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Success! Homemade “Fage” Yogurt! Easy! Cheap!

Thick! Tangy! Luscious! No Silly Appliances!

Like a number of Chowhounds, I was a Fage Yogurt addict. I loved its lusciousness, its sour-cream thickness, its tang. I ate it every morning with fruit. I was happy.

Then, something happened. Fage began manufacturing their yogurt in New York instead of Greece, and the quality dropped. A lot. My old Fage was gone. The NY Fage looked and tasted chalky — it had lost its lustrousness; it didn’t have its “sour cream” texture any more; it had air pockets.

And dang, it was as expensive as before — $7 at Costco for a 32-ounce tub — and that was the cheapest I ever saw it, even though the quality had dropped. I was sad and felt a little ripped off.

Inspired by Sam Fujisaka and others at how easy it was to make Yogurt,
I decided to break free of my Fage addiction and make Fage yogurt at home.

Nothing less than full Fage flavor and texture would be good enough.

I posted a thread asking for tips here…
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/555847

and began by using Sam’s ingredient proportions and microwave method described here:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2920...

Like Sam, I wasn’t going to use any silly yogurt appliance — just clean glass bowls, milk, yogurt culture, a touch of sugar, and a gentle heat source. Sam makes the yogurt on a day he’s going to be home, and after the initial heating of the milk in the microwave, he gives the milk another brief microwave zap of heat every few hours for a total of 12 hours.

But I couldn't be around to nudge the heat every few hours — I had to be out and about in the world, so I fashioned another gentle — and continuous — heat source.

I emptied one of my deep kitchen cabinet drawers that slides easily in and out, and with a simple clamp-on utility light converted the drawer into my — ta dah! — brand new yogurt-making, bread-proofing chamber! I was so proud of myself even though I knew an 8-year-old could’ve rigged it.

I came close to Fage yogurt on the second try. Yes, it’s that easy.

On my first try ever to make yogurt, it was slimy and stringy. It had phenomenal flavor, like the yogurt from Europe, but a weird texture. (I found out what I did wrong — more info about my error below.)*

On the third try, I did what I had set out to do— success! Homemade Fage yogurt! Easy and cheap! Yay! Thick as sour cream, tangy, flavorful — everything I had set out to accomplish. I ended up using more dry milk than what Sam uses and I incubated the yogurt for a few hours longer. It’s amazingly good.

And get this — $1.60 total cost in ingredients for 32 ounces of "Fage" yogurt!

You can make as much or as little yogurt as you like at a time, though I think using
2 quarts of milk to start is good-sized batch. Just double or triple the recipe below accordingly. You can make the yogurt from whole milk, 2% or skim milk — whatever you prefer, though I add slightly more dry milk when I use skim milk. I now make 3 quarts as a time, but I’m an obnoxiously enthusiastic convert to homemade Fage yogurt, and have been giving away containers of the stuff to celebrate my joy and proselytize the flock.

Yes, you! Really, you should try it. It’s so easy.

Equipment:
Glass or pottery bowl
Microwave
Instant-read thermometer — you must have this, great tool anyway, costs $8
Clamp-on or hang-anywhere utility light, like that from a hardware store, with a 100-watt bulb
Deep drawer or cooler or Styrofoam box

This makes about 5 cups homemade Fage-style yogurt, a little more than a quart:

Ingredients:
1 quart milk — whole, 2% or skim
1½ cups dry milk or powdered milk. I checked the dry milk ratings and read that the Lucky grocery brand, Sunny Select Nonfat, tasted the best. Works great.
½ cup of plain Stonyfield yogurt, as fresh as possible, or other yogurt with active cultures. I also checked into which yogurt had the most active cultures, and Stonyfield was it.
1 Tablespoon sugar, perhaps a bit more, as food for the culture

Procedure:
In a clean glass or pottery bowl, thoroughly mix together the quart of milk, the 1½ cups powdered milk and sugar. This will be a very rich milk mixture.

Heat the milk mixture in the microwave for three minutes, and then continue heating in one-minute intervals until the milk mixture reaches 180 degrees F. Keep checking the temp with your instant-read thermometer after each minute blast to see if the milk has reached 180 degrees. You cannot eliminate this step.* Try not to over-nuke it so that the milk scalds and spills over, but if you do all is not lost. Using a stove-top and saucepan is messier and tends to unevenly heat the milk, in my opinion.

Rig your incubation chamber ahead of time. Get your clamp-on or hang-anywhere utility light, and check the wattage of the bulb (must be 100 watts, 75 watts is *not* hot enough to keep the milk mixture at 105 degrees F.). Clamp the light onto the side of the drawer so that you can shut the drawer completely (or very nearly except for the cord). You can even clamp the light onto a block of wood or other object that can fit into the drawer along with the bowls of yogurt.

I use an old utility light with a thin wire sleeve that actually fits over the side of the drawer and still allows the drawer to close completely. You can use a cooler or styro box instead of a drawer.

After heating the milk mixture to 180 degrees F, let it cool to 105-110 degrees. It will take a while — about 30 - 60 minutes depending on the quantity of milk — but keep checking it regularly with your instant-read thermometer.

When the milk mixture reads 105-110 degrees, stir in ½ cup of the yogurt you’re using as your culture. Before adding the yogurt culture, it’s best to stir it up to make sure the active cultures are evenly distributed. Make sure the milk mixture and yogurt culture are well blended, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a plastic bag, and place it inside the drawer with the light on. Leave it for 14-15 hours. Unbelievable flavor after 14 hours. 12 is good but 15 is best.

Then, chill the yogurt for 2-3 days. This sort of sets the yogurt — the yogurt gets very thick then, thicker than from just chilling, it seems to me. That's it!

Tips: I actually make yogurt now about 6 PM in the evening, then let it do its thing till 9 AM the next morning. But you can use whatever schedule works for you. Reserve some of the yogurt from each batch to make the next batch of yogurt (1/2 cup of yogurt as your culture for each quart of liquid milk). Safety tip: Make sure the lightbulb is not touching the plastic on the top of the bowl or any other object, and that no one will trip over the electric cord — basic safety stuff.

*Error on my first batch of yogurt that resulted in slimy, stringy, ropey yogurt:
Many other Chowhounds in other threads said this happened to them.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/399469
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/390131
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4662...
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2920...
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/487158

And it happened to me. Why? So off I went in search of the reason. You need to heat the milk to 180 degrees to denature the milk proteins, and to allow one protein in particular — lactoglobulin, the one that’s responsible for a smooth, consistent yogurt — to unwind. If you don’t heat the milk adequately, slimy and stringy yogurt is the result.
Read more here, under “Heating the Milk”:
http://joepastry.web.aplus.net/index....

Thanks, Sam. Thanks other Chowhounders for all the tips. I'm saving so much money now by not buying Fage that I can take you all to the movies.

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  1. Wonderful. Looking forward to the movie. (My lactoglobulin must be relaxed because I don't get slimy - stringy and don't heat to 180. Wonder why?). My fave breakfast is now blackberries (mora), sliced banana, yogurt, and a touch of honey on the berries.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      I bet that when you first microwave the milk mixture on high for 4 minutes you get the heat up up to 180 F. Now, that berry season is over, I'm using a frozen raspberry/blackberry/blueberry blend from Costco that rocks. But any fruit in season is good. I even like crystallized ginger and canned apricots.

    2. Very inspiring story. Congratulations on the success!

      1. Excellent! I also use a 100 watt lightbulb to make yogurt, but I put the bulb in my oven (replace the oven light with the regular 100 watt bulb) and ferment the yogurt in the closed, turned-off oven with the light on.

        2 Replies
          1. re: maria lorraine

            I tried to make homemade yogurt twice by following Jaime Olivers recipe I once saw him make on his show and it never worked. I am so excited to try this now. It looks simple and delish. Thanks for the recipe! =) My 2 year old will be eternally grateful as yogurt is her all time favorite food. =)

        1. Brava! Good work. Now you can have a never-ending supply of tzatziki!!! '-)

          1. Wow! I'll have to try this, if I can hide it from my boyfriend who is terrified of milk. Thanks for sharing all your work!

            1. I've had success with the tangy taste and with the overall thickness-to-jiggliness ratio desired. The bane of all my efforts, however, has been a persistent grainy or cottage-cheese quality. I follow the temperature guidelines closely, and seem to mix things pretty well -- but perhaps not well enough? Is the milk powder or the culture/starter responsible for these grainy bits?

              Many thanks for this thread, by the way, esp. for its compendium of earlier, related threads. I've made about 6 batches so far but remain eager to achieve the homemade yogurt nirvana others have attested to....

              9 Replies
              1. re: sequins

                So...it's not smooth, but clumpy? Or is it grainy, as it gritty?

                Are you heating the milk WITH the dry milk? Try stirring the milk and milk powder a bit longer and more vigorously, even whisking the two together as they're heating and the heated milk can absorb more powder (become supersaturated).

                You must heat the milk to 180F to change the protein structure of the milk, but anything past 180 F and you could be scalding the milk -- causing it to clump in the process.

                Long shot, but...are your pot and utentils perfectly clean? You may be inadvertently introducing another culture that creates cottage cheese, if not. Also, you're just using milk right? Milk and milk powder?

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  Hi Marie - it was both gritty and clumpy. I was indeed heating the dry milk with the milk and stirred and stirred, never parting from pot-side, but more vigorous action might do the trick. In my last batch I did without the dry milk -- and got much better flavor and much-improved smoothness, though there was still some (largish, loosish) clumping phenomenon goin' on. (Utensils / pots totally clean.)

                  I think I'm having trouble stirring the yogurt culture into the heated-then-cooled milk without either leaving small yogurty clumps in there to begin with or, well, risking killing the culture. Any tips for this stage of the process?

                  1. re: sequins

                    I have found clumpy yogurt results from disturbing the yogurt while it sets.

                    I raise the temp to 180, then cool to 110-115, add in my culture, stir, it is OK if it isn't all completely smooth - that doesn't turn it clumpy. Then place in the microwave in quart glass jars. Don't stir, don't move too much and keep the temp above 100 works well for me. Then I cool to room temperature-ish and put directly in the fridge overnight, without stirring or agitating. Creamy in the morning.

                    1. re: sequins

                      stir the yogurt until smooth (& lump-free) BEFORE adding to warm milk.

                      1. re: sequins

                        I whisk the starter yogurt into a cup or so of the heated milk in a smaller bowl, then when that's smooth I mix it into the rest of the milk. Makes it much easier to avoid lumps and get it blended in evenly.

                        1. re: sequins

                          I put the culture in our blender with some of the milk - and then stir the blended mixture into the batch of milk being made into yogurt. That seems to work well for us.

                          BTW, I have not had any luck with Fage but it could be I got a container with less than active cultures in it?

                          Thanks for all your posts.

                          Bill

                          1. re: whuebl

                            Fage isn't the best to use for a starter. As mentioned above, I checked into which yogurt had the most active cultures, and Stonyfield was it.

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              If you can find Cascade Active 8, it has 8 cultures

                            2. re: whuebl

                              I got a small cup of Stonyfield and then at the last minute decided to double my recipe so I made up the difference in what I needed with Fage.... it worked just fine but probably becuase I had more Stonyfield than Fage in there. For my second batch I used the last of my first batch as my starter and it worked great as well. I think I'll rotate it out every other time, buying new starter just to make sure I keep a good number of active cultures.

                              I haven't had any luck finding the Cascade Active 8, but I'll keep looing!!

                      2. I have a warming drawer, so I assume that I could make the yogurt by putting the mixture in there. I guess I would have to figure out which setting allows the milk get to the required temperature.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: roxlet

                          Oh, roxlet! I think you solved my problem. I don't have a microwave and never will due to stubbornness and a peevish nature.

                          1. As much as I enjoyed reading this, it's just not gonna happen. I'll just keep draining my storebought plain yogurt, or experimenting with my hand-me-down electric yogurtmaker (the kind with all the pots). At least it doesn't require me to tinker with my cabinets.

                            1. I'll again post my microwave no need to boil very thick yogurt that I make every other week:

                              I mix and whisk two liters of whole milk, 400 grams of full powdered milk, a tablespoon of sugar, starter from my last batch, and water to total 3.75 liters. The mix goes into 5 plastic tubs; and the tubs in the microwave. MW on high for three minutes (no need to superheat); and then for 45 seconds to a minute every one-and-a-half hours or so. Punch in the time off and on, on a day you’re home for a total of up to 12 hours. Great, very thick, smooth, tangy yogurt every time. Although I do have to buy and use new starter (two little containers of run of the mill natural, unsweetened yogurt) every fourth time.

                              1. I'm a long-time Fage fan and I've seen no deterioration in quality.

                                35 Replies
                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  Are you lucky enough to still be eating the Fage yogurt produced in Greece?

                                  The difference in quality between the Greek- and New York-produced Fage is a fairly
                                  common observance. Though there are many posts, below are two threads on that.
                                  I was so disappointed in the drop in quality that I no longer purchased Fage, though the New York plant may have improved the yogurt's quality since I last bought it.

                                  What is wrong with my Fage yogurt?
                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/305943

                                  Fage Yogurt Now Made in the USA
                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/522369

                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                    It's a shame when a good product is messed with to meet market demand. I hope you have shared your disappointment with the producers. Especially in this economy, you would think they would want to please die-hard customers. I'm not a regular consumer of Total/Fage yogurt, but when I want to have it, I love that it is available, and I have a container in my fridge right now -- 2% and made in NY. Now I'm afraid to eat it for fear it will disappoint.

                                    I do eat yogurt almost every day, but what I am addicted to is Stonyfield Farm Organic lowfat vanilla. While I do love the Fage/Total, you have to (or at least I have to) add sweetener, and the Stonyfield vanilla is already slightly sweetened, without being cloying, and just more convenient. It doesn't have the texture of greek yogurt, but it's way better than the commercial yogurts.

                                    So, a question about your's and Sam's method for making yogurt at home. Does your finished product with your method come out with the consistency of Greek-style yogurt -- i.e. that thick? I thought that thickness was achieved by straining the yogurt, and that that was the reason why greek yogurt was thicker than other styles?

                                    1. re: DanaB

                                      Thick as thick can be, but from whole milk, milk powder, and less water relative to the normal mixing of milk powder, and up to 12 hours of yogh-ing.

                                      1. re: DanaB

                                        Thick as thick can be... with no straining...whole or 2% milk, milk powder, no water, 15 hours of yogh-ing. Sam is the man...he am.

                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                          SF and ml...

                                          I believe that the active verb is "to gurt", as in "mare's milk gurted in yurts in Mongolia."

                                          I've always done the added dried milk thing, but have recently wondered if whey powder would serve the same function.

                                          I've recently received a lot of buttermilk powder (Saco). Has anyone tried to use that as a thickener for homemade yogurt? It's on a 1:4 reconstitution ratio, where powdered milk is 1:3.

                                          http://www.innovatewithdairy.com/NR/r...

                                          http://www.sacofoods.com/culteredbutt...

                                          1. re: FoodFuser

                                            Verb: Gurt, gurted, will gurt, will have gurted, will have been gurted.

                                            Just try the buttermilk powder. My only concern is that the buttermilk powder is too acidic for the bacteria and kills them because of that. A coupla scientific articles say that buttermilk powder yogurt is softer than dry milk powder yogurt. I wonder if bacteria die-off from the increased acid is the reason.

                                            Application of Ultrafiltered Sweet Buttermilk
                                            and Sweet Buttermilk Powder in the Manufacture
                                            of Nonfat and Low Fat Yogurts:
                                            http://jds.fass.org/cgi/reprint/81/12...

                                            "For the low-fat yogurt, the fortification with buttermilk powder led to a slightly softer product as compared with skim milk powder."
                                            http://books.google.com/books?id=IroZ...
                                            Page 172

                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                              So, this might just be rhetorical, given that you and Sam have found a great way to make yogurt at home, but if you held the notion of local/sustainable in your head, how would you make your yogurt with just milk? I.e., could you do it without the dried milk? Like if you were on a dairy farm, with no dried milk? Just making yogurt without any additives?

                                              My question is purely speculative, grant you. I love that you two are making great yogurt at home!

                                              1. re: DanaB

                                                Danab, I'd just use my yogurt strainers to get it thick. Unfortunately the extra time, work, reduced volume, and having to do something with the whey would probably make me less likely to continuously make yogurt.

                                                1. re: DanaB

                                                  I'd strain also.

                                                  But my sense is that dry milk as an ingredient is sustainable -- it's a use for an excess of milk that may be wasted or go bad. So, DanaB, I interpreted your question instead as "How would I make extra thick yogurt if I didn't have any dried milk on hand?"

                                                  And the extra labor involved and the waste of the whey may make strained
                                                  yogurt the less sustainable of the two. Just thinkin' aloud...

                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                    That was definitely my question -- I'm guessing that far back in the past, dried milk wasn't readily available, yet I'd also guess that greek-style yogurt has been around for eons :-) Of course, back then, they didn't have microwaves, either! To think of it, yogurt was probably invented as a way to use/extend the life of excess milk back in the day . . . along with sour cream and cheese.

                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                      Oh, Dana, I forgot a few hings that make thicker yogurt:

                                                      --you know how I talk about heating the milk to 180 degrees F?
                                                      Well, if you hold the heated milk at that temp for 10-20 minutes,
                                                      instead of the milk merely being brought up to that temp, the yogurt is thicker. I think it has to with the denaturing of lactoglobulin again.

                                                      --also, Sam He Am likes to incubate his yogurt for 12 hours. That's
                                                      fine, but I've found that when (using the same ingredients and proportions) and incubating for 15 hours produces a thicker yogurt.

                                                      --finally, a very active culture of lactobacillus bulgaricus helps make thicker yogurt. Lots of yogurt beasties provide oomp to eat the lactose
                                                      in the milk and produce lactic acid that thickens the milk and also provides tang.

                                                      You don't need powdered milk at all. But I like that my yogurt gives me a little protein hit in the morning, and that the powdered milk creates both structure and a fuller flavor.

                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                        Extra labor, yes, and a reduced yield too, but don't waste the whey! It's great for making bread.

                                                      2. re: DanaB

                                                        DanaB,

                                                        You absolutely can make make yogurt without the powdered milk. In fact, that's the traditional way. Adding powdered milk means more protein for the bacteria work on, hence thicker yogurt. I might be wrong, but I believe "Greek style" used to mean strained yogurt. Seems to me like adding powdered milk is just an alternative way of increasing the solids content of the final product.

                                                        1. re: Zeldog

                                                          dog, exactly. Adding powdered means less work, time, and no whey to deal with.

                                                      3. re: maria lorraine

                                                        Fuser and ml, please do post if you try to gurt with whey or buttermilk powder!

                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                          Sam, and others, here is your comparison.

