When You Mail Order Yogurt Cultures

Yogurt making… I always assumed it would be difficult. Or worse, that I’d be eating spoiled dairy and not know it.

So when Theresa Loe (host of the Living Homegrown Podcast) talked about an easy method for at home yogurt making… it certainly piqued my interest.

I’ve been making my own granola for some time now (this recipe is my favorite if you’re looking for a good one!) and I have been buying yogurt for years… so the prospect of saving money and controlling exactly what is in the yogurt I’m eating was right up my alley.

Less expensive, less ingredients, less waste?

I’m in.

Lots of homemade yogurt varieties require a yogurt maker, or really close supervision during the process to ensure it stays at a certain temperature.

However, the variety the podcast recommended is called mesophilic yogurt. That means that the cultures ferment at room temperature. AKA, it’s very hands off, and you can make yogurt on the counter while you galavant around town (or work… you know, whichever).

I snagged a set of heirloom mesophilic yogurt cultures from Cultures For Health. It came with four different yogurt starter varieties all with different strains of bacteria that result in different textures and tastes (who knew there were tons of different types of yogurt!? I can’t believe “regular” and “greek” was the extent of my knowledge).

Once my cultures arrived, I needed a good quality, not ultra-pasteurized, whole milk to get the process going. Luckily, my local grocery store has Homestead Creamery milk, which is pasteurized but not ultra-pastureized. Most of the milk available at normal grocery stores is ultra pasteurized to help it last on the shelf longer, but it makes the milk SO sterile that yogurt cultures have a difficult time turning the milk to yogurt.

Interested? To get started you’ll need:

  1. Yogurt cultures (you can buy them online, or get some starter yogurt from a friend who makes their own yogurt).
  2. Whole milk (you can decrease fat percentages later, but to wake the dormant culture up, you want to start with whole milk.)
  3. Pasteurized milk is okay, but you don’t want ultra-pasteurized
  4. Homogenized or non-homogenized milk will work fine!
  5. A clean glass jar (I use a quart sized mason jar).
  6. A thick woven cheese cloth or coffee filter and a rubber band.

Then, you add one packet of the starter to the correct proportion of cold milk in a glass jar (your instructions will be specific. My variety told me to add the starter to 1-2 cups of milk), cover with thick cheese cloth (or a coffee filter) and let it sit on the counter at room temperature until it thickens up (12-48 hours the first time, and then it should be around 12-18 hours for each new batch once you have an established starter yogurt).

You can tell it’s ready if you tilt the jar and the mixture pulls away from the sides in a mass, rather than sloshing around like plain milk.

Then, you let it set up in the fridge for several hours, and that’s it. You eat it. After putting milk on the counter for anywhere from 12-48 hours.

Wild, huh?

Store the finished yogurt in the fridge, and you can eat it for up to 2 weeks.

The best thing about this type of yogurt is that you can use it over and over again to make more yogurt!

For each new batch, you just need 1 Tablespoon of finished yogurt per 1 cup of milk you want to ferment.

Yogurt cultures remain viable to start the next batch for about 7 days, so just be sure to start your next batch within the week! Once you’re into a routine, I have no doubt that you’ll be making yogurt at least that often 🙂

Let me know if you have any questions! I can’t wait for you to give it a try. Let’s just say, I’ve been eating a LOT of yogurt lately!


  1. Thanks. I am lactose intolerant so if you could write out to reduce the fat or if one can use lactose,fat free milk to make this yogurt.

    1. Hi Delores! You can certainly reduce the fat content in the milk you use, it will just reduce the thickness of the final product. Yogurt by nature is often easier to digest for those with lactose intolerance (because the yogurt bacteria eats a lot of the lactose as part of the fermentation process). But, if you’re trying to avoid lactose entirely, I don’t think this particular yogurt strain and process would work for you. Cultures for Health offers a vegan yogurt starter that can be used with non-dairy milk. I haven’t tried it, but it’s worth a shot! https://www.culturesforhealth.com/vegan-yogurt-starter.html

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