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Making Fage-style yogurt at home, powdered milk brands, tips?

Hi, everybody. You guys are all so smart here. So here’s the situation:

I’m spending too much money on Fage yogurt, and want to attempt to make it at home.

I’ve read the great threads on yogurt making here

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/466226
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/380513
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/334422

with great comments by Sam F. and others.
I love Sam’s microwave recipe and that’s what I’d like to try first.

So what do I do to make a thick yogurt? Use a higher proportion of dry milk to fresh milk, I’m guessing, but what is that? Has anyone ever made any yogurt as thick as Fage? Is it OK to use 100% powdered milk or does that not work as well?

Which brands of powdered milk are best? I have no idea. I live in the SF Bay Area, and can shop at Whole Foods, Costco, grocery chains here, etc.

Is Stonyfield the commercial yogurt with the greatest amount of live culture per volume?
I‘ve read that the Fage 0% Fat didn’t work so well as a source of live culture.

Is there some correlation between fat percentage and the yogurt thickening?

Any other tips are welcome!

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  1. Just avoid the nonfat powdered milks. I use Nido, a powdered whole milk available in most Latin and Indian groceries.

    Given that I'm not shooting for a Fage-style product, I can't help you on that end, but I will say that using powdered whole milk and 1% liquid milk consistently gives me the best results.

    1. You can just buy any plain yogurt on sale and let it strain through cheesecloth overnight, that will make it as thick as Fage.

      2 Replies
      1. re: coll

        We think alike! I've written this very thing on Chowhound.
        http://www.chow.com/digest/2767http:/...

        I'm looking to perfect homemade yogurt now.

        1. re: coll

          I starting doing this too as an alternative to Fage!

        2. Hi, ml, I use full powdered milk, sometimes Nido as BFP/Fungy suggests or El Rodeo (by Nestle) here in Colombia. So its 400 grams of powdered milk, two liters of whole milk, the starter (maybe a third of a liter), bit of brown sugar, and distilled water to reach a total of five liters. I don't know what Fage is like, but my yogurt comes out pretty solid. I can strain that and get a soft cheese. I'm convinced that home made yogurt should be made with whole milk and whole milk powder--for flavor or taste, for getting it thick, and for texture. I normally have a very low fat diet; and think that my yogurt should be full and rich. I also use the yogurt in sauces and in place of mayo at times. Last night it was yogurt, chile flakes, salt, and dab of olive oil stirred together for a dip for an artichoke!!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            As always, thanks for your help, and lovely spirit.

            Fage is a Greek yogurt brand known for its thickness and tanginess -- it has the texture of sour cream. Fage has since started manufacturing their yogurt in New York, and there's been a big drop-off in quality -- the yogurt seems chalky, and separates more than usual. At $7 for 32 ounces at Costco, I think I can do better at home. Thanks for the tips.

            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Huh. What's the water for? Is it just that that much powdered milk wouldn't fully dissolve in two liters of whole milk?

              My problem has been that the yogurt I've made with whole milk -- either with or without added powdered milk -- has a sort of grainy texture that I don't care for. I have no idea why, although actually now that I've made a few further refinements to my technique (a longer fermentation at a lower heat, primarily), I'm wondering what it would be like now. The problem is, I like cheese way too much to be on what could be considered a very low-fat diet, so I don't want to start every morning with a milkfat bomb.

              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                My yogurt now sits in the MW for 12 hours with spurts of heat to keep it all at a bit above body temp. I also stick blend the stuff: I used to whisk, but one needs to be sure all the powder is dissolved. Yes, that much powder is quite a load for the milk. It ends up not being much water that is added.

            2. My mother used to make this with Nido, it tasted great!!! Good luck, wish I had her recipe or I'd post it here but you got some great advice.

              3 Replies
              1. re: BamiaWruz

                Nido is the brand name that keeps coming up as being the best for flavor and for making yogurt. Thanks for the tip. Now, all I have to do is find it.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  I don't know where you are but this brand is SO popular in the middle east (still remember the commercials *Ahh sweet nostalgia*) , haven't seen it here in Canada .. until I went to middle eastern markets. I'd advise you to maybe call the middle eastern stores in your area and ask them if they have Nido before you run around :)