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Making yogurt without using commercial yogurt or starter

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I have been asked how to make yogurt without using any commercial products that can be purchased. In other words, how to make yogurt from scratch.

Searching my library, I've found no help. All recipes include some reference to using "2 TBLS yogurt" or something very similar.

Certainly bread starter can be made from scratch using flour & water without buying additional ingredients. How about yogurt? Does anyone know how to do this using milk, heat and something other than "store-bought" ingredients?

TIA

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  1. Much harder than making bread without commercial yeast. I used to know a woman who would make a sort of yogurty thing by leaving raw milk out until it set, but the flavour wasn't what you'd expect from yogurt - you are dependent on the bacteria that happens to occur naturally in the milk. Yogurt is made with a specific bacteria, and you won't necessarily have it unless you innoculate the milk with it. I personally suggest you start with a spoonful of a commercial yogurt you like the flavour of - all natural, active culture - and then you can use your homemade yogurt to innoculate any batches afterward.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Nyleve

      Nyleve, that's not yoghurt - that's inkomazi/amasi AKA sour milk. It's used in a lot of dishes here in South Africa (including Indian dishes that usually take yoghurt), and if you still know the woman it will open up a lot of recipes for you, including this recipe for sour milk brownies: http://you.co.za/amasi-brownies/

      1. re: Nyleve

        Actually yogurt from the wild is not that hard to get started IF you know how to get the original starter culture. You can get if fro, of all places, chilies stems. Just place the stems of several chili peppers into milk that has been heated to at least 160° F for 10 min or more (pasteurization temperature) and then keep warm (85° to 105°) until it has set up. The first batch will of course have a spicy taste to it, but subsequent generations will lose that spiciness.

        1. re: VillyCarl

          I think if you had read the whole thread, you would have seen chili stems covered as a source along with picture proof.

      2. The milk would somehow have to get inoculated with wild Lactobacillus bulgaricus or one of the other yogurt bacteria, and remain uncontaminated by any other bacteria that would spoil it.

        Natural sourdough starter made from scratch picks up wild yeast from the air.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Thank you both for your thoughtful answers. I didn't think the request was feasible but wanted to mine the collective wisdom of the Chowhound community in case I was wrong. There was a part of me hoping that perhaps there just might be some elusive wild yogurt-producing bacteria lurking like wild yeast .......

          For whatever reason, the original questioner absolutely does not want to use any commercial products whatsoever and is convinced that she can do this on her own. I'll wish her Godspeed and be done with this query.

          1. re: Sherri

            The bacteria has to come from somewhere, and it may not be just floating around in your kitchen. But whole and malted grains tend to accumulate a surface coating of lactobacillus infection during storage. If you prepared a beer mash but didn't filter or boil it, it will (guaranteed) go sour. That would be a good source of some kind of non-toxin-producing lactobacillus culture. Whether it would make a tasty yogurt is a different question.

            A kitchen in which yogurt is made all the time might have the right cultures floating in the air in adequate quantities... is this cheating?

            What is your friend's reasoning here?

            1. re: noahbirnel

              "What is your friend's reasoning here?"

              To be true to the product is her answer, whatever that means. I've washed my hands of this because it has turned into a game of "Yeah, but ...." on her end with unending excuses for refusing to use anything "manufactured". She wants it "pure, unadulturated" (her words) and "anything bought is cheating".

              Oddly enough, this thinking does not extend to other aspects of her life. I've wished her well in her quest.

              Thanks for taking the time to answer.

              1. re: Sherri

                If she doesn't want to buy anything, then she should borrow a couple of tablespoons of homemake yogurt from somebody.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I believe she wants to do it the old fashioned way where you don't have to use any chemicals, but to do that you must use raw milk.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Exactly. Tell her that she is partaking of a long time tradition, the preservation of a transfer of living organisms from one cook to another, the cultivation of life. Or whatever will appeal to her the most. Point is, she needs the right bacteria, and the way to get it is through another yogurt. A kind of mother-child situation. If she doesn't want it "adulterated" with commerce, find someone who makes yogurt at home. Fail to mention this person probably started with purchased yogurt.