                                                          I've never added milk solids when making yogurt, but this thread made me curious, so I made side by side batches using powdered milk and buttermilk. Here are the ingredients:

                                                          Milk (2% fat), Lucerne brand
                                                          Instant powdered milk, from the bulk section
                                                          Red Mill buttermilk powder
                                                          One 150 g (5.3 ounce) container of Stoneybrook greek style yogurt

                                                          I split the milk equally into two similar sauce pans and put them on low heat on the stove. As they warmed up I whisked in a cup of buttermilk powder into one and a cup of powdered milk into the other. I tried to keep the temperatures equal while heating, brought both up to to 180F and held at 180-185F for about 6 minutes. I let both cool on the stovetop to about 118F and added half of the starter to each. I transfered to 1 qt canning jars and incubated in the oven with a 100 watt bulb as the heat source. The oven temp was a steady 110F for the first 2 or 3 hours, but in the morning it had dropped to 103F, which is not too bad. Total incubation time was about 13 hours.

                                                          Both batches were noticably thicker than basic yogurt, more solid (especially the powdered milk batch), but not quite the consistency of Fage or other commercial greek style products. The amount of added milk solids I used was less than some recipes I found, so I expect adding more would get you closer to that Fage consistency if that's what you like.

                                                          There was a big difference in taste. The powdered milk batch was pretty much like standard yogurt, but thicker. The texture was a tiny bit grainy, but that may be due to my technique, as most of the time it turns out that way for me. But still it was less so than many commercial brands. The flavor was identical to the Stoneybrook used as starter but a bit subdued, possibly due to the relatively short incubation time, small amount of starter, and temperature on the low side.

                                                          As for the buttermilk batch, this is something special! Sitting in the fridge is the smoothest yogurt I've ever made. The mouth feel brings to mind a really good creme brulee without the sugar. Perhaps that's because there's some fat (2 g per cup) in buttermilk powder. Or something else. Who cares? The trade off, however, is flavor. The buttermilk batch was noticably milder, but not so much you would call it bland. It could even be a good thing if you like your yogurt on the mellow side.

                                                          As for me, buttermilk powder is going to be part of my routine, probably along with a little powdered milk to keep it thick.

                                                          1. re: Zeldog

                                                            Very interesting.

                                                            How much 2 percent liquid milk was used for each of the two batches?

                                                            1. re: FoodFuser

                                                              I did forget to mention that. One quart each.

                                                              And a note on cost: buttermilk powder is more expensive by the pound. For me it was about $5 for 1.5 lbs vs about $1.70/lb for powdered milk. But considering how much you use per quart of yogurt it's no big deal.

                                                            2. re: Zeldog

                                                              Good write-up! I'll have to try the buttermilk powder!

                                                              1. re: Zeldog

                                                                Brilliant. I'll look for buttermilk powder the next time I'm in the US.

                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                  Can you ship an Amazon product (restricted to US shipments) to a colleague or agency in the target city? If so:

                                                                  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001...

                                                                  It will keep well in the freezer.

                                                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                    Thank you. I'll be back in DC in about 10 days and will get some then.

                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                      Sam,

                                                                      Buttermilk powder is not so easy to find in stores. Try Whole Foods or a health food place or hippie co-op. It's not a common supermarket item, which I found out the first time I looked for it. For making sausages, ironically.

                                                                      1. re: Zeldog

                                                                        It's in every grocery store in my town.

                                                                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                        By the way, when you look for buttermilk powder in DC, I usually find it shelved with baking ingredients in the supermarket, rather than with the canned and other powdered milks.

                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                          Here's a Chowhound thread on Buttermilk Powder:
                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/612694

                                                                          Whole Foods and Super Wal-Mart sell it. As I just discovered, King Arthur Flour
                                                                          and Bob's Mills sells it. (Caitlin, I see that you posted the King Arther source on the other thread!)

                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                            Thank you, Zeldog, Caitlin, and maria. I have to buy it at a place near a Metro stop.

                                                                          2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                            A brand of buttermilk powder sold for baking is SACO.

                                                          2. re: DanaB

                                                            Fage hasn't been "messed with." The ingredients are the same as they've always been: Grade A Milk and Cream, and Live Active Yogurt Cultures. I've been eating this yogurt with granola several times a week for breakfast for years. There is no difference in the product I'm buying now.

                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                              The Fage 0% is really incredible...how do they make it feel so creamy? I love it. Have been making blueberry smoothies with it on alternate work mornings (instead of oatmeal...just can't do it when it is so blasted hot down here in SWFL) and have used low-fat kefir a few times instead of the Fage. I notice that buttermilk also has live cultures....does anyone use buttermilk in their smoothies? Just wondering.

                                                            2. re: DanaB

                                                              Straining IS the reason the yogurt is thicker.....I posted the recipe a little farther down....stabilizers are not used in traditional Greek yogurt.

                                                            3. re: maria lorraine

                                                              The stuff I'm buying is the same stuff I've been buying for a long time. Don't know about other parts of the country.

                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                As far as I can tell, all the Fage sold in the US, with the exception of the sheep's milk stuff, has been produced in the US since the middle of last year. Not everyone concurs that the quality is worse than that of the Greek-made original sold in the US prior to one year ago.

                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                  Yes, you're right. Not everyone concurs. The difference is striking to some, though.

                                                          3. Speaking of natto -- I've been making yogurt off and on with varying results, but the last batch turned out with a really weird mucilagenous texture. Not sure what caused it. It wasn't bad (I ate it and it was fine), but it was aesthetically unappealing.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              I can't remember where I saw/heard about this-- but is there is a Swedish (?) cultured milk dish that is *supposed* to be ropey--so much so that it is served by pulling up a scoopful and snipping it off?
                                                              Anybody familiar with this?

                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                yes, my great grandmother used to make this all the time. I never knew the swedish name, we just called it 'thickmilk'. I loved it. I still like ropey yogurt.

                                                                1. re: pepper_mil

                                                                  Aha, I didn't imagine it then-- just now I googled "cultured milk scissors" and came up with this:
                                                                  " Both foods will usually be nicely set and done after 18-24 hours. Piima should be a thick liquid drink if made with skim milk or a viscous "slippery" custard if made with whole milk. Viili comes in two consistencies, long or short. Short viili, made from warm milk, is milder and has a consistency somewhat like custard, but a little more "elastic," while long viili, made from cold milk, has a consistency like "stretchy honey." Finns say that, at its best, it should require cutting with scissors. The viili sold in most stores is short. Viili is always eaten with a spoon while piima is usually drunk, however pitka (long) piima, may also be eaten. Many Finns eat viili as is, usually at lunch, from the bowl in which it is made, often topped with a sprinkling of sugar and/or berries. Americans also like to use it like cream or whipped cream, atop apple strudel, apple pie, or Granola."

                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                    Piimä and villi are both Finnish cultured milk products, although I think at least one of them might have originated in Sweden. "Filmjölk" is the Swedish one and it's not ropey. They're all really easy to make at home--no heat required!

                                                                    1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                      Viili and piimä are both SO easy and uncomplicated to make and viili in particular is very rich and thick (and lots of fun to eat because of its "stretchiness"). I make "long" viili with cold milk right out of the refrigerator--no heat, no complications, countertop-to-refrigerator time: 16 hours (the level of culturing I prefer). I imagine you could make it even thicker by hanging it in cheesecloth to drain. Much easier than dealing with yogurt.
                                                                      I keep filmjölk, piimä, viili, and matsonyi all going on my countertop (although not simultaneously to avoid cross-contamination). They're not like Fage but they're all delicious, really simple to maintain, and self-perpetuating.

                                                              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                Ruth, see above about ropey, slimey texture and heating the milk to 180 degrees F. That might be what happened to your last batch -- it happened to me, too.

                                                              3. I've found a few posts online from people who have made yogurt in their slow-cooker or in their oven (using the oven light as the heat source) - has anyone tried making Greek yogurt this way?

                                                                I have plans to try this once I finish my current stash but wanted to see in advance if anyone had any tips.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: FlyerFan

                                                                  I use my oven to incubate yoghurt. I pre-heat it to about 90F then just leave the yogurt in it for 8-12 hours with the light on. It works very well.

                                                                  1. re: toastnjam

                                                                    Do you cover the bowl while it is in the oven? if so, with what?

                                                                2. Does anyone use an electric heating pad? Seems a cheap easy way to keep the temp.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Stuffed Monkey

                                                                    Google has lots of detailed reports on using a heating pad to incubate yogurt.
                                                                    I searched for
                                                                    -- make yogurt "heating pad" --
                                                                    and lots of entries came up.

                                                                    If you try the heating pad technique, please post how things turned out.

                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                      I have had good luck 3 times thus far using a heating pad set on low in a styrofoam cooler that I notched at the corner of the lid to accommodate the cord. It maintained a 110 degree temp. with no fluctuations. The pad is bare so I put a kitchen towel between it and the jars. Thanks for the buttermilk tip.

                                                                      1. re: dulce lover

                                                                        I love hearing about all the successful ways people rig incubation chambers to create yogurt. The heating pad, the thermos, the styrofoam cooler, regular cooler, the "warming" drawer. As long as the temperature is maintained around 110 degrees, the method is fine.

                                                                  2. Fantastic to read this again, it is a project I want to try. But while reading I couldn't help but wonder if this could be made in the crockpott? So I did a quick search and seems someone has done just that...
                                                                    http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/...
                                                                    The reason I was thinking about another way, was because I don't have a drawer deep enough to have the warming drawer going on, and with a three year old that loves to cook, I know he'd be in there stirring my bowl when I have my back turned.
                                                                    Has anyone tried the crockpot? If it is in this thread, I apologize for not catching it.

                                                                    14 Replies
                                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                      From what I've read online, you want to keep the incubation temperature below 120F, and most recipes call for around 105F which is supposed to produce a smoother yogurt. That recipe you posted calls for heating the milk to some unspecified temperature, adding the starter, turning off the heat and wrapping with towels to slow the cooling, and the incubation time of 8 hours is on the low side. So will it make yogurt? Yes, but really good yogurt, I doubt it.

                                                                      Not many folks have a deep drawer they can dedicate to making yogurt, but all you need is a box and a low heat source. For me thats the oven and a 100 watt bulb, but I've seen recipes calling for plastic coolers and jars of hot water and other variations. Whatever gives you a warm, steady temperature.

                                                                      1. re: Zeldog

                                                                        Do you think an electric heating pad might work? or perhaps a crock pot set on "warm"? I'm trying to think of constant low-heat sources that I can put out-of-reach of a 2-year-old and which won't result in yogurt-funk permeating my cabinets...

                                                                        1. re: Foodielicious

                                                                          I did come across a recipe where heating pads were used. They rolled them around the jars rather than setting the jars on top of the pads. A crock pot should work really well if you can keep the temperature in the 105-110 range. Rather than risk wasting some milk fill the crock pot with warm water, stick a thermometer in it, and see what the temperature is after a couple of hours. If it's too hot you could make a sort of double boiler by placing a steel mixing bowl on top of the crock pot. Cover the bowl with foil or plastic or a pot lid if you have the right size. Either way you should use a very clean thermometer to monitor the temperature the first time out.

                                                                          1. re: Foodielicious

                                                                            If you look at the crockpot directions linked earlier in this thread, they recommend heating up the crockpot, then turning it off and wrapping it with a towel to maintain the heat. I'm planning to try this soon.

                                                                            1. re: Pia

                                                                              I might try the crockpot method, too; it certainly has a ton of comments/reviews from folks who've tried it out.

                                                                              1. re: Pia

                                                                                Thanks pia, i have two settings on my crockpot, high and low and no idea what temperature they are able to mainitain. I will do the test as zeldog suggests, that's a perfect idea. thanks to you both.

                                                                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                  When I once tried the crockpot method, it did not work right, came out stringy. Maybe because I did not first heat up the milk to 180.

                                                                            2. re: Zeldog

                                                                              I tried the recipe as written and it worked fine. Since I have been making yogurt for years in my Donvier maker (8 individual cups) I used that. I'm personally not a fan of the extra thick style, but that's just preference. I wanted to note that the Donvier yogurt maker only takes 10 watts, so the 100watt lightbulb solution costs 10 times more energy/carbon footprint for those who want to improve their "green-ness". You could try heating your oven to the minimum temp and then turning it off when you put the yogurt in.

                                                                              1. re: Guido

                                                                                You're talking about the difference in electrical energy consumed, and you've left out the cost of the appliance?

                                                                                That's silly.

                                                                                Besides, you can’t simply compare watts to watts to evaluate green-ness.

                                                                                You have to factor in volts and electrical resistance to make an accurate comparison between two "appliances." For example: Both a 6-volt battery and a 12-volt battery will each power a 100-watt bulb. The 6-volt battery will use 16.66 amps and the 12-volt will use 8.3 amps. Which means the 8.3 amps powers the 100-watt bulb with *half* the current, so it is the more efficient — even though the lightbulb wattage is the same.

                                                                                All to say a wattage comparison is not an accurate measure of electrical consumption.

                                                                                To also accurately compare "greenness," we’d also need to make sure electrical consumption was compared for the same quantity of yogurt made. The Donvier yogurt maker makes 1.5 quarts, but the 100-watt bulb method above easily makes 4 quarts. (Even if you decide to make only 1.5 quarts.) And to really be accurate, you'd have to include the energy used to heat the milk (via microwave or stove) to use the lightbulb method.

                                                                                So we need to know amps, volts, and yogurt volume to accurately evaluate green-ness.Which is one reason why your comparison of 10 watts for the Donvier vs. 100 watts for the lightbulb method makes no sense.

                                                                                Probably most striking is that you've left out the cost of the applicance. Cost usually translates as human energy -- the number of work hours needed to produce a specific amount of money. In this case, the human energy cost is $50 for the appliance (on Amazon) vs. $0 to use the bowls/jars and pan at home.

                                                                                The $50 you pay for the applicance could buy a lot of electricity.

                                                                                So if there *were* any electrical savings from using the Donvier appliance (and it's not at all determined that there is), you'd have to make many, many batches of yogurt for the accumulated electrical savings to equal $50.

                                                                                Putting methods for making homemade yogurt aside, probably the most interesting energy comparison is between manufactured yogurt and homemade yogurt, which includes differences in the energy consumed to produce and transport raw ingredients, energy consumed in manufacturing the product, energy used to "grow" and produce packaging, and transportation.

                                                                                Finally, there is the difference in cost (again a measure of human energy) between manufactured vs. homemade yogurt. There is little difference in the ingredients cost between homemade methods (unless the ingredients are different), but there is an 5- to 7-fold difference in cost between homemade and manufactured yogurt.

                                                                                Determining green-ness or total energy consumption requires gathering accurate data on many factors.

                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                  I am not sure why you say that wattage is not an accurate measure of electrical consumption, while you seem to think that current is (or at least that it is better that wattage).

                                                                                  The resource you are using up and paying the electrical company for is energy, not current. Wattage is power, which is a direct measure of energy consumed for a given period of time. Thus, it is the appropriate measure of electrical consumption, so long as the time the device is being powered remains the same. Current, on the other hand, simply measures the amount of charge for a given period of time. That charge can be a high-energy charge (high voltage) or low-energy charge (low voltage). So measuring how much charge is consumed in a given time (amps) doesn't really tell us how much electrical energy was consumed. Amps is not enough to tell us the energy consumption. Volts is also not enough... it just tells us how much energy each unit of charge has. But watts (which is amps multiplied by volts) does tell us what we need to know.

                                                                                  In your example, you compare a 6V, 17A circuit with a 12V, 8A circuit. The power is 100W in both cases. So in both cases, if you run the device for an hour, you will consume 100 W x 1 h = 0.1 kilowatt-hours of energy, regardless of which circuit you use. You are saying the 12 volt circuit is more efficient because it only uses 8 amps. I could just as easily claim that the 6 volt circuit is more efficient because it uses fewer volts. Neither makes sense, because amps and volts are not the resource we are consuming. The resource is energy (joules or kilowatt-hours). Wattage (joules per second), unlike amps or volts, does measure how much of our resource (energy) we are using (per second, that is, so we do need to take into account how long we are running the device for).

                                                                                  You pay the electrical company for energy consumed, not current.... kiloWATT-hours, not kiloAMP-hours. So long as the hours of (powered) use is the same, and the amount of yogurt produced is the same, then it seems to me that wattage is a perfectly reasonable measure of electrical energy consumed. Factoring in the amount of yogurt produced, the time it takes to produce it, and the energy of manufacture amortized over the life of the yogurt maker gives us the following rough formula for energy consumption of a yogurt maker (note that it does not care about amps or volts):

                                                                                  E = WT / Y + YM / L

                                                                                  E = TOTAL ENERGY CONSUMPTION PER LITRE OF YOGURT PRODUCED
                                                                                  W = POWER ... wattage of the yogurt maker
                                                                                  T = PRODUCTION TIME ... amount of (powered) time the device is on to make a batch of yogurt
                                                                                  Y = PRODUCTION CAPACITY ... litres of yogurt in a batch
                                                                                  M = ENERGY OF MANUFACTURE ... total energy used to manufacture and transport the yogurt maker
                                                                                  L = LIFETIME PRODUCTION CAPACITY ... litres of yogurt produced over life of the machine

                                                                                  The first term in the formula (WT/Y) is the immediate electrical energy it actually takes to produce a litre of yogurt with a given machine. It is relatively easy to calculate. The second term (YM/L) is the energy consumed in manufacturing the machine (including any repair costs over the life of the machine), and is much more difficult to determine. It is important to note, however, that this cost is not $0 just because the yogurt maker is home-made. The cost of bowls, jars, etc., for making yogurt without a store-bought machine is certainly not zero. All those items (including the lamp fixture) have costs, too, can be broken, need to be maintained and replaced, etc.

                                                                                  Ignoring the manufacture energy, the calculation of which is fraught with great difficulty, and just looking at immediate electrical energy consumption, if we assume that both the 100-watt bulb and the Donvier methods both make 1.5 litres (read "quarts" if you are American), and take 15 hours, then the difference is:

                                                                                  E(donvier) = WT / Y = 10 watts * 15 h / 1.5 L = 0.1 kilowatt-hours per litre
                                                                                  E(bulb) = WT / Y= 100 watts * 15 h / 1.5 L = 1 kilowatt-hour per litre

                                                                                  So the Donvier is 10 times as efficient. But lets look at the other factors you rightly mention. You mention, for instance, that the 100-watt bulb method can easily make 4 litres. So if we go with that:

                                                                                  E(bulb) = WT / Y= 100 watts * 15 h / 4 L = 0.375 kilowatt-hours per litre

                                                                                  This is still almost four times as wasteful of energy than the Donvier. So you'd have to make 15 litres (quarts) of yogurt per batch with the 100 watt bulb to equal the efficiency of the Donvier.

