March 24th, 2014

The Greeks never heard of Greek yogurt

But they have heard of strained yogurt, which is pretty much the same thing. In fact, it’s very popular there.

I’ve been making it for years for use in Greek and other Middle Eastern recipes. I even have a cute little cone-shaped gizmo for that very purpose, one I’ve owned for decades to strain the yogurt and make it nice and thick. Before that I tried cheesecloth, which is what older recipes called for, but that somehow never really worked well.

A favorite recipe of mine adds the strained yogurt to a soup made of browned ground lamb, broth, sauteed onions, barley, and mint. You don’t boil the yogurt, but just stir it in after you’ve cooked the rest.

19 Responses to “The Greeks never heard of Greek yogurt”

  1. LondonTrader Says:

    And the Chinese don’t have Chinese food.

  2. vanderleun Says:

    Now I’m hungry for some browned ground lamb…. or even better lamb shanks.

    ” I even have a cute little cone-shaped gizmo for that very purpose, ”

    You would.

  3. expat Says:

    We also get Turkish yoghurt, which is also strained. It is a bit cheaper than Greek, but it comes in pretty large containers. Both types come in low fat and 10% fat. I make tzatziki and I like to use the yoghurt for dips. Yoghurt topped wih brown sugar (which sort of melts into it) makes a great dip for strawberries.

  4. parker Says:

    The soup recipe sounds tasty. Do you skim off most of the lamb fat after browning the meat?

    We make our own yogurt and kefir wtih whole milk sold in a nearby Amish market. We prefer the thicker consistency of strained yogurt and save the whey for cooking, and sometimes we use it as an aid in fermenting mixed vegetables. Currently we have about 1.5 gallons of a mixture of cabbage, carrots, turnips, parsnips, and golden beans fermenting in the basement. Whey speeds up the fermentation and makes the end result more nutritious.

  5. reticent Says:

    neo, what is the gizmo? it would be great if you could provide a link (your affiliate link) in the body of your post. i would like to see you be an unapologetic capitalist!

  6. DNW Says:

    “The Greeks never heard of Greek yogurt”

    Is that the sauce they put in those gyros pita bread sandwiches sold in Greek diners and sandwich chains?

  7. southpaw Says:

    London Trader – of course they do. Except they just call it “food”

  8. expat Says:

    Yes, that’s tzatziki. It contains garlic lemon juice, chopped cucumbers, and sometimes mint. I do it also as a salad by increasing the percentage and size of the cuke chunks.
    BTW, gyros and Turkish döner supposedly came from travelling warriors who cooked hunks of meat on their swords over an open fire.

  9. DNW Says:


    Thanks for the info.

  10. Sgt. Mom Says:

    I’ve found the best yoghurt – and that which most closely resembles the yoghurt that we used to buy at the local supermarket in Athens at the Asian or middle-eastern markets. It does make the very best tzatziki. The brand name is Abali. They’re based in Sothern California, but sell their products all over. The yoghurt is thick and rich and creamy, not thin and gelatiny, with that nasty chalky aftertaste that so many commercial yoghurts have. See if your local specialty grocery carries Abali – it’s superb.

  11. Ira Says:

    “A favorite recipe of mine adds the strained yogurt to a soup made of browned ground lamb . . . .”

    Oy gevalt.

  12. Tonawanda Says:

    Yogurt in a beef curry with all the usual Indian spices – - delisioso! I love to make it so the steam is coming out of my ears and the forehead is perspiring (not a universal favorite, lol) and the yogurt ties it all together.

    Butter (liked onions) can find a place almost anywhere, and yogurt is a wonderful replacement in the right concoction.

    BTW: I bought a beautiful concical strainer for 50 cents at a yard sale a few years back simply because I loved the way it looked. I had never seen such a thing before, and have used it usually to strain fat.

    More btw: how does one strain yogurt? Is it home-made yogurt? What is the process?

  13. neo-neocon Says:


    Yes, not exactly kosher, is it?

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    reticent and Tonawanda:

    I can’t find my cone-shaped gizmo online; that’s why I didn’t link to it. But I just added a link in the post on “gizmo” to an Amazon page listing a bunch of similar items.

  15. Lurch Says:

    Greek yogurt feels and tastes like fruit flavored sour cream to me. No thanks.

  16. Dan D Says:

    I don’t have a cool gizmo for straining yogurt, but my system works fine for me. I have a wire mesh colander that fits over a bowl, in the colander I can put three or four unbleached coffee filters. Spoon the yogurt into the filters and let it sit for a couple of hours, the whey collects in the bowl, and the strained yogurt can be scooped out of the coffee filters.

    The best results are with the best yogurt, just made from milk and cultures. Local farms and some Amish producers have whole milk or skim yogurt with no additives, sometimes raw milk too. And a great base is Trader Joe’s European Style whole milk yogurt. It’s already a wonderful, smooth consistency, and just straining out a bit more whey makes some very good Greek style yogurt.

    Too many producers of commercial yogurt have started adding gelatin or other thickeners, it’s useless to strain them. The sanctimonious jerks at Stonyfield Farms used to make a decent plain yogurt, just milk and cultures, but they changed the formula three years ago or so, and it’s awful now. But they still pretend to be “real” yogurt producers.

  17. aaaaa Says:

    banned or broken? hmmmm…

  18. aaaaa Says:

    must be banned…

  19. Kenneth Says:

    You don’t need a special gizmo. I use a paper coffee filter placed in a strainer to make “Greek” yogurt. The rich & creamy yogurt can then be used to make either Greek tzatziki or Indian raita.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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