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Viili Yogurt Starter

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SKU: 5200

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Viili Yogurt Starter Culture

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Our most popular yogurt culture! Originating in Finland, the Viili Yogurt Starter cultures at room temperature into a creamy, mild yogurt with a fairly thick consistency. Our Viili yogurt does not have a ropey texture but rather a more gelatinous texture and is perfect in any yogurt recipe

  • Each box contains 2 packets of yogurt starter
  • Activate 1 packet using 1-2 cups pasteurized milk; store 2nd packet in the freezer as a back-up
  • Reusable heirloom starter recultures from batch to batch indefinitely.
  • Cultures on the countertop at room temperature (70º-77ºF)
  • This culture is also suitable for use with raw dairy milk or non-dairy milk, with special care.


Viili Yogurt Starter Instructions and Troubleshooting: 


Ingredients: Organic milk, live active bacteria.

This product contains no GMO ingredients.

Shipping Information and Shelf-life: Our Viili starter culture is shipped in a barrier-sealed packet as a freeze-dried yogurt culture. The starter keeps

  • At room temperature (68° to 77°F): 3 to 4 months
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 9 months unopened
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 12 months unopened


Allergen Information:

Manufactured in a facility that also produces products containing gluten and dairy.


Actual product may differ from image shown above.

Questions on Viili Yogurt Starter

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  • From Lilliemarie at 11/9/2011 2:19 PM
    • Can you use kefir to culture the viili yogurt or does it have to be fresh milk?
    • To make yogurt, you must use fresh milk. Kefir is already cultured, and adding a yogurt culture to it won't make any changes. It may weaken or kill the bacteria that is already in the kefir, and the kefir bacteria will weaken or kill the yogurt culture. Additionally, there is little or no lactose in the kefir for the yogurt bacteria to eat.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Peggy Cahill at 9/24/2011 9:18 PM
    • I am wondering if these cultures freeze well? I know it is possible to freeze some cultures, but I don't know if these are in the proper state for freezing. Thanks!
    • These cultures are freeze-dried, so additional freezing time will not harm them. The unopened cultures should last twelve months or more in the freezer.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Rebecca at 9/22/2011 10:08 AM
    • I am wondering if there is a natural decline in the culture as it ages. I have had this one going for many months (maybe a year?), culturing a new batch (using pasteurized, non-homogenized milk) once a week. Just recently, I have noticed the flavor doesn't seem quite right. It's not "bad", just not as good as it used to be. I started another batch with the second portion of dehydrated starter which I had stored in a cool, dark place, and it tastes the same as the old, maybe compromised, starter that I threw away. Any suggestions? Or do I just need to order a new master culture? Is there a shelf life to the dehydrated cultures once they are shipped, if they are kept in a cool, dark place? (I have a buttermilk culture that is still in the box, I put it in my fridge, since the viili was so versatile, I use it in place of the buttermilk!)
    • There should not necessarily be a decline in quality of the yogurt, as you are actually refreshing and re-growing it each time you make a new batch. In fact, when we make our own yogurt cultures, we are using cultures that have been re-grown for several years.

      It sounds like you may have some issues with the milk or the culturing process that we can help troubleshoot for you. Please email [email protected] and our customer service representatives can help you out.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Valerie at 9/7/2011 9:52 AM
    • Should I allow my milk to reach room tempature before adding the culture or just put it in the cold milk?
    • It is best if you let the milk reach room temperature before adding the culture, but it won't damage the culture to add the culture to cold milk.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Candace at 8/10/2011 2:42 PM
    • I want to use the Villi with raw whole organic milk but am concerned to have read your recommendation to Kelly, that it would be necessary to heat the mother culture to 160 degree, which to me would destroy all the good bacteria and enzymes in the raw milk. The point of buy this culture is so I don't have to heat anything and can keep the integrity of the milk with all its health properties.
    • You do have to heat the mother culture to 160ºF, but that is only for the mother culture. You then add only 1/4 c. of that to your quart of raw milk to make your actual yogurt. So, your yogurt will be made of mostly raw milk.

      Another option (if you want completely raw fermented milk product) is to use milk kefir grains. Nothing needs to be heated with these.

      * Note: As of August 2013, new instructions state yogurt can be made using 1 Tablespoon culture per 1 cup milk. Same ratio, but smaller amount as the minimum that can be made.
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  • From Sarah Gielow at 8/10/2011 1:02 PM
    • My husband is a celiac, can I be assured that these starters are not produced in an environment that also processes gluten containing ingredients? Thanks!

