How To Make The Most Healthful Homemade Yogurt

by lydia on April 26, 2013

For those of you who’ve followed my site for awhile, you will know that last year I changed my fermenting ways. I did this because I learned that my approach to fermentation was very haphazard and if I was doing this ultimately for my health, I wanted to do it right. So, I’ve been on a year long journey delving into the world of anaerobic fermentation, why and how.

Yogurt is something most of us take for granted, or perhaps assume it’s a health food regardless of how it’s prepared. I know you real foodies know how to find ‘healthier’ yogurts in the store or even how to make homemade. I’ve found that I don’t want to consume yogurt unless it’s in the most optimal form for many reasons. One, I don’t tolerate much lactose and most yogurt has it. Second, I want the most probiotic content I can get and most yogurts don’t really have all that much if any. Unless, of course you understand a bit more about the science behind how bacteria thrive in yogurt and how to reduce the lactose to make it more tolerable, not to mention the best quality milk to make it less of a food sensitivity issue.

Did you know that there are 2 kinds of milk, A1 and A2? That’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax and I’ll save that discussion for a later date. Today, I’ve asked my good friend Patty, author of the blog, Loving Our Guts to share what she has learned about yogurt making. Patty has been on GAPS for many many years and before that was on the SCD diet. She has been making yogurt for ages for her family and has learned a ton on the subject.

I know you are gonna learn a ton from this post. In addition to the text below – you have the option to enjoy a recorded version of this information that Patty and I did together. If you have time, I highly recommend you listen to the recorded version -there is also some dialogue at the end and few pieces not written in the post that you may enjoy! (*Note: this recording was part of a course that I taught, so some information may not pertain to you as you listen, for example asking questions on the course facebook page. Regardless of that, the recording is a great resource and I wanted to share it along with this post).

Listen to Patty Talk About All the Intricacies Involved in Yogurt Making HERE

What Is Yogurt

Yogurt is a way to ferment milk to make it last longer, decrease the lactose and increase the beneficial bacteria. You can find yogurt in nearly every store and it is generally considered in our culture to be a health food. There is good reason for this! Yogurt is lower lactose than regular milk and somewhat predigested so it is easier on your gut. It is populated with beneficial bacteria that will then do good things for your gut. And since it is a whole food it contains more nutrition and is nicer to consume than a pill.

Making Yogurt


Why You Should Make Your Own Yogurt

While all of this is true  for many brands of commercial yogurt, sadly it isn’t true for all. The longer you ferment your milk the more beneficial bacteria it will contain. Some commercial yogurts are only fermented for a matter of minutes. Some are pasteurized after they are fermented killing off the beneficial bacteria. Many contain large amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Most are sold in plastic containers and the fat in the yogurt attracts the plastic in the container, putting bpa or whatever plasticizer is present into your food. Also over time the beneficial bacteria die in a container so there is no way to know how much is still there when you consume the yogurt.
All of these are good reasons to learn to make yogurt yourself.  You can avoid additives, prevent contact with plastic, ferment it long enough to get lots of good bacteria and consume it soon enough that the good stuff is still alive!  It’s also much cheaper and once you figure out your method is not difficult or time consuming.

Ingredients in Yogurt

So let me explain some things about yogurt.  I’ll start with the starter.  All yogurt needs a starter.  That is a certain amount of the microbes that you want to grow in your milk to transform it into yogurt. For yogurt to form it needs to contain Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Thermophilus.  These two bacteria interact together to help the milk coagulate. They also form the lactic acid that helps to curdle the milk. Both of these actions on the milk create the familiar thick structure of yogurt and the lactic acid also is responsible for the familiar sour taste. Other bacteria can be used in addition to those two as long as they can thrive on lactose (the sugar in milk that feeds the bacteria.) Each will have a distinct flavor that may be more noticeable to some than others.

Some other bacteria strains that are commonly found in yogurt are:

  • L.Acidophilus
  • B. Longum
  • L. Casei
  • B. Bifidum

This is far from an exhaustive list but most of the commercial yogurt starters available contain some or all of the strains I have already mentioned. Commercial yogurts will also contain some or all of these strains and sometimes more.  Often you can use commercial yogurts for starting yogurt as well, just make sure it says live strains on the container and does not contain any flavors or other additives.

I personally have experience using the Yogurmet starter culture and the Custom Probiotics starter culture. Both make good yogurt. I prefer the Custom Probiotics for two reasons. It does not contain any fillers (Yogurmet has sugar and dried milk) and it has more strains of bacteria.  You can get starter #1 with 3 strains (L. Bulgaricus and S. Thermophilus and L. Acidophilus) or you can get starter #2 that has those three plus L.Casei and B. Longum.  You can also request that B. Bifidum be added to either one when you order it.  It is more of an investment up front ($50 a bottle) however my family makes 1-3qts of yogurt each week and a jar lasts us 12-18 months.  It is, as far as I can tell, the most economical way to get your yogurt starter. (*Note from Lydia- L. Casei is a key strain to help heal leaky gut. Lactobaccillus Casei is found in the mouth and intestine, it can survive the stomach acid and can settle into the intestines, it has a wide pH and temperature range. If you are working to heal your gut -get the Yogurt Starter #2 to get the benefits of the L. Casei. Another good option recommended on the SCD diet is GI ProStart Yogurt Starter).

