Clean Cuisine – Greek Yogurt

What is the meaning of the term, “clean foods”?  In Leviticus, Yahweh has given us specific instructions as to what we should and should not eat.  All of the recipes published in this column adhere to these laws.  For further information please refer to the booklet, “Clean Foods — What the Bible Teaches” at the yrm.org website.

Yogurt — An Ancient Food

“Yogurt” is a Turkish word related to yogurmak, meaning, “to knead,” and yogun, meaning, “dense” or “thick.”  For an estimated 4,000 years mankind has been eating this milk by-product.  While its origins are not certain, it is thought that it was discovered by nomadic tribes of Central Asia transporting bags of goats’ milk.  Certain types of bacteria soured or curdled the milk and, voila, a wonderful food was created.

While yogurt is a relatively new food to us here in the U.S., for centuries it has been a staple food for much of the world.  In Turkey and many other countries, yogurt is eaten almost every day, and sometimes at every meal.  It is used in sauces and desserts, as a side dish or topping to meats, vegetables, soups, rice or pasta, and as a delicious drink called Ayran (pronounced as “eye-ron”).

Yogurt has numerous health benefits.  In addition to providing valuable nutrients, such as calcium, protein, and vitamin B2, the active cultures in yogurt help fight “bad” bacteria in the body.  Research has shown that yogurt is helpful in treating digestive ailments such as yeast and urinary tract infections and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Even those who are moderately lactose intolerant may eat yogurt since the process of changing milk into yogurt also changes the lactose into the more digestible lactic acid.

Much of the highly sweetened, fruity stuff that comes in little containers and passes for yogurt at the stores may contain gelatin of unknown origins, so check the ingredients carefully before purchasing.  I prefer the plain, thick Greek style yogurt, which contains few ingredients and tastes similar to sour cream.  I am particularly fond of eating yogurt topped with honey and nuts for lunch or a snack, and it is yummy!

An economical and easy way to get more yogurt into the diet is to make your own.  The ingredients are few, the utensils are simple, and the process is relatively easy.  This homemade yogurt tastes better than any I’ve ever bought at the store, I guarantee it.


1 gallon whole milk

2 cups cream

1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt

1/4 cup sugar (optional)

Large double boiler or two stainless steel or enamel kettles that fit inside each other

Cooking thermometer

Heating pad

An old bath towel

Place the milk, cream and optional sugar into the top pot of a double boiler, and stir until well blended.  The small amount of sugar takes away much of the tartness.  However, some, like my husband, prefer a tart flavor, so whether or not to use sugar is up to the cook.  A double-boiler works well, as milk has a tendency to scorch on the bottom of the pot.  Since we don’t have a double boiler that’s large enough, we instead use two stainless steel stock pots of different sizes so that one fits inside of the other.  Add several inches of water to the bottom pot.

On a high stove setting, heat the milk/cream mixture to 185˚ and remove from heat.  Next, cool the milk to 110˚.  The “cool-down” time may be shortened by setting the heated mixture on ice, either in the sink or inside the other pot, now filled with ice cubes instead of hot water.  After cooling, add the cup of yogurt and whisk or blend it well so that it is smooth.  Cover the pot containing the yogurt mixture with a lid, place it on a heating pad set for medium heat and place a towel on top.  Let is process for seven hours.

At the end of seven hours, put aside enough yogurt (1 cup) to use as a starter in your next batch, and pour the processed yogurt (watery at this stage) into a muslin-lined sieve with a deep bowl underneath.  Do not refrigerate it yet, but set it on the kitchen counter and let the unrefrigerated yogurt drain for approximately 2 hours, or until the desired consistency is reached.  Ideally, when you have drained off 6 to 8 cups of liquid (called “whey”) the yogurt will be ready.  With a wire whisk, mix the now drained yogurt again to dissolve any remaining lumps.  If the yogurt seems too thick, whisk back in some of the whey.  Transfer the now thicker yogurt to a container with a lid and refrigerate for several hours before eating.

            Yogurt-Garlic sauce — To each cup of Greek-style yogurt, add 1 to 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced or pressed, and stir well.  Stir in herbs or spices too, if desired.  Use to top meat, vegetables, or pasta and rice dishes.  It’s especially good on baked potatoes in place of butter or sour cream.

            Yogurt cheese — Place yogurt into a cheesecloth- or muslin-lined sieve, set into a deep bowl to drain and refrigerate for 24 hours or longer, if desired.  At the end of that time, you will have a yogurt that resembles cream cheese.

by: Debbie Reed

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Posted in Clean Foods, Kosher, and Nutrition, Come to the Garden.
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