                  2. re: Sherri

                    I suspect that getting a good yoghurt starter from the air is a matter of trial and error, with a lot of spoiled batches - basically letting milk spoil and hoping it does so in the right way, and that you've got the right particles floating around your kitchen.

                    But the normal 'natural' way of starting yoghurt is to get a few tablespoons of yoghurt from somebody else.

            2. i use raw organic goat milk and just leave it on my counter for a few days. granted, it's not creamy like how we are used to it in the stores, but it's yogurt.

              10 Replies
              1. re: jilly123

                Nobody here is going to believe this, but the only way that I know of to make yogurt without a yogurt starter is with -
                ants.
                You are guffawing now, or at least chortling - maybe snorting perhaps in disbelief: "Yeah right buddy, you're pullin my leg. Ants, what a load of crock!"
                Let me explain.
                I am an American living in Turkey (as a translator), where yogurt is a daily staple. I got curious one day and started asking my Turkish friends here how the original yogurt starter was made, and was met with blank looks. Chicken and egg story, right? Yogurt comes from - well, yogurt, naturally.
                So a Turkish friend and I went online one night, bent on solving this mystery: where the hell do those bacteria come from and where can I get them?
                Well friends, the answer is right in your backyard.
                There are two ways to get the bacteria, that we found; one, using the soil from an anthill, or using crushed ant eggs.
                I cannot vouch however for American ants, I don't know if they carry the same bacteria as ants in Turkey (I am not a biologist, I am a translator and a university academic). But the situation is this:
                as with regular yogurt making, where you add a pre-existing yogurt culture to milk, you have to heat the milk (a jar's worth). Then, you add the mashed up ant eggs (about 30 eggs will do), or a good pinch of soil from an ant hill. Seal and bundle up, so that the bacteria stay cozy and get to work on reproducing. After a day, open up and there will be a medley of liquid (kind of a whey) and white solids. The white solid, which looks a bit like feta cheese, is your starter.
                Again heat your milk in a clean container, and this time add a tablespoon-size lump of the starter, and shake or stir a bit. Then seal, wrap and let sit for about 4 to 6 hours. Upon opening, you will find that you have yogurt. Made from ants. You can terrify your friends with this.
                According to the Turkish web pages we found, the best-tasting yogurt comes from anthill soil.
                I am pasting below a link to a video. It is in Turkish, so find a Turkish friend to help you work through it. But even if you can't speak Turkish, just watch along and you can pick up on what's going on:

                http://www.annemmutfakta.tv/video/hul...

                I am pasting below another link, which is a text web page which details a study which arrived at the same results. It is also in Turkish, so find a translator:

                http://www.ekoses.com/ekolojikyasampo...

                Last night I happened to meet some Austrian biologists here in Istanbul who were baffled by this idea that the yogurt culture is actually carried by ants. Baffled isn't enough. They were flabbergasted. They refused to accept this. I was met by all-around rejection and stern looks. They told me that the yogurt-producing bacteria is actually found in the stomachs of cows. Which may also be correct. In Austria. My German is not good enough to hunt this down, but it could also be an interesting lead, for anyone with good German.

                In light of the fact that NOTHING in English on the web touches on this subject successfully (that's how I found this web page, in my fruitless search to find an alternative answer), I felt compelled to post this. Cheers, and happy ant-yogurt making.

                1. re: wyersmd

                  ...And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my favourite post of the year. Thanks!

                  1. re: wyersmd

                    This can't be real. Please be real. Please hounds try and report back. So odd, but yet...

                    1. re: corneygirl

                      ...don't you just want to dig up an anthill and try it?