                                                                                  Your point about the $50 cost of the Donvier certainly has merit, although is not nearly as straightforward as all that, either. Given your assumption that your home machine costs you $0, and still assuming we are okay with making as much as 4 L at a time, and using the current cost of electricity where I live (Toronto):

                                                                                  Cost of electricity = 6 cents / kW-h (current price in my area)
                                                                                  Electrical cost of Donvier = 0.6 cents / litre
                                                                                  Electrical cost of 100 W bulb method = 2.25 cents / litre
                                                                                  Cost difference = 1.65 cents / litre

                                                                                  Amount of yogurt you need to make in a Donvier for electrical savings to make up for the initial cost =
                                                                                  $50 / ($0.0165/L) = 3000 L

                                                                                  So you'd need to make 3000 L / 1.5 L per batch = 2000 batches of yogurt in your Donvier for its electrical savings to pay for itself.

                                                                                  However, I think your assumption of $0 could be questioned. Are all your jars/bowls, etc. things you'd have otherwise? Is there no wear and tear on them at all? Does the light bulb never need replacing? Any method has costs, and the light bulb method is certainly not zero. But granted, it would still probably take at least hundreds, if not thousands, of batches of yogurt for the energy savings to pay for the machine. I don't know how long a Donvier lasts, but provided it is a very well-built machine, and depending of course on the actual costs of the light bulb method, it just might have a chance at paying for itself over its entire lifetime.

                                                                                  However, it should also be noted that $50 is NOT a measure of the energy of manufacture, but rather a market price for the product. So the 2000 batches number is an extreme upper limit if we are talking about environmental impact. The actual figure would be quite problematic to calculate. However, realistically, the actual energy cost of manufacture is bound to be much lower than the retail price. I've no idea what the actual figures would be, but just to give an idea of how to do the calculations, I will guess that the energy of manufacture of the Donvier is 10% of its retail price, or $5 (I've no idea if that is realistic). In that case, we would only need 200 batches of yogurt in the Donvier to make up for the environmental impact of its energy of manufacturing. Given some minimal cost for the 100 watt light bulbs, the actual number would be still less, let's guess 150. That would be easily met within the life of the machine unless it is very poorly made.

                                                                                  Finally, it should just be noted also that there is the human energy spent in rigging up the drawer compared to the ease and convenience of using the Donvier, which counts for something too, whatever its environmental impact.

                                                                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                    thanks for the analysis. I did not figure the energy consumption of manufacturing the Donvier appliance. The assumption was the bowls and pans were items of long-standing in the kitchen and had many uses in many applications.

                                                                                    I do count the cost of the Donvier appliance as *human* energy -- in terms of hours worked to attain a given number of dollars.

                                                                                    Finally, the labor of assembly per batch -- washing jars for the Donvier,
                                                                                    getting it ready to use vis a vis washing bowls/pan for the lightbulb method, clamping the light on the drawer-- I considered a wash.

                                                                                    Thanks again. Loved the number of batches comparison.

                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                      Oh my!!! If only you saw my drawers! Haha... I have put the Donvier on my Christmas list and am keeping fingers crossed...

                                                                                  2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                    Maria - we tossed our microwave a while back. Any suggestions to get the milk right without one? THANKS!
                                                                                    (I'm also a huge FAGE fan and want to make my own)

                                                                                    1. re: wdfrontier

                                                                                      You can use the stove-top, heat the milk slowly....and do not stir. I use a gas stove and turn my burner to the lowest temp. Also, on the days I know I am making yogurt, I leave my gallons of milk on the counter to come to 'room temp
                                                                                      You do need to use a thermometer and heat the milk to 180 degrees

                                                                            3. Uh oh, I didn't read the instructions carefully and I added the stonyfield yogurt into the mixture before I heated the whole thing to 180. Is it ruined?

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Linda513

                                                                                The starter was killed, but you can simply add another starter after it cools down.

                                                                                  1. re: Linda513

                                                                                    Although maria lorraine and I have never come to a conclusion re: that I never heat my milk to high temp and it works great.

                                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                      Sam, I'm-a wondering if your milk reaches 180 F during your initial 4-minute microwave blast. I'd love for you to take a temp if you can....

                                                                                      M.

                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                        You suggested high temp before. I don't thinks so because it is just warm to the touch - kind of like a baby's bath water. maybe because teh liquid milk comes in UHT packs?

                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                          Could be. UHT has to have a minimum heat of 275 F.

                                                                              2. First of all, congratulations! I really appreciate you walking us through all the details, especially the mis-steps that I'm sure I would replicate on my first few tries. It's hard to write it all out clearly and you've done a bang-up job. Hopefully I'll have a report to share when I try it!

                                                                                I'm big into my Fage, too, and it really bums me out that the organic version offered at WF is only available fat-free. Wah! The fat is the point! So I think I'm gonna try making some with raw milk from some of the local farmers.

                                                                                  1. I made a batch a couple of days ago, and it looks like yogurt and feels like yogurt, but it's not as tangy as yogurt. It's too sweet. Can I make it without the sugar next time?

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Linda513

                                                                                      You bet. It just won't turn out as thick.

                                                                                      1. re: Linda513

                                                                                        Yes, or only use a smidgen of sugar. See add'l tips above that create thickness.

                                                                                        1. re: Linda513

                                                                                          Really fresh yogurt is sweet. The tang develops over time. Faster at room temperature, slower in the fridge.

                                                                                          1. re: MickiYam

                                                                                            Sounds like it keeps fermenting and that's why the tang increases.

                                                                                        2. Can I ask a dumb question? Is this the way that they make creme fraiche? Not that I want a crockpot full, but is the method similar?

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                            That is not a dumb question.

                                                                                            Here are the differences, as best I can explain. Creme fraiche starts with cream and uses a combo of different bacteria to culture the milk (s.lactis, s. cremoris, s lactis biovar diacetylactis), which you have to order. It's incubated at room temp till it looks like yogurt, and then drained. Lots of fat, butteriness, lusciousness.

                                                                                            1. Can you make yogurt with half and half or with heavy cream?

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: cmocva

                                                                                                  I made my first batch of yogurt last week and it is probably the best yogurt I have ever eaten. I used about 1.5 cups half and half, 2.5 cups 1% milk and a packet of Yogourmet starter that I bought from King Arthur Flour. I know the calorie count is higher than normal yogurt because of the half and half, but it was in my fridge and needed to be used for something. What a difference between it and the overly tart low fat stuff I buy in the stores! I followed the directions on the starter packet which include bringing the temp of the milk to 180 and then cooling it to about 110 before adding the starter. Then I put it in short, wide mouth canning jars with lids and put it in my warming drawer set between proof and low temp for about 5 hours. After chilling in the fridge, it came out absolutely perfect. I will try with just 1% and eventually try it with leftover yogurt as the starter rather than the packaged stuff, but if it isn't good, I'm throwing weight concerns out the window and going back to the addition of half and half. It was seriously in a yogurt class of its own.

                                                                                                2. Crock pot setup. Opened crock pot - disconnected the thermostat - now power goes directly to the heater. Regulated the temperature with a light dimmer. Keeps the temp almost constant. Result - no more guessing and repeatable results.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                      Hi Maria,
                                                                                                      If one makes a batch with the quart of milk recipe you have provided above, according to my calculations for a 1 cup serving at a little over 100 calories per serving the protein content would average out to be about 10 grams of protein per serving. How does Fage make thier 1 cup servings provide between 15- 23 grams of protein? Something must be missing in the recipe or is the extra protein obtained from the cooking or method of incubating the yogurt? The main reason I love greek yogurt is because of the super high protein count so I am very interested in learning how to achieve this! Please let me know if you know how to increase the protein level without increasing the calorie content too much.

                                                                                                      1. re: bbiase1

                                                                                                        The traditional method of producing greek-style yogurt is by straining through cheesecloth or a strainer until roughly half of the liquid volume (whey) is removed from the total yogurt batch. The resulting thickened yogurt remaining (while being less in total volume) will be higher in protein content--exactly how much, I am not sure though. I think the majority of the protein content is in the solid, not the whey.

                                                                                                  1. Man this looks like it would be delicious. I am not familiar with this kind of Fage stuff but am willing to try and make the yogurt when I have the needed utensils, like the box for prepping and the clamp on light of 100 watts. Sounds fun to me.........

                                                                                                    1. Hi Maria! This is good stuff... I've been looking for a greek yogurt recipe and always thought that you had to simply strain regular yogurt to make greek yogurt. I like the idea of making it w/out an expensive yogurt maker. I have one question for you...with your recipe , do you have any idea of the calorie content per one cup serving? Would it be the same as Fage 0% at 120 calories per cup if you made the yogurt with skim milk and fat free powdered milk?

                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: bbiase1

                                                                                                        I'm not sure. I think it's less. Pretty easy to do the math. Add the ingredient calories from the main recipe above -- 4 cups nonfat fluid milk (344), 1½ cups dry milk (calories vary by brand, but nonfat is around 432), 1/2 cup of Stonyfield nonfat yogurt as starter culture (55), tablespoon of sugar (45) -- and divide the total (876) by the number of 1/2 cup servings you get. This recipe makes a large amount, but I don't know the exact quantity because I usually make larger batches. Also, it seems the total volume is less with a longer fermentation time (which I always do now). If you get an exact volume in ounces or cups with your next batch and can ascertain the number of calories per 1/2 cup serving, let us know. I'll do the same. BTW, this homemade yogurt has a lot more lean protein per serving than the Fage Total.

                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                          How is it that the homemade yogurt has more lean protein that the Fage yogurt?
                                                                                                          BTW, I made my first batch last night and it turned out completely wrong. I could not get the temperature of the milk past 160 degrees... I kept microwaving it probably for about 10 minutes or more in 1 minute intervals and still the temp wouldnt budge past 160. Then the milk boiled and started to curdle. It looks like small curded cottage cheese. I went ahead with it and it is finishing incubating in my oven as we speak. Will it still be edible? Why do you think the temp would not reach 180 degrees? Could something possibly be wrong with my thermoneter? I just bought the easy read thermometer (non digital) at Target this weekend. Would the yogurt have been just fine if I let it simply reach the 160 mark rather than continuing to heat the milk trying to budge the temp up to 180??

                                                                                                          1. re: bbiase1

                                                                                                            There's more milk protein in homemade yogurt because the amount of dry milk used is greater than what manufacturers use. You can check the math on this also, by using the nutrition panels on both the fluid milk and dry milk packages.

                                                                                                            Your thermometer sounds broken if you checked the temp after each one minute microwave blast -- obviously if the milk boiled it was way past 160 degrees F.
                                                                                                            My guess is curdled milk won't work for yogurt. Curdled milk means the structure of the milk has changed into solid proteins and whey, so I can't imagine the yogurt bacteria being able to do their thing the way they're supposed to, darn it.

                                                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                              Darn it is right! I will try again though...
                                                                                                              I added up all of the protein with the ingredients in your recipe and come up with about 10 grams of protein per cup of yogurt. This is not a lot. Fage has about 16 or 18 grams of protein per cup serving. How can we increase the protein amount without increasing the calories?

                                                                                                              1. re: bbiase1

                                                                                                                How many cups of yogurt did you figure the recipe made? The dry milk will mostly dissolve and add little additional volume to the fluid milk.

                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                  For your recipe above using 1 quart of milk and 1 1/2 cups of powdered milk would yield about 8 cups of the final yogurt when complete. 8 cups of yogurt has10 grams of protein if using skim milk (this protein count includes protein from the quart of milk, drymilk and the 1/2 cup of starter yogurt).

                                                                                                                  1. re: bbiase1

                                                                                                                    Remember, the dry milk dissolves. Similar to adding any powder to a liquid. So it doesn't contribute to the volume of the mixture in the way you're calculating.

                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                      Ahh your absolutely right!!! I forgot that we are not adding water with the powdered milk so there is a lot more protein per serving and more calories per serving than I initially estimated.

                                                                                                                      1. re: bbiase1

                                                                                                                        Here's a fairly accurate comparison between the homemade yogurt made from the above recipe and Fage 0% fat. The homemade yogurt was made using all nonfat ingredients. Yield is 5 cups.

                                                                                                                        Both are for a 1/2 cup serving.

                                                                                                                        Homemade recipe above, 0% fat: 80 calories, 14 grams protein
                                                                                                                        Fage 0% fat: 60 calories, 10 grams protein

                                                                                                                        This isn't precisely an apples-to-apples comparison because Fage yogurt
                                                                                                                        is drained after manufacturing, further reducing the volume. We could drain the homemade yogurt to get an even more accurate comparison, but it really isn't necessary.

                                                                                                                        OK, I'm done with math here...

                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                          Thanks Maria! I have another one for you ... how can I get the calorie count down from 160 calories per 1 cup serving to about 120 calories per one cup serving? The only way I presume would be to decrease the amount of the ingredients since there isnt a lower calorie milk or powdered milk that we could use. I wonder how Fage makes theirs lower in calories? Would the end result of the yogurt change dramatically if I decreased the amount of powdered milk or real milk in order to cut the calorie count a bit? If not, which do you think would be the better choice to decrease in your recipe- the real milk or the powdered milk?

                                                                                                                          1. re: bbiase1

                                                                                                                            When comparing nutrition stats of Fage to other yogurts, use the same serving size to get an accurate comparison.

                                                                                                                            Check the serving sizes and protein counts here,
                                                                                                                            http://www.myfitnesspal.com/nutrition...
                                                                                                                            then compare the same serving size to another yogurt.

                                                                                                                            For one cup 0% fat Fage:
                                                                                                                            120 calories and 20g protein.
                                                                                                                            For a one-cup serving (not 1/2 cup -- I got *my* serving sizes confused)
                                                                                                                            of the recipe listed above:
                                                                                                                            148 calories and 14.7 grams protein.

                                                                                                                            That's making the recipe with fluid skim milk, nonfat dry milk and 1/2 cup Stonyfield starter to yield 5 cups yogurt. Not more protein than Fage, but impressive nonetheless. Drain the yogurt, and it's the same as Fage.

                                                                                                                            In answer to your question about decreasing calories when already using 0% fat milk, I'd use less powdered milk, as you suggest.. For example, use 1/2 cup dry milk insteaad of 1-1/2 cups in the above recipe, to make 5 cups yogurt with a total of 500 calories and 49g protein, OR 100 calories per cup serving and just shy of 10g protein. Thanks for your interest.

                                                                                                      2. I love the idea of making my own yogurt. I have a few questions though. Does it matter what kind of milk is used? ie: Full Fat, 2%, 1%, Cream, Half & Half? Ditto for the powdered milk? I typically don't like a tart yogurt, I like more mellow, smooth flavor. When it's "processing" in the oven, is it in a single large glass bowl ? With or w/o a lid? After it is done in the oven can I transfer it to smaller containers (plastic) and then put in the fridge or do I wait until it's been refrigerated a few days to put it individual containers. How long will it stay good for? Ok, I think that's all the questions I have for now. I'm so excited to try this. I'm spending way to much money on good yogurt lately.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: jcattles

                                                                                                          Again, I use two liters of whole milk, 450 grams of whole milk powder, starter from the previous batch, a touch of brown sugar, and water to make around four liters. I don't heat to high heat, but just to have the yogurt incubate and grow. Get full, solid, tangy yogurt every time.

                                                                                                          1. re: jcattles

                                                                                                            Type of milk doesn't matter, though I've never used 1/2 and 1/2.
                                                                                                            Ditto powdered milk -- doesn't matter what type.
                                                                                                            If you like mellow yogurt, go for the shorter incubation/fermentation time.
                                                                                                            Simple glass bowl is fine. Or jar.
                                                                                                            With lid or plastic wrap, to keep the heat in. I use plastic wrap.
                                                                                                            After fermentation, keep in bowl OR transfer into smaller containers and put into frig.
                                                                                                            Wait 2-3 days to eat.
                                                                                                            Stays good awhile, 2-3 weeks, I'd say.

                                                                                                            Tip: take temp throughout "incubation" to make sure temp is in the correct range.

                                                                                                          2. I make Greek style yogurt by the gallons, whole organic milk, sometimes half and half or whipping cream added.
                                                                                                            I put 3 - 3 1/2 gallons of milk in a 4 gallon stainless steel stock pot. The milk is heated on the stove to 180 degrees. Then I cool the milk mixture to 115 degrees, either on the counter or in a water bath (cold tap water in the kitchen sink....set the pan in the water with the thermometer in it). DO NOT STIR YOUR MILK.....NOT WHILE HEATING OR COOLING, NOT WHILE ADDING YOUR STARTER. Stirring makes the texture grainier. I add 1/3 cup room temperature starter per gallon of milk, sliding it down the side of the pan so as not to disturb the skin on the milk. Again, DO NOT STIR!
                                                                                                            Also, adding too much starter makes the yogurt more sour. After adding the starter, I cover the lid of the stockpot and put it in my old oven with a pilot light. After 8 hours, I have the most gorgeous custard yogurt. Then I place a commercial size (large) coffee filter in a colander that is sitting in a large plastic tub. Then I gently ladle in the yogurt. The whey is good for making bread or for mixing into smoothies or other drinks.
                                                                                                            If you do not have an old oven with a pilot light, use an ice chest. I place a heated bath towel on the bottom of the ice chest, place my 2 gallon stockpot with the warm milk mixture in the center, then place gallon milk jugs filled with the hottest tap water (put the lids on the milk jugs). Then I close the lid of the ice chest and wait for 8 - 12 hours. It works great. Be sure to try out the size of your pan and the milk jugs before you are ready to make your yogurt, there are different sized ice chests.....I make gallons of this yogurt at a time.....no powdered milk or sugar, just milk and starter. It is fabulous.

                                                                                                            1. You all are FABULOUS! And so is my first attempt at yogurt, if I do say so myself. :)

                                                                                                              I had a clean glass pickle jar and an empty plastic yogurt container as my vessels, set on a heating pad (on high) in a disposable roasting pan. Into each, I added 1/2 cup of well-whisked yogurt. I started off with some milk and yogurt from a local creamery.....full fat yogurt and skim milk. Also had some nonfat instant milk powder.

                                                                                                              While the starter yogurt was having the chill taken off, I whisked together 1/2 gallon milk with 1/2 cup dry milk, and stirred frequently as the mixture heated on the stove to 180'F. Held for about 2 minutes at that temp, then allowed to cool at room temperature to 115'F (took about 45 minutes).

                                                                                                              I added a little of the warm milk to each vessel, stirred well, then filled them up. Capped with their respective lids, I snuggled them under a towel, made sure the heating pad was providing even heat, and left them alone for seven hours.

                                                                                                              I return to the warm jars, clicked off the heating pads, and let them sit outside for about 2 hours. With a little gentle jiggle, I could see that the mixture has thickened, but certainly seemed more like buttermilk than yogurt. After about 3 hours in the fridge, though, it was a beautiful, creamy concoction- mild, smooth and absolutely delicious. Leaps and bounds above the typical low-fat yogurts I buy. (I'll have to calculate the calorie and fat content at some point, just to know....)

                                                                                                              The key question at this point- how long will this keep in the refrigerator? I've had cartons
                                                                                                              of store-bought yogurt last for months without growing molds/unsavory bacteria, and wondering if the same would be true for batches of homemade yogurt. Any advice?

