Using a yogurt starter gives you more possibilities for making different kinds of yogurt. You can make tart Bulgarian yogurt, thick creamy Greek yogurt or even exotic yogurts that culture at room temperature. Many times you only have to buy a starter once and you can continue making batch after batch by reserving some from the current batch.
I ordered my starter from Cultures for Health.
There are all kinds of different yogurt starter:
- Bulgarian yogurt cultures to make tangy homemade yogurt
- Greek yogurt starter
- Dairy free starter for making vegan yogurt
- Viili starter
- Filmjolk starter
- Piima starter
- Caspian Sea starter
There are several online sources to obtain these starters, Cultures for Health is a good source because they carry all of the above and also many other great products like Kombucha and sourdough starters.
Keep in mind that you do not have to buy a yoghurt starter to make homemade yogurt. You can find a good quality yogurt to use as a “starter yogurt”. Make sure has the “live and active cultures” seal. It must be plain yogurt. Flavored yogurt will not do. You can freeze your starter yogurt in ice cube trays so that it is convenient to have on hand.
Maintaining a Pure Starter for Making Raw Milk Yogurt
If you are making raw milk yogurt, it will need to maintain a pure starter that you can use again and again. When you use raw milk the natural bacteria will eventually overtake the starter cultures and you’ll no longer be making a specific type of yogurt.
You’ll simply be making clabbered milk.
To keep a pure starter, boil and cool milk to eliminate its natural bacteria and culture that milk with your starter on a weekly basis, then use a few tablespoons of the boiled milk starter in raw milk to culture raw milk yogurt.
Dairy Free Starters to Use for Making a Vegan Soy Yogurt
If you are making soy yogurt or coconut milk yogurt to use as a vegan food, you’ll need to avoid the dairy. This means you cannot use a container a store bought yogurt as your starter culture. Also, there will be many yogurt starters that you will not be able to
use because they contain dry milk powder.
So, if you are adhering to strict vegan standards you’ll need to find a good source for a dairy free starter.
I recommend Cultures for Health’s Vegetal Starter.
You can also buy a container of soy yogurt from the store and use it for your starter culture. Do make sure the kind of soy yogurt you buy at the store contains live and active cultures. I’ve seen a few
brands that are heat-treated, which means the cultures are dead. Check for the seal (sorry if I sound like a broken record). Both Nancy’s Cultured Soy and Whole Soy are good brands that use live vegan cultures. Just add about 1/2 cup of soy yogurt per 1/2 gallon of soymilk.
Greek Yogurt Starter
One packet of Greek yogurt starter can be used to make unlimited amounts of yogurt. Simply reserved some from each batch.
Traditional Greek yogurt starter contains the following active lactic acid bacteria: L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus. However, I make a Greek style yogurt (not from a starter) that has more probiotics. Check out that recipe here.
Room Temperature Yogurt Starters
Viili, Filmjolk, Piima, and Caspian Sea Yogurt starters culture at room temperature.
Simply add the yogurt cultures to cold milk and allow it to sit on the counter for 12-18 hours–super easy!
You will not need a yogurt maker to make any of these.
Caspian Sea yogurt (aka Matsoni) is sooo… good. It is more mild than yogurt and thinner. I use to make it, but I threw out the culture the last time we moved. I miss it!
Theoretically you only have to buy the culture once. As long as you take care of it you can use the same culture to make a lifetime supply of yogurt and then some. You can pass it on and give out to your friends. There is a blog I really enjoy called, The Nourished Kitchen where you can obtain cultures from other people. They have sort of a culture swap. I’d imagine the only cost is the shipping.