The ever-growing yogurt section of the grocery store dairy case can be daunting. The selection is huge, and truly high-quality yogurts share shelf space with those whose ingredient lists leave much to be desired. The sheer variety means you can taste around and find something that you love.
Or you can create your ideal yogurt by making it from scratch. This way, you can control not just what goes into it (and what doesn’t), but you can also customize the flavor, degree of tartness, and even thickness to suit your palate.
In addition to tasting incredible, homemade yogurt is cost-effective: A gallon of milk (about $4) yields 14 cups of yogurt (about $14, if you were to buy it by the quart). And making yogurt is a straightforward, largely hands-off process—heating milk, cooling it, culturing it, keeping it warm for several hours, then chilling it—that doesn’t require special equipment.
Best of all, there’s deep pleasure in that magical moment when you lift the lid off your pot to reveal milk that has thickened into silky, delicate, clean-tasting, ivory yogurt. Once it’s cold, you can eat your yogurt as is, strain it to make it thicker still, like Greek yogurt or Middle Eastern labneh, or cook with it. There’s an expansive world of sweet and savory, hot and cold yogurt recipes to enjoy—you’ll find four favorites linked below.
How to make yogurt
How to make Greek yogurt and labneh
If you need Greek yogurt for the honey-vanilla Greek yogurt mousse with sticky balsamic berries or labneh for the yogurt–marinated pork kebabs with cucumber–lemon labneh, simply strain your yogurt.
All the whey
When you add yogurt cultures to milk, it separates into thick, creamy curds and whey, the liquid that sits on top. For regular yogurt, you just stir the whey in with the curds, but if you are straining the curds to make Greek yogurt or labneh, save that whey! It makes an ideal substitute for buttermilk in pancakes or waffles and works beautifully as the liquid in your favorite smoothie. It’s calcium-rich and filled with probiotics. You can also turn it into a creamy sorbet, or flavor it (with honey, ginger, lime juice, or maple, for example) and top it off with some sparkling water for a unique thirst quencher.