I Love Greek Yogurt, But Never Waste Money Buying It
In the last 7-10 years, "Greek" or "Greek-style" yogurt has almost completely taken over the yogurt section at the grocery store. It makes sense because, at its best, real Greek yogurt is thick and luxurious and creamy. But the caveat in that last sentence is real...because what we often buy in the grocery store isn't the highest quality example of Greek yogurt, and it can cost an arm and a leg anyway.
Greek yogurt is simply regular (most often full-fat) yogurt that has been strained — so that a bit, or a lot, of the whey is drained away. This results in the wonderfully thick, creamy, and luxurious yogurt we have come to love.
The problem comes when large industrial companies want to produce this premium product, with its premium price tag, but they need to do it as efficiently/quickly as possible. In other words, they don't want to take the time to let the yogurt drain in a mass production workflow. Instead, yogurt is often placed in machines and spun at very high speeds to "extract" the whey. This sounds like a perfectly reasonable way to speed up the process; however, like many shortcuts, this can create a problem. That rapid, centrifugal force straining can cause the yogurt to break apart. Which can result in the pasty, chalky feel that many "Greek" yogurts have.
For me, the chalkiness totally overpowers what should have been the silkiness of real Greek yogurt. Some companies also incorporate stabilizers or other dry ingredients to thicken the yogurt, producing a "Greek-style" yogurt — but again, it's not my cup of tea.
So what's a purist yogurt lover to do? My solution is simple. I buy (or occasionally make my own) regular, full fat, active culture yogurt. And then, I "plop" the whole container into a coffee filter lining a mesh strainer and allow it to drain. This way, I am in full control of just how much whey I want to drain off. That way, my Greek yogurt can be a little thinner for some recipes, or a lot thicker for others. It's up to me. There is absolutely none of the chalkiness found in commercial "Greek" yogurts...just silky, tangy, creamy deliciousness.
There is also an incredible side benefit to this DIY Greek yogurt: the leftover whey. You can add it to baked goods, or smoothies. You can use it to make more yogurt. You can store your feta cheese in it. It's wonderfully healthy — and if you have some left that you don't want to use, whey is one of the greatest additions to your compost that you'll ever find.
So not only is regular yogurt generally cheaper, but the flavor when strained is remarkably superior to Greek yogurt you'll pay a premium for at the supermarket. You get to start with a brand that you already love. And, as a bonus, you have whey to experiment with. There's really no down side.