Published August 23, 2011 - Last Updated January 22, 2021
Strained yogurt is a type of thickened yogurt that is regularly enjoyed throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean. It is eaten plain as a dip, and also used in cooking because it does not curdle at higher temperatures. The process of straining yogurt creates Greek yogurt (the popular, high-protein thickened yogurt sold in stores) and labneh (an even thicker yogurt that has the consistency of soft cream cheese). In this post I will show you how to strain yogurt at home; it’s a very simple process with delicious and healthful results.
Yogurt has been a staple on the continent of Asia for over a thousand years. While we know that yogurt is ancient, the origins of the dish are a bit unclear. The word yogurt has a Turkish origin because the food found its way to Western Europe through Turkey and the Balkans. According to the Oxford Companion to Food, “Yogurt is one of the fermented milk foods whose origins are probably multiple. It is easy to imagine how, in parts of C. and W. Asia, unintended fermentation of milk could have produced something like yogurt, and that people would have noticed that this would keep for much longer than fresh milk, besides tasting good.”
The nomadic tribes of Western Asia stored milk in animal skins, where is would naturally coagulate and acidify. This was likely the way yogurt was discovered, a far cry from the colorful plastic tubs sold in grocery stores today.
I find straining yogurt to be a great cost-effective technique. Buy a large tub of plain yogurt and you’ve got several tasty possibilities! The process is super easy, and you probably already have the tools to do it in your kitchen. This blog will walk you through the process.
Here are a few things to keep in mind. Straining yogurt will reduce the volume of the yogurt because you’re removing liquid. If you’re thickening the yogurt to use in a recipe (like when a recipe calls for Greek yogurt or labneh), start with more yogurt than the recipe requires. The volume will be reduced by more than half depending on how long you strain it, so plan accordingly. If a recipe calls for ½ cup of strained yogurt, you might want to start with 1 ½ cups to be safe. It’s not an exact science, but err on the side of straining more to make sure you end up with the proper amount. You can always snack on the leftovers. 🙂
Save the liquid (known as whey) that collects in the bowl; it’s filled with nutrients, can be used as a milk substitute in baked goods (breads, scones, biscuits) or to add nutrition to smoothies and protein shakes. The whey will add a mild cheesy flavor to anything you’re using it in. Keep it refrigerated, and don’t use it if it’s been in the fridge for longer than 6 months or has an “off” smell.
Strained yogurt has a rich, creamy flavor that can be used to create dips, spreads, and parfaits. This naturally thickened yogurt is high in protein and calcium. It’s also lower in sugar and carbs than traditional yogurt, making it a good choice for diabetics and people on low carb diets. I much prefer strained yogurt to traditional yogurt– it’s a healthy treat you can feel good about. Enjoy!
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Note: More or less yogurt can be strained as needed; 2 cups will strain to roughly 3/4 cups thickened yogurt. Nutrition facts above are for 2 cups whole fat yogurt.
Thanks for stopping by! I am fascinated by the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the foods of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s food can inspire us in the kitchen today. Read more...