Binnur's Turkish Cookbook - Delicious, healthy and easy-to-make Ottoman & Turkish recipes

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


How to make Yogurt at home?

4 cups (1 Lt) 3.25% homogenized milk
2 tablespoonfuls plain Turkish yogurt

I use homogenized milk to make my own yogurt. But if you think it is too fatty for you, you can use any kind. Making yogurt is very easy!

Boil the milk first. Pour the warm milk into a clean bowl with a lid, then put aside until lukewarm. The best and traditional way to measure the temperature of milk is to dip your pinkie in it. It should be warm but shouldn't burn.

Spread a thick towel out over your kitchen counter. Put the warm milk into a clean bowl with a lid and place it on the towel (picture). Put 2 tablespoonfuls of yogurt and mix well to ferment the new yogurt (picture). Make sure they're mixed very well. Place a clean kitchen towel across the top of the pot on the rim and put the lid on it. Then cover the bowl with the towel (picture). If it is winter, the yogurt will be done within app. 6 hours, otherwise during the summer it'll take 4 to 5 hours. I generally ferment my yogurt after dinner or before going to bed. The following morning my yogurt is ready to be placed in the fridge. When you place the yogurt into the fridge do not shake it! Keep it in the fridge for a day.

You will find many Turkish recipes with yogurt as the main ingredient or as a side dish to make soups, desserts, and our favorite drink Ayran. If you like, you can add honey or your favorite jam to give it some flavor. Or just toss some fresh fruit on it, it is perfectly healthy and delicious. When I was a kid my favorite was with honey or icing sugar. I also love yogurt with some chunks of bread (Turkish, French or Italian style), it's great for lunch :)

A little bit information about Home-Made Yogurt:
Home made yogurt is runny than commercial ones. Yogurt has 85% moisture content! And home made yogurt doesn't contain any thickening agents:).

I have few tips to avoid it; When you place the yogurt into the fridge do not shake it! Keep it in the fridge for a day. Then scoop out:) When I make yogurt, I always place cheesecloth (folded a few times) on it to absorb the water. Squeeze out the water 1 or 2 times:)

Yogurt should has kaymak on the surface. So when you mix the yogurt with milk try not to touch (or not to break) to the surface of the milk which already has thin kaymak. When you add the yogurt, you need to mix it by inserting the spoon to the bottom mix it under the kaymak without touching it.

The History of Yoğurt
The word “yoğurt” is Turkish in origin. The word comes from the Turkish word "yoğurt", deriving from the verb "yoğurtmak", which means "to blend" - a reference to how yogurt is made.

Central Asian Turks were the first to make Yoğurt. Most historical accounts attribute yoğurt to the Neolithic peoples of Central Asia around 6000 B.C. Herdsmen began the practice of milking their animals, and the natural enzymes in the carrying containers (animal stomachs) curdled the milk, essentially making yoğurt. Not only did the milk then keep longer, it is thought that people preferred the taste so continued the practice, which then evolved over centuries into commercial yoğurt making.

Recorded history states that Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire, and his armies lived on yoğurt.

It wasn’t long before word of the perceived health benefits of yoğurt traveled through to other peoples and the consumption spread throughout the East. As it was first spreading into Europe, this dairy product was used for therapeutic purposes.

Turkish immigrants brought yoğurt to North America in the 1700s but it really didn’t catch on until the 1940s when Daniel Carasso, the son of Danone founder Isaac, and Juan Metzger took over a small yogurt factory in the Bronx, New York – the company is now called Dannon in the United States.

The popularity of yoğurt soared in the 50s and 60s with the boom of the health food culture and is now available in many varieties to suit every taste and lifestyle.

It is consumed plain or as a side dish or to make soups, desserts, sauce, to marinate meat and it is a big part of Turkish Cuisine. You can't find a Turkish house without yoğurt:)

It is recommendable to eat yoğurt every day, at least one cup :) Yoğurt has beneficial bacteria, calcium and protein. We believe yogurt cleanses the body from toxins and poisons.

Yoğurt made with active bacterial cultures produces lactase; the enzyme that allows us to digest lactose. Consequently, yoğurt would be tolerated by many people who are lactose intolerant.

How to Make Creamy (Strained) Yogurt:

Strained Yogurt
Place a strainer with a paper towel on top over a bowl. Place some yogurt on it and fold the edges of the paper towel over the yogurt. Leave in the fridge overnight. You'll have creamy yogurt waiting in the morning.

