A Re-Examined Life

Canberra girl’s mission to live a more natural, sustainable life.

Make it From Scratch – Greek Yoghurt

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Recently I walked into the kitchen to find my 16-year-old, straining the milk through a colander to pour onto his breakfast. Seems he isn’t as keen on the unhomogenized milk as I am. He told me the “bits” are disgusting.  Those bits that he is referring to are creamy butterfat goodness.  Having spent most of my life depriving myself of butterfat goodness, I just don’t get how anyone could not want to be a part of it.  But then again, there are plenty of things I don’t get about 16 year olds.

I have been spending a fair amount of time straining in the kitchen too, but mine is because I have been making stacks of yoghurt.  I got my hands on a copy of Sally Falon’s book, Nourishing Traditions, which is full of all kinds of interesting information, but she explains how fermenting milk (and in case you didn’t realise, that is what you do when you make yoghurt), restores many of the enzymes which are destroyed during pasteurisation.   And this is just the beginning of the good news about yoghurt.

I think there is something to be said about foods which have been around for a long time, and yoghurt certainly has.  Yoghurt is apparently one of the oldest produced foods in human history.  Historians are unsure of how of just exactly how old it is, but estimate it was first used somewhere between 9000 and 6000 BC.  (For those of you who, like me,  gain no understanding from the use of BC timing, 9000 BC is 11,015 years ago.  I googled it and found out that you just add the BC number to the current year, I am officially a little bit smarter 🙂 ).

Yoghurt is very good for you,  everyone agrees on that, and apparently even from the very beginnings people have known of its health benefits. One of the main reasons yoghurt is so good for you, is that during the fermentation process,  there are lots of little good, helpful and friendly bacteria created, and when you put those little good guys into your tummy (by eating them), not only do they help you to digest other food, but they get rid of the bad, unhelpful and not-so-friendly bacteria in your tummy.  As I mentioned in my very first post, more and more research is showing the relationship between our physical health and our gut bacteria, so get stuck into the yoghurt.  I eat it every day.

Unfortunately, as with most things, the yoghurt you buy from the shop may not necessarily be that good for you.  I have found that the majority of yoghurt at the supermarket contain artificial preservatives, thickeners, and sugar, and most of them are made from low-fat milk.  Given that I use 2 ingredients to make yoghurt, I find the ingredients on this (fairly standard) label to be a little over the top.

greek yoghurt

So you should totally make your own.  It’s super easy, but to make it the super simple way I do, you will need a yoghurt maker.   I picked up mine from a school fete for $2, and there must be lots of people changing their minds about making their own yoghurt as I can honestly say that there has never been a time that I have NOT seen one at a school fete.  (That is probably because they don’t realise they can make yoghurt with 2 ingredients and use the shop bought yoghurt mix stuff, which basically helps you to make shop-bought yoghurt and it isn’t very nice).  I also usually see at least one at the green shed,  and in other second-hand shops, so I feel pretty confident that you should be able to easily grab yourself a cheap second-hand one.

Mine looks like this.

greek yoghurt recipe

The difference between natural yoghurt and greek yoghurt is that greek yoghurt is strained to remove the whey (that clear watery looking liquid you see in yoghurt).  I was going to tell you all about what whey is, but I actually couldn’t really find much information on it.  My basic understanding is that it is one of the proteins contained in the milk that separates through the fermenting process.  There are some schools of thought that suggest greek yoghurt is better for you as most of the sugary part of the milk separates along with the whey, so the greek yoghurt has less sugar in it.

I just prefer it because it is thicker and creamier and seemingly more delicious. I  have found that the amount of whey produced varies depending on how fresh the milk and/or yoghurt I am using is, whether I take the milk off before it boils, or if it actually gets to the boil.  (One time there was so much whey, and the separated yoghurt was so thick I think I accidentally made ricotta cheese. I haven’t been able to recreate it. )  But there is no need to throw out the whey you produce as there are plenty of things you can do with it, the Prairie homestead gives us 16 ideas.   Unfortunately yoghurt manufacturing companies aren’t doing any of the 16 things, as they are just throwing it out.  This is actually something of concern since lots of people have started purchasing greek yoghurt.  The Diary reporter published an article earlier this year describing the issues with the volume of whey that is being produced, they describe that the main concern is around whey getting get into waterways which would result in “massive fish kills and creating a dead sea by depleting oxygen”.  Who knew?  So like I said, you should totally make your own and then you can use up your whey and save the fishies 🙂

So this is how I make my yoghurt.


800 mls full-fat, un-homogenized milk

200 mls of organic greek yoghurt (for your first time you will need to grab some from the shop, but after you have made your first batch you can set aside some from your own to use)

What to do:

Heat the milk in a saucepan, stirring regularly until it just starts to boil.  Pour milk into the yoghurt making container and set aside to cool until it is luke-warmish, maybe a bit warmer.  The milk will have grown one of those milky skins on top, avoid breaking the skin and gently pour the yoghurt into the container. Give it a bit of a swirl and put the lid on.

Fill the yoghurt making incubator (as I like to call it, it’s the outside bit of the yoghurt maker), with boiling water (as per the instructions of the particular yoghurt making system) and put the yoghurt making container inside.  Close the incubator lid and set aside for a minimum of 5 hours.  I find leaving it overnight works the best.  After the desired amount of time, open the incubator lid and there you will find your home-made yoghurt.  Arent you clever?

To turn your home-made yoghurt into home-made greek yoghurt, you will need to strain it. People are always talking about cheesecloth, but I don’t have one, (in fact I don’t think I have ever even seen one), I just use a tea towel that I keep solely for that purpose.  I wet the tea towel and pour the yoghurt in, then gather up the top and squeeze gently over a bowl.  The whey will start to pour out and will take a bit of time.  I don’t usually have patience to go past 5 minutes and the result is thick enough for me.  If you don’t want to stand there doing that you can put it into the fridge and leave it to drain itself for a few hours.  And there you have it.

You can then get to making other home-made delicious things from you homemade greek yoghurt.  I’m sure there’s at least a million things, you don’t just have to eat it you know  🙂

I am currently using my homemade greek yoghurt to make homemade delicious smoothies every day for breakfast and here is my favourite:

Chocolate banana coconut smoothie


1 cup of homemade greek yoghurt

1 banana

2 teaspoons cacao

1 teaspoon coconut oil.

What to do:

I just chuck it all together and mix with a hand blender.  This little concoction keeps me full till lunchtime 🙂

Please feel free to share your homemade yoghurt home-made recipes in the comments below 🙂


Author: teagls

I am your ordinary Canberra gal, I'm a public servant, a mum, etc, etc... I'm on a mission to live a more natural and sustainable life and I'm looking to do it in the simplest, most cost effective way possible :)

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