At our house, we are big yogurt eaters. “Au naturel”, with honey, with fruit – you name it, we either LOVE it already or we are actively thinking about trying it. In Germany, we used to buy our yogurt at a local Turkish grocery store. My theory has long been that on a culinary level , Turks and Greeks have more in common than the respective politicians will have us believe, and so the yogurt we got at the local “bakkal” was, you guessed it, a Greek brand.
Greek yogurt is simply incomparable: it is tasty, creamy, will not simply drip off your spoon. And what better to make with it than tzatziki (in Turkish, cacık)?
I have been in a cheese-making mood lately, and the book I have been using is a German one my husband has had for years, but that I have only recently taken interest in. Making yogurt at home could not be any easier: you heat up milk to a certain temperature, add yogurt culture, more or less keep it stable at that temperature for a few hours, and voilà, you have new yogurt!
You can buy machines with little glass jars that will basically do most of the work for you. You can buy special insulated containers. But trust me, you do not need any of that. All you need is a 2-gallon cooler, a lidded container that will comfortably fit it and a few old towels. Most of us have this kind of thing lying around somewhere.
Just like with Quark, non-homogenized milk works best, but you can make yogurt pretty much with any kind of milk – just be prepared that it will affect the consistency of the finished product.
Do you like yogurt? What kind?
- 1 l (about 1 qt.) milk
- 150 g (2/3 cup) yogurt, preferably regular Greek, at room temperature
- 1 cucumber, grated
- 500 g (2 cups) plain yogurt
- 4 garlic cloves
- salt, pepper to taste
- TIP/NOTE: do NOT use flavored yogurt or yogurt with fruit in it, as these will not work. Also, full-fat Greek yogurt is preferred, but any plain yogurt with active cultures should be OK.
- Warm up the milk to 45 C (113 F) EXACTLY. Mix in the yogurt, and if needed heat it up SLIGHTLY again so it is EXACTLY 45 C. Fill into a lidded container, then wrap in thick towels and put into cooler. Make sure a towel is on top of the container as well before you close the lid of the cooler. Take care not to move your cooler around while the yogurt is developing.
- Your yogurt is ready after 8 – 12 hours.
- If you want less runny tzatziki, sprinkle the salt over the grated cucumber and drain the resulting liquid after a few minutes.
- Otherwise, mix the cucumber with the yogurt, crushed garlic, salt and pepper.
- Garnish with olive oil, fresh herbs or cucumbers.
- Will feed 2 people. Serve with white bread.