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Best Greek yogurt starter?

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Can anyone recommend a good yogurt starter to make Greek yogurt?

Also: Is it really necessary to buy a yogurt machine? Seems like an exact oven will have the same result.

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Sorry to bring up sous vide again 😀, but I have read about making yogurt this way.

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Posted (edited)

There's no such thing as a starter for Greek yogurt, as Greek yogurt is simply regular yogurt with some or most of the whey removed. This is usually done (at home) by simply dumping yogurt into some sort of straining device -- a sieve lined with a few layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter works fine. (Alternatively, or in addition, you can add thickeners, like pectin or gums, or even powdered milk, but I'm pretty sure that would be considered cheating.)

 

If there's a specific brand of yogurt that you like, there's your starter, as long as it has active cultures. Just stir in about 3 tablespoons of yogurt per quart of milk.

 

It's not necessary to have a yogurt machine, although it will probably keep things neater. But you can use anything that will maintain the proper temperature for incubation, 100° to 110°F (38° to 43°C), for at least five hours (the longer you incubate, the thicker and more tangy the yogurt will become). I've seen people make yogurt in Instant Pots, microwaves, well-insulated containers (like a Thermos), even slow cookers and proofing boxes. ETA: someone -- Alton Brown, maybe? makes it with a bowl and a heating pad.

 

There are many, many internet tutorials with more details.


Edited by Dave the Cook Additional info (log)
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Posted (edited)

I posted this very simple method previously on another forum.    So called "descending hear" method.     Equipment needed:  a heavy, lidded pot; small (1/2 cup) containers; blanket or equivalent.

 

Water is set to boil in a heavy lidded pot, like enameled iron or similar.     Milk is brought to a simmer and left to cool until you can hold your finger in it for 10 seconds.   Add a spoonful of commercial yogurt to the milk and mix well.  Empty water from pot and place small jars in it.       Fill jars.   Replace pot lid.   Place pot on a folded blanket and wrap snugly.    Leave until it has cooled to room temp.  We left it overnight.   The yogurt will be somewhat creamy but will set up more as it cools more in the refrigerator.    

 

I used whole organic milk (1 qt) and organic plain yogurt (1 teaspoon).    DELICIOUS product.    Stupid easy.   The hardest part is folding up and putting away the blanket or comforter.    

1589117860_ScreenShot2019-07-02at10_17_53AM.png.a0e1819076cb89209df447746010ac17.png

 

429320672_ScreenShot2019-07-02at10_17_37AM.png.47b945b8741b3d8c9e16d11d42113da8.png

 

It was suggested that this was the troglodyte method and indeed it is!     No special equipment or long power input necessary. 

 

ETA, one teaspoon of yogurt is all that is necessary for a quart o milk.  


Edited by Margaret Pilgrim (log)
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Hmmm, this may be what pushes me to buy an enameled pot (since I don't have any pots that would hold heat well enough). I love the idea of yogurt via neglect.

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I make yogurt by heating milk to the correct temperature on the stove in a heavy stainless steel pot, then cooling to the correct temperature, stirring in the starter, and putting the jars in a small insulated cooler with water that's about the same temperature of the cooled mixture. Close the cover, wrap the whole thing in a couple of thick towels, and leave it for at least 4 hours. I've left it as long as overnight (I forgot...). I also stir in a few tablespoons of dry milk--Nido is widely available here--which seems to thicken the final product a little more. Not as much as Greek yogurt, but more than the usual.

 

Not complicated and pretty forgiving, but you do have to get the temperatures right. No equipment that you don't already have. I make it about every 10 days because we eat it on cut up fruit (right now it's mango) for breakfast most mornings.

 

Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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I thought I might save my store-bought yogurt containers for stock. I've only been collecting them for about two months; I'm totally amazed by how much plastic waste I'm creating!

 

So I'm very interested in making my own yogurt. 😑

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The IP is your friend for making yogurt. I've found amount of starter doesn't make a lot of difference. I use a single-serve container of Fage as a starter, because I can't be arsed to use part of it for starter and save the rest. I'm lazy like that.

 

I use Nido Fortificado dry milk, too. If you mix two cups to two quarts of water, it doesn't take a lot of straining to produce good, thick yogurt. Plus, you don't have to boil first. Throw it all in the IP,  whisk i the Fage, punch "yogurt," and let 'er go.

 

I know you don't need an IP. But, as I said, I'm lazy like that.

 

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If I had an IP...

I'd IP in the morning.

I'd IP in the evening.

All over this land...

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eGullet member #80.

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The IP ranks next to the CSO as the appliance I use the most. It's a wonderful critter.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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On 6/23/2019 at 11:36 PM, ElsieD said:

As far as rice goes, I have tried Uncle Ben's, the kind where you microwave the package for 90 seconds and it is done.  However, I don't like the texture as I find it mushy.  However, given  that it is widely available, a lot of people must like it so you could give that a try.  It comes in different flavors.

 

11 hours ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

I posted this very simple method previously on another forum.    So called "descending hear" method.     Equipment needed:  a heavy, lidded pot; small (1/2 cup) containers; blanket or equivalent.

 

Water is set to boil in a heavy lidded pot, like enameled iron or similar.     Milk is brought to a simmer and left to cool until you can hold your finger in it for 10 seconds.   Add a spoonful of commercial yogurt to the milk and mix well.  Empty water from pot and place small jars in it.       Fill jars.   Replace pot lid.   Place pot on a folded blanket and wrap snugly.    Leave until it has cooled to room temp.  We left it overnight.   The yogurt will be somewhat creamy but will set up more as it cools more in the refrigerator.    

