Making Yogurt with Mesophilic Cultures

One of the most important things to consider when making yogurt is the temperature at which it cultures.

Swings in temperature will delay culturing if too cold, or damage the bacteria if too high. Inconsistent temperatures can lead to an uneven texture or yogurt that does not set at all.

While it can be difficult to maintain the proper temperature for countertop cultures (70º-77ºF) throughout different seasons, there are several ways to better control your culturing environment to keep your starter cultures happy and thriving.

Be sure to test the temperature of the culturing area prior to making yogurt. To do this, place a jar of room temperature water in the culturing area. Then, take temperature readings at different intervals during the culturing time-frame to ensure the temperature range is correct.

See AlsoMaintaining Temperatures when Culturing Thermophilic Yogurt


Keeping Cultures Warm in Winter

1. Warm Oven

When room temperature dips below 70º F try setting your yogurt jars in a closed oven to culture. (You can place them on a baking tray to help stabilize them on the oven rack). Turn on the light or pilot light to maintain a constant culturing temperature. You may also want to leave a note on the oven to remind others of the yogurt culturing inside.

2. YogoTherm

An insulated container such as the YogoTherm works to maintain temperature without electricity. This may be just the added insulation your yogurt starters need to culture properly during chillier months.

3. Hot Water Bath

Set the covered yogurt jar in a large bowl, filling the bowl with hot water. The water level should be no more than one to two inches from the top of the jar. As the water cools, remove the jar gently, pour the water out, replace jar, and add hot water.

4. Appliance Boost

Wrap the jar of yogurt in a towel, placing near or on an appliance like a wood stove or atop the refrigerator.

5. Folding Proofer

You can set the Folding Proofer from 70º F to120º F to create a space for culturing yogurt. When arranging jars inside the proofer, keep jars along the edge if you don't plan to fill the proofer completely. If you will be filling the proofer all the way with jars, remember to rotate their position 2-3 times during the culturing process to help produce more even results.

6. Insulated Cooler

You can warm up your yogurt inside a cooler by putting a jar (or two) of hot water inside the cooler with your jars of yogurt. Check the temperature of the water jar(s) and replace as needed to maintain temperature.

7. Thermos

Culture yogurt in a beverage thermos. Wrap in a towel for added insulation, if necessary.

8. Seedling or Reptile Mat

Try placing your yogurt on top of a seedling or reptile mat. This can raise the temperature 5-20º F above ambient temperature.

9. Elevation

Set yogurt in a high place, where air is warmer than counter height.


Keeping Cultures Cool in Summer

10. Insulated Cooler

Pack your jars into a cooler, add ice packs, and keep the cooler closed tight to keep your yogurt cool on hot summer days.

11. Cool Surface

Try placing a jar of yogurt on a cool surface to help it stay cooler than its surroundings. A  marble or stone board works great, but you have lots of options.

Any table or surface designed for candy-making will work. Alternatively, a metal cookie sheet with a wet towel under it, positioned on top of a cooling rack may work as well. The evaporation of the water will cool the metal sheet.

12. Cooling by Evaporation

Place jar of yogurt in a shallow container of cool water. A cooling effect occurs as evaporation takes place. Replace water if it evaporates completely.