Homemade Starter Yogurt Culture

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

Tamarind pods - they are not very good in my opinion, but it is a common flavor for drinks, candies, and Popsicle in Mexico
Tamarind pods – they are not very good in my opinion, but it is a common flavor for drinks, candies, and Popsicle in Mexico

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!

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3 thoughts on “Homemade Starter Yogurt Culture

  1. I had no idea that you could use chili peppers or ant eggs (WIERD) to grow starter cultures! Have you tried it? When your refrigerator works properly, do you save a bit of your own homemade yogurt to start your next batch?

    1. Haven’t tried the chile peppers yet. Once we got a new fridge, I picked up a single serving chobani plain Greek yogurt cup and used it as my starter. It has given me great yogurt! I made several starter bags from batches here and there and froze them and they work just fine. I am making about 2 quarts every week and each batch is turning out great! If something happens to my starters then I will try the chile pepper method. I won’t be trying the any egg method ever, unless all the yogurt in the world (and chile peppers) go extinct.

      1. I would love to know how it turns out with the chili peppers. About to try it myself after I forgot an ran out of my previous batch of yogurt.

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