Consuming yogurt is an excellent and healthy way by which you can incorporate dairy into your diet. And, making your own yogurt at home is very easy and once you try yogurt that’s made at home, you will never want the store-bought variety again. Not only does homemade yogurt taste great, but it also feels wonderful to eat healthy yogurt that you have created.
Making yogurt at home is not difficult at all and all you need is a yogurt starter culture to get started. While you can use plain yogurt bought from the store as a starter, you can also make your own starter culture. So, how to make your own yogurt starter culture? It is quite an easy process to make your own starter culture, which you can use to make your own homemade yogurt.
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Firstly, let us understand what starter culture is. Starter cultures are essentially the bacteria in yogurt that help in the fermentation process. The main cultures present in yogurt are Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus. The starter cultures help to convert the lactose or milk sugar to produce lactic acid.
When the lactic acid increases, the pH decreases causing the milk to curdle or ferment, producing yogurt. The fermentation process of the lactose in the milk also produces the flavor compounds which gives the yogurt its classic tart and tangy flavor. The production of lactic acid also changes the protein structure, giving the yogurt its texture and allows you to store the yogurt for longer.
According to law, it is only necessary for yogurt to contain the two cultures, i.e., Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus. However, manufacturers add other probiotic cultures to the yogurt, such as Lactobacillus subsp. Casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria, which have several health benefits such as improving the gastrointestinal function, gut health, lactose digestion and also stimulating the immune system. Every yogurt starter has a blend of different bacteria, which produces yogurt of different thickness and flavor.
There are different types of yogurt starters and you can choose from vegan to Greek to Bulgarian. All these starter cultures contain probiotic bacteria and can culture different types of milk. Each yogurt starter culture can vary in terms of consistency and taste and you can select one depending on your personal preference.
When the milk ferments, it becomes acidic and this imparts the distinctive tangy and tart taste of yogurt. The flavor of the yogurt can vary from being slightly tart to fairly astringent and the taste varies with the type of culture you use and the length of time for culturing. The longer the fermentation, the more tart is the flavor of the yogurt.
The thickness and texture of homemade yogurt can vary significantly and depends on the starting culture used, the temperature of culturing, the time and the kind of milk used. Some types of yogurt can be creamy, gelatinous or ropy, while other types may be sufficiently thin that you can drink it. Greek yogurt is very thick and requires the whey to be completely drained out. Most of these variations in the different types of yogurt are because of the kind of bacteria in the starter culture.
Heirloom or reusable starter cultures can be used indefinitely. With each batch of yogurt that is made, some of the yogurt is kept to add to the fresh milk to make more yogurt. The reusable cultures must be propagated once in 7 days at least, in order to retain the vigor of the bacteria.
Also known as single-use cultures or direct-set cultures, when added to milk, they produce one batch of yogurt. You can re-culture the direct-set starter 2 to 3 times by using some of the yogurt as a starter culture for a fresh batch of yogurt. However, eventually, you will have to use a new powdered starter. Usually, non-dairy milk cannot be re-cultured.
Now, we will be discussing a couple of ways of how to make your own yogurt starter culture at home.
So, now that you know how to make your own yogurt starter culture, you are all set to make your own delicious and healthy yogurt right in your own home anytime at all. And, you can now enjoy eating yogurt anytime you want with your favorite fruits, toppings, honey or maple syrup.