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How to Culture Yogurt without a Yogurt Maker

Thermophilic Cultures

(Also see Maintaining Temperatures when Culturing Mesophilic or Countertop Yogurt)

If you’ve come to love store-bought yogurt but not the price, it might be time to make your own yogurt at home, and for a fraction of the cost. So how do you culture yogurt without a yogurt maker? Let's find out.

Making Cultured Yogurt At Home

Choosing a yogurt starter that requires heat to culture, such as store-bought yogurt or a thermophilic starter, may lead you to the purchase of a yogurt maker. However, there are many ways to culture yogurt without a yogurt maker.

At Cultures for Health, we carry several varieties of yogurt starter that require heat to culture, including:

For best results, test the temperature of the method you choose prior to making yogurt. Pour 110ºF water into a container and take readings at various intervals with a thermometer, to ensure that the range is correct.

10 Yogurt Culturing Alternatives

The following is a list of yogurt culturing alternatives, intended to give you ideas for how to culture yogurt without a yogurt maker. For more information, or to ask questions, contact us today.

  1. Food Dehydrator A box-style food dehydrator, with shelves removed and its door open/closed, works well to maintain the required temperature.

  2. Folding Proofer The Folding Proofer can be set to the temperature required for culturing yogurt.

  3. Oven The pilot light in a gas oven may add enough warmth to culture thermophilic yogurt. In an electric oven, a candle or the oven light may keep the environment warm enough to culture thermophilic yogurt.

  4. Thermos An insulated container such as a beverage thermos or the YogoTherm maintains temperature without electricity. Ambient temperature can have an effect on the culturing process; in cold weather, wrap thermos or Yogotherm with a warmed towel for added insulation.

  5. Crockpot The crockpot method allows the preparation and culturing of milk in one vessel.

  6. Insulated Cooler and Water Place yogurt jars in an insulated cooler, pouring 105º-115ºF water inside, about ¾ of the way up the jars. Close lid tightly, covering the cooler in a blanket or towel. Change out water if temperature drops below 105ºF.

  7. Insulated Cooler and Heating Pad Place yogurt jars in an insulated cooler with a heating pad set to low atop the jars, closing the lid with the cord hanging out. For added insulation, wrap cooler with a blanket or towel.

  8. Insulated Cooler in the Sun Set closed cooler in the sun.

  9. Hot Water Bath. Set the covered yogurt jar in a large bowl, filling the bowl with heated 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 heated water.
  10. Countertop Yogurt Starters. If none of the above methods works for you, try one of our countertop yogurt starters, which culture at 70-77°F. Our countertop yogurt starter cultures include: Viili, Filmjolk, Piima, and Matsoni.

Want to Learn More about Making Yogurt?

Freshly cultured yogurt with blueberries and raspberries

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