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HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST YOGURT STARTER CULTURE

Who knew there were so many types of yogurt starters?! From Greek to Bulgarian to Vegan, the reality is that there are many varieties of yogurt starter cultures to choose from.

All of them contain probiotic bacteria, and all of them will culture various milks, with the proper care. So how do you know which one to choose for your batch of homemade yogurt starter culture?

While yogurt starter cultures can vary in taste and consistency, the one you select ultimately depends on your personal preferences. We've outlined the main characteristics of each yogurt starter below to help you decide which one will work best for you!

TYPES OF YOGURT STARTER CULTURES

The following chart contains the yogurt cultures sold by Cultures for Health. The different combinations of bacteria produce the specific characteristics of each yogurt culture.

Traditional Flavor Yogurt Starter Culture

Yogurt Traditional Flavor Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Traditional Flavor Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Traditional Flavor Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Traditional Flavor Yogurt Starter Culture
$12.99

Flavor & Consistency:

  • Tart Flavor
  • Thickest Consistency

Perpetuation & Culturing Temperature:

  • Direct-set (Single-Use)
  • Thermophilic (Yogurt maker required)

Summary:

Easy to use yogurt starter. No need to maintain a long term culture. Just use it when you need it. Similar consistency to store bought yogurt, just extra tangy.

Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Culture

Yogurt Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Culture
$12.99

Flavor & Consistency:

  • Mild Flavor
  • Thicker Consistency

Perpetuation & Culturing Temperature:

  • Heirloom (Re-usable)
  • Thermophilic (Yogurt maker required)

Summary:

Buy a starter once and use it forever, as long as you keep the culture alive. Very similar to store bought yogurt, very kid friendly.

Greek Yogurt Starter Culture

Yogurt Greek Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Greek Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Greek Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Greek Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Greek Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Greek Yogurt Starter Culture
$12.99

Flavor & Consistency:

  • Slightly Tangy Flavor
  • Thicker Consistency

Perpetuation & Culturing Temperature:

  • Heirloom (Re-usable)
  • Thermophilic (Yogurt maker required)

Summary:

Tastes like greek yogurt from the store, only better. Keep the starter alive and you'll have endless greek yogurt. May require straining to get a thick as store bought yogurt.

Heirloom Yogurt Starter Cultures

Yogurt Heirloom Yogurt Starter Cultures
Yogurt Heirloom Yogurt Starter Cultures
Yogurt Heirloom Yogurt Starter Cultures
Yogurt Heirloom Yogurt Starter Cultures
$15.99

Flavor & Consistency:

  • 4 Distinct Yogurt Strains Sold Together So You Can Try Them All!
  • Viili: Mild Flavor, Thin & Smooth
  • Filmyölk: Mild, Slightly Cheese Flavor, Thick & Smooth
  • Matsoni: Somewhat Tart, Thick & Custard-Like
  • Piimä: Fairly Mild Flavor, Thick & Jelly-Like

Perpetuation & Culturing Temperature:

  • Heirloom (Re-usable)
  • Mesophilic (Cultured At Room Temperature)
  • Summary:

    Four different Scandinavian yogurt strains bundled together. Each is unique and each is delicious, but the big draw is that these yogurt cultures culture at room temperature, meaning endless yogurt right on your counter, no yogurt maker needed.

Mild Flavor Yogurt Starter

Yogurt Mild Flavor Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Mild Flavor Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Mild Flavor Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Mild Flavor Yogurt Starter Culture
$12.99

Flavor & Consistency:

  • Mild Flavor
  • Thickest Consistency

Perpetuation & Culturing Temperature:

  • Direct-set (Single-Use)
  • Thermophilic (Yogurt maker required)

Summary:

Easy to use yogurt starter. No need to maintain a long term culture. Just use it when you need it. Similar consistency and taste to store bought yogurt, without the chemicals or preservatives. Kid friendly.

Kosher Yogurt Starter

Yogurt Kosher Yogurt Starter: Traditional Flavor
Yogurt Kosher Yogurt Starter: Traditional Flavor
$16.99

Flavor & Consistency:

  • Tart Flavor
  • Thickest Consistency

Perpetuation & Culturing Temperature:

  • Direct-set (Single-Use)
  • Thermophilic (Yogurt maker required)

Summary:

Very similar to our direct set traditional starter, just kosher. Easy to use yogurt starter. No need to maintain a long term culture. Just use it when you need it. Similar consistency to store bought yogurt, just extra tangy.

