If you’re craving the rich creaminess of Greek yogurt, but all you’ve got in the fridge is the plain, regular kind, there’s no need to head out to the store. You’re just one simple step away from thick and creamy Greek yogurt—and all you need is cheesecloth, a strainer, and a bit of patience.
The Science of Different Yogurts
Humans have been making yogurt for thousands of years. Around the world you’ll find lots of different styles. Yogurt can be made from many types of milk—from cow's and sheep's milk to coconut and soy milk. All yogurt is made by adding live bacteria to warm milk. As they hang out in the milk, the bacteria produce lactic acid. Lactic acid helps thicken the milk and gives yogurt its tangy flavor. Different varieties include thick and creamy Greek yogurt; tart and tangy skyr (“skeer”), or Icelandic yogurt; smooth and creamy Australian yogurt; and thin and loose Bulgarian yogurt.
All Greek yogurt is made by straining regular yogurt and letting the liquidy whey drain out, leaving you with a thicker, creamier product. Greek yogurt isn’t the only strained yogurt out there. Labneh, a thick, creamy yogurt that’s popular in the Middle East, and Icelandic skyr are also strained.
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How To Make Greek Yogurt from Regular Yogurt
Line fine-mesh strainer with double layer of cheesecloth. Set strainer over large bowl. (There should be at least 2 inches between bottom of bowl and bottom of strainer.) Scoop 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt into strainer. Cover strainer and bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Discard liquid and cheesecloth and serve, or transfer to an airtight container. (Yogurt can be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week.)