yogurt. I'd start by making a batch of fresh yogurt using a Greek yogurt you like, then straining, checking it periodically to see how long it takes to reach the desired thickness.

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I am assuming that the above Greek yoghurts cost more than regular yoghurt...supermarket or not. Here's my puzzle:

In Canada there is a dairy, Astro, which produces several kinds of yoghurt: regular fat, medium fat, low fat...I don't know. Granted this is all supermarket yoghurt and thus not meant for dedicated foodies. Our dogs have yoghurt every day and they are not fussy.

However, for the same low price as the other varieties, Astro also produces Balkan style yoghurt which tastes much better than the rest. How do they do it? And do I really want to know in this case, seeing as it's the same price... :hmmm:

Balkan-style yoghurt is similar to Greek-style--thicker and richer than usual yoghurt. The comments made here about Greek yoghurt would also apply to Balkan.

BTW, you should check out the ingredients of different Astro yoghurts. If their website is to be believed, I'd stay away from the 2%--it's the least "pure". (Oddly, the 0% has fewer ingredients--just skim milk, cream, and active bacterial cultures. But I'm thinking someone made a mistake and mixed up the ingredients for 0% and 2%).

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I wonder if it also has to do with the cultures involved. Just like with beer and other fermented products, the fermentation cultures play a significant role in the flavour of the final product.


"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I buy Chobani and Fage interchangeably depending on what's on sale. When Fage started being produced in NY instead of Greece, there was a noticeable quality decrease but they seem to have worked the kinks out. I also buy Oikos occasionally but that does not seem to go onsale readily. When I was making yogurt, I experimented with using the Greek yogurt as a starter but it didn't seem to make much of a difference. However, getting organic fresh milk did. Like I said above,I can buy Greek yogurt on sale which reduces the costs well below my homemade yogurt. A quart of organic milk costs way more, especially after straining to get a Greek yogurt consistency. I have a grad paper due at midnight tonight - talking about yogurt is a great distraction! :rolleyes:

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Greek yogurt is just strained yogurt.

Exactly. Put your yogurt in a cheesecloth and hang it until it is about half the original volume, and you've got Greek yogurt. Let it hang until it is about a quarter of the original volume, and you can spread it like cream cheese.

I've been straining my yogurt for, ummmm, decades. I even have a special strainer for it - looks like a Melitta cone filter; probably got it back when I was making my own yogurt...decades ago.

What's interesting is that as I use up a container of say, Fage, I try not to stir the yogurt. And each time I go to remove some yogurt, I pour off the whey. By the time half the yogurt is gone, what remains is extra thick and creamy - it's like eating sour cream! And it's just as delicious.

To me, that's the key - I love eating sour cream straight (Ukranian heritage). I've loved Fage, even from the dreaded New York establishment (now that they've worked out the kinks). Chobani just appeared in the local Megalomart, and I find the vanilla quite yummy. Oikos is "eh".

ETA: I'm freelance editing an ebook due in an hour or so. I know about distractions!


Edited by crinoidgirl (log)

V

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I have achieved something close to the Greek style yogurt when I tried speeding up the straining process with a 1/2 gallon batch of homemade yogurt.

I have the small SS salad spinner made by Oxo. I lined the entire basket with a square yard of butter muslin (extra heavy extra fine cheesecloth), ladled in the yogurt and started spinning it. (The cheesecloth has to be wetted and then wrung out till just damp.)

I poured off the first batch of whey (saved it for making sourdough bread), allowed the yogurt to "rest" for an hour or so and then repeated the spinning twice, pouring off the whey after each session.

It worked a treat and took very little time. The solid yogurt came free from the butter muslin the same as cheese curds do and I ended up with a bit more than a quart of fairly solid yogurt that was spreadable - about the texture of soft butter. It worked nicely spread on scones at brunch (and later that evening on a wedge of gingerbread).

I will be making a batch of yogurt in a couple of days and will take photos of the subsequent process.

Oxo also makes the spinner in plastic and I had one but it deformed when I put it through my old dishwasher (Hobart) but it would probably survive okay in a regular dishwasher that doesn't heat the water as much.

I hope this helps.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I have achieved something close to the Greek style yogurt when I tried speeding up the straining process with a 1/2 gallon batch of homemade yogurt.

I hope this helps.

Thank you! I would love to know if this process works.


V

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And I'm sorry if this sounds too weird -

I would love to know how to keep the yogurt clean in a multi-pet household.


V

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