                      1. re: Nyleve

                        I am happy to see that there has been a positive response to my posting about ant-yogurt. It actually seems like a plausible means of bacteria transference, more so than the cow stomach theory (which I am not saying is not true). I mean, the stomach and the udder, as far as I know (I am no zoologist, but feel confident about this claim), are not connected in a cow. So how would the "contamination" occur? I imagine something like this conversation on a farm way way WAY back in the day:
                        "Hey Ma, daddy and Jose just butchered the cow and gave me this here cow stomach. It's naaasty. Whaddya want me to do with it?"
                        "Look here girl now don't get dumb on me. You know damn well where to put it."
                        (blank stare)
                        "Git now, put it in that barrel of milk, you know we always put it there."
                        (8 hours later on a nice hot day)
                        "Hey Ma the milk looks funny. It's all gooey and smells weird."

                        The ant approach, on the other hand, is much more logical. Conversation between ants:
                        "Hey Frank, I'm dying of thirst man. I've been moving these little particles of dirt for 9 hours nonstop. By the way, why are we moving these particles of dirt?"
                        "Frank, you know how it works. We move particles of dirt, because they need, uh, fresh air. Yeah that's it. That's what the foreman told me. Fresh air. But yeah you're right dude, I'm pretty parched myself."
                        "Hey look, there's a bucket of milk."
                        "Dude I love milk. Let's get us some of that."
                        (Quick clamber to bucket.)
                        "Mmmm, this is goooood."
                        "You bet it is. Hey, Pancho! Hey! Why don't you and Garth and Ahmet come on up here? We're takin a milk break."
                        "You got it boss."
                        (Clamber up bucket. Altogether): "Man, this rocks!"
                        "Hey, watch me, I'm gonna do a cannonball. Whohoo!"
                        "Wohoo!"
                        "Woohoo!"
                        (Then)
                        "Oh hell man, who turned out the lights."
                        "Dude, I think somebody put the lid on the bucket. We're, uh, in a bit of bind now fellows, I would say."
                        "Yeah, it's gettin hot in here."
                        "Yes, it is a bit toasty. We may die here."
                        "Hey pendejo, you got us into this mess, now get us out of here!"
                        "Pancho watch your mouth."
                        "Hey, the milk is getting kind of gooey."
                        "Righty oh, it sure is. I think we are on to something here boys. I sense some lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecie bulgaricus bacteria about. This is good."
                        "Dude, like I think we might be witnessing the production of a product which the Ottoman sultan Suleyman the Magnificent will send to his French ally Francis the First to cure his abysmal diarrhea." (true story)
                        "Cool, I've been kinda splatty myself these days."
                        "Hm yes, there is a bit of a lactic acid build up underway it seems, I believe we are witnessing the creation of - uh, what is it called?"
                        "Hey Ahmet, you're Turkish, would you call this gooey stuff we're probly gonna die in?"
                        "Yo Garth, what's up? I didn't catch that."
                        "What? Yoguert?"

                        (Incidentally, "yogurt" is one of a tiny number of Turkish words that made it into English. Some Turkish researchers claim that the word "mammoth" is also of Turkish origin, but I say that with lots of skepticism in my toothpaste.)

                        I mean, it seems like it could happen pretty easily, some ants carrying the appropriate bacteria could easily find themselves in milk. More so than:

                        "Hey Ma, I'm thiiiiirsty. I want some milk. Where is it?"
                        "What did you off and get hit with the stupid stick? You know damn well it's on the shelf there, in the cow stomach."
                        "Oh right, thanks."

                        Anyways. I look forward to hearing other ways of creating a yogurt culture, I have my doubts that ants are the only way (any German or Austrian biologists around to confirm the cow stomach idea?). I read on an Indian (Indianindian, I mean the country India) webpage that in making soy yogurt the stems of chili peppers can be used to invite fermentation, but that is for soy yogurt. Anyways. I hope to see some alternatives for making the "first" yogurt.