Do not discard the water content of yogurt when you strain it, instead use it when making pide and bread at home. Or, you can drink it which is quite good for health:)

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At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coffee filters also work for straining yogurt, if you don't trust your paper towel :)

At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Did you know that the greatness of a culture is ascertained by its cooks & its cuisine?

If our culture has been making & eating Yogurt the last one thousand
years, where do you think turkish culture is placed among its peers & friends? :).

I'm so pleased to tell you, my kitchen is never, ever without yogurt, parsley, garlic & lemons.

Now, will this recipe make kaymakli
yogurt? Thanks so much for this recipe. I had forgotten how easy it's to make yogurt.


At 6:51 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Gulacti,
I absolutely agree with you about the
greatness of culture:) I wish Turkish cooking could be more well-known and
commonly accessible to other cultures,
but hopefully the site will help a bit.
If you boil the homogenized milk first
instead of heating it up a little, you will see a thin layer of kaymak on the surface, if you don't break it while you ferment the milk, it should work. I used to have my yogurt with kaymak
when I was in Turkey when I would buy my milk from a milk man:)

At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Binnur hanim,
I tried making half a batch of your yogurt this weekend, and it didn't turn out. I did two cups of whole homogenized milk heated 2 minutes in the microwave. Then mixed with 1 tbsp. of plain yogurt. It's summer here already, so I checked after 4.5 hours and it hadn't thickened at all. What am I doing wrong? Was it the fat free starter yogurt I used? If the milk was too hot, would that have ruined the culture? Thank you for your help!

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Binnur said...

Merhaba Olga,
I really don't know what went wrong:(
I hope you used tablespoonfuls of yogurt? I don't use fat-free yogurt
as starters, but I don't think that should matter. If your pinkie
didn't burn when you dipped it in the milk, it was the right
temperature. But if it's too cold or too hot, that will ruin the
culture. I hope you'll give it another try and time time it'll turn
out great.. please let me know if you do :)

At 3:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please: thats "tablespoonfuls"????
Tablespoonfuls=??.......i don"t know !
please inform me!

At 1:19 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Vania,

1 tablespoon is approximately 15 ml
1 tablespoonful is as much as a
tablespoon will hold.

At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your recipes are simply great... ever since I've found your website I have only been cooking Turkish. Now Turkish food is being cooked by a German living in Scotland =). So I'm spreading the good news of Turkish cuisine!

Have a great day,

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Sev,
Thank you for the nice comment and intruduce Turkish Cousine
in Scotland:))

At 2:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an amateur American chef living in Istanbul, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your website! I am having so much fun trying all the great turkish food, and your recipes make it so easy for me to sort out all of the ingredients, etc....

I too tried the yogurt, It tastes great, but stayed runny! I'll try again, but any hints?

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Lisa,
Thank you for the nice comment:)
Homemade yogurt is more runny than commercial yogurt. This is because
there is no gelatin or powdered milk in it. If you like to add these though, you should do so before incubation. Also adding more starter makes yogurt more sour.
I can only suggest you that leave the yogurt in the fridge before use
for about 12 hours. It will make the yogurt more firm:)
I hope this helps:)

At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Binnur hanim, degisik ulkelerde yogurt sorunsuz yapiyordum, ama Quito (Ecuador'da) yukseklikten dolayi olmuyor. Bir fikriniz var mi high altitude yogurt making icin?

Anna Durmus

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Binnur said...

Sevgili Anna,
Yogurdun olmayisinin yukseklik ile bir ilgisi var mi? bilmiyorum...Bulundugun yerin asiri sicak olmasinin etkisi olabilir diye dusunuyorum:)

At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merhaba Binnur,
I'm a South African who has just returned from a wonderful trip to Turkiye and one of the highlights was your delicious (and healthy) food. I wanted to try making
Turkish food now that I'm home and was thrilled to discover your website! Keep up the good work!
Mary Lou

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Mary Lou,
Thank you very much all the nice words about my site and Turkish food, I hope you will enjoy the upcoming recipes:)

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merhaba Binnur,

Greetings from Australia. My husband is turkish and I live with his family. My Baba is very fond of yoghurt. Just wondering if this recipe would make thick style yoghurt or if you have any suggestions as to who I could achieve thick homemade yoghurt.

