How does yogurt culture "run out"?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by minnikin1, Sep 29, 2004.

  1. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

    Messages:
    1,658
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2003
    Location:
    Central NY
    I went shopping online for yogurt starter that would make a very mild yogurt.
    The prices are kind of high and all of these places say you can only make a limited number of batches before you will need to buy more fresh starter. Apparently the bacteria become less and less abundant with each batch....

    How is it that yogurt has been feeding folks for thousands of years before the New England cheese company came along to sell them fresh starter?
     
  2. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    403
    Joined:
    May 2, 2003
    Location:
    Washington State
    Theoretically, you're right. My guess is that as you go through successive cultures, you're allowing the growth of a more and more heterogeneous population of bacteria--not just lactobacilli but other things as well. Bacteria grow in mixed populations that compete for survival. So although warm milk may favor the growth of lactobacilli over other bugs, eventually you're going to end up with a more dilute, if not frankly contaminated, culture.
     

  3. Julia

    Julia Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    391
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2003
    Also, yogurt starter is a combination of several different bacteria in a distinct proportion to each other. That proportion changes in each successive regeneration, and with that, the flavor changes. So if you like the flavor you're getting, and the starter is still working, keep using it. If it's not making yogurt, or the flavor or texture is not what you want, then replace it.

    I just use the freshest carton of plain Dannon yogurt on the grocer's shelf to start mine. It's cheap and easy.

    And FWIW, a lot of the "strong" flavor folks complain about in yogurt is just the amount of acidity in it. If that's your beef, just don't incubate the yogurt as long, so it has a milder flavor.

    The short answer is that ancient folk were much more skilled and knowledgeable about producing food than we are. And they put more effort into maintaining good starter cultures, because they'd starve if they didn't.
     
  4. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

    Messages:
    747
    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    N.Ar
    same as julia, except i use stonginton farms organic, for my starter .

    every once in a while i will buy new "store yogurt" , so thatit stays lively, i guess i never considered the reasons why...
    i have a friend who swears by the freeze dried acidopholis her health food store sell , but though it works, her yogurt is very "ethnic" flavored , so i dont like it .
    spend the money with ne cheese if you want, or just go to the grocery, reach way in back , and check the exp dateo n the carton, you want the furthest from todays date that you can get .
    no big deal :D
    and by the way , goats milk yogurt is awesome !!!
     
  5. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

    Messages:
    28,248
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    SE Missouri
    People HAVE been making yogurt for thousands of years. I read somewhere once that they would store milk in skins and the natural bacteria would curdle the milk. I suspect that it prob didn't taste exactly like what we are used to tho. They still make it the old was in Tibet. Anybody want to take a jaunt to Tibet and tell us what it tastes like?
     
  6. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,665
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2004
    This is one of the reasons why I started making kefir instead of yogurt. It took time to get used to the flavor, which is different, but we like it now.

    Kathleen in Oregon
     
  7. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

    Messages:
    1,658
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2003
    Location:
    Central NY
    How did you start it? Isn't kefir more liquid, like a drink?
     
  8. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,665
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2004
    I started by getting some grains (kefir starter) from someone who had too much. (Just sent out my own first surplus to get someone else started.) There are kefir forums, and if you want grains or have a surplus, you go there and post.

    Kefir, if shaken or run through the blender, becomes more liquid and you do drink it. (Homemade yogurt will do the same because it doesn't have all the thickeners and stabilizers that storebought has.) However, I fish the grains out for a new batch (every 24 hours -- I have two jars going, one for each milking), then leave the jars in the fridge for another 24-48 hours before I use the kefir, and it usually thickens and separates a little bit in that time. Once it has done that, you can make a soft cheese by straining it for 12 hours or so in a muslin cloth. Really good with some garlic and herbs in it. Most of our kefir goes into smoothies, though.

    Kathleen in Oregon
     
  9. perennial

    perennial Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,262
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2004
    Location:
    Virginia
    I just buy stonyfield plain yogurt (has active culture) and mix some in with my mixture. I have heard of people that put the leftover in the ice cube tray and freeze it and then pop them out into a baggie and use a couple when they make yogurt.

