A Yogurt Bag as a Cheesecloth Alternative for Making Greek Yogurt

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Sneak Preview: A yogurt bag or pouch made of nylon can strain large batches, clean up quickly, and allow manipulation for faster straining when making Greek yogurt.

Pouch full of yogurt straining the whey into a bowl

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Why should you buy something else to strain yogurt? Perhaps you’ve already spent good money on a fine-mesh colander, tracked down a large box of commercial coffee filters, or have plenty of cheesecloth to strain yogurt. I understand. I have used all of these methods at one time or another.

I’m always looking for ways to do things more efficiently, cheaply, or faster. So when it comes to straining yogurt, I got this idea of a yogurt bag or pouch from one of my readers.

A while back, I received an email from Wendy. She designed a new way to strain yogurt and offered to send me a free one to try. Unfortunately, I don’t typically accept freebies. So I bought one with my own money so I could freely give my honest opinion.

A Portion of the Letter From Wendy:

So, I had an idea to make my own reusable fabric yogurt strainer. First, I experimented with many batches of yogurt and how best to strain it;  second, I designed and sewed the pattern for the original prototype; then, I made more Greek yogurt and tweaked the design; and finally, I spent a year figuring out how to brand my new product and bring it to market.

This prompted me to think, “There HAS to be an easier way.” Cheesecloth is too messy. Urn-style coffee filters were too large to store or I needed to use several of them at a time. 

Wendy’s Brilliant Idea

So, I had an idea to make my own reusable fabric yogurt strainer. First, I experimented with many batches of yogurt and how best to strain it;  second, I designed and sewed the pattern for the original prototype; then, I made more Greek yogurt and tweaked the design; and finally, I spent a year figuring out how to brand my new product and bring it to market.

Wendy
yogurt crash course signup

The result was the Kleynhuis Greek Yogurt Strainer Pouch. Check out her website here.

(The pictures below are mine.)

Nylon pouch straight out of the package
Straight out of the package.
Label on strainer pouch

How to use the Kleynhuis Greek Yogurt Pouch:

1. After filling the yogurt bag with regular yogurt, cinch it with the cute little orange fastener.

If you have filled the pouch with the maximum 1 gallon of yogurt, it will need to drain for 15-20 minutes before you will be able to cinch it.

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2. Hang the straining bag from an upper cabinet handle so the bag is not touching the surface of the colander or bowl collecting whey.

Although not necessary, I remove the colander to get it out of the way and have one less thing to wash.

3. Want to speed up the straining process?

You can manually squeeze whey out of yogurt when you are in a hurry. Hold the cinched bag at the top with one hand (I don surgical gloves for this) and use the other hand to twist the pouch tightly and apply pressure simultaneously.

manually squeezing yogurt pouch to hasten straining process
Squeezing the bag to produce whey more quickly.

4. After your yogurt has reached the desired thickness, do this:

Turn the yogurt bag inside out to dump the contents into an empty bowl.  Add preferred sweetener/sugar and flavorings. Whip with a whisk or an immersion blender if you like your yogurt to be silky smooth.

Using an immersion blender to make Greek yogurt smooth

How does this compare to cheesecloth, fine-mesh strainers, coffee filters, or nut bags?

8 Advantages of the Yogurt Bag Over Other Methods

1. The pouch is wide enough at the top (16 inches) to fit over most household colanders.

The bag will hold an entire gallon of yogurt. It’s helpful if your colander is also gallon-sized if you intend to fill the pouch.

Kitchen secret:  If you have a salad spinner, you can use the colander inside to strain yogurt.

2. You won’t need extra hands to hold the bag open since the cinch around the colander is holding it open.

transferring yogurt to pouch stretched over a colander

 3. The nylon fabric is made of 100 micron ultra-fine mesh.

According to Amazon, the pouch is FDA food-grade certified and BPA-free.

Did I mention?

A matching pouch made of organic cotton is available to buy if you would prefer that over nylon. The price is the same. (I have not personally tried it.)

4. The rounded shape means no pesky corners to clean.

Speaking of pesky annoyances, I especially like how all the seams are cleverly sewn to the outside to prevent yogurt solids from hiding in the creases.

5. Small bits of yogurt easily fall off the fine-textured nylon fabric

The more whey you drain off, the easier it is to clean up no matter which system you use. 

pouch turned inside out while emptying it

6. The yogurt straining pouch is less trouble to rinse and clean than cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer

Admittedly, nothing beats a coffee filter for convenience. Nonetheless, you have to store them (usually have to buy filters in bulk) and clean the colander that holds them. In addition, some people prefer to minimize the use of disposable products, so that is a disadvantage.