There are other ways that people have “started yogurt”.  Using a probiotic called VSL#3 is a popular approach.  The theory is that the bacteria in the pill will multiply in the yogurt and create even more of those beneficial bugs that can then be ingested thus saving the person money.  This starter has a different flavor than traditional yogurt but is not unpleasant.  One word of caution though, not all bacteria thrive in milk.  Some won’t do much of anything, some will make and unpleasant product. L-Reuteri is one such culture.  I have heard from those who have tried that it turns the yogurt into a slimy snot like substance. So you have been warned! Just because a pill says probiotic on it does not mean you can use it for a yogurt starter.

Incubation Methods

Ok now how to make yogurt.  The most important thing you need for making yogurt is a way to keep it warm.  For the duration of the fermentation you need to keep the milk warmer than 95 and cooler than 118.  That can be tricky to do.  Obviously the easiest way to do it is to simply purchase a yogurt maker.  There are many varieties available, some have lots of small cups, others have one large container. Another easy method is to use an Excalibur Dehydrator.  It allows you to set the temperature and walk away. When these sorts of purchases aren’t in the budget other approaches are used.  One is to use the heat from the lightbulb in the oven. Many replace their oven light with a 100 watt lightbulb while they make yogurt.  Another is to fill a cooler with hot water and put a mason jar of yogurt into that cooler.  If the water cools too soon simply replace it with hot water again. Some have an elaborate method of using their crock pot and turning it off and on as needed to keep their milk in the right temperature range.  Still others put a lightbulb in a box and keep their yogurt warm using that. My former doctor would simply put the hot mixture into a thermos and put the thermos in a sleeping bag to keep it warm. A little time online will reveal many different options for making yogurt.

I highly recommend that you try out your chosen method using some water before you invest your milk so that you won’t be surprised that it gets too hot or doesn’t stay hot enough and ruins your milk.

Vessel For Yogurt Making

The container that you use to make yogurt is also important.  For many years I made my yogurt using mason jars. It is a glass container so no worries about plastic getting into my food. It is readily available at many stores or possibly even in your kitchen already. Once I learned about the risks to bifidus strains of bacteria from oxygen exposure I decided to do some testing as to what kind of container was best. I was amazed to discover that the type of container had a profound impact on the flavor of the yogurt and ultimately decided that it was best to make yogurt in an anaerobic vessel (the Probiotic Jar is a good one) and to leave the airlock on the jar while it is in storage in the fridge.  The longer the yogurt was stored the more dramatic the flavor difference between the different kinds of containers. I am able to fit a 2L  jar with a mini-airlock in my 9 tray Excalibur Dehydrator and that is how I make yogurt now.

dehdyrator yogurt

How To Make Yogurt

So once you have made these decisions and assembled your supplies you are ready to get started making yogurt.

  • Milk- Preferably raw (from Jersey cows if possible or goat, this is A2 milk), second best non-homogonized low temp pasteurized whole milk, third best homogenized pasteurized whole milk.  Never use Ultra Pasteurized milk. You can also use heavy cream either raw or pasteurized with not additives.
  • Thermometer (to keep track of the milk temperature)
  • Jar to make milk in (I prefer Probiotic Jars)
  • Pot to heat milk in
  • starter culture or additive free active culture plain yogurt
  • A way to keep the milk warm.

Take your milk and put it into the pot on your stove.  Heat it on medium high till the milk is 180 degrees.  Then remove the pot from the stove and allow the milk to cool to 115.

Making Yogurt
Once the milk is cool enough mix a small portion of it with the starter culture you are using. Follow the package directions for how much to use of a powdered culture or use ¼ cup commercial yogurt for each 1 qt of milk.  You can also use previously made homemade yogurt.  More about that below.

Making Yogurt

Mix the milk and the starter till they are combined then add in the rest of the milk till the jar is full.  Put the lid on tightly.  If you are using a Probiotic Jar put water in the airlock and put that on the jar. (*Note from Lydia: making yogurt anaerobically is optimal as the Lactobacillus bacteria strains and Bifido bacteria strains need an anaerobic environment.)

Making Yogurt

Put the jar where you are keeping it warm.  I set my dehydrator to 105 with my anaerobic jars. With mason jars I set it to 95. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to get it right for your exact set up. That is why I suggest a trial run with just water in your jars.