Cok Tessekur Ederim Binnur for your wonderful site. It has helped my impress the in laws. Thanks to your site I have fast become the best Aussie gelin in my community :)


At 10:41 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Clara,
Thank you very much for the lovely comment:) If you want it thick but not the commercial style I would suggest for you to boil the milk first for a few minutes, so the water comes out. Then let it cool down to the right temperature to ferment it. I hope you will impress your in laws again:)
Take care,

At 5:36 PM, Blogger Min Chan said...

Merhaba Binnur, thank you so much for your site. I am a Malaysian who was spoiled by my Turkish friend, Esin, with Turkish cooking when she used to live here. Esin was a good teacher who showed me how to cook a few Turkish dishes and also how to make yoghurt. Your site is helping to refresh my memory.

The pinkie test is exactly how my Turkish friend, Esin, taught me! There has been a few times when the yoghurt didn't "set". I heated up the mixture again still warm (pinkie tested) and viola! I get yoghurt a few hours later.

Another trick Esin showed me was to cover the yoghurt with a clean dish towel to absorb the excess water from the yoghurt. Squeeze out the dish towel whenever the yoghurt is taken out to use.

At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Emine said...

I read all comments about yogurt and want to add my experience. I live in Dallas, TX, our AC is running all the time. when i make yogurt i place it in the oven (oven is off)so it won't get effected from cool air and it turns out good.
Bye the way love your recepies.

At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the milk for the yogurt also pasturized?

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Yes, it is pasteurized.

At 11:39 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

Binnur - I'm wondering if you can help me. I am trying to find a recipe my Yaya use to make. It was a form of Tiropitakia's. She made it with Farina and no cheese. She also did not make it in triangles, but in a 9 x9 baking dish, it also had a little egg in it. She also use to put a small amount of ground chuck in it. We always just called it "Pita". I'm assuming it was a Turkish way of making Tiropitakia. Does this sound familar to you?

At 5:47 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Chris,
I am not sure if it looks like Tiropitakia:) It seems totally different recipe to me.

At 12:10 PM, Blogger Foehre said...


I have been making this yogurt everyday now since I found the recipe around two weeks ago.
Amazing recipe!
So easy and the yogurt becomes delicious.
I boil it for some time until a semi-thick skin has developed on top and it threatens to overflow. It becomes super-creamy!
Of course I also have to add that I live in tropical Colombia, where temperatures under 27 degrees celsius are rare and I suppose that helps a lot too.
I am really grateful for this recipe, because here there is no "yogurt culture" and the only yogurt sold is half liquid and sweetened. Coming originally from Austria, where plain yogurt is a staple for cooking I missed it quite a lot!
And I love turkish food, so I will check this blog more often in future!

Thank you and greetings,


At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, is it possible that my yoghurt needs 2 days to set? After 8 hours it was still like milk, so I waited longer and it was fine. But I am wondering if it isn't too long for the milk to stay out of the fridge,just im not sure whether after 2 days this yoghurt is safe to eat?sevgilerimle Natalia

At 7:10 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Natalia,
It seems too long to me:) Was the temperature too low? When the temperature is right, it takes only 4 to 6 hrs to ferment. So it may be withered:(

At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah ok.It's winter now,so maybe the temperature in the kitchen...I will keep trying!greetings!

At 1:06 AM, Blogger Rebecca Tang Robles said...

Hi Binnur,

Thanks for this easy recipe. Can I save some of the yogurt made to start a second batch? This will be my first time making yogurt.



At 11:24 AM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Bec,
Sure, you can:)
Take care,

At 7:01 AM, Anonymous Didi said...

Hi Binnur
Many thanks for your great recipes. Turkish food is wonderful.
I make yogurt with full-fat homogenised milk and shop bought natural yogurt. I also use a sugar thermometer [I hope to make macaroons one day
;-)] to make sure the temperature is OK [43°C]. Luckily I have a warming drawer which I can set at 40°C and after 3-4 hours I have perfectly set yogurt. Well, two days ago a Turkish neighbour gave me a yogurt starter and WOW! Yogurt with zing and great flavour, quite different from shop bought. My mum used to make yogurt and kept it warm under a huge thick coffee pot cosy, on which our cat often slept!!