                        1. re: wyersmd

                          Well, the way I heard it, goat stomachs were used as bags by shepherds to carry milk to the fields for their lunch. I imagine one day the stomach hadn't been well cleaned, and the rennet (the enzyme produced by cow/sheep stomachs and used in cheesemaking) combined with the warmth turned the milk into yogurt.

                          1. re: Chris VR

                            That sounds good.

                          2. re: wyersmd

                            wow...u will be good as a script writer.....keep it up :)

                      2. re: wyersmd

                        I should have read further before posting about how my Turkish chef/housekeeper made yogurt from scratch when I lived in Adana. Cross my heart, she NEVER used ants or anything related to them. Just heated the milk and let it sit on the kitchen counter until it was yogurt. I suspect some Turks with their typically sharp sense oh humor are just having fun pulling your leg!

                        Oh, and the substance your Austrian "authorities" speak of that is from a cow's stomach is rennet, and it is used in making cheese, not yogurt.

                        I have no idea whether you can make yogurt by heating and setting out a bowl of hot milk if you use homogenized and/or pasturized milk. We used raw, whole milk.

                        1. re: wyersmd

                          this is Ridiculously Funny!

                      3. My mother-in-law from India taught me how to make yogurt without a starter.. use a small tamarind (u can get dried at Indian store) and a dried red chili in only a small amount of boiled milk. You let that set, then use that for the starter of the next batch. Repeat steps of boiling small amount of milk and using the new set "starter" until the yogurt smells correctly (about 4-5 times)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jkarra

                          I just tried this last evening and can report that it seems to work. I say "seems to" because I've only made Generation 0. This evening I intend to use it to create Generation 1. Based on my prior experience with using the stems of fresh red chili peppers, I expect this to be somewhat flavored by the tamarind and pepper until Generation 5.

                          The tamarind was so huge, I just plunked the whole thing into the cup of milk rather than break it up. The chili stained the milk a bit, so I'm hoping that goes away with subsequent generations.

                          Slide show here:
                          http://www.flickr.com/photos/marypatc...

                           
                        2. I realize this is a super old post, but has anyone tried any of these or have any new insight into this subject?

                          Like this friend above who wanted to do it all from scratch, I too want to know how to make yogurt-- not to be anti-commercial-- but simply to understand the past, to understand how humans cooked, out of curiosity.

                          1. I read that yogurt was accidentally made when ancient peoples traveled with raw milk in their natural containers. These containers were canteen like made from or lined with the stomachs of goats or cattle. Like a goat skin bag etc. As they moved around and temperatures were favorable it would ferment into yogurt. Someone figured out how to make more perhaps since they wasted nothing by adding more milk and voila more yogurt! I guess people figured out how to preserve these cultures that come from the natural enzymes produced in these animals stomachs. This is why yogurt has beneficial digestive bacteria or enzymes.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: olfashin

                              Enzymes are not living creatures, they are chemicals manufactured by living organisms to catalyze other chemical reactions. Yogurt is produced from living Bacteria which turn lactose into lactic acid.