                                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                First off, thanks for the recipe
                                                                                                                But I did have some problems with this recipe that i need some help with

                                                                                                                I did not get the thickness of fage yogurt.
                                                                                                                It was much thicker than the stoneyfield starter, but not really the same as fage
                                                                                                                Also the yogurt was very grainy

                                                                                                                The taste was amazing, but i would prefer better consistency than taste

                                                                                                                Im not sure what the problem is, but I made 1.5 times the original recipe, and i kept the incubation time at 15 hours
                                                                                                                Was that the problem?

                                                                                                                Also, i used a 120watt bulb by the way

                                                                                                                I would really love to get the same yogurt i love so much, but need some help

                                                                                                                thanks in advance

                                                                                                                1. re: nick1990

                                                                                                                  I'm happy to try to help. Tell me exactly what you did, and if you made any variations.

                                                                                                                  ML

                                                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                    A couple of ideas: graininess says to me that the powdered milk may not have been completely dissolved. Try stirring a little more vigorously when you first add the powdered milk to the liquid milk, and stirring again a few times while you're heating the milk to make sure all the powder is completely dissolved.

                                                                                                                    Did you take a temperature of your mixture while it was incubating? I know from my own experimenting that the difference between a 75-watt bulb and a 100-watt bulb was 12 degrees or more, and that the 100-watt bulb maintained the mixture at the ideal range of 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit. My guess is that the 120-watt bulb probably overheated your mixture and killed some of the culture. That might have been the reason why your mixture didn't thicken.

                                                                                                                    This recipe produces very thick yogurt, even thicker with an incubation time of 15 hours. It's fairly lustrous and satiny also -- no graininess.

                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                      Ohhhhhhh, i bet it was the bulb that screwed me lol
                                                                                                                      I did not take the temperature at all during the incubation time

                                                                                                                      I stirred the milk mixture quite often actually
                                                                                                                      I read a few post up to not stir the mixture very much because it causes graininess?
                                                                                                                      Is that something you think may be a cause?

                                                                                                                      Is it as thick or thicker than fage?
                                                                                                                      I really love the thick consistency and imo, the thicker the better

                                                                                                                      thanks for the reply btw

                                                                                                                      1. re: nick1990

                                                                                                                        In answer to your questions...
                                                                                                                        As thick as Fage, even thicker with long incubation times.
                                                                                                                        I believe the post about not stirring was by texas grrrl who uses no powdered milk (so no need to stir). I'm guessing that graininess could also be little tiny particles of cooked/curdled milk if the mixture got too hot during the initial heating phase or during incubation.

                                                                                                                        Keep trying. My first batch was a disaster.

                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                          thank you so much Maria
                                                                                                                          Gonna make another batch soon, and will report how it goes!

                                                                                                                          1. re: nick1990

                                                                                                                            So, i made another batch, and this time it had the thickness i was going for, but it was even grainier than before!!!
                                                                                                                            I heated the mixture to exactly 180 degrees
                                                                                                                            I let it cool to exactly 105 degrees
                                                                                                                            I stirred it like a maniac
                                                                                                                            I used a 100 watt light bulb while incubating

                                                                                                                            I dont really know where i went wrong

                                                                                                                            The only things that come to mind are:
                                                                                                                            When heating the mixture, i would put it in the microwave for longer intervals
                                                                                                                            Instead of 3 minutes a million times, i put it in for 5 minutes 3 or 4 times

                                                                                                                            the only other thing i think may be the problem is that i let it incubate for about 18 hours.
                                                                                                                            Was that a bad thing?

                                                                                                                            thanks

                                                                                                                            1. re: nick1990

                                                                                                                              I'm sorry I can't diagnose what happened, Nick. Again, the graininess may be overcooked milk if it was overheated when you zapped it in the microwave, but I can't tell exactly what caused the graininess/grittiness. Wish I could be of more help.

                                                                                                                              1. re: nick1990

                                                                                                                                Nick1990, try making your yogurt with no powdered milk and NO STIRRING. The stirring is causing your graininess. 180 is the temperature that milk separates....stirring is attempting to re-combine the milk....Incubating for 18 hours is OK. Strain the yogurt and you should have great yogurt. Use the whey to make bread or water your plants.

                                                                                                                            2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                              The graininess comes from stirring. Original Greek yogurt is just milk and starter, nothing else. When you heat your milk to 180 degrees, this is the temperature where milk separates....when you stir, you are trying to re-combine, that causes the graininess.
                                                                                                                              Heat your milk slowly as the lactose burns easily. You can use a heat diffuser on your burner, too.

                                                                                                                              1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                One more question: After heating the milk to 180, holding it at this temp for 20 minutes, cooling the milk to 100, then dumping in the yogurt...when you put this stuff into a picnic cooler with jugs of hot water all around...are you saying to put the whole pot in the cooler OR have you transferred the milk stuff to glass bottles or something?

                                                                                                                                I'm a bit confused.

                                                                                                                                1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                  I put the whole pot covered with a tight fitting lid or plastic wrap into the cooler, surrounded by the capped jugs of the hottest tap water you have. If there is room in your cooler, you can add to the inuslation with clean bath towels. Close the lid tightly and leave for 12 - 18 hours. You should have a beautiful custard-y yogurt in your pan when you open it. THEN you strain it. I use really large commercial coffee filters, but you can use cheesecloth or muslin to line your collander. Have a container under the collander to catch the whey. When the whey equals 1/3 - 1/2 of the amount of milk originally used, that should be the Fage consistency. You can continue straining and get 'yogurt cheese' of varying consistencies, depending on how long you strain it. After straining to your desired consistency, transfer the strained yogurt to a covered container and refrigerate. Do try some of your fresh yogurt before it is refrigerated....it is a special treat.
                                                                                                                                  If you have any questions, please feel free to call me 817-807-6748.

                                                                                                                  2. I have had tremendous success with Skyr - Siggis. And it is the very best tasting yogurt I have ever tasted!

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: whuebl

                                                                                                                      Do you mean you used this yogurt as a starter? Did you make yogurt? Or are you just recommending the brand?

                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                        Thanks for getting back to me on this... I need to be more clear in posting here. To answer your questions, yes to all. Since using Siggis as a culture (see http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/maki... ), I found the online source of some really great cultures - http://www.cheesemaking.com/cheesecul... - the Y-4 and Y-5 are especially good but I have yet to make yogurt from the other cultures although I have them all now. The only difference between the 2 is that the Y-4 has a slight cheesy taste that is really appealing but the Y-5 is excellent also.

                                                                                                                        And I have a website under development with some helpful information and instructions from the experience I have had in making yogurt. BTW, I bought a Waring Pro yogurt maker and have adapted it so I can make over a gallon of yogurt at one time.

                                                                                                                        Thanks again for your response.

                                                                                                                        Bill

                                                                                                                    2. Making yoghurt in a thermos flask

                                                                                                                      Thank you maria lorraine and all commenters for the detailed, informative post and replies. I started making yoghurt a month ago, and I searched all over the internet for information. This post got printed out and stuck to my fridge as a main guide.

                                                                                                                      This reply is about making the yoghurt in a thermos flask without a warming drawer. I don't have a spare drawer, and I wanted a method that was "set and forget" as I am a very lazy homecook. This following method is working out well and consistently for me. I already had a 3 cup metal thermos flask. This makes enough yoghurt for my husband and I (eating and baking needs) for half a week. So I do this about twice a week.

                                                                                                                      Ingredients:
                                                                                                                      2 cup 2% milk
                                                                                                                      1 cup water
                                                                                                                      1/2 cup instant non-fat dry milk powder
                                                                                                                      1 heaping tablespoon Stonyfield french vanilla yoghurt

                                                                                                                      Equipment:
                                                                                                                      pyrex or glass jug/bowl
                                                                                                                      microwave
                                                                                                                      3 cup metal thermos flask
                                                                                                                      whisk
                                                                                                                      refrigerator

                                                                                                                      Optional Equipment:
                                                                                                                      an insulated cooler bag (I had a cheap one to transport chilled wine to parties.)
                                                                                                                      food/meat thermometer

                                                                                                                      Method:
                                                                                                                      Step 1: Put boiling water in thermos flask and screw cap on. (To warm as well as sterilise the flask.)
                                                                                                                      Step 2: Mix milk, water and milk powder in pyrex/glass jug with whisk until very well mixed.
                                                                                                                      Step 3: Microwave 3 cups of milk mixture until it reaches 180 F. Whisk a couple more times during this process.
                                                                                                                      Step 4: Cool until 105 F on countertop or fridge.
                                                                                                                      Step 5: Whisk room temperature yoghurt into milk mixture. Whisk *well*.
                                                                                                                      Step 6: Empty water from thermos flask. (Make some tea!) Pour milk mixture into flask. Seal. Place in cooler bag if you wish. Store in pantry to incubate.
                                                                                                                      Step 7: After 6 hours, check if yoghurt is at desired thickness. If not, reseal flask and incubate for anywhere between 2 to 6 hours more.
                                                                                                                      Step 8: Gently pour out the whey liquid on top if desired. I drink it straight up. Empty yoghurt into storage container and refrigerate.

                                                                                                                      Notes and tips on ingredients:
                                                                                                                      * When I started, I tried using all fresh milk (whole milk, full skim, 2 %). Each time, the yoghurt came out runny even after 12 hours incubation. Also sort of lumpy. (Not grainy, just not well coagulated). I couldn’t do more than 12 hours, because it only got slightly thicker, but increasingly sour. I didn’t mind, as results were tangy, fresh smelling and entirely acceptable to eat. I was especially happy to find that this slightly thickened liquid worked as a beautiful substitute to buttermilk in my favourite soda bread and Alton Brown pancake recipes.
                                                                                                                      * Addition of the powdered milk definitely yielded thick, luscious yoghurt. I am still playing around with my preferred ratio.
                                                                                                                      * I tried to use Fage as a starter. You were right, Stonyfield gave better, more consistent results, even with the additives/flavouring.
                                                                                                                      * I use a scoop of a previous batch to start the next batch, but find I have to “re-start” with fresh Stonyfield every 4 to 6 batches as it gets increasingly sour. So now I buy a small cup of Stonyfield, divide into 4 portions, freeze on a cookie sheet then bag it in the freezer. Defrost before using.

                                                                                                                      Notes and tips on method:
                                                                                                                      * Frustrating doing all this without a food thermometer. This was what finally pushed me into getting one, and I’m so glad I did.
                                                                                                                      * Step 1, Could warm the milk on the stove. I didn’t like this, even with constant stirring the milk would burn a bit at the pot bottom.
                                                                                                                      * Step 1, I do a 3 minute MW zap, check temp, then add 1 minute zaps until I reach temp. This gives me the opportunity to whisk milk mixture between zaps. So far I find a total of 4.5 mins is sufficient.
                                                                                                                      * Step 2, I use a pyrex jug because I could warm in microwave and then put straight into the fridge to cool more quickly.
                                                                                                                      * Step 4, I used to forget the cooling milk until it was too late. So now I rig a food thermometer to “alert” at 105 F then stick the probe in the milk in the fridge. Obviously it beeps as it is over the target temperature. I pay attention when the beeping STOPS. Takes about 20 minutes.
                                                                                                                      * Step 6, I’ve done it without the cooler bag, it seemed fine.
                                                                                                                      * Step 8, I got lazy once, after incubation I just stuck the entire thermos into the fridge. If you do this, take the cap off. Otherwise it stays warm for quite a whiles and keeps fermenting.

                                                                                                                      We eat the yoghurt with the blueberry sauce from this recipe (omitting the ground pepper):
                                                                                                                      http://www.blueberrycouncil.com/recip...

                                                                                                                      Thank you again to maria lorraine and all the other very useful responses. Your detailed explanations gave me lots of informed options to come up with a method that works for me.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: ozinboz

                                                                                                                        Nice detailed report on your process of experimentation and tinkering!

                                                                                                                      2. Wow! This whole thread has inspired me to make my own yogurt. I think I'll try it in my food dehydrator. I would love to find another use for this great (but bulky) appliance

                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: mountaincachers

                                                                                                                          Be sure to post your results. I would love to have another use for my dehydrator too!

                                                                                                                          1. re: mountaincachers

                                                                                                                            OK, so I gave the yogurt making a try in the dehydrator. I followed maria lorraines instructions exactly and put the bowl (covered with plastic wrap) in the dehydrator for 14 hours. I used fat free milk from a local dairy, Kroger fat free dry milk and stonyfield organic for the starter. The texture is great...very smooth and creamy, but my yogurt is super TART. There is much more tang than even in the original starter, and probably more tart than I really like. Did I let it cook too long? Should I try the buttermilk suggestion above? Thoughts on making a less tart yogurt?

                                                                                                                            1. re: mountaincachers

                                                                                                                              Just try a little less time. Tartness is a function of incubation time and culture activity.

                                                                                                                              Remember, also, that your dehydrator is evaporating a portion of the liquid from your yogurt batch, so your total yogurt volume will be reduced, and each half-cup of yogurt will be more tart and concentrated as a result.

                                                                                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                I'm not sure that I lost much volume because I had the yogurt covered with plastic wrap. The volume didn't look significantly changed. On the other hand, I suspect the dehydrator may keep things a little warmer (or maybe just more consistent) than some of the other methods used. I will experiment with time to see what works best. I definitely want the thickness, but could use a little less sour. I may try the buttermilk in future batches too, just to see how that turns out. It certainly is a lot cheaper than buying commercial Greek style yogurt. Thanks for offering instruction and encouragement....it's fun to try.

                                                                                                                                1. re: mountaincachers

                                                                                                                                  OK, so I made another batch in the dehydrator. This time I let it go for 10 hours. Much milder taste. Maybe not quite as thick, but still pretty creamy except for the very top layer (maybe 1/2 cm) which was a little cottage cheesy. I'm wondering if that might be prevented by pushing the plastic wrap (or maybe wax paper) on the surface of the yogurt? I prefer to not have plastic wrap touching my food, so maybe I'll just plan to scrape off the top. Anyone have any other suggestions? At any rate, I was very happy with this batch and now am hooked on making yogurt...just in time for all the local berries. THANKS!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: mountaincachers

                                                                                                                                    Did you research what causes the cottage cheese-y top layer? My research turned up a few reasons. Overheating of the milk initially (higher than 180 F) can coagulate the milk and make tiny milk particles that float to the top. Could be that your dehydrator temp is too high, and the warm moving air across the top layer of milk is coagulating it. Or, you might be inadvertently adding too much acid (which would coagulate the milk) from your storebought culture. Check the label for added acids (lactic, citric, etc. -- these are often added to manufactured yogurt to fake tanginess). Try a different brand, but one still high in active yogurt cultures. Or, the cottage cheese-y layer may be formed by stray bacteria, so make sure your jars, containers, and dehydrator are as close to completely sterile as possible (extremely hot water). Hope this helps. Loved your comment about fresh yogurt with local berries!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                      Thanks. I ran everything in the dishwasher prior to using, so don't think it was stray bacteria. It's possible that I overheated, so I'll try to be more careful next time. Thanks for all of your advice. Hope you aren't getting too tired of this topic a year and a half after your original post.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: mountaincachers

                                                                                                                                        I think it's great more people are eating homemade yogurt, enjoying its taste and health benefits, and saving money! Plus, berry season IS coming!!

                                                                                                                                2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                  Using too much starter will cause tartness, crowded bacteria. Try using 1/3 cup starter per gallon of milk used, no sugar or dry milk needed. Read about cheese-making for more info on how this process works

                                                                                                                            2. P.S. I am embarrassed to say that there is a "yogurt making" setting on the dehydrator which I had previously ignored or never noticed. It took your enthusiasm and precise instructions to make me give it a try.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: mountaincachers

                                                                                                                                Just give it another go and keep fine-tuning.

                                                                                                                              2. I just wanted to thank all of you for this extremely informative thread! I had never made homemade yogurt before because I didn't want to risk it not turning out due to inconsistent or unreliable heat sources during fermentation. So I bought a cheap yogurt maker (Total Chef, $18.88, Walmart.com) to experiment with. I've just made one batch so far, but with all the great advice, it turned out PERFECTLY! Here's what I did:

                                                                                                                                My goal was to make a very thick, Greek-style yogurt like Fage (which, as we know, can cost up to $2 a cup!). First, I sterilized the jars in boiling water. I started with a quart of whole milk, and because I didn't have any powdered milk on hand, I whisked in two tablespoons of dried buttermilk powder, and also a teaspoon of sugar. I heated this mixture to 180 degrees and held it there for about ten minutes. Then I stuck the whole pan into the sink with cold water halfway up the side until the temp came down to 110 (or lower). I stirred in the starter (I used 5g of Yogourmet dried starter), filled the cups, put them in the machine, covered them with the lid, turned it on, and by morning (9 hours), it was perfectly thick and deliciously tangy and flavorful, though not TOO tart. Perfect for adding fresh fruit or a swirl of jam...or my favorite way, plain with homemade granola. YUM! Thanks again for all the help, Chowhounders!

                                                                                                                                --Gina (http://lindseysluscious.blogspot.com)

                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: JoyBugaloo

                                                                                                                                  Welcome to Chowhound, Joy. It is fun to join the fraternity of lacto-fermenters.

                                                                                                                                  Be sure to see the recs about draining for fuller concentration. And longer incubation times for more tartness.

                                                                                                                                2. Any tips on how to make my yogurt more sour? I have no problem getting the thickness I want after 12 hours in the oven with a warm compress and 4 hours draining in the fridge, but the tartness is so mild. Should I start with something other than Fage or maybe switch to a goat's or sheep's milk? Currently I'm using a ratio of 2-3 tbsp. yogurt to 1 qt. milk to yield about 2 pints of strained yogurt.

                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                                                    As FoodFuser says just above, tartness is a function of incubation time. I'd try 15 hours and see if that gets you the sourness you're seeking. You could also start with a more active culture (other than Fage) to see if that yields additional flavor and tang -- I think it will. I find Fage to be a "lightweight" culture. Try Stonyfield or buy a culture from a cheesemaking/beer making supply house (they usually carry yogurt cultures). Good luck. I've enjoyed reading your posts through the years.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                      When I don't make my own yogurt, I typically buy Stonyfield. I just assumed Fage would be better because of the buzz around it (which might just be marketing-generated). I'll try mixing some Stonyfield into the next batch since it seems my cultures are getting a little weak anyway.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the advice, Maria. 15 hours with a Stonyfield starter yields such a flavorful yogurt that I think I can revert back to my 12 hour default without missing any tang.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                                                            The reason I use Stonyfield is because they use 6 live organisms for their culture. Makes sense to me that between them they more fully exploit the available lactose during fermentation, yielding more lactic acid = tartness.