    I mix 4 cups milk, 1-2 teaspoons vanilla(to taste) and a couple T. of sugar and bring to boil on stove to 180 degrees. let cool to 110 degrees. Take a little out add 1/4 cup yogurt and mix, then add back to big pot. Pour into steralized jars and put in a 8 qt. stockpot with heating pad inside on high. I put a thermometer in there and cover with heavy towels and keep it at 110 and let it go for 6-7 hours and then pour off a little liquid 1/8 c. or less and put it in the fridge to "set". My kids and hubby LOVE it. I make it when I know I'm going to be "around" for the day so I don't have to leave it alone.

    brural
     
  10. All country

    All country Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    616
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Indiana
    I wish I knew of an way to keep a yogurt culture going longer. I can usually keep mine going for 4-6 weeks before I have to buy a new starter. I made up a gallon of yogurt yesterday. I only put 4 teaspoons yogurt to a gallon of milk and it sets up fine. I've heard that the bacteria that produces yogurt likes room to flourish and not to add too much. My yogurt usually comes out fairly thick and creamy. I do not add powdered milk to thicken it, just warmed raw milk and yogurt.

    My Kefir culture has been going for several years and I've shared grains a few times. It is definitely an accuired taste. The only way we really enjoy it is in a fruit smoothie. We really like it made up with frozen strawberries, banana, and pineapple chunks. In fact that is going to be a mid afternoon snack here today.

    Kids and I will eat or drink them daily. Dh refuses. I did get him to eat frozen yogurt one time. Just scooped some and he thought it was ice cream and he helped himself. He was enjoying it just fine till someone blabbed and told him it was yogurt. Another time he grabbed my milkshake(kefir smoothie) and was drinking it pretty good till some one yelled out "Dad's drinking kefir" that was the last of that. :no:

    Eating both on a regular basis seems to keep us in better health.
     
  11. ajaxlucy

    ajaxlucy Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,799
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    Location:
    Indiana
    I've tried it and it was good, though a bit different from what I was used to. Maybe that's because it was made with yak's milk!
     
  12. Lazlo

    Lazlo New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2004
    Kefir and yoghurt microbes produce lots of lactic acid and less exopolysaccharides. Lactic acid is what gives the sour taste and certain exopolysaccharides can cause a product to hold its shape.

    Viili may be something you like if you want an extremely mild product which holds its shape, even when cut with scissors. Viili microbes churn out long chains of parallel exopolysaccharides at the expense of lactic acid, so it is very mild. The strongest Viili cultures will wobble and hold its shape in your hand. Kids would probably enjoy that feature.

    If I remember, Viili is a Finnish dairy culture with very dominant organisms, and it contains 5 types of microbes. In some cases Viili has contaminated home kefir cultures producing something dubbed "Kefiili" which is slightly milder and more firm than homemade kefir.

    GEM Cultures http://www.gemcultures.com is a source of Viili, as are a few Kefir discussion groups on places like *ahoo.

    Lazlo
     
  13. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    15,978
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Michigan's thumb
    Well, you have all convinced me that I need to start making kefir. I visited Dom's Kefir in-site, http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html
    and will get me some kefir grain. I really had to hunt around. All I want is some grain to make kefir, and none of the sites I went to explained whether it was barley, oats, or wheat. Aha! The grain refers to the curd. I won't worry about the extra curds as they are supposed to be good eating.

    With my newly expanded mind I now believe that those old Dannon yogurt commercials were misleading. The "yogurt" the centurians in Russia were eating was probably kefir.
     
  14. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,665
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2004
    Maura, it's fine to eat the kefir grains/curds, but be warned they are extremely tough and rubbery! When I have a surplus of grains, I just leave some in the smoothies, so they are minced fine in the blender. That way you aren't even going to notice when you eat them.

    And you are probably right about the Russian elders! I've wondered that, too. But, surely there must be a way of keeping yogurt from running out, without having to depend on a supply of fresh culture from somewhere else. (shrug in puzzlement)

    Kathleen
     
  15. LaDonna

    LaDonna Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    108
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Location:
    Ky
    Here's the technique I use. I was somewhat concerned about my live cultures surviving being frozen in ice trays but it works fine.
    My DH is diabetic but he loves the sweet store bought yogurt. I make this recipe and add splenda and flavor after it has incubated. His favorite flavor is Pina Colada add unsweetened crushed pinapple and coconut flavoring.


    Simplified Homemade Yogurt

    3-3/4 cup warm tap water


    1-2/3 cups instant nonfat dry milk

    2 to 4 tablespoon store-bought, plain yogurt with active yogurt cultures (read the label to be sure)

    In a large, very clean bowl or pitcher, combine the tap water and dry milk powder. Stir it very well, and let it sit a few minutes. Then stir it again. All of the dry milk should be dissolved. Add the store-bought plain yogurt. Stir very well again. Let it sit for a few minutes and stir a final time. This should dissolve the store-bought yogurt all the way.

    Carefully pour the mixture into a very clean, quart-sized, wide-mouthed canning jar, or another clean, quart-sized container. Incubate the yogurt in a warm spot for 6 to 8 hours, or until it is set almost as thick as store-bought yogurt. Chill and eat.