 

I used whole organic milk (1 qt) and organic plain yogurt (1 teaspoon).    DELICIOUS product.    Stupid easy.   The hardest part is folding up and putting away the blanket or comforter.    

1589117860_ScreenShot2019-07-02at10_17_53AM.png.a0e1819076cb89209df447746010ac17.png

 

429320672_ScreenShot2019-07-02at10_17_37AM.png.47b945b8741b3d8c9e16d11d42113da8.png

 

It was suggested that this was the troglodyte method and indeed it is!     No special equipment or long power input necessary. 

 

ETA, one teaspoon of yogurt is all that is necessary for a quart o milk.  

 

 

Thank you for that. I will try this.

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8 hours ago, kayb said:

The IP ranks next to the CSO as the appliance I use the most. It's a wonderful critter.

 

I know this is OT but I'm itching to buy one of those devices and I don't know which is best. Could you (please) start a topic to discuss this?

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At our restaurant we use the Caspian Sea cultures - gives us the thickest (ie less loss when we drain), and we don't use any of the gadgets and counter space takers mentioned above. We put a gallon of milk in a mixing bowl on the counter, add the cultures and cover with a towel. Wait. Next day it's thickened and ready. Subsequent batches are one cup of yogurt added to one gallon of milk. We've not had one issue in over two years and we've started from scratch maybe six times.

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1 hour ago, gfron1 said:

At our restaurant we use the Caspian Sea cultures - gives us the thickest (ie less loss when we drain), and we don't use any of the gadgets and counter space takers mentioned above. We put a gallon of milk in a mixing bowl on the counter, add the cultures and cover with a towel. Wait. Next day it's thickened and ready. Subsequent batches are one cup of yogurt added to one gallon of milk. We've not had one issue in over two years and we've started from scratch maybe six times.

 

That's good to know.  What (approximately) do you think the ambient temperature is near the bowl, and how steady do you think it is?

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3 hours ago, TdeV said:

 

I know this is OT but I'm itching to buy one of those devices and I don't know which is best. Could you (please) start a topic to discuss this?

 

This thread should tell you just about anything you want to know, and possibly a lot more than you wish to know.

 

But to address your question quickly, if you're cooking for an average family, the six-quart is about right. It'll make a gallon of yogurt (well, from a gallon of milk, I should say). I like the Duo, as it has a few presets I use, but you can certainly get by with a Lux. I wouldn't use an eight-quart with my size family (two of us, with frequent dinner guests), but I could see times when I could use the three-quart.

 

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2 hours ago, gfron1 said:

At our restaurant we use the Caspian Sea cultures - gives us the thickest (ie less loss when we drain), and we don't use any of the gadgets and counter space takers mentioned above. We put a gallon of milk in a mixing bowl on the counter, add the cultures and cover with a towel. Wait. Next day it's thickened and ready. Subsequent batches are one cup of yogurt added to one gallon of milk. We've not had one issue in over two years and we've started from scratch maybe six times.

 

Where does one find Caspian Sea culture?

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@kayb, I was actually curious about the comparison between IP and CSO. 🤓

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There is a lot of information in the thread of which the following is one page:  

I made several posts - I  often made yogurt with half & half to get a much firmer result without having to drain it.

I also used the yogurt culture with heavy cream to get a result that, with minimal draining, is a great substitute for clotted cream.

 

The higher the fat content, the milder the yogurt "tang" - I have over the many years I have made yogurt, experimented with goat milk, ewe milk as well as different grades of cow milk and cream and sometimes a mixture.  

 

There are a few important criteria that one must observe to get the greatest yield and a stable product.

The dairy MUST be heated to at least 180F. and then cooled to 115° before adding the culture.  I know some people scoff at that but there is a SCIENTIFIC REASON!  

In my numerous experiments I have tried other methods and my YIELD is much higher with following these rules

 

Following is a quote from the California Milk Board:

"Yogurt is formed by the growth of two bacterial organisms in milk; Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus which turn the milk sugars into lactic acid. These are two separate bacteria that are active at different times during processing. Some times you will also find yogurt that contains other ""Probiotic"" cultures such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bifidobacterium infantis which are bacterium normally found in your intestines. Together these bacteria aid in digestion and the synthesis of vitamins. Here are the required steps. Heat milk to between 180 and 200 °F. Heating the milk is done for a few reasons. First, to sterilize/pasteurize the milk so that the yogurt bacteria/culture has a hospitable place to grow in. It is not desirable to incubate contaminating bacteria that might be present in the unsterilized milk. Heating should be done even with pasteurized milk to help make a smooth thick yogurt.  Heating the milk also helps stop the whey from separating out quite as much. You must then cool milk to 115 °F and add yogurt culture. (If the milk is too hot it will kill the yogurt bacteria.) Stir in yogurt culture gently until dissolved. Hold temperature at 105 to 110 °F for approximately 8-10 hours. This allows your ""good"" bacteria to grow. The methods listed in the post are suitable for this. Finally, you must refrigerate the processed yogurt for at least two hours. Refrigeration help slow the continued bacterial growth. If yogurt is not refrigerated it will become sour."

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7 hours ago, TdeV said:

@kayb, I was actually curious about the comparison between IP and CSO. 🤓

Never tried making it in the CSO. Don't see any reason why you couldn't.

 


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9 hours ago, Smithy said:

That's good to know.  What (approximately) do you think the ambient temperature is near the bowl, and how steady do you think it is?

Our kitchen is always 72-74º

8 hours ago, ElsieD said:

Where does one find Caspian Sea culture?

We've bought from a few places online. Most of the culture sellers have it. Most often it comes in a packet with other strains as well.

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