Yogurt Starter - What Is It?

Yogurt Starter - What Is it?

For making homemade yogurt you will need a yogurt starter, which is also known as a starter culture. This contains the friendly bacteria, which will turn your milk into yogurt. There are various different options for yogurt culture. You can use any of the following:
  • Store-bought plain "live culture" yogurt.

  • Freeze-dried yogurt starter powder.

  • Counter-top yogurt starter.
Once you have made your first batch of homemade yogurt using one of these starters, you have the additional option of using a small amount of your yogurt as a starter culture for subsequent batches. Doing this saves money and makes your homemade yogurt super value!

Be sure to check the ingredients of these different types of starter cultures. The specific mix of beneficial bacteria differs from product to product and some products also contain additional ingredients. Choose a culture that contains as many different friendly organisms as possible. This "broad spectrum" approach should ensure that you gain maximum benefit from your probiotic yogurt. It increases the chances of at least one of the strains of probiotic bacteria being effective for you.

Other factors that will influence your choice of yogurt starter will relate to the type of yogurt you wish to make and the way in which you wish to make it (counter-top, electric yogurt maker or traditional oven method). Read on to discover which is the best type of culture for you....


Types of Yogurt Starter

Store-Bought Plain "Live" Yogurt

A relatively inexpensive way to produce homemade yogurt is to use commercial plain yogurt as your starter culture. Suitable yogurts are available in most grocery stores. Be sure to select only products labeled with the following wording or similar:

"Contains live/active/probiotic cultures".


Only yogurts, which carry this labeling are live are thus suitable for use as starter cultures. Select only plain, unflavored yogurt for your yogurt starter.

Most of the live culture yogurt available from grocery stores in the USA is made from cows’ milk. Active yogurt made from any milk can be used as a yogurt starter. You can buy plain live yogurts made from more unusual milks (e.g. goat, sheep or buffalo) as well as non-animal "milks" such as soy and coconut in many health food stores.

If you can’t find these alternative yogurts in your local stores but would still like to make yogurt using other milks, you can use a cows' milk yogurt starter. Be aware though that your yogurt will contain traces of cows' milk and will therefore be unsuitable for those who are allergic to it.

For more information on making yogurt using a commercial starter click here.


Freeze-Dried Yogurt Starter Powders

A freeze-dried yogurt starter is suitable for use with a Eurocuisine YM80 Yogurt Maker

Freeze-dried starter powders require that you keep the yogurt warm during the production process either by use of an electric yogurt maker (e.g. Eurocuisine YM80, Yogourmet Electric Yogurt Maker or Cuisipro Donvier Electronic Yogurt Maker) or by use of more traditional means such as an oven or stove. Some of these freeze-dried starters such as Custom Probiotics Yogurt Starter Formulas 1 & 2, and Gi ProStart Non-Dairy Yogurt Starter are also dairy-free. This makes them suitable for vegans or those with cows’ milk allergies.

Yogurt Starter
Number of Probiotic Strains and Species
Specific Probiotic Strains and Species
Other Ingredients
Dairy-Free
Buy Product
Custom Probiotics Yogurt Starter Formula 1
3
L.acidophilus, S.thermophilus, L.bulgaricus
-
Yes
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Custom Probiotics Yogurt Starter Formula 2
5
L.bulgaricus, S.thermophilus, L.acidophilus, L. casei, B.longum
-
Yes
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Yogourmet Yogurt Starter
3
L.bulgarius, S.thermophilus, L.acidophilus
Skim milk powder, sucrose, ascorbic acid
No
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Yogourmet Casei Bifidus Acidophilus Yogurt Starter
5
L.casei, B.longum, L.bulgaricus, S.thermophilus, L. acidophilus
Skim milk powder
No
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Natren Yogurt Starter
2
L.bulgaricus LB51, S.thermophilus BC122
-
No
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Eurocuisine Yogurt Starter
3
L.bulgaricus, S.thermophilus, L.acidophilus
Skim milk powder, sucrose, ascorbic acid
No
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GI ProStart
3
L.bulgaricus, S.thermophilus, L.casei
-
Yes
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Tribest Yolife
4
L.bulgaricus, S.thermophilus, L.acidophilus, B. longum
Dextrose
Yes
Buy now

The benefit of freeze-dried yogurt cultures such as the ones above is that this type of yogurt starter often contains a greater selection of beneficial bacteria than most of the commercial probiotic yogurts. The downside of these products is the cost!

Freeze-dried yogurt starter powders are now increasingly available from health food and Internet stores. We have teamed up with Amazon.com to provide you with a range of freeze-dried yogurt starter powders. Click here to enter our store.


Countertop Yogurt Starters

Countertop yogurt starters culture on the kitchen counter or work surface, at room temperature and thus are also known as room-temperature cultures. These products are really easy to use and require no specialist equipment.

Many of these cultures can be added to milk taken directly from the refrigerator. You don’t even have to pre-heat the milk prior to adding the culture – so no time is spent cooling the milk before culturing. You simply put the culture into the milk, cover it and place on the countertop. The optimum temperature for culturing is between 70°F and 74°F (21°C and 23°C) so choose a warm place in your house. These yogurt cultures take the additional time factor out of home-made yogurt making. What’s more they are super easy to use!

The key benefit of these countertop starters is their ease of use in terms of both time and method. They are very convenient and if you are short on time, then these starters are for you!

These starters also offer you the chance to experiment with different types of yogurt from various cuisines around the world. You can buy Greek, Bulgarian, Finnish and Georgian yogurt cultures – each producing yogurt of different consistency and taste.

Using a range of these different counter-top starter cultures also allows you to include a wide range of different beneficial or probiotic bacteria in your diet. Traditional Greek yogurt for example contains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, whilst the Finnish villi yogurt contains Lactococcus lactis (subspecies cremoris), Lactococcus lactis (subspecies lactis biovar), Diacetylactis, as well as Leuconostoc mesenteroides (subspecies cremoris). The Georgian yogurt starter, used to make Caspian Sea or Matsoni yogurt, contains a different mixture of beneficial bacteria again, specifically Lactobacills lactis (subspecies cremoris) and Acetobacter orientalis. Use a Small Amount of Your Homemade Yogurt as a Starter Culture to Save Money

These countertop yogurt cultures are also easily available organically.

However, these cultures can be expensive initially. The good news though is that you don't need to buy a new culture for each batch of yogurt that you make. You can use a small amount of your first batch of homemade yogurt as a starter for your next lot and so on. This brings your costs right down.

The downside to these countertop products is that they all tend to be from dairy media. The starters can be used to make goats' milk yogurts, sheep’s milk yogurts and even non-dairy yogurts such as soy milk yogurts but the yogurt produced will contain traces of dairy.

Some are also not recommended for use with raw milk. However others are so be sure to check the details before ordering.

Also, several of these countertop starters are not compatible with alternative milks such as soy milk. Many can be used with non-dairy milks but may not prosper for more than a few batches of homemade yogurt, after which you will need to use a fresh starter.

Buy Yogurt-Making Equipment

You can buy your freeze-dried yogurt starter as well as yogurt-makers from our Amazon store.


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