Making Yogurt

Traditionally yogurt is fermented for 4-8 hours.  The longer it ferments the more beneficial bacteria it will contain. Also the longer it goes the less lactose and more sour it will taste.  GAPS and SCD have you ferment yogurt for at least 24 hours to make it virtually lactose free. I have read that if you go beyond 30 hours the bacteria colonies will collapse because of lack of food so be careful to not go too long.  There does not seem to be much of an increase in bacteria or decrease in lactose beyond 24 hours.
After it is done culturing 4-24 hours hours put the yogurt right into the fridge.  Don’t stir or shake it till it is fully chilled. 5-6 hours. If you do disturb it the curd won’t set and your yogurt will be runny.

*Raw milk- You can make raw yogurt.  To do this heat your milk just to 110 or so and then add your culture and proceed from there the same as any other method.

**Homemade yogurt as a starter.  Homemade yogurt will lose it’s effectiveness sooner or later.  When that happens you will have ruined yogurt. You can feel pretty safe using it for 4 generations if you heat your milk to 180 and then cool it.  It is best to only use it for 2 generations if you are keeping your milk raw since raw milk has it’s own innate bacteria that will begin to compete with the yogurt bacteria.

If you enjoyed this information, you might enjoy reading more of Patty’s post on the subject as well:


Close up picture

Thanks so much Patty for sharing your expertise with us! I hope this is helpful to others and maybe even encourage some to take the leap and give homemade yogurt making a try!

To read more of Patty’s insight, be sure to check her out over at ‘Loving Our Guts‘ and on facebook @Loving Our Guts.


Have you tried making homemade yogurt in your dehydrator?

Share in the comments…..



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Angela April 26, 2013 at 3:20 pm

I have never heard that yogurt needs to be made with an airlock system. You write “making yogurt anaerobically is optimal as the Lactobacillus bacteria strains and Bifido bacteria strains need an anaerobic environment.” Can you please give me a reference or citation to back up this statement? Thanks!

lydia April 26, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Angela, Lactobacilli are aero-tolerant or anaerobic – meaning they thrive in anerobic conditions (including our guts). Same with Bifido bacteria – most strains are strictly anaerobic. Just do some basic research on that piece – search food chem. or the Handbook of Functionally Fermented Foods. With that in mind, it makes sense to me to use an anaerobic vessel that keeps oxygen out to get the most live beneficial bacteria in the ferment.

Angela April 26, 2013 at 4:31 pm

I know of no traditional culture that ferments yogurt under this type of airlock system. You can argue about sauerkraut/veggie ferments and I do use a Pickl-It for kraut, but for yogurt it seems totally unnecessary, especially since it’s a cultured product and not a wild fermentation.
Sandor addressed this last summer (aerobic vs. anaerobic issue). The meaning of anaerobic is being misunderstood. He write: ” In the vocabulary of microbiology, lactic acid bacteria are ‘facultative’ in that they that do NOT require oxygen, but are not inhibited by its presence; in contrast, certain other bacteria (for example Clostridium botulinum) are ‘obligate’ anaerobes that require a perfectly anaerobic environment.” I am not trying to stir things up. But I just don’t think it’s right to tell people that they need a Pickl-It for every ferment.

PattyLA April 26, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Since it is my post I’ll chime in here.
I personally was shocked to discover that fermenting using an air lock had an impact on the flavor of the yogurt. More so that the longer it sat the bigger the impact it had. Elaine Gottshall found that after 2 weeks yogurt that had been fermented for 24 hours had virtually no live bacteria left. I have read that protecting yogurt from oxygen is a very real issue among yogurt manufacturers since oxygen can diffuse through plastic (very slowly) and kill the bacteria in the yogurt over time. Yogurt must legally have a certain amount of live cells at the time of it’s sell by date. My own home made yogurt tasted pretty bland at the 2 week mark when stored in a mason jar but was much more sour with the air lock lid. The bacteria themselves lend a sour flavor to the food so it stands to reason that more live bacteria means a more sour flavor. Testing for what bacteria are present and how many is far beyond what anyone can do at home. I do not have the means to send my samples to a lab to do that sort of testing for me either so I had to rely on the admittedly subjective taste testing that backed up the science that suggested that anaerobic conditions would have an impact on yogurt cultures.
As for how traditional cultures made yogurt, they made it in skin bags. That is an anaerobic container that allows gasses to escape but prevents oxygen from entering.

Tim December 13, 2016 at 10:50 pm

No. The skin bags do not stop air getting in. There is no reason not to make yoghurt in containers ( with lids) that are not air tight. Taste has little to do with whether the bacteria are ‘better’ or not. (in this case)

CandyMan April 27, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I did yogurt for a couple of years to a really consistent, nice result but moved to kefir with anaerobic 2nd ferment and I’m producing a great product daily that plugs into the everyday menu well with a lot less effort than yogurt. Since I’m fermenting veggies, too, now, I’m knee deep in Fidos and Pickl-its. But anaerobic yogurt? Duh – I might never have made the connection. This is a really excellent guide and makes me want to do yogurt again…..but, nah….

