**update 8/27/12, European ‘creamy' style yogurt will not strain. Plain yogurt will work best**
How to Make Your Own Greek Yogurt:
Put your strainer in a large bowl. Lay your cheesecloth in the strainer. Pour the plain yogurt in the cheesecloth. Some of the liquid whey will drip into the bowl.
Wrap the yogurt in the cheesecloth, wrapping and tying the ends around a wooden spoon. In this picture we used clothespins to keep the little bits of cheesecloth tied (could also use binder clips or rubber bands). Using your large jar or blender, suspend your ‘yogurt package' as shown in picture. If you are going to be saving the liquid whey, you could pour the whey that collected in the bowl into the bottom of the jar at this time. Be sure there is plenty of room between the bottom of the cheesecloth and the bottom of the jar. This is where the liquid whey will collect. You do not want the cheesecloth sitting in the liquid. This would defeat the purpose.
Put this jar in the refrigerator overnight. (to be honest, I have left it on the counter because I forgot and everything was fine. I don't recommend this, however!) In the morning, you will have perfectly strained Greek-style yogurt! (*note, I have also done this without the cheesecloth and just used a fine mesh strainer. It worked but the whey did have a little more yogurt seepage in it. Not a huge deal, but the cheesecloth gives a cleaner strain).
An added bonus is the liquid whey that you have collected. Some people like to drink it straight (not me, makes me gag). You can use this to lacto-ferment foods (if that is up your alley) or use it when you soak grains and legumes overnight to make them more digestible. You can also add it directly to your smoothies as it has plenty of minerals and some good quality protein! Whey will last for quite a while in your refrigerator (I have some that is over 2 months old and still fine. But I also left yogurt on the counter overnight, so maybe my standards are sketchy. heehee). Whey can also be frozen and thawed. A great idea would be to freeze in ice cube trays and add cubes directly to your smoothies.
Now, what do you do with this Greek yogurt? You can use it as you would plain, Greek yogurt. You could add some berries and honey to it for flavor. You could make a tzatziki dip or other creamy dip. Personally, I like to separate my yogurt cheese into 2-3 small containers. One I keep plain and use as I would yogurt or sour cream. To a second container, I swirl in raw honey and mashed mixed berries. To a third container I add some celtic salt, diced chives and use as I would a chive cream cheese! The possibilities are endless!
Have you ever made your own Greek yogurt or yogurt cheese? What do you do with the leftover whey?