Kosher Yogurt Starter: Mild Flavor

Yogurt Kosher Yogurt Starter: Mild Flavor
Yogurt Kosher Yogurt Starter: Mild Flavor
$16.99

Flavor & Consistency:

  • Mild Flavor
  • Thickest Consistency

Perpetuation & Culturing Temperature:

  • Direct-set (Single-Use)
  • Thermophilic (Yogurt maker required)

Summary:

Very similar to our direct set mild starter, just kosher. Easy to use yogurt starter. No need to maintain a long term culture. Just use it when you need it. Similar consistency and taste to store bought yogurt, without the chemicals or preservatives. Kid friendly.

Vegan Yogurt Starter Culture

Yogurt Vegan Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Vegan Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Vegan Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Vegan Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Vegan Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Vegan Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Vegan Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Vegan Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Vegan Yogurt Starter Culture
Yogurt Vegan Yogurt Starter Culture
$12.99

Flavor & Consistency:

  • Takes on the flavor of the milk cultured
  • Thin, will require added thickeners

Perpetuation & Culturing Temperature:

  • Direct-set (Single-Use)
  • Mesophilic (Cultured At Room Temperature)

Summary:

This starter lets you culture a variety of non-dairy milks to make vegan yogurt. The resulting yogurt will be full of probiotics, but still be thin and need a thickener.

WHAT IS A YOGURT STARTER?

A yogurt starter is a carefully balanced blend of bacteria that consume lactose. This blend of bacteria converts the lactose in milk to lactic acid, giving yogurt that classic, deliciously tangy taste.

Lactic acid production lowers the pH of the milk, which allows yogurt to be stored longer and changes the protein structure, giving yogurt its texture. Each yogurt starter has a unique blend of bacteria, which produces different flavors and thicknesses.

TASTE OF YOGURT CULTURE

As mentioned above, the characteristic tangy taste of yogurt is due to the acidification of the milk during fermentation. The flavor of yogurt can range from mildly sour to quite astringent and varies with the culture used and the length of culturing time. A longer fermentation time usually yields a tarter-flavored yogurt.

YOGURT STARTER CULTURE CONSISTENCY AND TEXTURE

Homemade yogurt's thickness and texture can range greatly. The yogurt culture used, the culturing temperature and time, and the type of milk used all contribute to the consistency and texture of yogurt.

Yogurt may be thin enough to drink or thick enough to hold its shape on a plate. For a very thick, Greek-style yogurt, draining whey is necessary. Yogurt can also be ropy, creamy, or gelatinous. These variations are due mostly to the type of bacteria in the culture, which you can learn more about in our comparison chart below.

PERPETUATION: DIRECT-SET VS. HEIRLOOM  YOGURT CULTURES

DIRECT-SET = SINGLE-USE CULTURES

Direct-set or single-use cultures are added to a batch of milk to produce a single batch of yogurt. With some care, a direct-set starter may be re-cultured two or three times by using some of the yogurt as starter for a new batch. Eventually, however, a new powdered starter must be used. Non-dairy milks generally cannot be re-cultured.

HEIRLOOM = REUSABLE CULTURES

Reusable or Heirloom cultures can be propagated indefinitely. With each batch, some of the yogurt is saved to add to a new batch of milk to make more yogurt. Reusable cultures should be propagated at least once every seven days to maintain the vigor of the bacteria.

CULTURING TEMPERATURE OF YOGURT STARTERS

THERMOPHILIC CULTURES = HEAT LOVING

Thermophilic means heat-loving. This type of culture is added to heated milk and cultured from 5 to 12 hours. Thermophilic cultures typically produce yogurt that is thicker than yogurt from a mesophilic culture. Thermophilic cultures require a consistent heat source to culture properly. A yogurt maker is most typically used for this, but there are ways to culture without a yogurt maker (one way is to use a crockpot!)

MESOPHILIC CULTURES = MEDIUM LOVING

Mesophilic means medium-loving, indicating that a mesophilic culture will propagate best at room temperature (around 70° to 77°F).With a mesophilic culture, there is no need to preheat the milk. The culture is simply added to cold milk and cultured at room temperature, usually between 12 and 18 hours. Mesophilic cultures typically produce yogurt that is thinner than yogurt from a thermophilic culture.

WHAT'S NEXT TO START YOUR YOGURT CULTURE?

Once you've decided on a yogurt starter culture, check out How to Make Homemade Yogurt to learn more about the homemade yogurt process. Be sure you have all the supplies you'll need and read up on the types of milk that work best with your starter culture. If you do need a yogurt maker or other yogurt equipment, those are available too!

Click here to check out our whole yogurt cultures collection now!

Looking for an all-in-one way to make non-dairy yogurt? Click here to check out the Vegan Yogurt Starter Kit. It includes both starter cultures and a thickening agent to make thicker homemade yogurt. If you need troubleshooting help or have more questions, take a look at our Yogurt Starter FAQs.

Check to know more on how to make our vegan yogurt recipe.