    • We are required by law to inform you that our cultures are produced in a facility that may also be used to process gluten-containing products. However, our equipment is dedicated to each product. The exposure to gluten from using our products would be about the same as if you ate in a restaurant that also served gluten products, or shopped in a store that also sold gluten products.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From jim at 8/8/2011 5:16 PM
    • I received my Viili yogurt starter today and am anxious to get started. We do not use whole milk due to its fat content and would like the yogurt to be as thick as possible. I have read your suggestions for thick yogurt.

      First question. You state that powdered milk can be added to the milk and suggest 1/2 cup powder can be added to several quarts of milk. Can you be more specific. How much powdered milk per quart?

      Another idea is to heat the milk to 180 degrees F and hold it there for 30 min. I read somewhere this denatures the proteins. Then for the Viili, let it cool to room temperature before I begin?

      Your directions for Viili don't mention starting temperature to get the culture started and then to actually start making yogurt. Should the milk be allowed to reach room temperature before starting?

      Thank you. We are looking forward to this adventure. Also ordered the Greek starter and a yogurt maker which has not arrived yet.
    • We don't have a precise recommendation for the amount of powdered milk to add to thicken yogurt, as your preferences would be very individual, and it would depend on the fat content of the milk you are using as well. To start out, you might try using 1/4 the amount of milk that is recommended to make reconstituted milk from the powder. You can adjust from there.

      Yes, heating up the milk denatures the proteins: that is, it breaks down the cell membranes somewhat so that the protein molecules will stick together (coagulate) better. You must let the milk cool down to room temperature before adding the culture so the bacteria doesn't die.

      Before inoculating the culture into the milk, the milk can be straight from the fridge or allowed to come to room temperature. Either will work.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Ellen at 7/7/2011 6:27 PM
    • I used the viili starter with my pasteurized goat milk. The result was a runny, gritty yogurt with a slightly sour taste. I let the culture activate for almost 48 hours as I wasn't completely sure if it had set. It had some watery liquid on top with some white thickness on the bottom. I put it in the fridge with out stiring. The next day, I stirred it and used a tablespoon with a cup of goat milk. I believe the temperature stayed fairly consistent. What did I do wrong? Also, how long can I keep the unused portion of the initial activated culture in the fridge?
    • There are a few things that can cause gritty yogurt. The milk may have not been fresh enough, or the culturing temperature was too warm. The sour taste is likely because it cultured too long at too warm a temperature. Runny yogurt can be caused by variables such as low quality milk, using the wrong quantity of milk with the packet, or the room temperature was not right.

      The unused pure starter should be used within a week to stay strong. Any pure batch of Viili yogurt will last 7 days in the fridge.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Kelly at 6/29/2011 12:54 PM
    • Does this starter work well with raw whole milk?
    • Yes, it does. However, you must perform an extra step when using raw milk, in order to keep your culture viable for a long time. You will need to make a pasteurized mother culture by heating the milk to 160ºF and then use that and only that to start your yogurts. See here for more information:
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Cindy at 6/26/2011 6:19 PM
    • To keep the even temperature of 70-77 degrees could you use a dehydrator to make the Villi yogurt?
    • If you can regulate your dehydrator to stay between 70 to 78 degrees, you could use that for making Viili yogurt. However, most dehydrators run around 90 degrees, which is too hot for Viili.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No

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Customer Reviews

100 people love this product!
Easy to culture. Review by Grandma Janet

My first few attempts to use this culture were unsuccessful. I am glad that I had received an extra packet of dried starter. I think the problem was that I I had stirred gently rather than mixed thoroughly. Now I use a wire whip to thoroughly mix the starter into the milk and it works well. I like that no heating is required and that I can make a large or small batch as needed. This product quickly paid for itself; grocery store milk costs considerably less than grocery store yogurt. It tastes good and I know exactly what the ingredients are.

(Posted on 10/26/2015)

very mild and sweet Review by Geoffrey

I made the starter with the Villi and and after that my first batch of yoghurts and they came out very mild, sweet and delicious. I found they take longer to set than the yoghurt I have been making for years using store bought yoghurts of differing types. The villi takes at least 20 hrs to start to set, compared to the 12 hrs or so that I was used to, though this is only my second batch so perhaps it gets stronger in time. Definitely more delicate taste than yoghurt made from store brands from Wholefoods etc.

CFH Note ~ If your mesophilic yogurt is culturing too slowly, your culturing temperature may be a little low. Move your yogurt to a slightly warmer location and watch the batch closely.

(Posted on 10/21/2015)

Didn't work but could have been my fault Review by LoriE

I am really excited about a room temp yogurt culture. I tried this with my raw milk which was nearly a week old so it may have been older than ideal with other stuff growing in it already. The culture and the subsequent yogurt never got thick and just separated into some sort of cultured solids and whey. I may try to culture some more milk with the solids and see what happens. Been busy too so that may be a factor. Not giving up, though.