On the other hand, the yogurt pouch is easy to clean and re-use, presumably hundreds of times.

How to clean the pouch…

Rinse the used nylon pouch at your kitchen sink with a small amount of dish soap and rub it between your hands until clean. Squeeze out excess moisture. Hang the bag over the faucet until it no longer drips. Then hang it from a cabinet knob. The bag dries in less than an hour. Occasionally, I run it through the washer when convenient.

Compare that to cleaning and drying cheesecloth (it takes forever to dry).  Even a fine-mesh colander can be a pain to wash. Running it through the dishwasher is easy but requires a lot of space that always seems in short supply at my house.

hanging pouch to dry

7. The fine texture of the cloth allows fewer milk solids to leak through.

The pouch gives a clean strain if your yogurt has set successfully and does not resemble milk or drinkable yogurt. It does the job as well as paper coffee filters and is better than cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer

A word of warning:  Manually squeezing the yogurt pouch will result in a slightly cloudy whey. I can live with it.

8. You can speed up the straining process with manual manipulation.

I know I already mentioned this earlier, but this point is what sealed the deal for me.

If you want incredibly thick Skyr or Icelandic yogurt, straining can take up to 6 hours. YIKES! Furthermore, you can’t rush the straining process with coffee filters or fine-mesh colanders. There’s no way to use pressure.

But with the Kleynhuis Greek Yogurt Pouchyou can reduce straining time with “manual encouragement” if you want or need to. It is not necessary, however. If you missed it, see the picture of this process earlier in the post.

The bottom line?

After trying the Kleynhuis nylon pouch, I ordered two because I make 1-1/2 gallons of yogurt once a week, every week. Ultimately, ease of clean-up and the ability to strain faster when I want to will win me over every time. In addition, the price is not prohibitive ($14 each), and the product performs as promised.

Wendy, thank you for inventing this super-cool product. You can read more helpful reviews from happy customers here.

(On the off chance that you landed here and haven’t figured out the best way to make yogurt in your kitchen yet, take a look at my video about making yogurt, then keep reading.)

Q and A About Straining Yogurt

Question:  Why strain yogurt down to a minimum of 50% of the original volume?

Answer:  We prefer flavored yogurt.  Adding additional flavored liquid thins the strained yogurt. It follows that straining as much whey as possible keeps the yogurt from becoming too thin after adding fruit purée or coffee concentrate (my current favorite add-ins.)

Our best-loved add-in is heavy cream along with a bit of vanilla bean paste and erythritol for low-carb sweetness. It’s a rare treat!!!

Question:  How does straining yogurt affect the flavor?

Answer:  Straining off large amounts of whey will give your yogurt a milder flavor profile–just my observation. The tanginess of homemade yogurt can be affected by a million different factors, or so it seems. But this one is relatively predictable.

Question:  My homemade yogurt turns out thick without straining. Why do I need this?

Answer:  You probably don’t. You are eating standard, traditional yogurt, and that’s great if that’s what you prefer.

Greek or Icelandic yogurt traditionally is made by straining off a certain percentage of the whey to make it thicker. (I don’t recommend adding any thickener like some commercial companies do to save money. Always check the label when buying Greek yogurt at the supermarket.)

yogurt crash course signup

Do you have more yogurt questions?

If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! Paula

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36 Comments

  1. This is ingenious! Good for her, and thanks for telling me about it. I generally don’t make this much yogurt at one time, but if I do, I will definitely purchase this.
    To answer your question, I have resorted to cabbage, kale, and brussel sprout salads, maybe with some radicchio thrown in.
    I really miss my romaine, but it’s not worth getting sick over. I truly do not like iceburg, and butter and leaf don’t have that crunch! So, I guess we will have to get over it, Paula. I’m thinking of trying to grow some indoors under a grow light , crazy, right?

    1. That last sentence gave me a good laugh. Let me know how that works out.

      Yes, it’s the crunch I miss, too. But too much cabbage and brussels sprouts have their own disadvantages. Saw online today that the FDA has lifted the ban for a good part of the nation. Hope it won’t be long before romaine hits the stores again.

      By the way, even if you only make a small amount of yogurt, this would work great. So easy to clean and takes up no room to store.

