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Solving Runny Tzatziki

TzatzikiHere's my problem.   I love tzatziki but every time I make some, it ends up so runny you could almost drink it with a straw.  It is too runny for dipping pita or vegetables in.  How can I make it thicker?



Tzatziki is a traditional Greek dish made by combining yogurt, crated cucumber and other ingredients.

There are two things you can do which will likely solve your problem completely.  The first is to very thick Greek style yogurt.  If you can't find Greek style yogurt, you can make a good substitute by straining regular yogurt. To do that, place a paper coffee filter into a strainer, place the strainer over a bowl large enough that the bottom of the strainer is at least 2 inches (5 cm) above the bottom of the bowl, and then pour the yogurt into the filter.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to overnight.

Depending on how long you leave the yogurt drain, it may be reduced by about half the volume and there will be about the same amount of yellowish liquid.  The longer you let it sit, the firmer your tzatziki will end up.  If you are straining the yogurt overnight, then after a couple of hours pour off the liquid in the bowl.  Drained yogurt is sometimes referred to as yogurt cheese.

Even if you are using Greek style yogurt, you may still want to strain it to make the final result even firmer.

The other trick you can try is once you have peeled, seeded and grated the cucumber, toss it with some salt and then place it into a fine sieve strainer and let it sit for an hour or so.  The salt will drain excess liquid out of the cucumber.  If you don't do this, the liquid will still come out of the cucumber only it will thin out the tzatziki once it is made.

Other ingredients that you might put into your tzatziki include garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and mint.  Here are the ingredients that I use.  You may vary them according to your own preferences.

1 1/2 c Strained Yogurt (see above)

English Cucumber

3/4 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
clove Garlic, finely grated
tsp Lemon Zest, finely grated
tsp Lemon Juice
tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mint Leaves, finely chopped (optional)

Make the strained yogurt, as described above, starting with 3 cups of regular yogurt.  It will reduce to the desired amount.  I prefer to use a full fat yogurt because it gives a better mouthfeel, and because some of the flavors in the garlic and lemon zest are fat soluble so it enhances the taste of the final dish.

Peel, seed and grate the cucumber, using the fine toothed side of a box grater.  Toss with the salt and strain as described.  If you prefer a chunkier texture, you can use the coarse side of the grater or finely dice the cucumber instead.

Blend all of the ingredients together.  Taste and adjust all of the flavors as desired.  Refrigerate for at least an hour and preferably a full day.  Remember that the flavors will meld some as it stands, but that the garlic may become stronger.

Serve with pita wedges or vegetables,  in gyros or as a side with other Greek foods.

Oh, and a final hint.  If you are making your tzatziki by whizzing everything in a blender, quit doing it that way.  The blender will only encourage more liquid to come out of both the cucumber and the yogurt and will make the end result too uniform in both texture and flavor.

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