                                                                                                                                            * Lactobacillus bulgaricus
                                                                                                                                            * Streptococcus thermophilus
                                                                                                                                            * Lactobacillus acidophilus
                                                                                                                                            * Bifidus
                                                                                                                                            * Lactobacillus casei
                                                                                                                                            * Lactobacillus rhamnosus

                                                                                                                                            1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                                                              Wow, F2, that is some cool info. Bravo on the research!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                                                                Another yogurt to use is Cascade Active 8 yogurt with 8 live cultures

                                                                                                                                                *Lactobacillus Acidophilus
                                                                                                                                                *Streptococcus Thermophilus
                                                                                                                                                *Lactobacillus Rhamnosus
                                                                                                                                                *Bacillus Bifidum
                                                                                                                                                *Lactobacillus Casei
                                                                                                                                                *Bacillus Longum
                                                                                                                                                *Lactobacillus Bulgaricus
                                                                                                                                                *Bacillus Infantis

                                                                                                                                            2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                              Cascade Active 8 has 8 cultures. I use the whole milk yogurt in the orange container

                                                                                                                                          2. THANK YOU for this post. I've been tearing my hair out trying to make yogurt in the crock pot. What a crock. lol I followed most of your ideas but used a cooler with boiling water instead and only let it go for 8 hours. The yogurt was firm just like from the store. My kids love it. Thank you!!! :)

                                                                                                                                            1. What a great thread! Thanks for sharing the Fage technique, maria lorraine. I've made yogurt in the past but have had my share of ropey and curdled yogurt. Not fun but enough great info here to avoid that in the future. My heating/ culturing methods are inconsistent and surely that is part of the problems. I've also become enthralled with Fage but it's so cost prohibitive. I have found that I can drain Mountain High and it will taste nearly the same as Fage. BUT you do lose half the volume so even with lower pricing, it ends up pricey. Can't wait to try your method.

                                                                                                                                              I wonder if anyone has input on how to make a version of the Brown Cow/Cream Line type of yogurt with the cream on top? I absolutely love that and wonder if it's just cultured cream poured onto the finished yogurt or if it's cultured that way (to come to the top).

                                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: leenagrace

                                                                                                                                                Thanks for your post. While Wikipedia is a dubious resource for accurate/unbiased info, the writeup on yogurt is rather good. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoghurt

                                                                                                                                                Here's what Wikipedia says about cream-top yogurt (which I like a lot, too): "Cream-top yoghurt is yoghurt made with unhomogenized milk. A layer of cream rises to the top, forming a rich yoghurt cream."

                                                                                                                                                So, it'd be great if you were to try to make this, and report back. (I want to cheer you on to victory!) Yogurt is easy to make -- it's only the first time that's at all difficult. Find some un-homogenized milk, from a farm or at some grocery stores (in a glass bottle). Rig your heat source (the 100-watt bulb and cooler are easy to do), and give it a go. Be sure to heat the milk as described to avoid "getting slimed." You can often find powdered milk (also called dry milk) in the bulk food bins at Whole Foods-type stores, so it's possible to buy a small quantity. Yogurt made with whole milk is lusciously rich, so I can just imagine what it would be like with un-homogenized milk.

                                                                                                                                                It's summer now, and cold yogurt is good to have on hand. A great protein hit and good for your plumbing. With fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or boysenberries -- for breakfast or dessert. Made elegant by alternating layers in a parfait, juice or wine glass. A dollop on steel-cut oatmeal, or on a baked potato with a smattering of fresh herbs (one of my favorite low-cal dinners). In soups: cold carrot soup, cold cucumber soup, borscht, or my favorite -- White Gazpacho with Almonds.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                  Living in NM with a lot of sunshine, I make my yogurt in the sun, like sun tea. I sit it in a large metal cooking pan filled with warm water, cover with a dark navy blue towel on a chair in the sun and leave it from morning til evening. Less controlled temp but works and doesn't use electricity.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: anne87120

                                                                                                                                                    Been making homemade yogurt - on and off - for more than 20 years. Used many methods, including various electric yogurt makers.

                                                                                                                                                    Finally arrived at easiest , most sanitary and most efficient method: Designated two large glass jars as containers. (one in wash or incubating, the other in the fridge-) Put one in purse, went to WalMart one spring when all the coolers were out. Found an Igloo jug that fit most closely. (Shapes change every year but this one is about 8" across and 10" high)

                                                                                                                                                    Place prepared milk in covered jar in jug, put lid back on leave on counter overnight. Test, if done, refrigerate. If not, incubate some more. TA DAA!

                                                                                                                                                    Original plan was to add warm water around jar, but fit is so close its not needed.

                                                                                                                                                    NO multitude of jars, electric cords, lights, hot water to surround jar, timer, drawer, crockpot. Jars can be removed and properly washed. Yogurt never gets that too strong. In winter, I place in (electric) oven with light left on.

                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for all the info on adding dry milk solids !

                                                                                                                                                    Sorry to come to the discussion so late, but since it's no longer dormant, cheers.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: myaco

                                                                                                                                                      Nice that your cooler is a snug fit for your yogurt jar.
                                                                                                                                                      Yet another way to rig an incubation chamber.
                                                                                                                                                      Can you provide links on your jar and the specific Igloo that fits so well?
                                                                                                                                                      Might be helpful to others.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                        exhausted from reading all of these posts and realize it's too much of an effort, sorry but think I'm just a lazy daisy

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                          Reading this thread is much more challenging than making yogurt. A PhD in microbiology may be useful in understanding **why** different batches turn out differently, but the process itself is bonehead simple.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                              We've been addicted to Straus Family Creamery yogurt (and before we found that, we were addicted to Fage as well), but for the last year or so, we've been thinking about making our own. We came close to buying one of the yogurt makers we've seen around, but I'm glad we didn't.

                                                                                                                                                              I'll be trying your method this week. Thanks for such a detailed, scientific narrative!

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                          My Igloo Jug looks like this:
                                                                                                                                                          http://www.amazon.com/Igloo-Elite-coo... Short and squat, @ 8" across,, 10" high.

                                                                                                                                                          Jars were items I had on hand. Glass institutional size PB jars w plastic lids. Can use plastic, too. Nothing too flimsy, it's going to be full of warm milk, and go in and out of jug w/o wobbling or losing its top. (Learn from my mistakes -) Jug + close fit + bulk of warm milk keeps culture at temp til set.

                                                                                                                                                          Measure container you'd like to use, get closest fit possible. Started using w added warm water surround but forgot one day and still got good yogurt. Larger coolers - like six pack or mini coolers - may require water or other insulation since fit not so close. Used to set up while cleaning up after dinner and let sit overnight. Helps that I can look at top of milk and tell if its set enough -

                                                                                                                                                          I'm prefer simple processes w easy cleanup, this is one of the best. Good luck if you try it !

                                                                                                                                                2. This is a great post and very interesting read. Unfortunately, I could never take the time to do all of this. I use a Eurocuisine yogurt maker (comes with 7 6-oz jars) and make my yogurt with unhomogenized milk so the yogurt comes out with "cream on top." It is delicious!! I usually do a couple different flavorings in each batch leaving one or two jars plain to swirl in some homemade strawberry jam before I eat it. The jars are convenient as I live alone and can just grab a jar from the fridge on my way out the door - I wouldn't know what to do with 2 quarts of yogurt! It would go bad before I ever finished it...besides I enjoy the weekly ritual of heating the milk on the stove and waiting for it to cool down and thinking up different flavors but that's really all the hands on I need (that and the fact that I live in nyc and I couldn't find a "spare" kitchen drawer to save my life. (smile). Bottom line is I really enjoy my yogurt maker but this was very interesting to see how it can be done perfectly without it. Thanks for sharing!!

                                                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: holidayjoy

                                                                                                                                                    Have you tried making the Fage greek yogurt in the yogurt maker? I too have zero space in my kitchen and can't fuss with a heat lamp etc. I wonder if I do all the initial steps & then put it in the yogurt maker it will work. I might have to go buy one.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                                                                                      Nope - I haven't tried it yet. Fage is my fave store bought but I love the basic recipe that comes with the machine so much (after putting in my different homemade flavorings) that I never bothered. The basic recipe is probably more of a european style of yogurt - creamy but not nearly as thick as greek style - that + the non homogenized milk which is simply delicious and I just never felt the need to try out the greek style - but the fresh yogurt is sooo much better than anything you'd buy in the store. I did however read the reviews online from where I bought it (Williams Sonoma) and lots of folks make the greek style with the machine. I'd definitely recommend getting one. It is so yummy!

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: holidayjoy

                                                                                                                                                      You have a method that works for you, so use that. But for those who do not want to buy a machine, making yogurt in the microwave/cooler/other-vessel-listed-here is a great way to go. Except for the initial 4-minute microwave blast, I think the actual prep time is about the same. The first time takes just a touch longer because it's unfamiliar. I portion out my yogurt into "to-go" containers as well, and grab one as I head out the door just as you. The yogurt made with non-homogenized milk sounds delicious. Another post about this upthread.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: holidayjoy

                                                                                                                                                        You are correct in pointing out that jars are so much more convenient than one big container. The downside to my method is that w just one yogurt eater, a large container will go bad - that's discouraging and you'll wind up back with the store bought stuff. Not that there's anything wrong with that -

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: myaco

                                                                                                                                                          So, a large quart jar -- with four 8 fl. oz. servings -- is too much? That amount will go bad before you eat it?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                            NO, probably not ! That's an ideal size - matches the large store bought containers. I was making 7 cups at a time - just measured the empty container - cause I was trying cut down on times I had to heat/incubate. But I'm the only yogurt eater here.

                                                                                                                                                            SO, one quart at a time should be fine. Also means you can use smaller insulated container.

                                                                                                                                                            Hard part of process for me was waiting til milk temp dropped from scald to 110 degrees - never same amt of time. Easy to get distracted, forget, and miss the magic temp window. Since I was trying to same money, buying digital temp with alarm was not in the picture.

                                                                                                                                                            Guess I'll leave the jug on the counter as a reminder. Right now have two quarts plain store bought (store brand) in fridge to use up first. Would like to try the dry milk additions and technique for Greek style.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: holidayjoy

                                                                                                                                                          What flavorings do you use? I am curious about doing a honey flavored yogurt. Normally I swirl a little honey into the yogurt afterwards, but it does mess up the custardy consistency a bit. Has anyone made honey flavored? Obviously, honey could be used instead of sugar as the sweetener, but if i add enough for flavor, will the bacteria ferment like crazy? Is it better just to add it at the end as I have been doing?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mountaincachers

                                                                                                                                                            This is an interesting question. Honey, especially local honey, has anti-microbial (antibiotic) characteristics, so I'm wondering if it would kill off the "micro-beasties" that make yogurt. That is, if the honey is added during the yogurt-making. If anyone has more info, I'd love to hear.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                              Things like raw honey, maple syrup and homemade jam I add at the end but I'll flavor during yogurt-making with things like cocoa powder & organic sugar (I suppose you could substitute stevia but I never bother - maybe I'll try that next time), chopped fresh fruit, vanilla beans, fruit like strawberries and peaches sauteed in agave. Maria I hadn't even thought about the honey's anti-microbial characteristics - it just seems easier to add it at the end - but you make an excellent point. Would also love to hear if anyone has any info on that...

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: mountaincachers

                                                                                                                                                              Boy, there's an old memory - honey solidified from the cold yogurt, clinging to end of spoon, refusing blend in. Wind up with a yogurt covered honey lollipop - - - - Yum.

                                                                                                                                                          2. What is the refrigerated shelf life of the yogurt when you make it in the machine? Wow--I might get a yogurt machine---what's next? Macrame plant holders?

                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                                                                                              I think the instructions say 2 wks - but with the 7 6-oz jars it makes I usually have no trouble finishing them in 1.5 wks tops. I find that sometimes I eat 2 in a day because I might crave it as a snack when I get home from work which I really never did with store bought. Anyway - check out the online reviews at Williams-Sonoma. It has a pretty small footprint too.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                                                                                                It won't spoil - or, more precisely, it's already spoiled. Eventually mold will grow on top, but I've found containers of yogurt that got lost at the back of the fridge for more than a month that were just fine.

                                                                                                                                                              2. I've been lurking around this site for months now and this thread just made me join! (^_^) Here is my situation: I am mostly lactose intolerant but yogurt is okay... most of the time. I really really LOVED the original Greek Fage yogurt, I could eat the entire container with no repercussions and then one day about a year ago that changed (maybe because of the Greece to NY shift?) Anyway, I'd like to try making my own yogurt but I'm wondering if anyone here has tried it with alternative milk choices, like soymilk, coconut milk, etc. I'm sure there is probably some really obvious reason why no one has tried it but if so, I'm missing it.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Wea

                                                                                                                                                                  Those with lactose intolerance can often eat yogurt with no ill effect. (Though this is sometimes dose-related.) Yogurt is often recommended to those with LT as a good protein/calcium source.

                                                                                                                                                                  But if you've got a milk allergy instead, which is a reaction to a milk protein and not a sugar, changing the milk source (usually from cow to goat) can help because the goat milk protein is smaller and easier to digest. Goat milk yogurt is easily found, so sure, you might try making that. But yogurt cultures do require the proteins in dairy milk to do their thing, which, obviously, soymilk and coconut milk don't have.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it yesterday morning and let it incubate 12 hours while I was at work and had my first taste this morning. Delicious! It's a little sweeter than Fage (in a good way) and this will definitely help me save some money as I eat yogurt everyday. My gas oven is one of the older models that always has the pilot light running and it naturally keeps the oven at 105 (I tested with my instant thermometer). Although the kitchen is brutal in the summer, I've at least now found a silver lining and I don't even have to turn the oven on.

                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks again for the recipe and research!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. This is just such an excellent info-laden thread; I think I've read it at least ten times. Thank you maria lorraine for starting it and keeping it chugging along for almost two years now, and thanks to all who have posted here.

                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                      Bushwichgirl, you are a formidable poster on CH, and that means a lot coming from you. I've learned a lot from your posts. I think we are both info sponges.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                        Maria - what benefits do you find leaving it in the fridge for 2-3 days has? How would it compare with just an overnight stay in the fridge? Have you done any experimenting with different aging times?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: infernooo

                                                                                                                                                                          The yogurt congeals and sets, and the flavor seems to deepen. This is not absolute, just my sense. I liken yogurt to custard in this way, always better in flavor and texture after a day in the fridge. I don't know that 2-3 days in the fridge is better than one day, but one day does appear to be better than overnight. I only know this from my portioning freshly made yogurt into serving-size "to go" containers, and noticing the difference from one container to the next over several days. See what works for you.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks, will test the batch out this evening! For interest sakes, I did 2 batches using your recipe - one with no heating of the milk but everything else the same as your recipe, one using your exact recipe (heating to 180 then cooling to 105). Should be interesting!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: infernooo

                                                                                                                                                                              Love your experimenting! Let us know the difference between the batches.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                OK the results are in... I'm going to be honest.

                                                                                                                                                                                The raw milk yogurt was a complete failure. At ~ 105-110F it just doesn't set. It was more like a really runny drinking yogurt. I have done it before at slightly higher temps (120-125F) and it works, but it obviously needs a slightly higher temp.

                                                                                                                                                                                The regular cooked milk yogurt (your basic recipe) turned out brilliantly! Thick but ever so slightly tangy. It obviously has more carbs, fat and protein than most store bought yogurts due to the high milk solid content, but the flavour makes it worthwhile. I also made a non-fat version with skim milk, skim milk powder and fat free yogurt as a starter and that turned out just as thick and luscious!

                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks Maria!

                                                                                                                                                                    2. I've scrolled through this thread twice and I can't locate the post where someone specifically recommended Stonyfield yogurt as a starter because it has a large number of active cultures. I thought I'd mention that Nancy's, which is available on the west coast and is made without stabilizers, also includes all six of these active cultures.

                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                        Hi, Caitlin,

                                                                                                                                                                        It's mentioned in the thread opening, and I did so after doing some research on which storebought yogurt contained the greatest number of active cultures. I'm sorry I don't have the info source on that, but it is easily found by a Google search. Stonyfield's active cultures are also mentioned by ozinbox here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5670...

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks, ML. I subsequently found the post I had been thinking of, from FoodFuser, in which he lists the specific active cultures in Stonyfield: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5670... I posted just now about Nancy's as an alternative, if anyone is looking for one, because it contains the same six specific active cultures as Stonyfield so should be an equally robust starter.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. I made this yesterday (to make yogurt pops) and today to make some regular yogurt. I didn't use stonyfield, couldn't find it.. and lucky's didn't sell their own milk powder! I used albertson's brand milk powder, regular 2% milk, and mountainhigh yogurt as a starter.. but it turned out great on both accounts. The second time I whisked the milk inbetween each minute I microwaved, and the top is mirror smooth. I did have to microwave for 8-9 minutes though.. seemed to go up 10 degrees each minute after the initial 3. I also incubated for 12 hours instead of 15.. and it was plenty tart for me.

                                                                                                                                                                        Also, using this recipe to make yogurt pops was excellent!!

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: squishpink

                                                                                                                                                                          Good data and experimentation.Thanks for the specifics, especially on microwave timing. I believe the Lucky brand of dry milk that was rated highly is called Sunnyside Farms.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Yea, I just got an email from walmart---my yogurt maker is in!! Guess what I'll be doing this weekend.

                                                                                                                                                                          14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                                                                                                            Try some with a ripe peach.
                                                                                                                                                                            What's the price on your Walmart yogurt maker? Let us know how it works.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                              The yougurt maker was only $18.88 on walmart.com & I had it sent to the store. BUT---I made the yogurt exactly to your directions & didn't turn the maker on!!!! So it sat for 12 hours overnight at room temp!!! Will this still be safe if I turn it on now for 14 hours??? OMG--I can't beleive I had such a brain fart. I hate to throw all that work & $$ away but I don't want to be sick. Help!! What do you think??

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                                                                                                                Does the milk taste sour? That will tell you a lot. Only you can decide if you want to go ahead and incubate the milk now and turn it into yogurt . It might be OK because the dominant bacteria will be the yogurt cultures, and the milk may already be merrily on its way to becoming yogurt. Then again, the milk might have soured. If it were me, I'd taste the milk. If OK, I'd make yogurt. It you do have to throw the milk mixture away, it's far less a loss than being sick.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                  well it's been incubating for about 5 hours now. Will I be able to tell by tasting when it is done if it is bad? I mean yogurt by definition is supposed to be sour-ish. Also, for next time...at what point would I add a vanilla bean? And I read somewhere that you can freeze the stoneyfield yogurt in 1/2 cup portions to use for future batches. Doesn't the freezing kill the bacteria?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                                                                                                                    In these two recipes, the vanilla or vanilla bean is added while the milk is heating:
                                                                                                                                                                                    http://foodwhirl.com/techniques/how-t...
                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/ho...