At 9:09 PM, Anonymous Jess said...

the yogurt holds for just 1 day?

also, you can make your yogurt more firm by going at it more than once. just keep making more yogurt with the yogurt you already made. commercial yogurts don't have as many organisms in them to make good yogurt, so you have to keep growing more and more of those organisms to get the nice yogurt. that's what my mom did.

At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Binnur. Thank you. How can I tell it is done right? I never made home-made before. I let it sit for 6 hours, wrapped, in my unlit oven. It tastes delicious, but what should it look/feel like before/after it cools? I used a spoon to scoop it, so it was solid, but in serving bowl, it is a bit runny. Normal for home-made? Also, many "kaymak" chunks to roll off my tongue. I guess that's we strain it. Thanks again!

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Home made yogurt is runny than commercial ones. Yogurt has 85% moisture content! And home made yogurt doesn't contain any thickening agents:)
I have few tips to avoid it; When you place the yogurt into the fridge do not shake it! Keep it in the fridge for a day. Then scoop out:)
When I make yogurt, I always place cheesecloth (folded a few times) on it to absorb the water. Squeeze out the water 1 or 2 times:)
Yogurt should has kaymak on the surface. When you mix the yogurt with milk try not to touch (or not to break) to the surface of the milk which already has thin kaymak. When you add the yogurt, you need to mix it by inserting the spoon to the bottom mix it under the kaymak without touching it.

At 11:18 PM, Blogger joan said...

what a wonderful discovery this site is - now i can begin to try some of the delicious dishes i am craving after a month in Turkey. have you by any chance published a recipe for durum (pistachio rolls).

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Joan, Thank you:) I am going to post it in the near future:)

At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all due respect to the Turkish culture, just because the name of the product is derived from a language does not mean that those people were the first ones to make it. Turks were not the first ones to make yoghurt. Besides, yoghurt has been around for more than years than you mentioned.

Yoghurt is mentioned as "dadhi" in Sanskrit language Ayurveda texts which date before 2500 years before. There is an elaborate discussion of the culturing, mood and effect of this food in the texts. And even they, I believe, were not the ones to produce it for the first time.

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Good for you and for your culture:) I don't want to go into an argument with you or anyone else about my culture.

At 3:35 PM, Anonymous Maria said...

The way I was shown, by my husbands mum, was to wrap the saucepan in lots of tea-towels. She also told me not to move the pan for 6 hours. I always get perfect yogurt. I would like to know how to make the thick creamy yogurt, that has a hard crust on it, as you can't buy it in the U.K.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Is this kind of yogurt okay for pregnant women? I am worried about bacteria from leaving it out overnight?

Thank you!

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Carrie LaFay,
I think you should consult your doctor about it.

As far as I know, Yoğurt has beneficial bacteria, calcium and protein. I would suggest that you also read the 'History of yogurt' at the end of the posting:)

Take care,

At 12:41 AM, Anonymous Janet said...

My husband and I love Turkish food- we took a Turkish cooking class while in Istanbul - I highly recommend taking a cooking class while visiting this fine city! Thanks for the great website!

At 9:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Binnur,
Are you using raw milk or regular whole milk from a grocery store? Thanks!

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi, I am using regular whole milk from a grocery store:)

At 3:02 AM, Anonymous gunay wolff said...

HI.. BINNUR I'VE BEEN READING ALL COMMENTS ABOUT MAKING YOGURT. MANY ARE SAYING THEIR YOGURT BECOMES RUNNY. EVERY FRIDAY I MAKE YOGURT IN A BIG POT, USING 1GALLON WHOLE MILK AND ADDING 1 PINT HALF&HALF OR WHIPPING CREAM(we love yogurt with its cream on top)they should let boiled milk to cool off without a lid.after tested w/pinky,and just the right temp. 2tbsp plain yogurt, mix good&by adding few spoonful ofmilk from pot.then pour into pot slowly& stir it slow from bottom. close tight, wrap in bathtowel keep in warm place. if have gas oven set it on tray & leave 5-6 hrs. (gas stoves have that little pilot light in oven) that gives the perfect warmth,when time is up you take pot out of oven, (you can feel how heavier the pot is.) refrigerate without a lid,2 hrs or more. there!! its done. also for pragnent lady; you know i used to feed my babies w/ yogurt when they were 2months old.

At 8:26 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Thank you Gunay for the helpful remarks:) I will also follow it. I have whipping cream in my fridge now and am going to use it tonight:)


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