How to Make Yogurt without Starter Culture | YogurtNerd.com

How to Make Yogurt without Starter Culture

  • June 8, 2020
  • / By Dianne Miles
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Whether it’s an indulgent frozen yogurt loaded with toppings or a delicious hung curd dip, everyone has come across yogurt at some point in their lives. It’s a food that has a long and rich history. Although the exact origins are unknown, some records say that it was created in Mesopotamia in 5000 BC. Indian texts considered yogurt and honey to be food that was fit for gods.

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Yogurt came to America in the early 20th century and was used for medicinal purposes. Its popularity as a healthy food skyrocketed over the years and the North American yogurt market is projected to reach a value of $14.5 billion by 2024. Even dogs and cats love it!

The easiest way to make yogurt is to add more yogurt to milk and let it ferment. But you can also purchase starter cultures or make your own cultures at home.

A yogurt starter culture contains live bacteria that convert milk into yogurt. The bacteria feed on the lactose and convert it into lactic acid. This ferments the milk, making it thicker and giving it that tart flavor associated with yogurt. Every starter culture has its own blend of bacteria which gives the yogurt a specific taste and texture.

Starter cultures can be procured by saving a small amount of store-bought yogurt and adding it to milk. However, these are often considered single-use cultures and the yogurt created from it may not be suitable to create a new batch. Heirloom cultures, on the other hand, are carefully curated bacterial blends that have been handed down for generations and can be used indefinitely.

How to Make Yogurt without Starter Culture

While heirloom culture powders are widely available, you should try out the recipes below if you’re truly interested in making yogurt from scratch. They use natural ingredients like chilies, lemon juice and chickpeas that you can buy at any supermarket. They’re quick, easy and definitely something you can boast to your friends about.

Recipe 1

This is a traditional Indian recipe where the starter culture is referred to as jaman. You can make three different sets of jaman using green chilies, red chilies, and lemon.

Chilies and Lemons

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of whole or skimmed milk
  • 2 green chilies
  • 2 red chilies
  • 1 lemon

Steps

Part 1: Making the Starter Culture or Jaman
  1. 1
    Bring 4 cups of milk to a boil and set it aside to cool.
  2. 2
    Squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl.
  3. 3
    Once the milk is warm, pour equal quantities into 3 different containers.
  4. 4
    Pour the lemon juice into one container of milk.
  5. 5
    Take the 2 green chilies with stalks intact and place them in the other container. Do the same with the red chilies in a separate container.
  6. 6
    Place a lid on all three containers and keep them in a warm place for 10-12 hours.
  7. 7
    After 10-12 hours your starter culture should be ready.
Part 2: Making the Yogurt
  1. 1
    Bring 4 cups of milk to boil. Once it has cooled down, pour equal amounts into 3 different bowls.
  2. 2
    Add 2 tsp of the starter culture made with lemon juice to one of the bowls. Repeat with the other starter cultures. Make sure you only add one kind of starter culture to each bowl of milk. Set the bowls aside for 6 hours.
  3. 3
    After 6 hours, the milk should have fermented to form a thick liquid.

Tips

  • Make sure you don’t chop off the stalks of the chilies because the milk will ferment only with the stalks intact.
  • Use whole milk if you want your yogurt to be dense.
  • After the yogurt has set, it needs to be refrigerated.
  • If your yogurt is watery, place it in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours and let it thicken.
  • Don’t add too much starter culture or else the yogurt will taste sour.

Recipe 2

It is believed that fermented milk products were first discovered by the people living in Central Asia where the high temperatures would cause milk to clabber. Read on to find out how to make yogurt without starter culture, Turkish style.

Chickpeas
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 6 chickpeas

Steps

  1. 1
    Heat the milk on the stove and bring it to a boil. Then set it aside to cool.
  2. 2
    Add the chickpeas to the milk.
  3. 3
    Cover the milk and let it sit overnight in a warm place.
  4. 4
    After 10-12 hours, the yogurt will be ready.
  5. 5
    You can use this as primary culture and add it to more milk or consume it directly.

Recipe 3

Bread is already fermented, so using it to create a starter culture should be a no-brainer. The Lebanese have figured out how to make yogurt without starter culture in their own unique way.

French Bread

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1 loaf of French bread
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt

Steps

  1. 1
    Heat up the milk on the stove and let it cool after it has boiled.
  2. 2
    Break the inner part of a loaf of bread into tiny pieces.
  3. 3
    Sprinkle a dash of salt over the pieces of bread.
  4. 4
    Pour lemon juice over the bread.
  5. 5
    Add warm milk to this mixture.
  6. 6
    Cover with a lid and keep it in a warm place and add a little warm milk every day for 2 weeks.
  7. 7
    At the end of 2 weeks, your primary culture should be ready. You can remove the pieces of bread using a slotted spoon.
  8. 8
    Add this primary culture to more milk that has been boiled and cooled and set it aside for 10-12 hours to get creamy yogurt.

Recipe 4

This next recipe is quite unconventional and may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s also a little more work because it requires a yogurt maker. But if you’re experimental in the kitchen and want to know how to make yogurt without starter culture in an exotic way, you’re in the right place.

