Homemade Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Yogurt Salsa (Raita)

Welcome to part II of the series of component dishes (Part I, Candied Jalapenos, can be read here!)  to make the transcendent ‘Second to Naanwich’ that still has me obsessed almost two weeks after eating it. While you can definitely buy Greek yogurt from the store to complete this dish, the homemade variety is so much tastier and less expensive.  I encourage you all to try making it from scratch.

I am addicted to Greek yogurt.  But man-oh-Friday, is it ever an expensive habit.  I was buying cases of it through our local health food co-operative at a price that -while lower than grocery stores- was still painful to pay.  I needed a less expensive way to feed my habit and I found it.

Googling ‘homemade Greek yogurt’ yields a bunch of folks, bless ‘em all, who tell you the same thing.  Strain your yogurt and ‘voila!’ it’s Greek yogurt.  Okie dokie.  Easy enough.  So if you want a super fast homemade Greek yogurt, just strain yourself a quart of yogurt.  And that’s good in a pinch, but when you’re talking volume, that can still get expensive.  So.  Take it back one step further and make your own yogurt.  This is just as exciting from a stick-it-to-the-man viewpoint as homemade buttermilk. It’s not hard people.  Don’t fear the yogurt.

Unless you’ve been in a cave you’re probably at least minimally acquainted with the health benefits of yogurt by this point; the live and active cultures in the yogurt are like a magic bullet for intestinal health.* But don’t forget the calcium, magnesium, potassium, Vitamins B2 and B12 and protein.  Those are pretty handy to overall health, too.

*I’m sorry if you just lost your appetite reading the words ‘intestinal health’.  In my defense, as the mother of five boys ages twelve and under, I thought that was pretty restrained of me.  I could’ve said “It helps you poop regularly.”  Oh my gosh.  I’ve lost all sense of propriety. I need to hang out with girls more often.

Because I love you bigger than the bay, today’s post is a three-fer.  You get the recipe for Greek Yogurt made from scratch, but in the process, you also learn how to make ‘regular’ yogurt.  And you also get my favorite thing to do with Greek yogurt.  (Other than eating it straight with honey, making frozen yogurt, using it for dill dip, using it in place of sour cream, or turning it into tartar sauce…) Cucumber Yogurt Salsa.  This salsa is similar to a raita (an Indian and Pakistani condiment made to cool the palate) but it is made without what I think are key components of a honest-to-goodness raita (chiles, cumin, et al.) The red onion gives it the flavor punch I crave, but the dill and cucumber keep it cool and refreshing.  This is a crucial component to the Second to Naanwich (more information on the mythical Naanwich is here.)

I put Cucumber Yogurt Salsa on all sorts of things; burgers, sandwiches, vegetable sticks, spoons… Let your imagination run wild.  This is some good stuff.

So come on.  Make yourself some yogurt, I want y’all around for a while.  I like you.

For a printer-friendly, photo-free version of this recipe, click here!

Homemade Greek Yogurt (or regular yogurt)

Yield: About 4 cups of Greek yogurt

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts whole, 2% or 1% milkfat milk
  • 4 Tablespoons yogurt with live and active cultures (store bought or less than 36 hour old homemade yogurt)

Heat the milk in a saucepan to 180°F.  If you don’t have a thermometer, don’t sweat it.  You can watch the milk.  When it gets lots of little bubbles around the edge but before it boils, you’re good to go.  It’ll look like this.

And if you happen to get a little warmer than that, don’t worry.  See this?

No one from the yogurt police came to have words with me.  My yogurt turned out just fine.  The important part is waiting for the milk to cool to the right temperature before adding the yogurt.  That nice lukewarm temperature encourages the beneficial bacteria to get cuddly and reproduce.  Anything too hot kills them.  So…

Cover the pan and cool to about 116°F.  Again, don’t panic if a thermometer isn’t handy.  Simply drip a couple drops of the milk on the inside of your wrist.  If it feels pleasant and slightly warmer than body temperature without feeling hot or uncomfortable you can proceed.  Remove about 2 cups of the warm milk to a small bowl and whisk in the yogurt until evenly combined.  Whisk that back into the pan of milk.  Pour into jars or a bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and place in a warm dry place at least six to eight hours or until thickened, overnight if necessary.  A good place for this is an oven that is off but has the interior light on. If you stop at this point, you have regular yogurt.  Simply refrigerate at this point if that’s what you want.