CandyMan April 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Just a side note from someone that manufactures, packages and sells (at retail) certain food products going on 30 years: It’s shocking (to me) just how oxygen permeable most plastic packaging is. O2 exchange will quickly degrade all types of foods numerous ways.

It’s a dirty little not-so-secret that most commercial yogurt packaged in plastic cups and sealed with a aluminum foil top are infiltrated by O2 right through the container wall and the live cultures die off rather rapidly. You might have a 2 month ‘best by’ timeframe declared but that sure doesn’t include the live cultures. That would be better measured in single digit days. This became pretty apparent to me a couple of years ago when I started stumbling around probiotics. I built an incubator to receive the cultured milk prepackaged with minimal headroom in Weck 5 oz. jars with glass tops. It worked really well but was a lot of work. I’d bet the Pickl-It’s & dehydrator cabinet would be even a step up with much less work. Reducing work increases the likelihood of incorporation into your daily life…

Renee April 29, 2013 at 5:12 am

Hi, I’m guessing that the way I make yogurt is not full of the beneficial bacteria. I make it the way my grandmother did. Heat the milk until hot to the pinky finger, cool a bit, mix some yogurt, pour in a glass bowl and lay a few towels over to keep it warm. In the morning I have yogurt. It tastes great and has a nice texture.

Debra E May 1, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Thank you for this great info Patty! My question is that if I get a store-bought yogurt (Stonyfield Farm whole milk) and use a portion to make my own yogurt, can I freeze the rest of the store-bought yogurt until time to use it again as a starter? Will yogurt maintain all the live strains through freezing?

lydia May 1, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Yes, you can. You can freeze it in ice cube trays portioned out for convenience if you like. Just make sure to purchase yogurt with live active cultures, and bring it to room temp. before adding it in.

Lori May 13, 2013 at 9:10 am

Hi, I just ordered a Euro Cuisine yogurt maker and some of the Custom Probiotics ( 5 strain ).
I wondered first if I should have had them add the 6th bacteria you mentioned ( only read that after !), what are it’s particular benefits?
My goal is to make an affordable Bio-K type probiotic, I imagine in this situation the best I can do is ferment longer?

Lori May 21, 2013 at 8:52 am

Hi again, hoping you’ll get to this post eventually…………
I made my first batch of yogurt, did it for 24 hours and it seems perfect.( temp was good after 24 hours ) I was wondering, since it is so sour is there a safe way of making it a bit more palatable, without defeating the purpose of the sour?

PattyLA May 21, 2013 at 10:13 am

Hi Lori,
Go ahead and use what you have and next time ask for the addition of the b.bifidum.
You can add honey, fruit or whatever to sweeten the yogurt now and make it more palatable for you. 24 hour yogurt is very sour both because the lactose is gone but also the lactic acid produced by the bacteria is also sour. If you keep it in a mason jar you will find that it becomes less sour over time as the bacteria die off.
I’m not sure exactly what bacteria are in BioK but that has an impact as well. Different bacteria have different benefits so you would need to have the same kinds of bacteria as biok to have the same benefits. 24 hour yogurt is extremely high in bacteria count and I would expect that it rivals or even surpasses biok in that regard. Plus biok is stored in plastic containers and has more than just bacteria and milk so home made is a superior product in many ways.

Lori May 21, 2013 at 10:47 am

Hi! Thanks for that, since my first post I asked them at Custom Probiotics if they could add it and they said they don’t. They said the 5 strain has one ( I forget which ) that is as good or better…….(?)
While I’ve got you, I made 7-6 ounce jars. I thought I’d split one with my husband every day and make a new batch every week……is that enough or should we have more in a day? And in your experience is there an ideal time to take probiotics??

PattyLA May 21, 2013 at 12:12 pm

3 oz of yogurt is not a lot although when it is 24 hour yogurt that is a high bacteria count. The fresher it is the more good bacteria in it.
The best time to take probiotics is on an empty stomach and away from food. Second best is after a meal while the stomach is full of food. You want them to pass through the stomach undigested and those are the times of lowest acid in the stomach. (acid levels rise in a meal but the bulk of the meal will protect some of the probiotic bacteria and allow them to survive to the small intestine).

