Barb Hodgens
Barb Hodgens

Barb Hodgens loves to cook with alternative, healthy whole food ingredients, with a focus on gut health. Barb has overcome her own gut health issues through healthy eating. Share your ideas, comments and photos at the end of this post :)

starter culture


The living cultures in yogurt are called beneficial bacteria because they support digestion and are nourishing. When beneficial bacteria are taken to improve health, they are considered ‘probiotics’. Essentially yogurt is the product of these beneficial bacteria fermenting milk and turning it into an acidic food that will stay consumable longer than milk itself. In the process, the milk becomes a kind of medicine teeming with millions of gut loving bacteria. 

There are different ways to add bacteria culture. You can use a portion of pre-made yogurt, a specific blend of dried bacteria, or a probiotic powder.  I go into each in more detail below. 

Yogourmet yogurt starter


A traditional yogurt starter is a carefully balanced blend of bacteria which consume the lactose in animal milk. These bacteria convert the lactose to lactic acid, which changes the protein structure of the milk, creating a unique tangy taste and a thicker, creamier texture. 

Traditional yogurt is produced using a blend of starter cultures made up of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria. Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria may also be added.

Yogurt starter cultures are carefully balanced so that the strains work together, but different combinations of these bacteria produce different types of yogurt. A country or region is often known for a specific blend. Depending on the fermentation and time the characteristic tangy flavor of homemade yogurt can range from mildly sour to very tart, plus the texture can vary from drinkable to thick set.

There are other factors also - The type and quality of animal milk you use also impacts the texture. Goat milk yogurt and raw milk yogurt will be runnier than pasteurised cow milk yogurt. Yogurt starter culture can also be used to ferment cream

Probiotic yogort starter culture


In dairy-based yogurt the bacteria in a starter culture feed on the milk’s natural sugar, (lactose) during fermentation. Plant-based milk doesn’t have as much natural sugar available to feed the bacteria and ensure the culturing process will take place or continue for the full duration of the fermentation.

Adding a little bit of sugar is enough to aid fermentation and proliferate the bacteria strains. We recommend white sugar. Remember it’s not for you, it is for the bacteria! 

There are no specific strains of bacteria required for making non-dairy yogurt. Any combination of sugar loving bacteria, from either a yogurt starter culture or a probiotic capsule or powder will repopulate if the conditions are right. The only 3 things they need are food (a little bit of sugar), warmth and time

yogourmet starter culture


Using a quantity of existing yogurt is a common way to inoculate milk for a new batch of yogurt. When purchasing commercial yogurt look at the ingredients list and make sure it contains live cultures and does not contain any flavours or additives. Plain Greek yogurt is the best choice.

Furthermore, homemade yogurt can also be used as a starter for another batch. Simply whisk a quarter cup (per 1 litre of milk) into your milk. Over time the probiotic strains will weaken so this is not a process to be repeated indefinitely. 

Commercial, non-dairy yogurt will contain stabilisers and gelling agents that may interfere with the yogurt culturing process. It is advisable to always use a starter culture or probiotic with non-dairy milk.


The bacteria in a probiotic pill or powder will multiply in yogurt, however if you are making dairy milk yogurt not all probiotic bacteria will result in true yogurt. Our LReuteri probiotic yogurt is a good example of this. In order to make set yogurt, rather than a probiotic drink, the probiotics must contain one of these strains; Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streprococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis or Lactobacillus acidophilus. 

It is best to use a premium, multi-strain probiotic that requires refrigeration. Speak to your Naturopath or Pharmacist for a good quality, practitioner brand. Where dairy is a concern, look for brands labelled as ‘dairy-free’ or ‘vegan’.

Probiotics may come as a powder or capsule. To use as a yogurt starter culture, simply add the required dose or open the capsule and pour the contents into your milk. One dose or capsule is enough for 4 cups of milk. The following probiotic yogurts recieve impressive testimonials. 

Progood probiotic homemade yogurt
Cutting edge cultures probiotic yogurt
Improved L Reuteri probiotic yogurt
L Reuteri superfood yogurt
How to make yogurt with Lactobacilli Gasseri


The original Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), from the book ‘Breaking the Vicious Cycle’, calls for a yogurt starter that does not contain Bifidus/Bifidum bacteria because it can ‘take over’ and cause health problems in some cases. While on the early stages of the diet it is best to avoid anything that has 'bifid' in its name. e.g. Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus Bifidus, Bifidobacterium longum etc. Here is a list of recommended GAPS & SCD starter cultures


Always add your yogurt starter culture to the milk when it is below 108° F (42° C). Temperatures above 43° C will kill bacteria. This step by step recipe will explain further and take the worry out of making yogurt at home


Yogurt starter culture info


Yogourmet starter culture




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