  2. Tere Brown says:

    As always, I’m always pleased to find salamander in my inbox! Thanks for sharing this new product with us.
    I’ve got a question tho. Under one of the pics of stained yogurt you mentioned something about “before it’s been whipped or amended”.
    Whaaatt? Did i miss something? Do you whip finished yogurt? I know mine always looks lumpy after staining but I always just thought that was going to b e one of the drawbacks of homemade. Please tell me how,(details? please? we all know I’m anal and need specific instructions of not videos. lol)
    If all this is in a post I missed somewhere please direct me there.
    Thank you so much Paula, for being there for all of us. You know we love you!
    Merry Christmas!
    Tere

    1. PS. Tere here again. I hope you know I meant “something from Salad-in-a-jar…not salamander…in my inbox.” How awful that would be! lol. It’s that pesky spell correct thing?!?

    2. Salamanders? Laughing is a great way to start the day!

      Yes, I whip or blend my yogurt. In my original “How to Make Yogurt” video, I did it with a whisk. However, now I use an immersion blender. It’s so easy and does a much better job without the fuss and trouble of using a blender and cleaning it. I like my yogurt thick (that’s why I make Icelandic yogurt) and smooth as ice cream. I also add coffee concentrate or sometimes, blackberry fruit puree, among other things (we go through phases.) Again the immersion blender is the easiest and fastest way to incorporate the additions into the thick yogurt. At first, it will appear thinner. But when chilled, it firms up. We eat it for dessert every single night.

      Sorry for this long answer. But you now have given me an idea for a blog post. Thanks, Tere, for writing and asking.

  3. How does this compare to using a yogurt strainer? My strainer is a cone shaped colander type yogurt strainer.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Debbie,
      Glad you asked. What I like about a yogurt pouch is the way I can use gravity and manual pressure to speed up the process. With a colander, there is no way to press down or exert pressure on the yogurt to cause the whey to drain faster. I just have to wait. And because I like my yogurt REALLY thick, it can take 4-6 hours, even all night with a colander. Also, a colander must then be washed. Since I need three colanders every time I make yogurt, they fill my dishwasher along with the 3 2-qt pyrex pitchers I use to incubate the yogurt. With a pouch, I can divide 1-1/2 gallon yogurt between two pouches, hang so they sit on nothing (I use a cabinet handle), drain for a couple hours, squeeze a couple times and “VOILA!,” I have Icelandic yogurt. It takes less than 30 seconds to rinse the bags under the faucet. They dry super fast because they are thin but strong nylon. If you strain much yogurt, they are totally worth 14$.

      ps. If you already spent a lot of money on a nice fine-mesh colander, try it to strain bone broth and getting the seeds out of thick fruit puree.

      1. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE GREAT INFO! YES, I BOUGHT MY STRAINER YEARS AGO WHEN I FIRST FOUND YOUR RECIPE AND INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO MAKE YOGURT. LOVE IT! YOUR INFO WAS SUPER HELPFUL TO ME. GOD BLESS!

  4. Wow, I may have to try this! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh yes, Gina. I think you will like it. However, we all have different priorities in the kitchen, so you just have to try it.

  5. The bag sounds great, but my daughter gave me a strainer with my new yogurt maker. As I thew out the whey the whey I ran to the computer for ideas. so happy to find them. I am lactose intolerant so use lactose free milk. It works!! I have yogurt again!

  6. CleanUpKate says:

    This is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been looking for. I have a small kitchen and have been putting off making yogurt because I wasn’t sure how to strain it without investing in a big clunky strainer that would take up valuable space. Thank you for the very detailed review. I’m in Canada and don’t see a way to get it here (Amazon won’t ship it here), but have contacted the owner directly and hope that we can figure out a way to get one to me.
    Have you tried the cotton version of it? I’d like to stay away from petroleum products as much as possible and would prefer cotton over nylon, but I bet the nylon is much easier to clean.

    1. Hi Kate,
      No, I haven’t tried the cotton version for the reason you mention. Takes too long to dry. The nylon dries in less than 30 minutes where I live. Predict that you will love it. So worth the money!

  7. Margaret George says:

    Hi I have a question. Do I put the yogurt in the frig first and let it get cold then drain? Or do I drain first then put in frig? Thanks

    1. Hi Margaret,

      I drain first. Finished yogurt can sit out on the counter for hours because it is so acid. You can chill it first if you want, but draining off the whey will take a lot longer. And besides, who has room in their fridge for the whole strainer set up unless you are making a very small amount.

      1. Is the “sitting out” portion of your comment also true for coconut milk yogurt?

        1. Hi Ml, I can’t speak with any authority about coconut milk yogurt since I’ve never made it successfully. I can only guess—and you would probably be better at that than me. So sorry.

