home made yoghurt-- to strain, or not to strain?

i've been using a couple tablespoons commercial yoghurt (live cultures) as a starter, with ~pint of flash-pasteurized farmer's market whole milk, then following directions i found online. final product is very smooth and runny, tasty. tried straining overnight for first time, woke up just now to a tiny fraction of the volume i started with! saved filtrate in a container under the strainer, it looks like the cloudy, yellow, watery stuff i usually pour off the top of yoghurt. any other pros/cons to straining besides losing so much volume (hence $)? nutrient lost? not sure straining is worth it! thanks.

Rebecca Vitale


petitbleu June 25, 2013
If you do want thicker yogurt on occasion, there are a few tricks you can use to get a good consistency. Try adding milk powder to your milk to the tune of about 1/2 cup per quart. You can also keep the milk at about 180F for 30 minutes to an hour. This will cause some of the water in the milk to evaporate, leaving behind a higher milk solids to water ratio, resulting in thicker yogurt. I also like using powdered cultures because they ensure consistency from batch to batch, and often they provide a better "set." Finally, don't be afraid to let your yogurt culture for as long as it takes (within reason) to get decently thick. Sometimes it takes longer than you think it will.
IlovePhilly June 24, 2013
Basically if you find any for "real" ginger beer online, you can sub whey for "the ginger bug." I like to use about 1/2 of whey per gallon of finished liquid. Here's my ginger beer:

Just skip the part about the starter and sub 1 cup of whey for the ingredient "ginger beer starter."

There are lots of ginger beer recipes out there. Go nuts! And yes, whey is so super versatile: bread-making liquid, salad dressing, soups, stews, smoothies, I could go on and on. When I have way too much, I use it, diluted, on my tomato plants to combat late blight.

Rebecca V. June 24, 2013
now i'm thinking i might keep my yoghurt loose just to get the whey! have first gallon of ginger beer set up to brew today... wrote down what i did and will tweak as necessary. will report back! thanks for info!
boulangere June 23, 2013
I make yogurt using a freeze-dried live culture made by Yógourmet, and available inexpensively in any natural foods store. It produces thick, heavenly yogurt within about 4 hours. Whey, which while useful in many ways, doesn't appear to be the product you are wanting to produce. Here's a description of how I make it:
And you honestly don't have to use a yogurt maker, though I now use one which produces up to 2 wonderful quarts of the stuff. For years, and I mean literally years, I was quite content to make it in a quart-size Mason jar wrapped in a heating pad set on Low and secured with rubber bands. Persevere!
boulangere June 23, 2013
P.S. I also use the yogurt maker to make crème fraîche. Here's a link to where to find one:
Rebecca V. June 24, 2013
yes, i'm doing machine-less yoghurt for now... reused glass jars are my friends. thanks for the link, excited to try it out!
susan G. June 23, 2013
There are previous extended conversations on Hotline about how to use whey (often tied to making non-classic ricotta). Good for making bread, soups where you want a tangy taste ... I thought it was really good as part of the liquid for cooking steel cut oats. Farmers feed it to pigs, because it has so much nutrition to offer.
Rebecca V. June 24, 2013
i'm realizing that now in all the reading i'm doing! good to know... so many uses! i've been doing yeast fermentation in a bunch of things but haven't gotten into lacto yet. now's the time!
IlovePhilly June 23, 2013
Just adding $0.02! You can use whey for so many amazing things! It is great for fermenting, especially for beverage ferments like kvass, sodas and ginger beer. It can help kickstart pickles in the winter and You can also get specific strains of yogurt culture that will naturally be thicker and more creamy without straining, if that's the kind of yogurt you like. One place to start would be culturesforhealth.com. Good luck!
Rebecca V. June 23, 2013
amazing! thank you so much. mr friendly farmer this morning said i could use the whey for marinating... was planning to look up more uses as i have a large bottle of whey waiting in the fridge now :) was making ginger beer for a while with commercial yeast, i think i will try whey in that first! any link to a recipe, or should i just put it together sensibly...
Rebecca V. June 23, 2013
i feel like such a city girl not realizing immediately that that's the whey! thank you! i actually used an unbleached, doubled up paper towel, so was super surprised at how much liquid passed through. had a chat with the farmer purveyor again this morning. i think i will both try leaving the culture to process longer (which i read you can do if you prefer thicker yoghurt) and straining/not straining that. i do like looser consistency, too; kefir's up next. thanks again!
viblanco June 23, 2013
By straining the yogurt you are removing the whey, the light yellow-green watery stuff you refer to. And, yes, you are changing the nutritional profile of the yogurt. (This short article touches on this point: http://www.oprah.com/health/Is-It-Okay-to-Eat-Yogurt-Without-Whey).
Whether or not you strain is a personal preference. If you enjoy a more liquid style yogurt then, by all means, don't strain! I find that the consistency I choose depends on what I am using the yogurt with (dessert? --> thicker, sauce? --> thinner).
On point to make, you could use a finer textured cloth to strain your yogurt to result in a consistency that is in between the liquid-style and thick-style (aka "Greek").
Rebecca V. June 23, 2013
(i answered below... thanks again!!)
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