Yesterday, to help me feel like I was getting back to normalcy from not having a refrigerator, I picked up some plain yogurt at the market and made a batch of homemade yogurt. The experience went without a hitch, but as I was stirring my milk, I contemplated how annoyed I was that I had to buy yogurt to make yogurt. While homemade yogurt is extremely easy and cheap, if I have to keep buying a quart of plain yogurt for $2-something, I think my homemade yogurt might actually be somewhat expensive if I waste the supermarket yogurt (like I did last week with a non working fridge. My yogurt starter for one batch of yogurt ended up costing me $2.50).
Obviously the main ingredient in yogurt are live bacterial cultures. I started wondering how I could grow these cultures safely at my house to make my homemade starter. With a little bit of research, I discovered there is a book called Wild Fermentation that discusses a hundred fermented foods and beverages. It is definitely going on my to-read list!
Upon a bit more research, I found that I can (possibly?) make my own yogurt starter using
chile peppers and/or tamarind (I only know what a tamarind is because they were all over Mexico when I lived there! I never liked the flavor, but I would happily use it to make yogurt!). Here is information on an experiment using the Chile peppers to make a culture. I guess this is very common in India as well. Lastly, I also discovered ant eggs are used to make starter yogurt cultures. Yuck. I will stick to the chile peppers. Maybe I can use my painfully spicy New Mexican Hatch Chiles for this!