Lori May 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm

I took your suggestion and put my 2L Pickl-it in the yogurt maker with a towel over it. I’m testing the temps with water and it’s been 3 or 4 hours and the temp is perfect, so I am pretty sure that will be the case with the milk too. So now I can not only have anaerobic yogurt, but twice as much in a batch……..very happy!
Thanks for the help, you’re a godsend

Lori June 6, 2013 at 9:37 am

Hi again, just an update…..
I’m on my 3rd batch in the Pickl-it. A bit concerned, not having the good side effects of what should be a super duper probiotic. Not to be graphic but when I could afford Bio-K every day, well let’s just say things moved very nicely. So far, not so much……:(
I tested negative for a dairy allergy, could it be a sensitivity? If so why not with Bio-K? I think I’m missing something……

lydia July 30, 2013 at 9:03 pm


Sorry I missed your comment. When you say tested negative for a dairy allergy, what test are you referring to exactly? Also, it’s possible that the probiotic count is much higher in the yogurt than in the BioKult and it could take some adjusting for you at first. How are things going now?

Lori July 30, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Hi Lydia, thanks for asking………..
I had a blood test done for allergies at a Naturopath. I believe I may not be allergic, but am most definitely sensitive. I am now doing an almond milk kefir. I have no idea if it works, just assuming there’s a good amount of probiotics in it. No negative side effects, but nothing obviously positive either. I believe I have Candida, have had a rash that doesn’t go away on my back, excess weight, among other things. Just wish I could find a solution…………frustrating…:(

Patty July 30, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Dairy protein can be constipating even for those without a dairy allergy. Try making yogurt using heavy cream instead of milk and see if that helps.

Lori July 31, 2013 at 8:07 am

Though that sounds yummy , I don’t think it would agree with me. I know if I eat ice cream I get small itchy hives on my jawline. Another reason I was sure I was allergic……….
What does heavy cream not have that milk has?

Patty July 31, 2013 at 8:31 am

Heavy cream has very little dairy protein. If your only reaction was constipation it could be just because dairy protein can be constipating for many people. Hives however are a different matter. Did you get hives from the yogurt or just from ice cream. Could you be reacting to something else in the ice cream? Commercial ice cream has a lot of additives as a rule.

Lori July 31, 2013 at 8:40 am

I’ve always reacted to dairy in one way or another, either gurgling, bloating, constipation, hives……
What you say is interesting, I do get hives from other forms sometimes too, cheese etc……
Pretty sure dairy is one reason I have candida, spent my first 20 years wickedly constipated. Perfect breeding ground for yeast………sorry, too graphic? :)

lydia July 31, 2013 at 9:10 am

If that’s the case Lori, have you ever eliminated it for a time to see if you feel better? I’d recommend that. Also, you could try coconut milk yogurt in the interim if you do go that route….

Lori July 31, 2013 at 9:30 am

I have gone long periods dairy free ( was vegan for almost a year ). I just can’t shake the Candida unless I of course live like a monk……….
I tried the coconut milk yogurt, it’s nice but to use real coconut milk as opposed to the boxed stuff is super expensive. It did seem to work with the boxed stuff so I’ll probably do it between almond kefir batches….I appreciate all your advice, I know no one personally who has a clue!

Mary September 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Hello, I just completed my first batch of yogurt in a fido jar wrapped in a thick dish towel in my oven. I used the light bulbs as a heating source. The bulbs are 40 watt each. I did a couple of dry runs with water just to be sure and the temp seemed to stay at 110 and ended at 108 after the 24 hours was up. Of course with the yogurt I didn’t feel I should check the temp so as not to disturb anything. I just checked it after I removed from the oven and it was 108 plus the yogurt was thick and a bit sour. So I know it was successful and wanted to let folks know about the oven method. Now here’s my question: Since I used the custom probiotics which are not cheap I definitely want to reuse my resulting yogurt for 3 more batches. I was wondering if the 1/4 cup sample I remove to reuse will have much potency left in 1 week to make my new batch probiotic rich? I only ask because patty mentions that as time goes by that the bacteria die off.

Patty September 30, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Hi Mary,
Sounds like you did great. At the one week mark you should still have plenty of probiotic power to make another batch of yogurt. When I did a test comparing yogurt make in a mason jar to yogurt made in a fido jar and a pickl-it jar the stuff in the pickl-it jar was the most sour at the end of 2 weeks. In the mason jar it was the most mild and I concluded that this was because of bacteria dying off. So exposure to oxygen seems to impact the life of the yogurt too. I’m pretty sure that the yogurt testing that was done to show that 24 hour yogurt was pretty much dead after 2 weeks was done in a non-airtight container. I am hopeful that using a pickl-it jar can keep it alive much longer but I have no way to test that to prove it.

Mary September 30, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Hi again Patty,
I am now on my third batch of yogurt. I used the custom probiotic powder for the 1st batch and then I used the resulting yogurt from the last 2 batches for the next batch. It seems that each time I’ve used yogurt as a starter that my new batch has come out a little more watery than the last. I used raw milk & pasteurized it for batches 1 & 2 and then goat milk for batch #3 and that one seemed the most liquidy. Sort of like milk kefir. They definitely tasted tangy and the temp never got below 106 on the goat milk. Is this common to get more liquidy as you use the resulting yogurt for a starter? Thanks for the help.