                                                                                                                                                                                    I have read that one can freeze Stonyfield yogurt and that SOME of the active cultures remain. But this refers to enough beneficial cultures for eating, and not for the purposes of making yogurt, when a large number of active cultures is important. My advice would be to use fresh, never-frozen yogurt cultures for making yogurt. Reserve a small amount from each yogurt batch to innoculate your next batch. Good luck.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                      I bought a yogurt making machine and it's doing it's thing right now. I used the freeze dried packet for this first time.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Next time, should I use a whole jar or part of one? Do I let it sit out 1/2 hr to get more to room temp? On the packet, it says to only use a jar once -- is this just to get us to buy more packets?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm not quite sure what your setup is from your description. Can you send a link to your yogurt maker? I don't understand using a jar once, especially if it's a glass jar. I'm also uncertain what you mean when you say "let it sit out 1/2 hour." Happy to try and help if you can give me more details.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                          It's a euro cuisine yogurt maker I ordered from Amazon.

                                                                                                                                                                                          For this batch, I followed your directions, used 2% milk, 5 T (whole) dried milk, 1 T sugar and 1 packet yogurt starter.

                                                                                                                                                                                          For the next batch, I'll want to use one of the jars of yogurt I just made instead of packet (on the packet, it says I can only do this once).

                                                                                                                                                                                          The "1/2 hr bit" -- is it okay to use a jar straight from the fridge when I make the next batch? Do I use whole little jar or just a portion of it?

                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for info regarding your yogurt maker. Yes, use an 1/2 cup yogurt from your last batch as the starter for your new batch. The instruction on the starter culture envelope -- that the yogurt you make can only be used as your next starter culture once -- seems suspect. Call the company, and pin them down. There's no need to buy new starter cultures if you've got yogurt with active cultures. Wishing you success.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                              I've used my yogurt maker 2-3 times and each time, the yogurt in the bottom of the jar is NOT smooth, it's grainy. Any idea why? Maybe it's on too long? I think I was doing it 14 hrs.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                My first guess would be cooked (coagulated) milk -- meaning too high an incubation temperature. Is the bottom of the jar near the heating element? Or, it could be dry milk that was not fully dissolved. Must be frustrating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The first time I was mixing in some dry milk so did not do that the 2nd time in case that was the problem, but, it happened then, too. It's all the jars and the heating thing is under it, a eurocuisine thing. Maybe I'm doing it too long or I've got a lemon...too late to try to return it on Amazon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Take the temp of the milk at the bottom of the jar (just shy of the glass itself) a couple of hours into the fermentation. Above 110 F, and the heating element is not calibrated correctly. Let us know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                  It happens to me too!! With my cheap Walmart yogurt maker. It is really good & smooth until I get near the bottom of the jar & then it is yucky grainy. I have just decided to live with it. I am following the Maria Lorriane's directions to a T. I monitor the temp exactly & I whisk in the dry milk & make sure it is dissolved.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. hey all! im a brand new chowhound user (chowhound?) thanks to my new found addiction to making yogurt! I've been having trouble keeping the milk + yogurt mixture at a steady 105-110 for the yogurt incubation period. Ive tried a few different appliances (rice cooker on warm is too cool, an insulated cup in a crockpot on low is too hot, and i dont have a heating blanket thing) and my schedule is such that i have to be able to "fix it and forget it." I guess my best option is to rig a cooler and 100 watt light bulb? This sounds like a fire hazard? Does anyone have any other options for a small apartment in texas?

                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: agathe

                                                                                                                                                                                Not a fire hazard if you use a hardware utility light. But normal safety precautions apply, of course -- the light bulb isn't touching anything flammable, for example.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                  Does it matter that my cooler is styrofoam?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: agathe

                                                                                                                                                                                    You'll need to do an online info safety check on styro and a light bulb. BTW, do you have an instant read thermometer to check the incubation temp? I know you said you needed to be able to dash-and-incubate. A regular cooler works fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                      I dont believe its instant read, its just a candy thermometer but i think its sensitive enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                        also ill try with the cooler and ill post my results! im super excited to be able to eat my own delicious yogurt!

                                                                                                                                                                                2. I have been making this every few weeks & it is wonderful--thanks to maria lorraine. The last couple times I made it there is a ton of condensation on the cover of the yogurt maker and also a ton of water in my yogurt that I have to pour off. Is this something that I am doing? Should I let it incubate in the yogurt maker without the lid on for part of the time? Other than that, the yogurt is incredibly thick and delicious. I usually put a used vanilla bean in the milk mix when I am heating it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hmm, it appears you are creating steam -- is your incubation temp too high or high enough that the water/milk mixture is at a simmer and some of the water is evaporating/going into a phase change? That's the first thing I would check.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                      i don't know since it is a store bought yogurt maker. maybe I should put the jars on a towel rather than directly on the floor of the maker--might make them less hot.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I'VE ACHIEVED FAGE!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                    I am newly addicted to Fage yogurt, trying it for the first time about 4 months ago. The texture and taste can't be beat, and it is so filling for the amount of calories in the 2%. So, I was pretty excited when I saw this recipe, and went to get a digital thermometer ASAP. I followed directions exactly, and ended up with a super thick, almost hard yogurt with cottage-cheese like texture. It didn't taste awful, but the powdered milk (Bob's Red Mill brand) gave it a yellowed color and I couldn't get past the texture.

                                                                                                                                                                                    So, I compared some other recipes, and tried a new one a few days ago. And guess what?! It worked, better than I could have imagined! It turned out thick, creamy, incredibly smooth and creamy white. I eliminated the powdered milk and sugar, and just used 2 T Stonyfield as a starter. I heated it to 180 in the microwave, and used the lightbulb in the oven method, which worked great. I let it rest overnight, then strained it in a mesh sieve with cheesecloth for about 8 hours. I avoided squeezing it because I was afraid to end up with that hard, cheesy texture. I tried it again, with the same tasty results. The down side is that, after straining, I only produced about 3 servings. But still way cheaper than the real thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kittenmittens

                                                                                                                                                                                      Will you post your recipe please? My sense is that some of the dry milks vary in the thickness they provide, and it's easy to back off the quantity. Thanks for the post.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                        I basically followed your directions exactly, but eliminated the sugar and powdered milk, culturing it in the oven (using a 100 W bulb) for about 10-11 hrs. I didn't use any special type of milk, just 2%. My intention was to start with no powdered milk and see what resulted, and then to start adding more to each additional trial until I got the consistency I wanted. Anyway, without any powdered milk, I definitely ended up with just plain 'ole runny yogurt when I took it out of the oven. I had expected this, so I had my sieve and cheesecloth ready, and let it strain in the fridge for about 8 hours. It turned out beautifully-- a nice pure white color and exact texture and taste that I was looking for. So, I pretty much stopped my experimenting and have made several more batches since with very consistent results.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Like I said above, the downside is that this method produces a lot of whey and not a lot of yogurt. I've just increased my batch size to get enough to last me the week . I may yet experiment with a little powdered milk to see if I can get a little more product out of it without compromising taste or texture. Thank you for inspiring me to try this at home! I eat yogurt each day, and this is significantly cheaper than buying Fage at the store. My boyfriend thinks my new hobby is hilarious, but I'm having fun, and saving money too!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kittenmittens

                                                                                                                                                                                          Glad you found a recipe that works for you. I'd urge you to try adding powdered milk -- try to find a brand with a clean, natural taste (and not ivory or yellow in color -- and add it in gradually. You will not have to strain the yogurt at all -- it will be thick and lustrous. I like the extra lean protein hit from the powdered milk. Again, the brands of dry/powdered milk vary widely, so please check out those brands available in your area. Good luck to you.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                            I've given up on using powdered milk in yogurt. Maybe too soon, but with every brand I've used the flavor has been perceptible in the finished product. And it brings back unpleasant childhood memories. (Mmmm, Cornell bread.)

                                                                                                                                                                                            If reconstituted milk were significantly cheaper than fresh, that would be one thing. But it's not, and I'm perfectly happy to take the extra step of straining out some whey to use for baking bread. If I want leaner protein, I can always just use reduced-fat fresh milk.

                                                                                                                                                                                            As always, your mileage may vary...

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                              I also have terrible memories of bad powdered milk and nasty flavors as a kid. To avoid that, I spent quite a bit of time researching dry/powdered milk brands (reading ratings from around the country) to avoid the cooked milk, slight yellow color, and flavor difference that comes from some brands. I'm glad you have a system that works. Straining is, of course, the classic method.

                                                                                                                                                                                              P.S. You're rather nearby -- we should arrange a Chowdown!

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                A chowdown is long overdue. The only problem is that our midway point is Dixon, and I can say from personal experience that neither the Popeye's nor the Cattleman's there is of significant interest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm far too much of a philistine to appreciate the best that Napa has to offer. On the other end of the spectrum, I'm a regular at some places around Sacramento that have very limited mass-market appeal. There are undoubtedly plenty of other options between here and there, in terms of geography and/or cuisine - let's find one!

                                                                                                                                                                                                Meanwhile, what dry milk have you found to be palatable? I've tried everything from Lucky's store brand stuff to a box from the local carniceria, but have yet to find anything that doesn't have that powdered milk taste...

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Alan, sent you a note to your profile email...

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Alan,

                                                                                                                                                                                                  To find the best brand of dry milk, I Googled with search terms like
                                                                                                                                                                                                  best dry milk, best powdered milk, dry milk ratings, powdered milk ratings, best taste dry/powdered milk, etc. Certain brand names come up over and over as tasting good. Then it's a matter of finding the best brand where you live. That's how I settled on the Sunny Select brand, made by Lucky grocery stores. Not perfect, but pretty good. Some of the dry milks I can't stand -- they taste vile. And, as you say, you can always leave it out, and simply drain the yogurt. That works too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Best,
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maria

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Wow I'm so glad I'm not the only one who noticed fage turn to crap after they change distribution sites. At first I thought I was eating the wrong yogurt, then I thought I had just gotten a bad batch. Too bad...I used to buy whole tubs every week

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Here's an easy method in a breezy article by Francis Lam at Salon:

                                                                                                                                                                                            "How and why to make your own yogurt"
                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.salon.com/food/francis_lam...

                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                              It looks like you're still updating this thread, which I found from the diy yogurt page. I find your math a little dubious. You said that your recipe is 876 calories, and yield is 5 cups, which is 10 ½-cup servings. What's the protein? My sources say skim milk and non-fat-dried-milk both have about 10 g protein/ 100 calories, so the recipe has 80 g protein. I'm not sure how you calculated it to get 14g protein per half-cup? I divide the numbers by 10 to get, per serving:

                                                                                                                                                                                              90calories and 8g protein.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Whereas Greek yogurt has 60 calories and 10g protein.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The reason that greek yogurt has a higher protein for calorie ratio is that they strain out the whey – whey is more than water, it has a lot of the milk-sugar in it. That's why greek yogurt, for the same 90 calories, gives you almost twice the protein at 15g.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: RG1

                                                                                                                                                                                                Let's make sure (me included) we're comparing the same serving size. Most manufactured yogurts base their calorie and protein counts on a half-cup serving size. Usually Fage uses a one-cup serving size, making it appear that the protein/nutrition benefit is higher when compared to half-cup servings of other yogurts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                That makes for some dubiousness right there. Sometimes the Fage serving size is 6 ounces or 7 ounces, in which case you have to do some math to make sure you're comparing equivalent amounts. The numbers are all over the board, according to the Fage nutrition stats found here: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/nutrition...

                                                                                                                                                                                                In your post, there are two different calorie and protein counts for Greek yogurt, both
                                                                                                                                                                                                "60 calories and 10g protein"
                                                                                                                                                                                                "90 calories, gives you almost twice the protein at 15g."

                                                                                                                                                                                                From the stats, it appears those numbers are for, respectively, SIX OUNCES and 1/2 cup of the plain 0% fat Fage yogurt. .

                                                                                                                                                                                                The calories and protein grams are both the same proportion: 30 calories and 5 grams protein for each 1/4 cup serving. For one cup, 120 calories and 20g protein. Certainly the draining has to do with high protein count.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The half-cup and one-cup comparisons had me confused also. So here are what appears to be accurate counts for a one-cup serving (not 1/2) of the recipe listed above, using fluid skim milk, nonfat dry milk and 1/2 cup Stonyfield starter: 148 calories and 14.7 grams protein. Not more than Fage, but impressive nonetheless. Drain the yogurt, and it's the same as Fage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm conveniently eating Greek yogurt as I look at this post. Looking at a container of 0% fat Greek yogurt, which says that for 1 cup (8 oz) , there are 120 calories and 22g protein; I divided these by 2 and got 60 calories and 11 g of protein for the 1/2 cup of serving size. (The web consistently says FAGE Greek has 120calories and 20 g protein in 8 oz. Comparing to 2%, with honey or fruit, is missing the point since yours are also before those additions. I have both trader joe's brand and chobani at home which list similar numbers).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  YES, if you read my post, you can see I'm make TWO different comparisons. I'm comparing your yogurt 1. by ounces (25 % less protein) and 2. by calorie (half the protein). If we keep the size the same at 1/2 cup, we get 8 g of protein over 10.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Now you're switching again, to 8 oz. So the proper comparison is back to 120 calories and 22 g protein for greek yogurt compared to 150 calories and 15g for maria-yogurt. If we keep the calorie amount the same, the greek yogurt has 30g protein per 150 calories or twice as much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  "Drain the yogurt, and it's the same as Fage." Well, sure, because then you will condense it AND get rid of the milk sugar. But, also, then you're saving less (costs go up on a per-ounce basis) and the hassle factor goes way up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: RG1

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't wish to battle with you over this. Let's keep the comparison simple and very clear.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The stats for the yogurt recipe above, made using nonfat fluid and dry milk, are 738 calories and 73.4g protein for a batch of 5 cups. Those numbers are taken directly off the packages. A 1-cup portion equals 148 calories and 14.7 grams protein.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I compared this directly with 1 cup of the Fage 0% fat yogurt at 120 calories and 20g protein. Those are Fage's statistics. I did not switch quantities above -- I kept the comparison at 1 cup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's the comparison. The yogurt recipe here works for many people, perhaps not you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I did not compare the homemade yogurt to non-Fage Greek yogurt, as this thread was all about making Fage-style yogurt at home. To drain or not to drain is the cook's choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    With your interest in matching Fage's or Greek yogurt's calorie and protein counts, you might develop your own homemade yogurt recipe that does just that, rather than finding fault with mine. Please do post your recipe -- many here, including me, would love to see it and try it.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. On grit and graininess:
                                                                                                                                                                                              Just re-read several older articles that mention that "grit" at the bottom of homemade yogurt is caused by undissolved dry milk. (Though fluid milk cooked at too high a temp during initial heating or incubation can coagulate and cause graininess also.) To get rid of the grit, stir the dry milk extremely well when adding and during the initial heating so the hot fluid milk can absorb more of it -- like making a super-saturated solution. Make sure that the incubation temp is consistent so the dissolved dry milk doesn't precipitate out of solution when it cools. Also, brands of dry milk differ in how easily they dissolve -- some require vigorous stirring or even a blender to combine. If you wish,, you can use less dry milk than the amount in the recipe. I've never had a problem with grit, but I can understand the frustration upon finding it when you want the texture to be perfectly lustrous and creamy.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Hello everyone:

                                                                                                                                                                                                First off, I want to thank Maria Lorraine for posting this wonderful recipe and instructions on how to make homemade yogurt. I have always loved yogurt but like many others, was getting tired of paying such high prices for quality yogurt like Fage and Stonyfield Organic. I decided to give it a try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                My first batch: Not so successful but it was not Maria's recipe. I used another recipe posted on the internet using just milk and starter yogurt. The result was very grainy, runny and too tart--I was so disappointed, I almost threw in the towel. Then, I stumbled upon this site and decided to give it another try. Just as a note: My first batch was made only in a yogurt maker, Yolife. Second batch was divided and half made in a yogurt maker and the other half made in the oven, due to lack of space in yogurt maker. (They say, some of the greatest discoveries were made from mistakes...my lesson learned here is that you can make successful yogurt either way).

                                                                                                                                                                                                Second batch: I used Maria's recipe,slighty (altered). I tripled the amount of milk. I used three quarts of Organic skim milk...yes, that's skim milk and I have proved that you can make deliciously creamy, dreamy yogurt without the fat! So here it goes...

                                                                                                                                                                                                3 quarts milk ( I used Skim Organic)
                                                                                                                                                                                                1 1/2 Cups dry powdered milk ( I used Organic Valley Nonfat Dry Milk, non-instant) *see below
                                                                                                                                                                                                1/2 Cup starter yogurt (I used Stonyfield Organic)
                                                                                                                                                                                                1 TBSP brown sugar

                                                                                                                                                                                                **I chose to use organic products so I ordered the organic powdered milk from Amazon.com at a reasonable price.**

                                                                                                                                                                                                I started out by heating the milk, powdered milk and sugar on stovetop to 180 degrees F. I chose stovetop so that I can be right on top of the temperature, making sure it doesn't boil or scald. Once it reached 180 F, I turned it down and continued to heat while stirring, for around 5 more minutes. I shut it off and let it sit on the burner until it cooled down to around 110 F. You can put the pot of milk in a sink of cold water to cool down more rapidly but I chose to let it cool on it's own. Once cooled, I whipped the starter yogurt (to remove lumps) and added it to the milk. I read a post about not stirring the milk and carefully adding the starter yogurt, but I mixed it and stirred it thoroughly without any problems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Now, here's the interesting part: I filled four canning (glass) jars with the mixture and still had enough to fill two more glass jars but my yogurt machine would only hold four. I decided I would put the remaining 2 jars in the oven and give that route a try. I just heated my oven (the lowest temp. it will go to is 179F) for one minute and shut it off. I put the two glass jars of yogurt in a glass pyrex dish (use whatever you have...even a cookie sheet), covered them with a light tea towel and shut the oven door with the oven light on. Note: some people have left posts about changing the bulb in their oven to a 100 watt bulb. I did not do this because I didn't have one. I just simply turned the oven on for one minute, turned it off and put the yogurt in with the regular oven light on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                So, I had a batch in the yogurt maker, and one in the oven. I set the timer for 9 hours just so I can check it and see how it looked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                To my suprise, when I checked it in 9 hours, it was perfect. I checked the yogurt in the yogurt maker first. It was set, firm & beautifully white. Then, I crossed my fingers and checked on the batch in the oven (to be honest, I was prepared for the worst because I wasn't sure of the accuracy of the temp in the oven). When I removed it from the oven and pulled away the tea towel covering them...again, beautiful, white creamy, set yogurt. I was shocked at how perfect it looked. I couldn't believe how LITTLE whey there was as my first batch seemed to be more whey than yogurt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Both batches turned out perfectly. I thought to myself, it can be beautiful but how does it taste??? Well, I am telling you, it was the best yogurt I have ever tasted. It was so creamy, like the consistancy of whipped sour cream. The flavor was just right...not too tart and not sweet. If you like tart yogurt, you can leave it in longer from what I have gathered. If you want a sweeter yogurt, just add more sugar. I like mine neutral so that I can use it in place of sour cream on foods like baked potatoes or I can add some fresh fruit, granola and a little honey and it is like eating dessert!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                I still cannot believe how good this turned out. I ended up with just over 3 qts. of the most gorgeous, creamy delicious yogurt I have ever seen or eaten. No grittiness, or stringyness at all and hardly any wasteful whey...my guess is the powdered milk must have something to do with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I am proof that a novice, when following a good recipe and some good tidbits of advice from the others that have left comments on this site, can make awesome yogurt with wholesome ingredients for a fraction of the cost...with or without a yogurt maker!! Goodbye expensive Fage!

