Home made yogurt, culture source and taste?

bella_trix(z6b SE PA)March 27, 2009

I know this isn't technically "harvest", but I'm guessing many of you have homemade yogurt experience.

My question is: Will the source of the culture for starting your homemade yogurt effect the taste? I had some French yogurt that is absolutely the best yogurt I have ever had in my life (and I've tried lots). I have the opportunity to buy some, but at $50.00 for four yogurts (with shipping), I'm having a very hard time justifying it. However, if I could use one as a starter culture for homemade yogurt and have it taste similar, it might be worth it.

I do have access to both raw and high butter fat milk. But not to cows pastured in the Alps :).

Any thoughts?



PS. the yogurt is La Fermiere

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jimster(z7a MA)

It's hard to know how the culture from that yogurt will affect the flavor of the yogurt you make from it, but it couldn't be bad. Before spending money on the upscale stuff you could experiment, using any of the readily available yogurts, nearly all of which are made with gelatin, starches or other additives which solidify them and spoil the texture IMO. But they can provide the bacteria without transferring a lot of additives to your homemade batch.

A little hands on practice with a grocery store brand will tell you if you want to pursue the alternatives.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 10:34PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Some yogurts use a little rennet to thicken. Does anyone remember Junket? That instantly thickened dessert you simply added milk to. That is what is used to start a cheese too. I still have several rennet tablets here and may use them someday.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 11:28PM
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I haven't exactly read ALL the yogurt posts, and maybe this isn't the proper thread, but I'll ask anyway.
When maintaining a weekly supply of fresh yogurt, could you put it in the freezer and still maintain the cultures necessary to "ferment" the next batch?

DH and I had this discussion after 2 week vacation. He thinks that like yeast, it would probably keep the culture longer, while I think that you would loose any beneficials in the freezing process.

Since I didn't want to waste the milk, I bought new Dannon in a quart, since that was all that was available as plain yogurt without gelatin or other additives.

But as an afterthought, I have people that advertise goat milk locally for use as a pet nursing supplement(as the law requires) and when I see their operation, I may have no problem working this into my yogurt/cheese/soapmaking.

Anyhow, will yogurt sustain freezing temps and still be viable?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 11:51PM
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bella_trix(z6b SE PA)

Hi Ken - I actually did read all the yogurt posts before asking my question. It was someone's comment about having different results from two culture sources that made me ask it. Perhaps I didn't phrase my question correctly. I would like people's opinion on whether the incredible taste and texture of this French yogurt is more likely to be from a unique culture they are using or from a unique process/milk source. Unfortunately, I have a very limited window on when I can purchase this yogurt. Seems silly to spend so much, but it really is good.

Thanks for all the ideas/thoughts!

Joan - thanks for asking that question! That was the other thing I was wondering about.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 12:21AM
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melva02(z7 VA)

I don't think you can be sure that your growth environment (temperature, incubation time, pH, milk chemistry) will favor the same organisms in the same proportion as your starter culture. I think over time, certain strains from the starter would get more populous and others less. Also wild bacteria from the air or the milk (unless you're using supermilk) will be competing too.

I don't think my homemade yogurt tasted much like what I started it from. And my preferred brand is Stonyfield Farm - I actually love the texture with the added fiber (they use inulin). Much creamier than what I made, and the sugar and vanilla balance was perfect, so I gave up homemade and went back to SF.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 12:57AM
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Definitely make yougurt for awhile before spending the big bucks. However, You need to experiment. The culture will drift over time. No way to stop it. So you might get a similar culture the first time but not later.

Also try to take the water off the yogurt and use that as a starter. the whey. no need for the white yogurt itself. The white yogurt will contaminate the yogurt very quickly. The whey will keep it pure longer.

I have used different starters including kefir. I find no difference in taste. But you might notice a difference. If that yogurt is that good and no one else is dupilcating it then there are more secrets to success.

Trying to keep any micro culture pure is impossible. It takes a full microbiology lab to keep them as pure as possible with expensive proceedures. If there was a strain that could improve yogurt so easy then the other competitors would simply take a culture and improve their product.

It just does not work that easy.

I would not freeze it. But keeping it very cold might work. But try some frozen as an experiment.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 2:41AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I bet that French yogurt is like a cheese blend. I read about some cheese that uses cows, sheep, and goats milk all blended together to create a very unusual cheese. Cows milk definatey is unique to the area where they roam, and what they are fed. Doesn't some yogurt cultures also come dried like yeast? My sourdough culture has been ammended to add a French type culture. I found it has a much more noticable sour taste compared to my very old original one. With the two mixed, and some of it dried, it should make for a decent sourdough in my future baking, and last a very long time.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 9:42AM
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dogear6(7 / Richmond VA)

Here's a thick yogurt that I make from scratch. I've used all skim milk, skim milk with a small amount of half-and-half, and even all dried milk. It all tasted pretty good and I really like the texture. I make it pretty much right as these directions lay it out. I use my dehydrator to culture it and my failure rate went to zero.