Ant Nest

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of soil from an ant nest or 1 tablespoon of ant eggs or 1 tablespoon bee larva
  • 4 cups of milk

Steps

  1. 1
    Fill the inner bucket of the yogurt maker with half a cup of milk.
  2. 2
    Add the ant eggs, soil or bee larva. Whichever ingredient you choose, make sure you place it in cheesecloth before submerging it in the milk.
  3. 3
    Place the bucket inside the yogurt maker.
  4. 4
    Pour warm water into the outer bucket.
  5. 5
    After 5 hours, open the yogurt maker to see if the yogurt has set. If you observe a gel-like consistency, you can move ahead.
  6. 6
    Remove the cheesecloth and strain the mixture.
  7. 7
    Follow the same steps you would to make regular yogurt with the rest of the milk, but use this culture instead.

Tips

  • Wear gloves or other protective gear while collecting soil or eggs from the ant nest.
  • Contact beekeepers in your area to procure the bee larva and make sure the hives are organic.

Recipe 5

If you’re tired of buying yogurt from the store, try this innovative recipe and learn how to make yogurt without starter culture and with citric acid instead. Citric acid is completely natural and widely available in a powdered form.

Citric Acid

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of milk
  • ¼ tsp citric acid

Steps

  1. 1
    Boil the milk and let it cool.
  2. 2
    Remove the skin that forms on the surface of the milk.
  3. 3
    Put 2 tbsp of warm milk into a small bowl and add the citric acid. Stir until it dissolves completely.
  4. 4
    Add this mixture into the boiled milk and stir for 2 minutes.
  5. 5
    Cover the milk with a lid and keep the container in a warm place for 12 hours.

Tips

  • Stir the milk while it boils so that the bottom of the utensil doesn’t get scorched.
  • After the milk has boiled, don’t wait for it to cool completely. Carry out the next steps once the milk is warm enough for a baby’s bottle.

Recipe 6

Cardamom is a spice made from plants that are native to India and Indonesia. It is widely used in Asian cuisine and also has medicinal properties. This is an incredibly simple recipe that details how to make yogurt without a starter culture bought from a store.

Cardamom

Ingredients

  • ½ pint of raw cow’s milk
  • 20 cardamom seeds

Steps

  1. 1
    Boil the milk and pour it into a container to let it cool.
  2. 2
    Add the cardamom seeds to the milk once it is warm. Make sure you submerge them completely and they are not floating on the surface.
  3. 3
    Cover the container and set it aside for 10-14 hours so that the milk can ferment.
  4. 4
    Once the milk has fermented, you can remove the cardamom seeds.
  5. 5
    Store the starter culture in the refrigerator in an airtight jar.
  6. 6
    You can add small quantities of this homemade starter culture to milk and make more yogurt as and when you please.

Tips

  • Do not stir the milk after you’ve added the cardamom seeds.
  • The starter culture will last for 2-3 weeks in the fridge, so make sure you use it before that.

Recipe 7

In the Irish language, clabber means “to thicken”. Clabbered milk isn’t exactly yogurt, but the taste, texture, and consistency are almost identical. It can be consumed directly or flavored with different ingredients. When it is refrigerated and allowed to thicken even further, it turns into clotted cream. Clabbered milk can also be used while baking to achieve a fluffier, lighter texture. The process of making it is quite simple.

Raw Milk

Ingredients

  • Raw, unpasteurized milk

Steps

  1. 1
    Put the raw milk in a jar and cover it with a towel or cheesecloth.
  2. 2
    Let the jar sit in a warm place for a few days. This process can take up to five days depending on the environment.
  3. 3
    Shake the jar to see if the milk has thickened.
  4. 4
    Once the milk has thickened enough, you can separate the whey from the clotted cream by running the clabbered milk through a cheesecloth.

Tips

  • Only use raw milk. If you let pasteurized milk sit outside for a few days, it will spoil and begin to smell rancid. This is because all the beneficial bacteria already gets eliminated once the milk is pasteurized. Raw milk contains large amounts of beneficial bacteria that feed on the lactose and make the milk acidic. The lower the pH levels of the milk, the less the chances are of any harmful bacteria forming.
  • If you save some of the clobbered milk and add it to the next batch of raw milk, the process will be much quicker.

Mistakes to Avoid While Making Homemade Yogurt

Making yogurt at home can be a very fulfilling process. If it doesn’t work the first time, don’t be discouraged. All it takes is a little extra care and attention. Follow these suggestions to make sure your yogurt is as perfect as possible:

Heating Milk at Home
  • Don’t constantly shake the container or open it to check if the yogurt has set. Yogurt-making requires patience. It is best to add the homemade starter culture to the jar just before you go to bed so that both you and the yogurt can rest well.
  • If you want to keep the yogurt incubator in the oven because it’s warm, don’t put it in right after you’ve used the oven. The high temperatures will kill most of the beneficial bacteria.
  • The milk that you use should be as fresh as possible. Milk that has been sitting in the refrigerator for a few days may not be the best option.
  • If you’ve been incubating yogurt in plastic jars and it hasn’t been setting well, try shifting to wooden, glass or steel containers.
  • Don’t consume all the yogurt you’ve put in so much effort to make. Save a few spoons and use it as a starter culture for your next batch to save time.
  • Even if the milk is pasteurized, make sure you boil it. Don’t add the starter culture when the milk is piping hot.

Making yogurt at home is a simple, straightforward process and it saves you money too. If you’re vegan, you can substitute cow’s milk for almond milk or soy milk and achieve the same results. So what are you waiting for? Head to the kitchen and get yogurt-ing!