Patty September 30, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Hi Mary,
Since I always make my yogurt raw I always use a fresh starter. The custom Probiotics is expensive up front but so little is needed in each batch that it still lasts us well over a year for one jar of it making 1-2 gallons of yogurt a week.
That said, goat yogurt does tend to be runnier than cow yogurt no matter how you make it. That is why most of the commercial goat yogurts add tapioca to make it thicker. It should be thicker than milk but may be similar to kefir. Making it with cooked milk will help it to be thicker than if your goat milk is raw but any way you do it, it will tend to be thin.
I hope that helps.

Mary November 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Hi again, I’ve been making yogurt weekly since my first 2 posts to you and now have another question. I was on my 3rd batch (1st batch was the powder starter then 2nd batch used 1/4 cup of resulting yogurt for starter, now 3rd batch also used 1/4 cup resulting yogurt for starter). This 3rd batch came out more clumpy than smooth and didn’t have any sour taste to it. Does it mean that all the good bacteria died off? Does it have to taste sour to know that there is ample amounts of good bacteria left. I use grassfed whole raw milk which I pasteurize or grassfed pasteurized milk. Just depends on what’s in stock. Anyway, all my temps checked out below 115 and above 95 when left in my oven for 24 hours. And also do you think the rubber gasket in my fido is compromised after a few uses in my oven? Sorry for the lengthy question & thanks for the help.

Tina January 26, 2014 at 2:29 pm

All of this information is so helpful! Thank you. I am just now beginning to ferment in anaerobic containers so I am learning a lot. I had been using the Matsoni mesophilic culture, but was wondering if I could use it an an anaerobic vessel? Also, what are your thoughts comparing Cultures for Health’s Matsoni culture and the Custom Probiotics that you suggest in the article?

lydia February 2, 2014 at 8:17 am


Based on the info. in the post -just make sure you are getting the right strains of bacteria in your yogurt starter. I don’t know what is in CFH’s matsoni culture, but I don’t think it’s the same as yogurt. Check the label to compare what strains it has……As I can recall it’s not even the same as yogurt and really shouldn’t be called a ‘true’ yogurt.

Anonymous February 2, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Thanks so much for your reply. Yes, you are right..I checked matsoni’s culture and it does not contain the ones spoken of. Very interesting. I’m assuming that the strains found in it are good, but it would probably be beneficial for me to start making a ‘true’ yogurt. I have started to use the Boss Pickler to ferment…can I put that in my Excalibur as described above or will the valve be affected by the heat?

lydia February 2, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Yes, I would use the Boss Pickler. Let us know how it goes and how you like your yogurt!

Tina February 7, 2014 at 4:55 pm

I’ll let you know! And do you usually have B. Bifidum added when you order?

lydia February 7, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Tina – I have not yet done that because I’m still working on my first jar of the yogurt starter -it lasts a long time. Patty may have…..Call and ask, Harry is wonderful and very interesting to talk to!

Anonymous February 2, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Thanks so much for your reply. You are right…matsoni does not have the specific strains mentioned above. I’m assuming the ones in matsoni are good, but I think I’d like to get the benefits of the strains in a ‘true’ yogurt. I’ve started using The Boss Pickler…would I be able to use this in my Excalibur or would the heat affect the valve?

Tina February 7, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Thanks Lydia. Do you know the specifics of B. Bifidum..what benefits does it have?

lydia February 7, 2014 at 7:30 pm

It has a ton of benefits –

B. bifidum is a large family of probiotic bacteria, which are most
numerous in the human bowel/colon, lower intestines, vagina and genital area.
90-98% of all bacteria living in the bowel of a healthy baby are Bifidobacteria. In an
adult gut these are about 7 times more numerous than the lactobacilli and fulfill many
useful functions. Apart from producing different anti-biotic-like substances which
protect the gut from pathogens, engaging the immune system, maintaining gut integrity
and health, they act as a source of nourishment for the body. Bifidobacteria actively
synthesize amino acids, vitamin B1 (thiamin), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3
(niacin), folic acid, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12 (cobalamin, assist the
absorption of calcium, iron and vitamin D. Bifidobacteria are the second most
numerous family of bacteria in probiotic supplements on the market.

Here’s a brief article I found that you may find helpful too:

Tina February 7, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Thanks so much! Seems like it would be beneficial to have it added to my yogurt starter!

Don February 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm

In spite of what you said, I have been trying to find L. Reuteri. Where did you get your starter?
All the stuff I have found so far is mixed with other types of bacteria. For example the Nature’s Way product has five active ingredients and L. Reuteri is the last on the list.

lydia February 15, 2014 at 9:44 am

I get my yogurt starter from Custom Probiotics. I do not use L. Reuteri in my yogurt, you’d want to take it separately from your yogurt. BioGaia is one that has it and I believe Nature’s Way and Jarrow too as a single strain.
From what I understand this one is the best on the market (affiliate link)–>

Connie July 4, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Thanks much for the post, Lydia. Would it be possible to put more that 1 2-Liter pickl-it’s in the Excalibur? Or several 1-Liters?