Here is a link that might be useful: Yogurt Tutorial

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 11:25PM
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heather38(6a E,Coast)

Oh thats why, I thought yogurt here was funny! I though the texture was really strange, like jello...gelatine is added!..explains it, I stopped buying yogurt over here as it is very very sweet and as said before l don't like the texture, I have tried sooooo many different brands here without success, I thought I had cracked it when I found Rachel's organics, but still sweet jello! ho hum, maybe I'll make my own yum yum!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 9:01PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Yogurt tends to have a naturally sour flavor on its own, and many people don't care for that sour flavor (lactic acid) kind of like a mild sour cream. In any case, to counteract it, they add sugar or other sweeteners. Just like what they do for commercially canned tomato sauces. I buy Activia the one with fruit mixed in, but its the light version with no added sugar and low in fat. The fruit is mixed in throughout. It really doesn't usually have anything to thicken it, but the natural reaction of added fruit to a milk based product. Now, if rennet (AKA. Junket) was added, it would really be quite firm, but by then its headed towards making a cheese. Some years ago, they used to sell a canned fruit that was mixed with milk and it would thicken up like a yogurt before your eyes. Around here, its Dannon and a few others with plain, nothing added yogurt.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 12:20AM
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I always have excellent results when I use Mountain High yogurt as my starter. I never incubate the yogurt longer than 5 hours. The longer it incubates, the more likely it is to have a sour taste. I've been making yogurt for several decades. After practicing over time, you'll find the starter culture that suits your tastes and work out the most efficient system for maintaining the proper temperature.

Here is a link that might be useful: Eat Like a Greek

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 11:43AM
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I've been making yogurt for a couple of years, I started with just a Vanilla Dannon because in my little town they didn't have any plain. The first couple of batches was a bit sweet, but now it's so thick it stands up on a spoon and it's gotten much more tart.

Elery has had to restart his yogurt a couple of times and eventually it all seems to revert to the same flavor and texture, in spite of the starter, so I'm not sure you could use the expensive stuff as a starter and keep that taste and texture over a period of time making yogurt.

I've never tried to freeze it, but I don't think I would. The good bacteria is vulnerable to temperature changes in heat, so could also be vulnerable to cold.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 3:52PM
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I've read frozen yogurt doesn't have active cultures. Maybe it was misinformation I read. I've made homemade yogurt many times. I like Stonyfield Farms yogurt and tend to use it as the starter. I don't think my yogurt ever tastes like Stonyfield Farms due to the amount of sugar added to that yogurt. I use less. I wouldn't recommend paying top dollar for a starter when there are good ones to use which cost less.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 7:56PM
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I use rennet for ice cream. Best texture ever, with no eggs even!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 1:18AM
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joybugaloo(z4 NY)

Hey, I just made my very first batch of homemade yogurt, and I used Yogourmet dried starter. (Check your local health food co-op.) It turned out WONDERFULLY, and VERY thick, like Fage Greek-style yogurt. I also used a litte dried buttermilk powder to help thicken it, and that gave the yogurt a delicious, tangy flavor.

I just wrote a lengthy post about this on my food blog, if you're interested: http://lindseysluscious.blogspot.com/2010/06/hippie-skillz-making-homemade-yogurt.html

Here is a link that might be useful: Lindsey's Luscious Homemade Buttermilk Yogurt

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 3:07AM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I used Yogourmet and did not care for it at all. I use only whole organic local milk (that is a day old) and sweet as can be. The Yogourmet does not set it well at all.
My favorite starter is a greek yogurt (from Trader Joe's). I use half a container and freeze the rest. I use the culture about 6 times from my own home yogurt, then I use the frozen stuff. So one container of yogurt makes me 12 bottles of my own.
At one time I had an electric yogurt maker. Now I have an old thermos that sits on the counter a few hours and makes fantastic sweet yogurt!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 11:51PM
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Hi all! Although I am new to this forum, I see an awful lot of references to boiling milk when making yogurt and I just want to comment. I live on a farm and am fortunate enough to have access to raw milk. I will never drink pasteurized milk. For those of you who have been brainwashed since birth as I was before my farming venture, you may think this is crazy. But Raw Milk is the good stuff. Pasteurized is the bad stuff. Raw milk goes sour and sour milk is great in cooking and baking. Pasteurized milk goes BAD. Pasteurization comes from boiling the milk, or at least heating it above 150 degrees. This kills bacteria in the milk. ALL of it. Including the good bacteria. That's why pasteurized milk goes BAD instead of sour. All the good bacteria that eats the bad bacteria has been killed off! I don't heat my raw milk before adding the culture. Like someone in the forum said somewhere, just add the culture and set it in a warm place overnight. If I had to used pasteurised milk, then I would say you would have to boil it first. Pasteurized milk breeds a ton of nasty bacteria when warm. So boiliing it first to kill that off and then culturing with store bought yogurt and keeping it refrigerated makes more sense to me. Not that I would ever want to do it that way.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 1:37PM
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"This kills bacteria in the milk. ALL of it. Including the good bacteria."

The reason for treating the milk in this fashion is to eliminate competition to the yoghurt culture.
Using whole raw milk from happy cows milked by caring knowledgable dairymen will not guarantee success in yoghurt making.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 5:43AM
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Many of these popular fermented milks began history as the stuff used by nomadic folks roaming across the steppes, and a lot of the temperatures seem pretty close to that achieved by carrying them in saddle bags on a horse.

I do yogurt and kefir by the gallon, heat until it gets as warm as a horses back - run in and out to the stable to compare - then stir in the culture, take it off the heat, cover and wrap it in a towel, and leave it 12-16 hours.

I do have trouble envisioning Ghengis Khan pillaging for a while and then using his thermometer to check the yogurt.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 5:29PM
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Yes, it's interesting how some discoveries are a combination of accident and observation, along with the persistence to figure out "why".

History is replete with such, but inevitably accompanied by failure which doesn't get as much press.

Is a horse's back the same temperature after pillaging with Genghis as when eating apples in the shade?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 4:50AM
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