How to Make Yogurt Culture 

 September 23, 2020

By  Diane Miles

If you have ever wondered about how some people prepare yogurt at home, you would be surprised to discover how simple it is to do that. If you or your family are big consumers of commercial yogurt, this exercise will save you a lot of money as well.

Mother and Child

Imagine, if you are a family of 4, you are spending approximately $1.84 on a single 32 oz cup (on the most no-frills yogurt). If you are a fan of organic food, this price might go up by more. Now when you break it down like that, it doesn’t sound much, but when you add it up, it is a cool $7.36 per day for the yogurt. On a rough estimate, if you have it five days a week, the total cost comes to about $147.2!

Now that is a lot of money to spend on plain old yogurt! If you are a big fan of Greek yogurt, you can add a few more dollars to it. Believe us, you can make a ton of yogurt for just a fraction of the price. The process takes all of 10 minutes and is not nearly as difficult or complicated as some “experts” have led you to believe. Once you have done it yourself, you will wonder why haven’t you yet bothered to do it yourself!

Naturally, if you have been looking for how to make yogurt culture online, you would have come across 20 blogs that have told you probably 20 ways to do it. We are not saying there are any right or wrong ways to do it, we are saying you stick with the one method that you find the easiest.

The two main ways to make yogurt at home is the conventional way (on a cooktop) and the other is by the way of a yogurt maker. We will cover both, and you can read about various yogurt makers in our comparison guide.

Let’s start by learning how to make the yogurt culture, the stuff you will need for future batches of yogurt. If you know how to make yogurt culture, you would not have to rely on freeze-dried yogurt starter culture (though these are readily available on the market).

You can also use some pre-made yogurts for this, but the thing about pre-made yogurt culture is that you might be inoculating the yogurt with something you didn’t intend to. And you will see that you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make it. So this is how to make yogurt culture.

Milk and Soy Beans
  1. 1
    Take a medium-sized container (preferably with a lid) and fill it with about three-fourths with whole milk. This milk should be lukewarm (or room temperature if you are doing this in the summers).
  2. 2
    Get two red chilies with the whole stalk and put them both stalk-first in this container.
  3. 3
    Shut the lid (not too tight) with the chilies in it and leave it in a dry and warm place.
  4. 4
    Leave the container untouched for about 14-15 hours.
  5. 5
    Remove the lid and check if the milk has gotten a curdled consistency. You will see chunks of curdled milk sticking to the chilies.
  6. 6
    You can remove the chilies, and use this yogurt starter to make more batches of yogurt.

One thing to remember is that you should change the culture every 6-7 times to maintain or retain the acidic consistency. Alternatively, once you have mastered the technique to make a yogurt culture, you can sometimes use packed yogurt to make more yogurt as well.

And this is how simple it is to make yogurt culture. You don’t have to rely on the yogurt culture sold on the market anymore; you can make your own any time! If you do not have red chilies, you can use a lot of other ingredients (only one at a time though) to prepare the culture. You can use tamarind, green chilies, a lemon or even a pinch of soil from an anthill (yes!).

Now that we have seen how yogurt culture is made, let us see how to put it to good use and make delicious yogurt out of it!

Making Homemade Yogurt

Making homemade yogurt is as simple as we made it out to be. Just follow these simple steps. 

Homemade Yogurt in Jar
  1. 1
    Heating the Milk: Before we set out to make yogurt, it is important that the milk is free of any contaminants mold or microbes. To do that, you heat the milk at 180 Fahrenheit. This will not only change the protein structure and make the resulting yogurt thicker but also create an environment for the good bacteria to thrive.
  2. 2
    Cooling the Milk: Heating the milk to a certain degree will kill all the undesirable bacteria, but now you want to cool it for it to be hospitable for the good bacteria. And so, you cool it until it is lukewarm or about 110-126 Fahrenheit.
  3. 3
    Adding the Culture: Now comes the important part — remove some of this milk in a cup. Now take two teaspoons of the yogurt culture you prepared before and stir it well in the milk so that the consistency is even. Now pour this cup of milk back in the container with the rest of the milk. Give it a good stir to mix it thoroughly.
  4. 4
    The Incubation: The conditions are all set for the yogurt to start forming. Pour the milk in a container and keep it in a place where it will not be disturbed, preferably in a corner of your kitchen that is not used frequently. The longer you keep it, the thicker and creamier it becomes. A lot of people say that the cut-off is about 8-9 hours, but there are others who keep it undisturbed for as long as 24 hours. Please note that if you are in an area which sees long summers, 5-6 hours will do it for you. In winters, this can take up to 8 hours. Weather will play a part in this process naturally, but consistent warm weather will promote good bacteria’s growth.
  5. 5
    Refrigerate: All done! Now all that is left for you to do is to refrigerate the container or containers for about 1-2 hours. The cooler it gets, the thicker it becomes!
  6. 6
    Serve: You can have this yogurt as is, or you can make it interesting by adding toppings such as fruits, dry fruits or even granola. Strawberries go very well with thick yogurt.

There are gadgets available for doing the same, that is, an instant pot which will take care of maintaining the temperature for you.

Some Useful Tips

  • Not all of us like milk; or as tolerant to it as others. People with lactose intolerance can opt to make coconut yogurt, which is fairly simple to make.
  • The consistency of the yogurt will depend upon the type of milk used to make it. If you like your consistency thin, you can either use goat’s milk or skimmed milk. If you like the yogurt in a thicker consistency, go ahead and use whole milk.
  • Don’t ferment for too long. There have been occasions where people have fermented it for up to 24 hours and it is recommended for people who want bare minimum lactose in their yogurt. But leave it longer than that, and the good bacteria will die off. Experiment if you will, but remember, do not use this yogurt to make a new culture from a 24-hour batch.
Apricot and Yogurt Bowl


So now you know how to make yogurt culture. You have seen how simple it is to make and how it can be used to create future batches of yogurt. The process is simple and you cannot go wrong if you follow these simple-to-remember instructions.

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