                            2. The problem with re-using commercial yogurt starters from your favorite yogurt is that they aren't stable over time. You have to go back to the commercial product after every half dozen to dozen batches made by backslopping a little yogurt from the previous batch. Sandor Elix Katz's latest book has more info on the problem of starter stability and so much MORE fermentation info too (pg 188-192, 199 for yogurt starters). Sandor bought two stable cultures and has maintained them for more than a year without losing taste and texture, something you cannot do with any store bought yogurt used as a source culture. Buying a stable culture for yogurt is like buying a sourdough culture from Ed Wood's Sourdoughs International, it has survived countless passages and made many people happy with its flavor and taste. Raising your own live stable and pleasing yogurt culture seems much more difficult that creating a stable sourdough. I would say look for carpenter or wood ant eggs as carpenter ants use cellulose materials to feed an underground garden of bacteria and fungi to make their food. Some of these bacteria will have the genes to digest milk sugar with its unusual combination of galactose and glucose sugars. Bacteria are efficient at breaking down galactose polymers as plants make copius amounts of galactose into plant pectins and arabinogalactans found in plants and vegetables. We eat these plant polysaccharides daily (carrots, onions, lettuce etc.) but cannot completely digest them without bacterial help. The problem with making your own starter culture isn't souring milk, milk will sour all by itself every time. The problem is finding a stable culture that is good tasting with a pleasing aroma. I hope someone in the USA tries the wood ant egg starter and reports back on the results. Sandor outlines other vegetable sources used in India and the Middle East for yogurt starters for the squeamish insectophobes who want to try their hands at a yogurt starter from scratch. Here are 3 sources of stable yogurt starters from Sandor's Art of Fermentation text for people wishing to buy an established old fashioned yogurt starter:
                              www.culturesalive.com
                              www.culturesforhealth.com
                              www.cheesemaking.com

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: dsweedler

                                We made our own yogurt for years. We started with a store bought yogurt and then could manage to use the previous day's batch's cultures for months, and made yogurt daily. The only thing that got in the way, was us travelling. We followed Sam's technique from chowhound where you use scrapings from the top, middle and bottom of our previous batch to significantly greater success than you have suggested above.

                                1. re: dsweedler

                                  I have been using a culture from a store bought yogurt now for over 3 years. If your culture is not stable, look at how you are handling it. Most likely you are doing something that kills the best strain of bacteria in your culture allowing other strains to take over.

                                2. I'm a late comer to this topic but found the link www.culturesforhealth.com to be incredibly useful for understanding about yogurt cultures.

                                  Last evening, I heated milk to 180, cooled it to the right range and added stems from red chili peppers. It's still incubating in my Salton. I checked this morning. It had set. When I get home from work, I'll refrigerate it. Am very curious to see if the starter will taste like chili-yogurt or what.

                                  I've been making my own yogurt for years and got interested in making my own starter.

                                  1. I've just made a "mother yogurt" using chili stems. It came out nearly solid. I'll be making my first batch of yogurt from it on Wednesday.

                                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/marypatc...

                                     
                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: PatsyWalker

                                      Thats interesting about the chili stems. Let us know how it comes out whether the taste is any different

                                      1. re: PatsyWalker

                                        Thanks for the tutorial. How much milk do you use for the milk/stem mix? And more importantly, once you have the starter what proportions do you use? ie, how much starter to how much milk to make the yogurt? I registered with this site just to ask this question. Would be so thankful for an answer. Thanks in advance.

                                        1. re: kobesunset

                                          I only used 1 cup milk and 12 stems for the starter as I didn't want to waste much milk on an experiement if it failed. This became my zero generation and it had a slight aftertaste of bell pepper (no tang at all from the chili pepper). I only used 1 cup for generation 1 and added 1/4 cup of the starter. Bell pepper taste was less and it was still firm enough for a spoon to stand upright once curdled. Generation 3 had no aftertaste of pepper at all. So I used 1/4 cup of generation 3 to create Generation 4 with 6.5 cups milk. Very smooth; bland and creamy and no longer firm like tofu. I like a bit of tart with my yogurt. I'm now on Generation 11 and this time, it is tart. Don't know why but I did keep a better watch on not allowing the temp go below 104 degrees.

                                          I froze 1/4 cup of Generation 4 to see if I could thaw and re-use as a starter. Haven't used it yet.

                                          I'm also wanting to try the dried tamarind and dried chili pepper I read in an earlier posting here. Haven't had enough time -- it's important enough to me that I want to take notes and watch temps etc.

                                          1. re: PatsyWalker

                                            My favorite starter culture, yogourmet has become expensive so I found this post...Very interesting it is...and I also found this site, where the person experimented and used only the stems of chili peppers and explains it in detail at Sandor's site.
                                            http://www.wildfermentation.com/yogur...

