Yogurt is an incredibly healthy food — in addition to being very tasty and versatile, it can be consumed in many ways.
However, there are many reasons to be suspicious of yogurts sold in the supermarket. Many are expensive, do not taste good, and have weird ingredients – to say the least. There are yogurt-like foods that aren't actually yogurt — although the yogurt pots are very good at hiding that information.
For all these reasons, there are a lot of benefits to making homemade yogurt. Besides being able to make much healthier food, making your own yogurt can be fun — and it can even become a hobby. And all you need is to understand the “logic” of making yogurt.
So follow our steps to make your own homemade yogurt!
What does it take for you to make homemade yogurt?
Yogurt is food produced from the fermentation of dairy milk — or plant-based milk, if you want to make a lactose-free yogurt. Anyway, two elements are needed: milk sugar — in the case of cow's milk, that's what we know as lactose — and the bacteria that consume this sugar and carry out the fermentation — which are called probiotics.
Okay, milk and bacteria, I get it. But which milk? And any bacteria? Well no. For fermentation to occur, the milk needs to have sugar. And whole dairy milk is usually very rich in this component.
The result—in particular the taste and texture—of the yogurt will depend on the type and quality of the dairy milk you use. For example, goat's milk and raw (unpasteurized) milk will make more liquid yogurts than pasteurized cow's milk.
In case you want to use plant-based milk, you will need to add some other sugar for fermentation to take place. That's because vegan milk frequently doesn't have a lot of sugar—often much less than dairy milk.
However, it is not necessary to exaggerate. Just a little sugar is enough to trigger fermentation and bacteria to proliferate. No need to worry, just a little sugar won't turn your healthy yogurt into a sugar-filled calorie bomb. Much of that sugar will be consumed by the probiotics. And it's best not to try other types of sweeteners like maple syrup or honey, as they just don't work well as nourishment for bacteria.
Regarding probiotics, dairy milk yogurt must be made with what is called a starter culture. This is made from the following species of bacteria: Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria can also be used.
In addition to milk and probiotics, making yogurt also requires patience — it takes some time for the milk to ferment — and warmth — for the production process to take place.
Types of starter culture
As we said, a starter culture is needed for the reaction to be carried out. And there are several types that you can use. We list some of them:
One of the starter culture alternatives is probiotic powder, usually sold in pills or sachets. The bacteria present in this type of starter culture will multiply in the yogurt. But be aware that not all probiotic bacteria will result in yogurt. The following must be used: Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, or Lactobacillus acidophilus.
To use the probiotic powder as a starter culture, add the dose indicated on the product packaging or open a capsule and use it in milk.
Yes, you can use yogurt to make more yogurt. This endless yogurt cycle may seem practical, but it won't always work. If you take a commercial yogurt to begin the starter culture, you may not be able to make it due to the stabilizers and gelling components. So, using yogurt as a starter culture works best if you are more experienced in doing it.
If you're going to try it this way, take a look at the ingredients in commercial yogurt to make sure it has live cultures and no artificial flavors or additives. The best option is to use full-fat Greek yogurt.
Another point to pay attention to is that, over time, the probiotics become “weaker”, which means that this process cannot be repeated indefinitely.
There are several starter culture alternatives made from freeze-dried bacteria. They can contain different combinations of bacteria, whether for making dairy or plant-based yogurts.
In the end, there isn't necessarily a better or worse one — it will depend on your individual preferences. However, don't forget to consider possible dietary restrictions you have—for example, lactose intolerance, as some starter cultures only work with this element or have a little of it in their composition. But in general, any starter culture will do for you. That's no rocket science.
Anyway, what will make this challenge of making homemade yogurt successful is that you follow the instructions on the packaging of the product you buy. Pay attention to the preparation steps and quantity. Don't be tempted to use too much culture in your yogurt to make it healthier, as this can harm the consistency, taste, and texture of your yogurt, making it inadequate for consumption.
The secret of a good homemade yogurt is to follow the steps indicated by the manufacturers and to pay attention to the essential aspects of production — milk, probiotics, warmth, and time. And always use quality products. Top Therm offers starter cultures and a natural yogurt maker to help you make the creamiest, tastiest homemade yogurt. Explore our products!