Ever since a friend taught me how to do it easily, I've been making my own Greek yogurt at home. The procedure is simple.
1/2 gallon milk (2% or whole is best)
2 tablespoons plain yogurt with live cultures
2 quart-sized canning jars (or 4 pints)
heavy pot big enough for 1/2 gallon of milk
1. Heat milk over medium heat until it reaches 170 degrees F. For the first 5 minutes or so, you can basically ignore it. But as it begins to heat up, keep an eye on the temperature and stir it frequently. (This is the most complicated part of the whole recipe, but don't worry, it only takes 15 minutes or so!) You don't want the milk so hot it boils-- all you want is for it to start to simmer around the edges and be heated through.
2. Once temperature has reached 170 degrees, remove from heat and let cool to 110-120 degrees F. This part takes 20-40 minutes or so, depending on the temperature in the room.
3. When milk has cooled to the right temperature, it is time to add the yogurt. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of plain or vanilla flavored yogurt until well combined. You can use any store-bought yogurt, as long as the container says, 'contains live cultures'.
4. Turn on oven and preheat to 200 degrees for 5 minutes or so. Pour the milk into the quart jars and tighten on rings and lids. (It is perfectly fine to use other glass jars, as long as they are clean and have metal lids.)
5. Turn off oven and place jars in warm oven to sit for 6-10 hours, or until milk is set and looks like yogurt. (I like to do this at bedtime and let it sit in the oven overnight.) Once your Greek style yogurt has set, place it in the refrigerator to cool and thicken a bit more.
6. It is perfectly fine to sweeten as desired and eat the yogurt at this stage. However, if you like your yogurt very thick and creamy, you may want to take one additional step.
7. I discovered that this bag lets me really step my yogurt up a notch. The bag is a plain muslin bag with a draw string. Scoop the yogurt into the bag, close the bag with the drawstring, and hang it up over a bowl. (I hooked my bag over the handle of my microwave.) Let the bag hang up for half an hour or so, allowing the watery whey will drip out into the bowl. What remains is ultra-rich, ultra-thick Greek style yogurt.
I made a batch today using 1% milk, and was amazed at how rich and creamy the yogurt tasted. And since I made it myself, I know my family's not getting preservatives or artificial thickening agents, just pure delicious yogurt. Sweeten your yogurt with honey and fresh fruit. Or-- easiest yet-- just add a spoonful of jam to each serving. Yum!!