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I start every weekday with a serving of homemade yogurt over seasonal fruit. Ever since my boss gave me some cultures in a little plastic baggy over two years ago, I have been hooked. I have kept the cultures alive and well. It's funny, I've found that the cultures have become a part of me. I know now where its favorite part of the fridge is (far from the central cooler), and I try not to leave it alone while on vacation for too long.

Its impermanence reminds me that food is a true gift of life.

Here's how to nurture your cultures.

Get culture from a friend or family member. Mine hails from Bulgaria.

My cultures came in a plastic baggy, and I was informed to keep them at room temperature for the rest of the day (my boss gave it to me in the morning).

When I got home, I transferred it into a reusable plastic container.

It's so simple, just combine with whole milk (cultures do not thrive in a low- or non-fat environment). Make sure to combine the two ingredients into a glass jar.

If the lid is aluminum or some other plastic material, make sure it is aerated. Since I don't have a fancy lid, I just use saran wrap and secure it over the lip of the jar with a rubber band. I then poke four or five holes with a toothpick or wooden skewer through the wrap.

Store in a cool dry place for 1 day (winter may take a little longer). I usually make my yogurt before I go to work at 7am or 8am. I get home around 8pm and find it ready by then.

Skim a spoonful or two off the top of your fresh new yogurt and store in a non-aerated plastic container (this will be your starter culture for your next batch).

Eat the remaining contents of the glass jar.



  • my mom has been nurturing her own yogurt now for years, and it is truly great. yogurt that actually tastes like yogurt??? NO WAY!

    it’s funny cause when she neglects it for too long, it gets all nasty and acidic. yes, you truly need to coddle those sensitive cultures.

    i want my bulgarian babe in a baggy too!!!

    kayoko on

  • Dude I’ve always wanted to try this! Bring some over so I can grow my own!

    ayagwa on

  • That’s interesting, as it’s totally different from the way we Persians make our yogurt. And it appears as though we achieve a different result as well, as our yogurt tends to be much thicker, similar to the texture of the Fage brand.

    The way we basically do it is as follows:

    Fill a pot with milk (doesn’t have to be whole milk) and bring it just to a boil. When you see it’s starting to boil, turn if off and allow it cool just enough so that when you stick a finger in it your finger won’t burn.

    Once the milk is cool enough (but still warm), take a spoonful or two of yogurt (can be storebought; this is your starter culture) and mix it in a bowl with the milk until the yogurt is dissolved.

    Pour the mixture back into the pot and stir it around a little to mix it.

    Place the lid on the pot, wrap it with a blanket, and place it in a warm place in the house. You want to keep it around 78 degrees or so to allow the cultures to do their thing.

    After 4 or 5 hrs, the yogurt should be done, and at this point you can refrigerate it.

    An alternative (and more modern) way is to forego the blanket technique and instead preheat the oven to its lowest setting, and once the oven has preheated, turn it off and place the covered pot in the oven for several hrs. The whole purpose being to maintain a warm environment for the bacteria.

    Personally I like the old school way, as it brings me back to so many childhood memories. Also it falls right in line with the sentiment in your post about interacting with and taking care of this living thing. Plus it’s kinda cure to wrap it up in a blanket and put it in a corner.

    I guess I should’ve just posted all this in a blog, lol.

    Paystyle on

  • That looks amazing but I know I wouldn’t do it after two days. Also, do you eat that much yogurt everyday?!

    Sonja on

  • Yoko,
    As far as the store bought yogurts go, I like the kinds that are thicker, that have a consistency kind of like sour cream, if not even thicker than that. Fage is a well-known brand, though I think a trip to a middle eastern grocery store if that’s available to you should reveal some even better varieties.

    And as far as I understand I don’t think the fat thing is too important, so long as you have the cultures. Obviously the best tasting yogurts aren’t low in fat though.

    Paystyle on

  • Paystyle – Wow, I would love to try this sometime. I was actually asked about how one can start their own yogurt with store bought yogurt. Do you recommend any brands? Or are there restrictions (i.e. can’t be non-fat yogurt, etc.)?

    Yes the kind that I am using is pretty drippy. I was taken aback at first, but I love this texture now. It’s like goo.

    yoko on

  • Sonja –

    It becomes a habit. Once I tasted it, knowing that I literally created it, I got attached to it. It’s better than sea monkeys.

    I don’t eat yogurt that much everyday, just a little over fruit on the weekdays. But, I never knew how awesome yogurt was as a cooking ingredient – substitute for milk, cheese, sour cream, etc in curries and dips! It’s saved my ass a few times when I knew I couldn’t venture out to the supermarket and stuff.

    yoko on

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