If so, how many do you think would fit?

Thanks a zillion!

lydia July 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm

I think 4 – 1 liters would probably fit nicely.

CandyMan July 4, 2014 at 8:42 pm

This thread still lives! I was glad to get the new comment email and get reminded to try incubating yout when I wasgurt under airlock.

I too, do mostly milk kefir these days but when I was churning out yogurt big time last summer I was doing 2 gallon batches, 4 x 2qts in the Excalibur at one time with no problem. Also I had a 6 oz Weck jar in there too to be the next batch’s starter. The Excalibur handled it without a problem. I ran the incubation out to 24 hours with great results.

Excalibur tip: When you run your first batch calibrate the temperature control with a good thermometer. I prefer 110F for yogurt and the Excalibur once calibrated will hod that temp like a champ. So you don’t have to re-calibrate every batch of yogurt, cut a little triangle pointer out of colored electricians tape and apply to the dial to mark the exact spot for the next time. This gets me pretty much plus or minus 1 degree every time…..

Kelly July 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Thanks for the information. I am going to look into this A1 and A2 milk situation. It’s already so hard to sort through all of the things you are supposed to do to heal your gut. Now there is this, lol. I eat paleo/primal, with some SCD thrown in….just focusing on whole foods, etc. Question on bifidus: In Breaking the Vicious Cycle, it is recommended that it should be avoided when making the yogurt. I have made the yogurt twice, using the yogourmet starter, but I am now considering the custom probiotics one that you recommend. I am new to both yogurt making, and eating, and am kind of bewildered by it all. I would appreciate any thoughts you may have on this. Thanks.

lydia July 24, 2014 at 12:50 pm

I have no idea why they would suggest no bifidus – makes no sense to me. I see no reason why to not include it. Does it explain why in the book?

Keep in mind the research in that book is quite old….

Tina August 19, 2014 at 7:53 pm

I have loved using Custom Probiotics Yogurt Starter #2. However, I just went to order more and saw that the ingredients have changed. It seems that they have removed the B. Longum and L. Casei. as ingredients listed on their website. Would this still be a good option, as I really liked having the L. Casei for the reasons you mentioned?

lydia August 20, 2014 at 9:06 pm


Honestly, I would call Harry at Custom Probiotics and speak to him about it – he is extremely helpful and may have an explanation as to why and a solution for you. Seriously, don’t hesitate to call him -he’s great!

Tina Paul August 22, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Thanks Lydia. I have contacted him by phone and e-mail, but have been unsuccessful at getting a response to my questions. The one question I have is on the Lactobacilus Lactis that is included in the new formula. Do you have any information on this strain?

pat August 22, 2014 at 3:50 am

I have made several lots of yoghurt with L.Reuteri and when set stirred in some blueberries, It was lovely and kept well in the fridge. I didn’t find it snot like in the least.

Linda August 30, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Hi Lydia-
I started making my own yogurt quite successfully using the Eurocuisine yogurt maker and Custom Probiotics 5 blend yogurt starter. I was just putting my yogurt ferment in a big glass bowl, fermenting 15 hours, and getting a wonderfully sour, thick yogurt. Then, I read your column on using a boss pickle jar, so I thought, Hmmmm. Okay, I would try that. I just prepared my milk in the usual way, added starter, and set it fermenting. It appears quite thin, even after refrigeration. I am straining it, as I usually do for greek yogurt, but this will undoubtedly be a very different batch. I am wondering what the issue is, since everything except the container has been exactly the same. I also don’t really think in the boss pickler it makes any difference in the amount of oxygen, since it really is not anaerobic, nor does it have to be.

roger March 7, 2015 at 7:31 am

I’m glad to find this great post on the net!

I only consume FAT-FREE YOGURT. I’m interested to know if the above instructions will work with non-fat milk.

Maybe bacteria feeds partially on fat? … and incubating the cultures in NON-fat milk for the full 24-hours would collapse the colonies??

I appreciate any experienced insights.
-thank you-

lydia March 18, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Yes it will work with lower fat milks -you need the milk sugars for the culture not the fat.

Jess April 16, 2015 at 7:03 pm

I think. reuteri needs certain food to ferment well, magnesium, manganese & calcium. I find elsewhere that the grow with glucose well but also they apparently love glutathione.

I bought l.rhamounus & l.reutri in optibac capsules, says live culture. It seems to suggest you need both together to keep correct equilibrium between the species.