    Each cook develops her own way of incubating home made yogurt through trial and error. I am going to describe my method, followed by some other common methods and ideas. But first there are a few things you need to know. Yogurt is cultured from acidophilous bacteria, which you can sometimes buy in powdered form at the health food store. I have never actually seen it, but I've heard tell about it.

    Yogurt can also be cultured from store-bought yogurt which contains "active yogurt cultures" or live bacteria. Read the label and it will tell you if the yogurt contains active cultures or not.

    I always use prepared yogurt as my culture. I buy a large container of plain store brand yogurt from the store. I bring it home and scoop it into a couple of icecube trays. Then I freeze it. When it is completely frozen, I take the frozen yogurt cubes and pack them in a plastic freezer bag. Each time I make yogurt, I use one cube as the starter. You can use your own fresh yogurt as a starter too, but eventually it loses it's power due to the introduction of foreign bacteria, usually after using it about 3 or 4 times. I like to use a new frozen yogurt cube each time I prepare yogurt. I've had my best results this way.

    When making yogurt with powdered milk, it is good to use more dry milk powder than you would to just make fluid milk. For instance, normally I would use 1 1/3 cups of dry milk powder to make a quart of milk. When I reconstitute milk for yogurt, I add an extra 1/3 cup of dry milk powder, using 1 2/3 cups of dry milk powder for a quart of yogurt. This makes the yogurt thicker and also higher in calcium. Even when preparing yogurt from fluid milk, the results are better if you add a little extra powdered milk for thickness.

    There are lots of ways to incubate your yogurt. I prefer to do it in my electric oven. I set the stove dial half way between OFF and 200°, or at approximately 100°. The light which signifies the oven is on, pops on for a moment, and then pops off when the temperature is reached. I set my jar of yogurt in the oven and leave it for between 6 and 8 hours, usually overnight, or while I'm out for the day. I take out the yogurt when it is thick. This method works every time for me. My yogurt has a very mild flavor, which the kids like better than the sour stuff we used to get from the store.

    There are many other ways to incubate your yogurt. Some people pour the warm milk combined with the starter, into a large preheated thermos and let it sit overnight. Other folks set the yogurt on top of a warm radiator, or close to a wood stove, or in a gas stove with the pilot operating, or on a heating pad set on low. Sometimes I have placed the jar in a pan filled with warm water, to keep the temperature even. This worked pretty well when I incubated the yogurt next to the wood stove. It kept the yogurt at a uniform temperature, even with occasional drafts from the front door opening and closing. The heating-pad method is supposed to be pretty reliable. You set it on low and then cover the heating pad with a towel, place the yogurt on top of it, and put a large bowl or stew pot upside down over the yogurt. This makes a little tent which keeps the heat in. I don't have a heating pad, and have never actually used this method myself, but a good friend swears by it. Another friend uses a medium sized picnic cooler to incubate her yogurt. She places the jars inside the cooler and then add two jars filled with hot tap water, to keep the temperature warm enough. After 4 hours, check the yogurt to see if it is thick enough. If it isn't then refill the water jars with more hot water, return them to the cooler, and let the yogurt sit another 4 hours. When I tried this method, it worked very well. It took a full 8 hours, but the yogurt was perfect, and I liked not having my oven tied up during the day. Also, there was little danger of getting the yogurt too hot while it incubated, and drafts weren't a problem because of the closed nature of the cooler. You should try to disturb the yogurt as little as possible while it is incubating, in ensure you get good results.

    After the yogurt is thick, place it in the fridge. It will stay sweet and fresh for about a week or two. You may prepare more than one jar at a time if you like. I included the method for a quart because this is the size canning jar I use. Narrow mouth canning jars would probably work too, but I prefer the wide mouth ones because it is easier to stick a measuring cup or ladel down inside of it, to scoop out the yogurt. I usually prepare two quart jars at a time. The prepared yogurt is good mixed with jelly, fresh or canned fruit, served with granola for breakfast, or substituted for sour cream in many recipes like stroganoffs. It is also nice pureed in fruit smoothie blender drinks, or stirred into gelatin or popscicles before freezing them. It can also be stirred half and half with regular mayonnaise to make a very tasty low fat mayonnaise. This mixture can be used in just about any recipe which calls for mayonnaise.

    Learning to make yogurt is a trial and error process. Most people don't have perfect or consistant results the first few times they make it. With a little practice though, anyone can learn to make it. When you get a little skill at it, the entire process becomes second nature, and you will have sweet fresh yogurt available whenever you like.












    © Hillbilly Housewife 1999-2004