What Is Greek Yogurt Starter?
The definition of Greek yogurt doesn’t call for specific types of bacteria strains to be included. However, when folks look for a Greek yogurt starter they look for one that will help reduce the amount of straining required. This is done by choosing your Greek yogurt starter to have bacteria strains that tend to produce thick yogurt during fermentation. A Bulgarian style starter does just that, making your Greek yogurt process much more efficient.
The Yogurt itself
Greek yogurt is just another name for strained yogurt. In the US there is no legal definition for Greek-style yogurt so many companies will add thickeners instead of straining. But we can say that real Greek yogurt is one that is thickened by straining and typically made from animal milk.
When yogurt is strained it removes whey and concentrates the amount of protein per serving. Many athletes prize Greek yogurt for its ability to aid in muscle recovery. This elevated amount of protein also leaves people feeling full (especially the whole milk version) making Greek style yogurt hard to overeat.
One thing to note is that much of the beneficial bacteria reside in yogurt whey. So heavily strained yogurt will not have as good of a probiotic effect on you digestive tract as regular yogurt. Check out this article for all the ways to use whey so you can still get your probiotics.
After you’ve chosen a Greek yogurt starter simply follow the culture time and temperature directions. For this product the fermentation time is 12 – 24 hours and the culture temperature is 104 – 114 degrees F.
The volume you’ll have to strain depends on the percent milk fat and whether or not the milk is pasteurized. Assuming pasteurized milk, you’ll need to use a ratio of 2:1 for whole milk and 3:1 for low fat milk. For example, 1 gallon of whole milk would yield about 1/2 gallon of Greek yogurt. And 1 gallon of low fat milk would result in about 1/3 gallon of Greek yogurt. If you are using fat free milk you may need to use even more milk (say, a ratio of 4:1).
The above straining directions will result in a very thick yogurt similar to ones found in US stores. At 12 hour incubation time, the yogurt should have a tart taste. If you want ever more tartness you can increase your culture time. At 24 hours you’ll have a SCD style yogurt that’s virtually lactose-free and very tart.
PS, click here to read about using this starter to make Bulgarian yogurt.