                                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you all for your wonderful comments and to Maria for posting the recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Hi, I read down the thread and saw the issue of graininess....having done a lot of research on making yogurt, I can give one answer that came up in several articles I read....DO NOT STIR!! You are heating the milk to 180 degrees, the temperature where milk seperates.....DO NOT STIR the milk from the moment you pour it into your pan....DO NOT STIR when adding your started. It is so tempting to stir, whish or blend, but don't. I have tried two identical batches, side by side, one stirred, one not stirred....the difference was in the texture, the stirred batch was grainy, the un-stirred batch was creamy smooth....
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also, in researching yogurt, countless articles said to not use a microwave, DO hold the milk mixture at 180 degrees for 20 minutes, and do not add any thickeners, such as powdered milk, gelatin, guar gum, pectin etc. Just use milk and active yogurt starter. I use Cascade Active 8 because it has the largest # of cultures (8).
                                                                                                                                                                                                  My recipe makes incredibly thick, delicious Greek-style yogurt. I use the whey for making whole wheat bread and for watering my container plants and also give it to my cats.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I make my yogurt every week, always creamy and delicious and THICK!
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                  38 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Huh? I assume you stir in the powdered milk, then heat and let it cool down. Are you saying you just then dump in a glob of starter yogurt & it disperses by itself throughout the milk? This is really hard to imagine. And why no microwave? I do use the microwave but I don't hold the temp.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Is yours thick enough that you could turn the jar upside down & it wouldn't dump out? Maria's (using dry milk) is that thick which is how I like it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hi, Sparkareno,
                                                                                                                                                                                                      First of all, I do not use powdered milk, just milk and yogurt starter, that is all. And, yes, I am saying that you just dump the starter in and DO NOT STIR, doesn't matter if you dump it on the side or in the middle....doesn't matter at all. The reason that you do not stir is the texture, stirring will make the yogurt grainy. In researching why you do not stir, I read a lot about cheese-making, and not stirring was emphasized....180 is the temperature that milk separates, stirring is trying to re-combine....the yogurt starter is alive, and the bacteria have no trouble moving around and multiplying. Another fact I turned up is that if you use too much starter, your taste is affected and the yogurt becomes more tart with the presence of too much bacteria. As your yogurt ages in the refrigerator, the bacteria continue to grow, and eventually become very crowded...hence, the change in flavor.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      I do not use the microwave because the temperature needs to be exact and be held at 180 degrees for 20 minutes, for one, and for two, there are other schools of thought that feel microwaving changes the nutritious value of the food, and the reason for me making this yogurt is for a beneficial, healthy addition to my diet.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      In researching yogurt, it was emphasized many times that true yogurt does not use dry milk, gelatin, pectin, guar gum or other thickeners (these thickeners are mainly added by the maufacturers to solidify the yogurt because many people freak out when they see the whey, they don't know what it is...the manufacturers would rather thicken the yogurt than to educate their customers that the whey is another nutricious product)....my yogurt does not need any of these and is extremely thick (you can strain out the whey to whatever level you would like, even to the consistency of cream cheese) Again, there are other schools of thought on subjects like the dry milk....one book in particular, 'Eat Fat, Lose Fat'.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Please try this version if you are curious and I feel you will 'get it'. Last time I looked at the Fage ingredients, they did not add any stabilizers. Feel free to call me, 817-807-6748.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      I can email you a recipe that is easier to read than the recipe i posted some time ago. I also use vanilla beans sometimes for delicious vanilla Greek-style yogurt. Texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Could you (pretty please) just put your recipe here for the benefit of all?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Greek style yogurt
                                                                                                                                                                                                          find a yogurt with live cultures to be your starter. In my town, I have Cascade Active 8 with 8 cultures
                                                                                                                                                                                                          choose whatever type of milk you prefer, organic, whole, low fat, skim...whatever you choose.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I use the ratio of 1/3 cup of yogurt starter to one gallon of milk, i.e., three gallons of milk get 1 cup of yogurt starter. I use a stainless steel stock pot, using 3 - 4 gallons of milk at a time. Once you have poured your milk into your pan, do not stir at all, even when adding your starter. If you want vanilla Greek-style yogurt, split and scrape several vanilla beans and add with the pods to your milk mixture before you start heating. (I get vanilla beans in large quantities on eBay...yum!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Heat your milk slowly to 180 degrees, hold the milk at this temperature for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cool the milk to 100 degrees. You can do this by just letting it cool at room temperature, or by putting your pan of milk in cold water in your kitchen sink. The milk will obviously cool faster in the water bath, so pay attention to your temperature. If the milk gets too cold, it can affect the bacteria growth, slowing it down considerably.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          When the temperature reaches 110 degrees, add your yogurt starter.....just dump it in, and remember, DO NOT STIR. It does not matter if you dump this in the middle or to the side, this yogurt starter is alive.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cover your pan and incubate at 100 degrees. Hotter temperatures will kill the bacteria. If you have an older gas oven with a pilot light, they usually hold right at 100 degrees. Newer ovens sometimes have 2 proofing temperatures, 100 and 160....of course you will go for the 100 degree proofing temp. Check the owner's manual, many people have not realized that their ovens have this feature. Another way to incubate is to use an insulated ice chest. Make sure your pan will fit with the lid closed. Include several of your empty milk jugs that have been filled with the hottest tap water you have. Close the lid and leave for 12 to 18 hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I incubate for at least 12 - 18 hours. Try different times and see which produces the consistency you like best. When you take the milk out of incubation, it will look like a giant custard with a little clear liquid on top. Gently ladle it into a collander lined with either giant coffee filters (available online) or several layers of cheesecloth or cotton fabric (such as unbleached muslin). Have a large container under the collander to catch the whey. (I use a large round plastic drink dispenser with a spigot that makes it easy to drain off the whey into the empty milk jugs) I measure the whey back into the milk containers, and when I have between a third and a half of the original amount of liquid, then I take out most of the yogurt to use for breakfast (i.e. if I started with 3 gallons of milk, then when I get 1 - 1 and a half gallons of whey, then that is Fage consistency). The remaining yogurt continues to drain, and you can remove it at whatever consistency you want, the ultimate being something like cream cheese. Place it in covered containers and refrigerate.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you added vanilla beans, of course you will remove the pods.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I make so many things from this yogurt, add a little maple syrup or honey with pureed berries or other fruit....it becomes 'pudding' that my grandkids devour. Thicker consistencies are used for dips, or frozen yogurt. The cream cheese consistency is great on toast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I use the whey to make bread (the fabulous Dutch oven bread) whole wheat or white, I use it to water house plants and put some for my pets to drink. Sometimes I will drink it with lime juice and a little sweetener, such as maple syrup or honey.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          You will come up with your own treats. I use this in place of sour cream on potatoes, in soup, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Be sure and try a bowl of the yogurt before you refrigerate it....this I call 'stash yogurt', because you only get it at that time....delicious. I have been making this for years, since a wonderful trip to Greece. They do not use powdered milk or other stabilizers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                            i have a yogurt maker with individual cups. Am I going to have to dump the whey off of each little cup & strain through cheesecloth? sounds like some extra work.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            I might be making a batch next week & maybe will try the no-stir thing. I guess I can't use my powdered milk because that definately needs to be stirred in. I don't really care if Fage has stabilizers or not plus doesn't dry milk give you exta calcium/protein?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you are going to use the yogurt maker with the little cups, it would be a lot of work to dump them and strain them. You can surely use the powdered milk or other stabilizers if you want to thicken it up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My recipe is for making the Greek-style yogurt using the ingredients that are traditionally used, just milk and yogurt starter. The traditional product does not include any stabilizers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are other schools of thought about the value of powdered milk, I do not happen to be a fan of consuming it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              I make large batches of yogurt at least once a week, sometimes more. I share it with friends who soon learn to make their own. For several years, I have been teaching classes on how to make this Greek-style yogurt. With a big stock pot, it is just as easy to make a batch with 4 gallons of milk as to use a few quarts of milk. The four gallons of milk will make a little less than two gallons of Greek style yogurt, with a little over 2 gallons of the whey.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Whichever method you use, you will get home-made yogurt. Sometime, you might try making other recipes and see what you really like the best.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the info. Before, I tried various methods and finally ordered the yogurt maker but the yogurt is grainy. I'll try your method.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have an old stove with igniting burners and don't think I have a pilot light. Maybe I'll try the cooler/hot water in plastic jugs method. I should leave it in this picnic cooler 12-18 hours?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, check it and when you see it has formed a 'custard' consistency, then strain it into the coffee filter, cheesecloth or cotton fabric....when your whey measures 1/3 to 1/2 of the original amount of liquid, you can put it in containers. You will have to try differing amounts of draining to see what you like best. Just for fun, let some drain for a day and get the 'cream cheese' consistency....It has so many different uses. Let me know how it works for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Texas grrrl, I tried your recipe today and it worked like a charm - I heated my gallon of milk without stirring, let it cool, added 1/3 c. of Stonyfield yogurt, put it in the oven and 12 hours later, yogurt!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  However, I'm having issues with the draining process. I put it in a muslin-lined colander and let it drain all day (12 hours), stirring once or twice to ensure that the whey came out of the top layer too. However, I still ended up with thicker yogurt on the bottom and thinner yogurt on top, and whisking it didn't quite smooth it out. Also, even after 12 hours of draining, I don't think mine is quite as thick as Fage, although maybe it will seem thicker after it's refrigerated? Or does letting it incubate longer result in a thicker texture? Or just a tangier flavor?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I ended up with around 4.5 cups of yogurt, which is less than I was expecting, but still a decent yield and cheaper than Fage! I like the texture too - it's a little less chalky and seems more elastic in a way than Fage. Thanks in advance for your help!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi, biodanonima,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    the yield on this recipe is a little less than half than your amount of starting liquid. Did you measure your whey? Your whey + your yogurt should equal your starting amount. How was it AFTER you refrigerated it? It should be thicker with refrigeration. Your may find that it is thicker than you wanted. Usually when you get half the amount of your starting liquid in whey, that is a good consistency for regular Greek style yogurt. After straining longer, it can get like cream cheese. I never have stirred it while it is draining, but the sides of the collander will have the thicker yogurt, for sure. When you transfer this to your storage container, it seems to even out.... Mine is always creamy, and so thick that I can scoop it where it stands several inches above the spoon.....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Please let me know how it was after it was refrigerated. Also, did you try some BEFORE you refrigerated it? That is a real treat to me....stash yogurt! Thanks for letting me know....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Definitely strain some to the cream cheese consistency...make spreads or dips with this.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I use the whey for many other things, including drinking and making whole wheat bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Texas grrrl - I just checked the yogurt, which was refrigerated overnight. Still the same consistency, maybe a little thicker - it's plenty thick enough for me, but it does still have a few lumps where it drained unevenly. I'll have to think about how to solve that problem. I didn't measure the whey but I know I had more than half a gallon - probably closer to 3 quarts, which makes sense since I ended up with just a little more than a quart of yogurt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is delicious and yes, I did try it before refrigeration - it's REALLY good while it's still warm! Thank you again for posting your method!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        BTW, I used some of the whey to make no-knead bread - we just ate half the loaf in one sitting. Best bread ever! Thanks for the suggestion!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree, it is wonderful....do you make whole wheat or white? I love both of them, but try to eat more whole wheat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I made white this time but I do sometimes make whole wheat - I love both!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for posting this - I've read the whole thread with interest and I can't wait to try these methods. Fage 0% is $5.79 at my Costco for 32 oz, and while that's a decent price I'd love to do it cheaper at home!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is how I strain my yogurt to make it the Greek style. I do not use powdered milk, just whole milk and yogurt starter. This is a large tea dispenser, with a collander inside. I get really huge coffee filters to line the collander. Then I ladle in the yogurt mixture after incubating. By measuring the whey, I know at what point I want to stop straining the mixture. For regular Greek style yogurt, I get almost half as much whey as the amount of milk I started with..my grandkids really like to help with this stage of the preparation

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Texas grrrl ,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Have you had success using anything less than whole milk? Will 1% or 2% milk work too, and what are the results that you would expect?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hochfromrock

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I use skim milk to make Greek yogurt with no problems. No powdered milk added or anything either. I strain just as texas grrrl does, only I use fine-weave cheesecloth instead of coffee filters. I prefer my yogurt very thick, so I usually end up with 2.5-3qts of whey and 1-1.5qts of yogurt from a gallon of milk, rather than 2 and 2 as texas grrrl mentions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        brilliant!! i'm going to try your straining method...so simple, as with most brilliant ideas!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Texas grrrl, another question for you - do you have issues with your milk burning on the bottom since you don't stir? I use a heavy Le Creuset over fairly low heat to heat my milk but I've ended up with a bit of a charred crust both times I've made it. Does the occasional stir of the milk while heating really affect the texture that much (as long as you leave it alone while it's holding at 180 and then afterwards)?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Stirring will affect the texture....you could try two gallons of milk side by side and find out....that is what I did.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If your milk is burning, turn the fire down OR get a diffuser....many hardware stores have these, they are round metal discs with a handle, usually about 1/2" thick with some perforations in the metal....this will prevent the burning.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The lactose is what is burning. If you lower your temperature a bit, it will take longer to heat, but it will not burn. The burn does not affect the taste or the yogurt (I guess it could if you burn it really badly.....) Find a diffuser and that will take care of the problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Countless articles may say not to use a microwave, but plenty of people here - many of whom have food knowledge that dwarfs that of the typical article's author - find that using the microwave works just fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi, Alan,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Of course, many people use a mircowave for convenience, but for me, reading countless articles and studies about how microwaving may leave food nutritionally 'dead' makes me wonder. Since I am making the yogurt for the health benefits, I will continue to use the stove top. Also, I start with 3 - 4 gallons of milk, and again, the stove top and my stainless steel stock pot make this possible. Holding the milk at the specific 180 degrees is difficult to do with a microwave, and in reading about cheese-making and yogurt making, there are reasons to do this.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So, yes, of course, the microwave heats the milk, and many people use it. But with the plethora of information suggesting that the nutritional value is compromised, everyone gets to make up their own minds. I also remember one of those 'Mother' sayings....'Just because everyone else does it, that does not make it right', so back to personal choice!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sorry, but those "countless articles and studies about how microwaving may leave food nutritionally 'dead'" are hogwash. Cooking food in a microwave in no way compromises its nutritional value. Yes, there are anti-microwave crackpots spewing misinformation all over the internet, but none of it's true.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Personal choice is all well and good; it's neither true nor false. But health claims are either verifiable or they're not. And the health claims you're using to underpin your personal choices are demonstrably false.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Other than calling it 'hogwash', I did not notice any facts, only opinion, on your post. If you have no facts, then please consider just using your personal choice. This is really not a subject to pick a fight over.....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am curious what research you have done, again, I only saw opinion. Are you able to hold the temperature to 180 degrees in your microwave? How do you do that?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Do you think that the cheesemakers who include this temperature and the act of holding the temperature for a certain amount of time have arbitrarily, chosen the temperature and the amount of time? I am in the habit of finding out additional information to add to my own efforts. I like to find reasons to go with the OJT. Please make your yogurt however you choose, as I do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Per Harvard Medical School, "as a general proposition, cooking with a microwave probably does a better job of preserving the nutrient content of foods because the cooking times are shorter." http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/upd...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Per the New York Times, "Microwave ovens generally do not destroy nutrients in food." http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/hea...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Per Nutrition and Food Science, "Several studies have shown that microwave cooking, if properly used, does not change the nutrient content of foods to a larger extent than conventional heating." http://md1.csa.com/partners/viewrecor...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Per Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, "There has been some speculation that microwaved food can be harmful to people. There is no credible experimental evidence to back up that statement." http://www.bidmc.org/YourHealth/Thera...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Per Consumer Reports, "Microwave-cooked food may retain vitamins and minerals better than stove-top-cooked food because the microwave zaps food quickly and without much water." http://blogs.consumerreports.org/home...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So there are two possibilities here. The first is that there's a vast conspiracy among the most respected medical schools, newspapers, academic journals, hospitals, and consumer organizations in the country to conceal the dangers of microwaved food. The second is that crackpots and conspiracy theorists are donning their tinfoil hats are making shit up. Which do **you** think is more likely?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Wow, I have never seen such unwarranted hostility and aggression in a food discussion. I don't use Teflon, either, if you care to rant about that, too. I also choose organic products when offered, so you may add that, also.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There are plenty of studies that have other opinions. Not being a scientist, I can't prove any of the differing opinions, nor can you. I will then err on the side of the method that has the least controversy in the case of my food and how it is prepared. Perhaps you can do the same and allow others to make their personal choices without being so hostile. I do not believe everything in print . Many times commercial interests DO affect the information available. Do you think that diet drinks and artificial sweeteners are good for you? There is very conflicting information on them....what do you think?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And, please tell me how you hold the temperature of your microwaved milk at 180 degrees for 20 minutes....I am very interested.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I hope you feel better soon. Wish I could give you a bowl of my wonderful homemade, organic Greek-style yogurt, that might make you feel better.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              >>"There are plenty of studies that have other opinions."<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              No, there aren't. That's my point. There isn't a single study by a reputable scientist that shows that microwaving food "makes it nutritionally 'dead'" or anything remotely similar. Read the links I provided. Seriously.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              >>"Not being a scientist, I can't prove any of the differing opinions"<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Then maybe you should listen to those who are. Some of those who have posted on this thread aren't just scientists and science writers, but are famous in their fields. And at least one of them always used a microwave when making yogurt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's not like Teflon (which poses some very real, although easily avoidable, dangers) or artificial sweeteners (where there's evidence that they're dangerous in massive doses). Microwave ovens are safe, period. Anybody who makes claims to the contrary is either lying or misinformed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As far as holding the milk at 180F, I've tried it and find it totally unnecessary. I don't even scald the milk before making **my** wonderful homemade Greek-style yogurt. Think I'll go have some for breakfast right now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I heat the milk to 180 degrees F, and then let it immediately cool down. I don't hold it at that temp. I take this step to avoid the slimy, ropey yogurt I got on the first try. Read the OP for more info and an info link. Works for me. But others have methods that work for them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Okay, after many batches of perfect yogurt without scalding the milk, I mention it once and this morning I woke up to a ropey mess. Coincidence or karma?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi, Alan,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Did you use a different brand of milk this time? I'm wondering if this time you used a milk that did not reach 180F in its pasteurization method. Vat pasteurization only goes to 145F, high-temp short-time pasteurization only goes to 161F. The higher-heat short-time method goes to 191F -- maybe this was the pasteurization method on the milk you've been using that never gave you problems before.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just a guess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now that you mention it, we usually get milk from Trader Joe's, but this came from the regular grocery store. Seems unlikely that TJs would use higher-temp pasteurization, but I can't think of any more plausible explanation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ropey milk comes from a specific bacteria that is in a batch of milk. Hubby used to work at a huge dairy co-op and when they got ropey milk from a certain farm, they made sure to keep it separate from the other milk so as not to ruin a huge quantity. I think they used it for making dry milk or butter instead of sending for bottling. IIRC there was nothing to be done to save ropey milk so that it could be sold as liquid milk so this was a very big deal when one of the farms got infected and delivered ropey milk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That said, even though we almost never see ropey milk pouring out of a store bought carton or bottle of milk, I have on two occasions purchased milk that was ropey. It is very likely that ropey yogurt results from making yogurt using milk that has some of that ropey starter in it but perhaps not enough to be seen as ropey in the straight milk poured fresh from the carton. So I guess what I am saying is that ropey milk is the cause and it may not be possible to tell every time you have ropey milk because apparently at some point, it doesn't really look all that ropey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And that's about all I know :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: leenagrace

