There is always discussions going on in WLS circles about the merits of Greek yogurt – it tends to be higher in protein, is thicker than regular and has a great creamy texture. Some say it’s less bitter, but I think that’s just a brand thing – just like plain yogurts, different brands will have slightly different flavors. Other than that, the first thing you’ll notice that makes Greek yogurts different than regular is the price, they can be twice the cost of regular, sometimes more. Are they worth it?
Greek yogurts, like I said, are generally thicker than regular yogurts, and basically this is simply done by straining out some of the liquid (whey) from the yogurt… making it denser, thicker, creamier.
Couldn’t you just do the same thing at home using regular yogurt? Sure you can. This “trick” has been around for a long time and you’ll often find it referenced as yogurt cheese because you can use it as a substitute for cream cheese in many recipes. It also makes a great substitute for sour cream on potatoes and other foods.
So yea, you can do it yourself at home, but is it worth it? Well, let’s find out.
I started with a 32oz container of Dannon, Fat-Free yogurt. This is one of two brands I typically buy, depending on what’s on sale at the time I’m shopping. I can usually get this on sale for about $3 or just over 9 cents an ounce. The serving size on the package is 8oz and has 110 calories, 16g carbohydrates, 15g sugar, and 11g protein.
Let’s compare this to Fage, one of the more popular Greek yogurts out there. I’m trying to be as consistent in the costing here as I can, so looking at Costco, they have a container that’s about 35oz for around $7, or about 20 cents an ounce. And according to their website, a serving size is 6oz and has 100 calories, 7g carbohydrates, 7g sugar, and 18g protein.
So what I did was take 16oz of the Dannon yogurt and put it in a wire mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter, set that over a bowl and put it in my fridge overnight – basically letting the whey strain out of it for 7 hours. After that time I weighed what I had left in the strainer and it came to 8.5oz, and I had 1 cup of whey that strained out. So basically I ended up with half the yogurt I started with.
Now there’s a slight problem here. I can’t find anything to tell me how much of the nutrients are in the whey vs the solids. Unfortunately I can’t just take the numbers from before and double them. Plus, having strained for as long as it did, I think it turned out thicker than most Greek yogurts are. I think straining 3-4 hours would have given me a more realistic comparison. BUT, I think it can be extrapolated that the end results nutritionally would be pretty close… at least as far as protein goes.
After straining, a serving would now be 4oz, but if I mixed some whey back in to get to the 6oz Fage uses… yea, I think it would be within a couple grams.
Unfortunately, without knowing the starting recipes, I can’t give you any info on why the other stuff like sugars are turning out differently. That comes down to how they made the yogurt to start with. For example, if you were to make your own yogurt from scratch, you can get a thicker yogurt without doing the straining by adding powdered milk to your mix to increase the milk proteins without adding liquid.
What about price? Straining as long as I did, I ended up with half the yogurt I started with… so in effect I doubled the price to just under 19 cents an ounce. If I were to mix some of the whey back in (or not strain as long) so I had say… 12 oz total to come closer to a 6oz serving we’re looking at about 14 cents an ounce. Either way, not much cheaper than the Fage. Problem with that is that it’s not easy to find Greek yogurts in larger containers. Most of the time you’re getting a single serving for somewhere around $1.50 to $2.00, which can push that up to as much as 33 cents an ounce.
Bottom line, making your own is cheaper, but you have to put some effort in to it. Only you can decide if the effort is worth it. The stuff you strain will tend to be sweeter because – so if you can handle the sugars that might be a good thing, so then if the price/effort thing isn’t an issue for you it comes down to taste.
Oh, and if you do strain your own, don’t just toss out the Whey, you could try using it instead of water in some of your protein shakes.
Mark Bittman did a short video on how to do this at home and included a recipe for a nice dip… go check it out since that’s where I got that top image I’m using.