  8. CleanUpKate says:

    Well Paula, you totally convinced me! I had been humming and hawing about making yogurt for months now, ONLY because I did not want to deal with the draining of it afterwards. After reading all your yogurt posts and amendments to draining preferences, I was convinced that this Kleynhuis strainer was made especially for me. I made my first batch of yogurt within an hour of receiving mine in the mail.
    For anyone wondering if Paula has exaggerated the awesomeness of the Kleynhuis strainer pouch in any way, I can tell you that she has not! This thing works perfectly. Like Paula mentioned, it fits a large quantity of yogurt, has a fine weave so that only the whey – not the yogurt – gets strained out, easily releases the yogurt afterwards and is incredibly easy to wash afterwards.
    Best of all for me, it takes up NO space in my tiny kitchen and I’m not stuck with a big clunky strainer that can’t be used for anything else.
    Thank you Paula for your very thorough review of the Kleynhuis strainer pouch.

  9. Sorry but your visual is misleading. Your whey catcher on the right is curved on the bottom, having less volume, and showing a possibly wrong conclusion by boosting the level of the whey in that bowl. So much more helpful/honest if the volume markers were visible on each bowl.

    1. Hi Laurie,
      I went back and looked at the pictures again. Think I see what you are saying. I removed that picture and edited the post to more accurately reflect how using the pouch will allow you to speed up the process with manual manipulation, if you want to. Also, the more yogurt you put in the pouch (up to a gallon), the faster it will drain.

  10. Paula Hallman says:

    I have two of the strainers, and I absolutely love them. “whey” easier to clean than my Europe wire mesh.

    Paula H

    1. Hi Paula, I couldn’t agree more.

  11. Susan Holland says:

    I bought this and am trying for the first time with regular yogurt I bought at the store. However instead of whey draining out, the yogurt is draining out! What have I done wrong???

    1. Hi Susan,
      The yogurt is draining out? Is it drinkable yogurt? Hmmm. I can’t imagine that you are doing anything wrong. Wetting the bag might help. The only time I have trouble is when the yogurt did not set up right. But I’m assuming that if you bought it at the store, it should be perfect. Sorry, I’m stumped based on the information you’ve given me.

      1. Hi there,
        So I found out that the yogurt I was using had emulsifiers to prevent separation! Who knew??? So I am making my first batch of home made yogurt now.

        1. Susan,
          I’m so glad you wrote back. Hadn’t thought of that but it makes sense.

  12. Robin McCown says:

    This is great! I just started making yogurt since my husband eats a parfait for breakfast every morning, and greek yogurt gets expensive! I bought one of these a few weeks ago (https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KLT6X9W/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) It works great and holds a gallon, but it does have corners and it won’t fit around my bowls like it looks that one does. Oh well. If I ever lose or damage mine, I’ll replace it with this one.

    I love the way you do experiments to see how different variables affect the end result. Have you done one with instant powdered nonfat milk? I add two cups to one gallon skim milk.

    1. Hi Robin,

      When I first started making yogurt, I played around with powdered milk. However, the texture seemed to turn the yogurt a little bit chalky for my tastes, so I quit. If you like it, keep doing it. Seems like it would provide extra calcium and protein.

  13. I have a question…would I be able to also use this as a nut milk bag/juice strainer ? Just curious to see if I can get more bang for my buck since I also need a new nut milk bag. ?

    1. Yes. You could even use it to make iced coffee. If you make very much Greek yogurt, it’s worth every dime.

  14. Hi Paula,
    I was wondering how you make coffee concentrate. Our fav yogurt flavour is coffee & I have been wondering how to go about flavouring it
    Thanks!

    1. Coffee concentrate works fine. However, it will thin your yogurt. If you strain your yogurt a lot, then you can thin it back down with the coffee concentrate. I use Pioneer Woman’s iced coffee recipe. Another way to do it is to use instant espresso. It won’t make your yogurt thinner. Just stir until it dissolves. Great for making coffee ice cream, too.

  15. Hi I am frome mexico wher I can buy the mesh bag

  16. Is it possible you mixed up microns and mesh size? Because 200 mesh size is indeed the most common size recommended (by the manufacturers) for yogurt, but that should yield around 100 micron holes, like the product you’re writing about. (200 mesh means 200 threads per inch.)

    1. Hi David,
      Yes, it’s possible. (I will remove that comparison.) What I know for sure is that the manufacturer of the yogurt bag pictured here is 100 micron. At least that is what the label shows as pictured in my post. Thanks for writing.