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Leenagrace,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Here's what I've learned: There's a difference in what causes ropey milk at a dairy farm and what causes ropey homemade yogurt. Certain lactobacilli create ropey milk, and these specific LB strains are strategically used in small amounts *to create thickness* in manufactured dairy products. But the amount of bacteria must be controlled or a ropey end product would be the result. High levels of ropey LB in the milk from a specific dairy farm would be unusable in manufacturing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        At home, starter cultures -- from either store-bought yogurt or starter packets -- don't contain the ropey LB. Ropey homemade yogurt is the result of lack of heating to 180 F -- this allows the tightly coiled lactoglobulin (also ropey) to unwind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have never had the ropey yogurt I've been reading about. In the information about cheese making, they recommend this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I wonder if the powdered milk could have something to do with this? I have never used the powdered milk, just milk and starter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've already researched this and provided a link in my OP. It's the lactoglobulin protein in the fluid milk that causes the sliminess or ropiness, and heating the milk to 180F allows this protein to unwind. It's not the powdered milk since that is heated beyond 180F to become dehydrated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. re: texas grrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I find I can hold 180F in my microwave by operating at power level 3. Just experiment to find the power level that works for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: GaryBishop

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What volume of milk are you using? I'd say for a gallon, take half a vanilla bean, split it horizontally very carefully (use a sharp knife). Add it to the milk during heating and cool down, then remove it. Wrap the half of vanilla bean in plastic, refrigerate and store it for your next batch. When it no longer imparts flavor, use a new half-bean. For more vanilla flavor, use a whole bean. But methinks that will be too much. Try and quantify what works for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You can use vanilla extract also, but I prefer the flavor of the vanilla bean. A teaspoon of vanilla extract per gallon. Start with that. Research the best brands -- they vary a lot in flavor and aromatics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I bought non-instant milk. It's the only organic brand. Will that work?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rj1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I bet it will be good. Using dry milk is one way to achieve Fage-ness; draining is another.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Great story. Very intriguing and kept me glued to my monitor the entire time. Thanks for that

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dessed7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh my. Nice of you to say. Hopefully everyone has picked up a tip or two from each other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Maria Lorraine, thank you so much, for your continued interest in maintaining this thread. I am new to yogurt making, and glad to find your helpful tips. My first batch was rather runny, and bleh. Thanks to all of those who generously shared their successes, glitches, and new techniques. After making lots of notes, I am ready to try a new batch. Will be using canning jars, with the plastic screw on lids. Don't have any room for another gadget, so will be using the oven. You guys are the best! ok...spoon raised in the air, and charging into the kitchen...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Annegilette

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good luck to you. Let us know how it goes. As with any "dish" you make repeatedly, fine-tuning over successive attempts always happens. My first batch of yogurt that attempted to replicate Fage was a disaster, but the next batch was very good. Since those two inital batches, I've gone on and made it many times. I'm still experimenting. But at least the recipe here, along with Sam's basic microwave recipe, and the option to strain or not, or to use dry milk or not, give enough info to tinker your way to amazing homemade yogurt at a quarter the storebought price.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Maria,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Just wanted to take a moment and say THANKS for all the information!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have recently found Greek yogurt and after finding this discussion thread, decided to make my own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My very first batch came out of the oven just this afternoon and it's so thick and luscious! I did as other suggested and decided to try just a wee bit before I put it in the fridge...soooo good!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              After reading all the posts, I was worried about a grainy texture so I added one step of running mine through a fine mesh before I popped it into the oven to do it's yogurty-thing. It seems to work like a charm!! From what I can tell so far, it is nice and even textured all the way through.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Looking forward to making more and more batches to share with family!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks again!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Giving this recipe a try. After bringing the mixture to the 180 degree point and cooling down to 105-110 and adding the yogurt starter, I placed the mixure into an Igloo cooler with utility light and 100 watt bulb. With top closed, after 2 hours the cooler felt hot, so I opened to take temperature. The plastic wrap had melted slightly ( lamp not touching) and the mixture was near 165 degrees. Should the cooler top have been left open? Letting the mixture cool down again, but it is probably lost cause at this point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hochfromrock

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If it never thickens then you'll know the high heat killed the active cultures and you will need to start again....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good luck!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hochfromrock

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sorry to hear that happened. I don't know the cause. Perhaps the Igloo held in too much heat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I use a kitchen drawer with a 100-watt utility light clamped to the side, with the cord running out of the drawer (so the drawer doesn't close entirely). Please try again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I tried the igloo jug recommended in post by myaco, and that is working wonderfully (the thermos method worked for me too, but Igloo jug is easier still). Am enjoying my 3rd batch of yogurt and have gotten the process down. Thanks to all for the suggestions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I've been making my own yogurt, a half gallon each Sunday night, for a while now. Doesn't anyone else just use a jar and a towel? It seems simpler that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As an aside: I get raw milk, and when I made conventional yogurt, heated up to 180 and then down, I've gotten very satisfactory yogurt. I decided, for the past few weeks, to make raw milk yogurt, although I'd forget to watch the pot and so would heat up to about 140 or 150. One week I got slimy yogurt (but it tasted great). The past two weeks, I got very watery, cottage cheese-like yogurt. I'm ready for that batch to be gone, and I'm going to go back to regular yogurt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Another aside: instead of relying on store brands for starters, I decided to go all fancy schmanzy. The aby-2c starter is supposed to be thick and mild, which is how I like it. I'm eager to try this this Sunday!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.dairyconnection.com/commer...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I'm interested in the weight of the dry milk you used. From nutrition information I can find online, I think your 1.5 cups of dry milk must weigh 3.6 ounces. Can you confirm that next time you make a batch?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Great thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Here's the approach of a microbiologist/cheesemaker:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://biology.clc.uc.edu/Fankhauser/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Check out the home page, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I grew up with my mom making yogurt at home on a regular basis. I don't remember the details but she used to just sit it in a crock on the kitchen counter overnight, and tadaa, yogurt! It wasn't nearly as thick as greek yogurt though which I absolutely love. I had to give it up 3 years ago when I moved to a small town where none of the stores had even heard of the stuff! So I'm thrilled to find this technique! I don't have access to a drawer I can use, but I'll try it in the oven, using my clip on lamp from my bedside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A question - does the size of container I use to make it in affect how long I need to let it incubate at all? I'm thinking I'd do 6 8 oz wide mouth canning jars for single servings, one 4 oz which will be my starter for the next time (in a jar marked starter so I don't forget and accidently use it up! The one memory of my mom making yogurt that sticks with me is that she'd constantly use all the yogurt up, forgetting to save some for the next batch and late at night after dinner have to run to the store to buy more since she'd already prepped the milk for it.) and the rest of it in a larger container for use in cooking. That should get me through the week easily.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JasFoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The jars you mention are ideal. Nice story about your mom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The thing about making yogurt at home is, many roads lead to Rome. There are a variety
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            of techniques and tactics that can be used to make great homemade yogurt. It pleases me
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            that more and more people are trying one or more of the techniques listed here and giving
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            it a shot. Straining or adding dry milk solids are good ways to achieve the thickness of Greek yogurt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In the 17 years since I moved out of my parents home, every single time I've bought yogurt I find myself thinking 'I really should try making it myself' .. but I never have for some unknown reason. But the promise of fage like yogurt has finally given me the incentive to do so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I now have a half gallon of milk in the fridge but after checking 3 stores my choices for yogurt are yoplait, fage, or mountain high (or something like that? blue and white box) No stoneyfield plain yogurt to be seen anywhere. Has anyone tried using one of the three brands I listed?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And the powdered milk is just that regular non-fat powdered milk that is available in the baking aisle right?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JasFoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Fage will work great. If the other two are listed as having "live cultures" they will work too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, any non-fat dry milk will be fine. The "Great Value" from Walmart smells funny, I didn't like it. Nido tastes and smells great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: GaryBishop

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Nido gets high marks across the board. Try that. It's not available where I am, hopefully you'll find it where you are. I researched the best tasting dry milks out there (just reading lots of websites that came up in a Google search) and Nido was always rated highly for non-cooked, "true" milk flavor. Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here in NC the grocery stores have aisles labeled "Hispanic Foods"; the Nido is down there, complete with Spanish language labeling. We've found a surprising variety of products on that aisle. For example, we can by Coke and other sodas sweetened with sugar rather than HFCS among the "Hispanic Foods".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Awesome. Nido is easily found around here - I'm in a small rural town in central california. I may not have much selection in the regular grocery stores but I can get almost anything I go in search for in hispanic stores. I wish I'd read this before I went to the store today, I could have picked up some Fage. Oh well, this weekend I'll get some.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. No drawer for me. While the milk is in the cool down faze prior to adding the starter I turn my oven on low for about 10 minutes then turn it off. After I've added the "starter" I cover it and wrap it in a couple of thick towels. Place it in the oven with the oven light on and leave it for 8 plus hours..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The other thing I do when it's done is get a big bowl and a colander and a couple of layers of cheese cloth . Plop it in and tie it up. Let it drain overnight or until you reach the consistency that you like. Then I make shrikhand with it. OMG Yum!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bonpierce

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Shrikhand? Do tell...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Is anything other than straining and sweetening involved?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrikhand

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well yes. After it has drained, I beat it with my mixer on medium low for about 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the jaggery (Indian sugar) to taste. I make a gallon of milk at a time so the jaggery is about 3/4's cup. Also when I take the milk off of the boil I take a couple of spoonfuls and place it in a cup with saffron threads. After all the mixing I add the saffron milk in and usually some nutmeg and cardamom. OMG, it is sooo delicious. And I don't use any milk powder in my yogurt. It comes out very thick and creamy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bonpierce

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh my. Oh my my. That sounds amazing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    By any chance, can you share a recipe, just so we get close to what you're describing?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    M.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sure
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 gallon fresh milk. I've used 2% and 1% and both gave good results.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 cup fresh plain yogurt with live active cultures
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 candy / oil thermometer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Indian spices: Saffron, Cardamom, Nutmeg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Indian Sugar: Jaggery

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pour the milk in your heaviest pot. Those thin spaghetti pots tend to scorch so be careful.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Heat on medium and bring the milk to 200 degrees. I go slow to avoid the boil over. This takes quite some time, 1/2 hour or so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When it reaches 200 shut off your flame and let it rest uncovered until 112 degrees. Remove 2 or 3 tablespoons of the hot milk to a small cup and see below*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      At this point I turn the oven on to 200 just for 5 minutes to warm it a little. Then shut it OFF.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Again, this takes some time to cool down and you need to pay attention to it as you really need to be no more or less than 110 to 115degrees. At this point put in your cup of yogurt and stir. Then I put the lid on and wrap it all up in two towels. And place it in the OFF oven with the light on. Your oven should barely be warm. Leave it for 8 hours.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      After 8 hours unwrap it, give it another stir and let it cool a little bit. It will be about 95 to 110 degrees still. This will avoid too much condensation when you put it in the fridge overnight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now,scoop out a cup or two and reserve it as your starter for next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Next you will need some cheese cloth or muslin and a large colander and a bowl.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Place the colander in the bowl and the cloth in the colander.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now plop in your yogurt and tie up the ends. I let mine drain overnight in the fridge but you can decide how thick or thin you want it. I have to empty my bowl at least twice. I hear the liquid (whey) is good for bread making but haven't tried that yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now for the Shrikhand.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      *with the hot milk from above, place 3 or 4 threads of saffron along with some cardamom 2 or 3 pods or 2 teaspoons powder, 1 teaspoon nutmeg into the hot milk. Cover with plastic and place in fridge until ready for this part.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now take your yogurt "cheese" and place it in a large mixing bowl and beat it on low for a minute or two.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Next will be the sugar. I use about 3/4 cup of jaggery, which is Indian sugar that you can find at Indian markets or on Amazon. Or you can use plain sugar or mix half white and 1/2 brown sugar. It's really to taste. Add the sugar and beat on low for 1 minute. Taste. When it's sweet enough for you add in the saffron milk and beat again until mixed. It will be a nice golden color.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Garnish with slivers of almonds and pistachios and serve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. So after reading a number of the posts in this thread, I decided to try making my own yogurt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I made a small batch one to try using the microwave method and a thermos as someone posted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I put in my blender the milk, some water and buttermilk powder and blended it well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Then I heated the milk mixture to 180 mixing periodically with a spoon. Let it rest. Put a heaping tablespoon of yogurt into the thermos and poured the now 110 degree milk mixture. Put the lid on it and opened it next morning (around 12 hours).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Voila yogurt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks to all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LUV_TO_EAT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Luv, would you please post exactly what you did and measurements, please. I want to start making a small batch also.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Take 2 to 3 cups of milk (I used 2%). Add a few tablespoons of buttermilk powder or whey protein. Put that in a blender and blend....I did that because some people reported graininess which may have been because they didn't stir enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Microwave it 3 min, stir,take temp, microwave again, stir, take temp....keep doing that till you hit 180. Let it cool to 110.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Take the thermos, add some warm water into it to warm it up a bit. dump water out, add a heaping tablespoon of yogurt and then dump in 110 degree milk/powder blend (I didn't the thermos ingredients). close it up and wait 12 hours. check it. if good, dump it out and refrigerate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Voila - yogurt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    All of my measurements were really rough (you could probably even leave out buttermilk or whey although some people say it won't be as thick)...I think this yogurt making is very forgiving judging by all the posts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Since you're only using a couple/few cups of milk it's not a very expensive experiment. Try it like I did and I'm sure your results should be OK. At the very least you can be proud you did it and you probably saved a few bucks. I've made yogurt twice now, once with buttermilk, and once with whey protein.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Well, I'm 'gurting' for the first time as I speak. After a couple of setbacks I finally got around to it last night. My plan had been to use a clip on light inside my oven but at the last minute I decided I was too paranoid that the house would burn down while I was asleep, which would really piss off my roommate/landlord. So instead I rigged up a hot water bath inside my enameled dutch oven. Put the yogurt mixture into 8 oz canning jars (I got exactly 6 with a couple of ounces extra that I drank on the spot) and placed them in my dutch oven with a digital thermometer hanging out of it. Poured in 115 degree water, put the lid on it and put the whole mess into my oven with a towel over it to help insulate. I checked about 3 hours in and the water had cooled to about 95 so I ladled some out and replaced it with more hot water. Then this morning (9 hours in) it was down to 89 so I added hot water to get it back up t 110 again. While the water was heating up I cracked open a jar to see how it was doing. Definitely yogurt, but very bland. Thick enough that the two spoonfuls I tasted left a distinct mark in the yogurt with a softish edge between them. I'm hoping that letting it go an additional 5 - 6 hours will help it develop the tang that I'm after, and also firms it up a little more. Though I'm sure refrigerating it later will help greatly with that too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A couple of observations from my experience so far.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My digital thermometer only seems to display in odd numbers. I saw a whole range of temperatures while heating up the milk and cooling it down but not once did I see an even number. Very odd.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I hate drinking milk with the passion of a thousand burning suns. I have since I was about 10 and was forced to sit in front of a glass of milk till I drank it even though I swore it had gone bad. Fortunately that hatred has never extended to milk products. But I discovered that whole milk with milk powder mixed into it and warmed up? Absolutely delicious! Just as a control I tried warming up a little of just the plain milk itself. *GAG* It smelled bad to me, even though I knew it wasn't. I could taste the milk powder in the mixture and that made it tasty, and the smell of the milk powder overpowered the 'bad milk' smell. Go figure. I may actually be able to start drinking milk in small quantities again if this is the case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Adding another post to report success! Total time approximately 15 hours from start to finish (from taking milk out of fridge to putting yogurt back in fridge) and so far I couldn't be happier. My yogurt tastes tangy and is oh so creamy and smooth but thick enough that even still warm, it holds it's shape when spooned out. Total yield was 6 8 oz jars, of which half of one has already been consumed warm as I kept sampling and saying 'damn, it worked! it actually worked!'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Notes for next time: instead of the messy task of heating water and replenishing what was in the dutch oven, I'm going to try to find a small heating pad and see if I can rig it up to the right temperature. Or I'll set it up with a lamp in my bedroom overnight,, maybe in my closet, and set the digital thermometer to go off if the temperature goes above 120, so that IF anything bad even starts to happen, I'll catch it early. The hot water bath worked but it was messy and annoying. Also, next time either buy 4 oz jars, or maybe only fill these jars with about 6 oz and make 8 servings. Just from tasting it I can tell it is much too rich to have 8 oz as a single serving. And find myself a dry erase marker so I can date the jars so I don't end up with science experiments gone wrong in the fridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Posting pics below. For anyone wondering, while incubating, I used plastic wrap and the rings from my canning jars since I didn't have enough of the white plastic lids when I started this last night. Not a good idea - a couple of the rings got a bit rusty from the water bath. Luckily the rust was on the outside of the layer of plastic wrap that was over the mouth of the jars. Next time the white lids go on from the start since I went out and bought another box of them this morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JasFoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You could also use an insulated ice chest instead of dealing with the oven.....I refill the gallon milk jugs with hot tap water, put a clean towel on the bottom of the cooler and surround the yogurt with the jugs of hot water. put another towel on top for more insulation, then shut the lid and leave it. I use this method when I do not have an oven with a pilot light. It works great without all the checking and re-filling, etc. This way, also, water is not coming into contact with rings, etc. I make up to 4 gallons of yogurt at a time this way, and usually 4 gallon milk jugs full of hot tap water are sufficient to successfully incubate the yogurt, so it should work for this smaller yield. I've been doing this for yea