Response from CFH: We recommend activating heirloom yogurts with pasteurized milk, and making raw batches once it is well established. We have instructions on this process here at this link:

(Posted on 10/21/2015)

didn't quite work Review by almostyogurt

tried 3 times, each time I got something closer to cottage cheese. I had the temperature controlled so I don't think it was this. The flavor was nice with a slight bitter after taste. I will probably try again with a new starter and see if it was just something in that starter.

~Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns about your yogurt.

(Posted on 10/3/2015)

Didn't work for me Review by HoneyRuns

I ended up ordering a heat-activated culture instead. I followed all of the instructions and had loads of lovely help from the online staff, but multiple batches never resulted in anything thicker than the original milk, and it had an Elmer's glue-like flavor. I even got a replacement, but had the same results. However, the Greek variety that I ordered works beautifully.

Note from CFH: Please continue to contact us for troubleshooting, as we often can help with the finickiest of cultures. We are here to help!

(Posted on 9/25/2015)

Delicious Review by Amy

I have never made yogurt this easy before! After reading the reviews for other countertop yogurts, I decided I would try this one. It took me a couple of tries before it came out tasting like yogurt, but once it did, it was delicious!! So easy, too. Love this product.

(Posted on 9/24/2015)

Easy to make, digests easily Review by TomT

I developed a milk allergy in 1989, so avoided it until 2006 when I tried raw goat milk cheese without problems. Later raw cow milk cheese also seemed fine. This year I'm culturing viili using raw cow milk, and propagating the culture with pasteurized, non-homogenized grass-fed cow milk. So far, so good!

The viili is easy to culture, and my wife even enjoys it in place of the commercial kefir she usually consumes.

Should I somehow bungle the culture, I'll surely be back for another box of starter!

(Posted on 9/19/2015)

Great! Review by Em

Easy. I'm used to making yogurt where you have to heat the milk and use a yogurt machine. My viili is not coming out thick but rather drinkable. Since I make milk and water kefir every day I'm certainly getting a variety of probiotics. I only make the viili once a week.

CFH Note ~ Try a slightly warmer location for culturing or making your Viili more frequently (more frequent feedings) and be sure to leave at least 4 feet between your culturing foods to minimize the risk of cross contamination.

(Posted on 9/6/2015)

thick but not creamy Review by tiger lily

I am delighted to have a culture that allows me to make tasty yogurt by just leaving milk and a spoonful of yogurt out on the counter. It works like a charm!
The yogurt thickens and pulls away from the side of the jar just fine, but I would like to have a more creamy texture. When I spoon it over berries it is kind of chunky even if I pour off the whey and stir it... maybe straining it for an hour or something would help this texture issue? Maybe I'll try a different culture.
I recommend using half and half... so divine!

(Posted on 8/29/2015)

Don't ever want to be without it! Review by Ruth G.

I hate most yogurt. Something about the texture makes me gag. I tried making homemade yogurt using store bought yogurt as a starter, and that was better, but a hassle. Since I already grind wheat, raise chickens, etc. I wanted something easy.

This could not be easier and it tastes SO GOOD. I love it plain or with a teaspoon of Bon Mamman Cherry Preserves stirred in. We also use it spooned over granola or cut up strawberries. My husband likes it with vanilla. And we also use it in recipes that call for yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk.

Tips - Don't be discouraged by your first batch. (My first batch took a little long to culture and was delicious but because it had been left out longer, it developed a sour smell in a few days. I still used it as the next starter and it has been perfect ever since.) It gets better and better over the first few batches. And when you get the mother to make the next batch, be sure you don't just scoop up mostly whey that has separated. Stir it up if there is a lot of separation so you get plenty of goodies in there to culture your next batch. I did that once and it took extra long for the next batch to culture but it was great and I continue to make my yogurt from the original culture so I have my spare packet in the freezer!

(Posted on 8/7/2015)

Disappointing is being generous. Review by Steve

Ordered the product and followed the instructions to. the. letter. Fed a second time and actually had an edible product. I was very excited. After that one and only time, nothing happened again, I saved, recultured, followed the instructions. DUD. Never got thick, I tried it again, nothing. Double DUD, dumped the whole thing down the drain. I even did an extensive on-line chat with one of your associates to try to figure out what happened, to no avail.

Took the backup envelope of starter, got out the instructions and again, to the letter, and again, NOTHING!! Never even thickened at all. Recultured and again nothing. Down the drain for a second time.

To say I am disappointed is an understatement. It has to work, other people have gotten it to work. Could I have gotten a bad batch? Who knows. I wrote it off as an expensive lesson and went back to grocery store yogurt. Sigh.