So its in unsweetened soya milk, I’ve added a dash of cumin & apple polyphenols in the hope that works for glutathione, some glucose too plus magnesium citrate. I might add some ground egg shells for bioavailable calcium.

Will aim to let you know how it goes, hopefully tomorrow palatable yoghurt will ensue

Sha May 4, 2015 at 10:46 pm

Hi Lydia / Patty,

I’ve been successfully making my own yogurt for over a year now, using my oven as the incubating medium.

My question is, I’ve been reading everywhere how commercial yogurts contain no beneficial bacteria left since most / all have died during storage or handling or packaging, so pray tell, how do we manage to use a small amount of commercial yogurt as starter to produce yogurt (that’s how I’ve been making my yogurt, and they set up beautifully every time, and they are always sour).

Does this mean all these while my yogurt has zero good bacteria?

Patty May 5, 2015 at 8:12 am

Hi Sha,
While commercial yogurt doesn’t have as much bacteria as homemade 24 hour yogurt that is freshly made, if it indeed had none it would not make yogurt. Rest assured that you are indeed making healthy beneficial yogurt at home.

Sha May 8, 2015 at 8:11 am

Hi Patty,

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply, I truly appreciate it. And happy to know that all these while my homemade yogurt is still full of goodness, was a bit worried before on the quality of my yogurt.
Thank you for sharing everything on here, your site is simply priceless!

Dawn June 15, 2015 at 2:36 am

Hello Patty/Lydia,
I am wanting to start making homemade yogurt….currently trying to track down decent milk to start with. I’m in VA and raw milk sales are illegal…checked into ‘herd shares’ but they are cost prohibitive as they would make each gallon of milk over $10 each…just cannot do that right now. Anywho, I think I have found the next best milk (organic, grass fed, low temp pasteurized & non-homogenized) and now need to select my container. So, my question to you gals is; can I used the Probiotic Jars with the oven method to start? Since the temp is quite low, I am thinking I can but wanted to get your input before investing in a jar or two. I’d love to eventually acquire the Excalibur but have to take financial baby steps. :) Looking forward to your reply!

Donna June 17, 2015 at 5:05 pm

I made many batches of yogurt last summer, but I’m struggling now. I heated the milk, let it cool to 100 degrees, added, Yogourmet starter, warmed my oven for about 3 minutes on warm and hold, turned it off, and turned on the oven light. Then I put the yogurt in the oven with a plate over the bowl. This is my second attempt. It hasn’t set at all after 4 hours. The last batch didn’t set even after leaving it in the oven all night. I can’t figure out what’s happening. My only thought is that both mornings my husband used the stove top to cook eggs while the yogurt was in the oven. Do you think this would heat up the oven enough to kill it?

Sam July 7, 2015 at 6:17 pm

We’ve been using UHT milk and don’t see why Lydia say “Never” for UHT. It is safer and saves a lot of steps as it is bacteria free, so all you need to do is put it in your yogurt maker, add the yogurt bacteria and some skim powder milk (2-5 spoons per lt.) if you want your yogurt to be thicker.

No need to boil. No need to strain. No hustle. Just pour in the yogurt maker for 40$ and after 10 hours, it is done. Perfect taste.

sara July 27, 2015 at 12:55 pm

My yogurt maker goes up to 15 hours. Why can’t I just set it and then run it for another 9 hours? It seems really intimidating doing it the suggested ways.

Simon December 10, 2015 at 9:42 am

Hi Patty,
I have a question on making homemade yogurt. Is it better for my yogurt if I add more yogurt starter, I personally use bifidobacretium 10 probiotics, into the milk and/or keep it fermented for a longer time, say 25 hrs? Also, is it ok to use calcium-fortified milk, which is also raw, to make yogurt?

Thanks for your sharing, and I look forward to your reply!

Karin January 16, 2016 at 11:31 pm

you said not to use “ultra-pasteurized” milk. That’s about all i can find on the grocery store shelves. there is no “pasteurized”, only “ultra-pasteurized.” Can you shed some light please what the problem is with ultra-pasteurized?

Kaitlyn May 14, 2016 at 4:12 pm

I was thinking the same thing. I am currently living in a developing country and simply don’t trust the locally produced refrigerated milk here so I use the “shelf milk” that comes in the tetra pack and I have no issues. I use yogurt as a started and do the crockpot on and off method. With this type of milk you don’t have to pre heat it. I literally fill the crockpot with milk and stir in some yogurt. I don’t have a thermometer. I just do an hour on low and two hours off and it works great every time with it being lactose free after 24 hours (i’m quite lactose intolerant so I can tell when I didn’t leave it quite long enough).

Emily July 13, 2016 at 7:54 am

Can I use a probiotic capsule as a starter? I will be making it for the first time, and using my Excalibur. Thanx.

lydia July 13, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Hi Emily,

Please refer to the post about which strains are needed to culture yogurt and compare with the probiotic you have on hand.

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