To make Greek yogurt,  place the yogurt in the refrigerator for four hours to firm it a little further and allow some of the whey to separate.  After four hours, line a colander with fine mesh cheesecloth or a clean tea towel.  Pour the yogurt into the colander.  You can either gather the corners of the towel and tie it before hanging it over your sink for 5 hours like this.

Or you can place the colander over a bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight to drain.

After draining to desired consistency, turn into a bowl.

Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cucumber Yogurt Salsa (Raita)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium sized cucumber, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed or 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl.  It is preferable to cover tightly and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving, but this can be eaten immediately.

Comments

  1. Nat Alea from OK says:

    Oh wow does this look good and easy!!!! I can’t wait to try this. I would like to know if you make this yogurt with fruit and how would that affect the yogurt. Would it make it runnier? Also, can you reuse your previously made yogurt to make new yogurt (like your buttermilk)? Can you freeze yogurt? Sorry for all the questions but I’m so excited to try this and I think I”ll be the only one to eat it. Thanks for a great recipe.

  2. Awesome! Thanks. I just got a connection for some local organic whole cream top milk but I have to get a gallon a week and we just don’t drink a lot of milk… and if I eat that much ice cream…I can only imagine :). I LOVE greek yogurt and I loke Tzatziki….which looks a lot like what you did.

  3. I started making my own Greek-style yogurt, in the crockpot, just over a year ago and it’s so great!

    I just recently discovered your blog & love it!

  4. This has got to be the easiest to follow description for making homemade yogurt (and I have read lots!) Definitely a more realistic way to make it! The other method I tried involved the crockpot, towels and then more yogurt than we could actually eat. I have a batch straining now. I was buying Greek yogurt weekly at Costco since they started carrying Fage. Would love to hear more about yogurt like when to incorporate fruit/ flavor, etc. I will not be buying any yobaby yogurt for this last child! Thanks!

  5. When you strain the yogurt, keep the liquid!

    I usually make yogurt in a stainless steel stock pot with 4L (about 1 gallon) of milk. Half of it I keep for regular yogurt, the other half I strain for quite a long time to make yogurt cheese, which is similar in texture to cream cheese and used the same way. Then I like to use the strained liquid to bake bread with. Amazing flavour!

  6. LOVE Greek yogurt! I add it to many recipes that call for sour cream and it’s so good – recently add it to this incredible hamburger I made for moisture…thanks for showing us how to make it!

  7. How easy can you get?! I’ve made this recipe twice now, once with organic 1% milk and the second time with regular 1% cow’s milk. What a difference! The organic milk is very creamy and the other is sort of crumbly. I don’t think I changed the process at all. They both taste good, but the yogurt made with organic milk is out of this world. Thanks so much! Now I’ll try to save enough to make the cucumber salsa.

  8. Rondale W. Wright says:

    Have just started making yogurt. I have been wondering if Greek yogurt can be frozen then eaten like regular yogurt?

  9. c4bl3fl4m3 says:

    Well, I adore Greek yogurt and I remembered your instructions on how to easily make Greek yogurt from regular yogurt so I bought a 2lb container of regular yogurt to give it a go. It’s currently sitting in the tea towel in the colander in the fridge with a bowl under it. It was cool to watch the whey come out from the tea towel. We’ll see how it turns out in the morning. I have high hopes for this, but you’ve never steered me wrong before and I’ve made a number of your recipes.

  10. C4bl3Fl4m3 says:

    Well, I did it, and Heavens to Betsy, it actually worked! Not only did it work, it worked BEAUTIFULLY. I’m never buying Greek yogurt again. I’m just going to make it out of regular yogurt.

    But, my goodness, did a lot of liquid come out. Over a cup of whey. And the yogurt’s about half the size it was last night. It’s like culinary magic! (Not quite as impressive as your 1/7th apple cider reduction, but still.)

  11. Can I use the whey that is left to make ricotta chesse? Or anything else? Do you have a recipe for ricotta?

    • I don’t think you’d get a big enough yield on the whey to make an attempt at ricotta fruitful, but the leftover whey would be fabulous for baking, adding to smoothies for extra protein, or giving to critters!

  12. i have been making yogurt for years if you add 1/2 c dry milk powder to your mix it will make a thicker creamier yogurt greek. the longer you let sit the stronger the yogurt also if you strain a longer time you get a yogurt cream cheeese great with herbs or you can go sweet

  13. I’m spreading the word at work how easy it is to make your own yogurt. :) I’ve got a few converts, and one of my co-workers checks your website more often than I do!

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