Response from CFH: In rare cases a culture can fail. We're dedicated to everyone having success with our products. Please contact customer support before discarding any product for assistance.

(Posted on 7/27/2015)

Great product Review by Sheri

Love love love your cultures! I was so happy to find your products. I started with the Villi and it came out fine, but I prefer a little thicker yogurt. I purchased the greek yogurt culture, and it was amazing. I used 1/2 and 1/2 and whole milk, and it came out wonderful. I hope I can keep the culture going. The hardest part seems to be finding milk and cream not ultra-pasteurized.

(Posted on 7/10/2015)

Perfect Healthy Culture Review by Tamera

I tried to make it the first time and never got it to thicken so, like an idiot, I threw it out. Then I remembered all the information on the web site and went back and looked around. I should have left it longer so it was my own fault, imagine that. LOL
I got the second packet out of the freezer and tried again. Perfect yogurt and the mother culture continues to produce for me every time.
It can be a little less than my optimal thickness even after straining but a very good yogurt none the less.

(Posted on 6/25/2015)

Easy and tastes great Review by JT

I've used this culture with both goat milk and non-homogonized cow milk. Both work really well, but the goat milk is obviously less thick than the cow milk. With the goat milk I use it more like a thick beverage.

Also, making it couldn't be easier. I was feeling stressed about keeping up with making traditional yogurt, but this is much less work. And I've managed to keep it going for a couple of months now, which is great.

(Posted on 6/21/2015)

Very pleased with Viili Review by Shirley

My Swedish grandmother used to make viili way back when I was a small child. Over the years the culture was lost and I didn't think I would be able to find a starter. Thanks to the internet, I found Cultures for Health, and a fresh starter. I did not have any problems with my starter culture. I usually make five half pints and one pint at a time. Half pints for breakfast and pint to use for a new starter. I put it on my kitchen counter and cover it with cheesecloth. Usually takes 24 hours to set. I have been doing this for over a year now.

(Posted on 6/19/2015)

Disappointed Review by coggins3

Although the culture set up nicely after 24 hours and the resulting yogurt's texture was really nice. The second set of yogurt, made four days later using a portion of the initial batch of yogurt, was a total flop. It completely separated and was very runny. WAY too much money to pay for a single batch of yogurt for which the starter can't be further used!!

I would like to be able to, but unfortunately can't recommend this product.

Response from CFH: Please contact customer support for troubleshooting advice before discarding product. Many cultures can be saved with minor adjustments.

(Posted on 6/17/2015)

Good product. Review by Debbie

The product is working well for me. It's not getting weaker. It continues to make good yogurt. I've been using it for three or four weeks, and have restarted it several times...I go through a lot of yogurt. The yogurt has a good texture and nice flavor.

(Posted on 6/16/2015)

Great...Very practical and useful Review by Kathleen

I think I've kept this going for about a year now. I use a half gallon mason jar. I simply use it down to about two inches from the bottom, refill the jar with organic (not ultra-pasteurized) milk, and set it on the counter till it thickens. Then refrigerate it till it is down to 2 inches again. It did get a little less active after the winter and I started again with the 2nd packet to get a fresh go with it. I like my kefir too, but the effort, the mess and waste with the straining has me using this yogurt more often than the kefir.

Response from CFH: We do recommend washing culturing vessels between use. We're so happy you are enjoying your Viili!

(Posted on 6/13/2015)

Pleasant and easy to make! Review by terrafirma

I'm a fermenting guru and find Viili yogurt one of the easiest to make. I recommend this type of yogurt for anyone new to fermenting. Tastes divine!!

(Posted on 6/11/2015)

Uniquely Delicious Review by Maria

I had been wanting to try Viili for a long time, as I had heard from other sources it is a drinkable yogurt, cultured at room temperature. I have been making homemade yogurt for over 30 years, but have always made the thick, solid, thermophilic type until now. Not only was the viili easy to make, but oh, what a beautiful delicate flavor and creamy texture to drink! I'm now reaching for my viili instead of my traditional yogurt (Bulgarian at present)--it's so satisfying to drink a small glass for breakfast, for a snack, or before bedtime for a deeper sleep. When culturing the viily, I put it in a warm spot, 72-77 degrees--and find that warm spot by putting a digital thermometer right next to it and monitoring the temperature. It's usually right on the counter next to my gas stove (it has pilot lights). Overall, I'd say that I didn't know what I was missing by not trying more types of yogurts until now. Each one has its own particular scent and flavor and is suitable for different uses. And viily is uniquely delicious with its mild flavor and creamy-rich texture!

(Posted on 5/19/2015)

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