                                            And thanks to you also Patsy for the detailed report. I like my yogurt tart too.

                                      2. When I lived in Turkey, in the middle of the last century, when my chef/housekeeper wanted fresh yogurt she just heated milk and let it sit out on the kitchen counter at room temperature over night. The bacteria that makes yogurt was part of the air at that time in that country. After I returned to the U.S., it was too easy to buy yogurt than to try that. I have NO idea whether the required bacteria is in the air in the U.S. or not.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                          Was she starting with raw milk? And was she warming it or bringing the temperature fairly high?

                                          There is a recipe I have seen for making a buttermilk type thing using yeast, in Maura Laverty's book, reprinted here.
                                          http://realirishfood.blogspot.com/200...

                                          1. re: willownt

                                            I LOVE this thread! As to what you said about a kitchen in which yogurt is made all the time, noahbirnel. I knew a woman when I was a kid who SWORE that her Grandma could make yogurt from milk and nothing else, she said that she just 'stirred it with her hands.' Now, the Grandma in question was Greek, she was about 217 years old (okay, but she SEEMED that old to me at the time) and I kind of dismissed the possibility, since Grandma didn't speak a lot of English and I couldn't exactly ask her. Now I kind of wonder if there was some truth to it, if Grandma had been making yogurt for so long in that kitchen, and with those hands, that the cultures were ever-present. I can't even remember the playmate's name after all these years, but I still wonder if it was possible she was telling the truth. I am going to try the chili stem thing a.s.a.p.

                                            1. re: tonifi

                                              Just found this thread & I find it very intriguing. I have made yogurt for several years with a purchased freeze dried yogurt starter that I order. But, as of late, I have been having a lot of fails to culture & I am seeking an alternative culture method, or at least one I could find locally ( DFW- Tx. Area).

                                            2. re: willownt

                                              As I recall -- but it was well over 50 years ago! -- she used both milk she bought on the Turkish economy and/or milk I bought at the US Air Force commissary that came from Germany and/or Denmark. The base vet told me that the "yogurt bacteria" was in the air. Now, that said, modern American home construction is pretty much designed to keep as much "fresh air" as possible OUTSIDE the house because of pollution, so I have no idea if it still works a half a century and 7,000 miles away. But if anyone wants to give it a shot and it doesn't work, all you've lost is a couple of cups of milk and some time. And no, she didn't boil the milk, just heated it.

                                              When I want the closest thing I can get to the Greek or Turkish yogurts I used when I lived in those countries I buy fat free plain yogurt in large tubs (I like the flavor/bite of Walmart's Great Value brand) and drain it in a collander lined with paper towels for a half an hour or so. Or if you want a pretty good fat free cream cheese substitute just drain the yogurt in the refrigerator overnight.

                                              I have yet to find a commercially prepared American brand of "Greek" yogurt that comes anywhere close to the yogurt I bought when I lived in Greece or in Turkey! Every brand I have tried tastes "off." Floury even. And the texture is wrong.

                                          2. It is a bit late to answer your post but you can actually make your own starter just using milk and dried chickpeas. Below is how, though it is in Turkish. I think google translate might help you a bit because that translator is not so good with Turkish. If you need help with translation just ask.
                                            http://cloudpage.co/yogurt-mayasi

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: swarthykhan

                                              Swarthykhan, wow that's great! I hadn't heard of using chickpeas before.
                                              Tesekkur ederim, sitede cok guzel bir sekilde anlatiliyor... Kesin deneyecem! :)

                                            2. Okay, it is April, and I am still making good yogurt from the chili-stem yogurt I made back in September...earlier posters are correct in saying that commercial-yogurt as a starter is just fine, but after 3 or 4 generations you start to lose some, oh, structural integrity...it starts to be a bit lumpy or a bit thin...this wild-caught stuff is TOUGH. I have been scooping out a bit with each generation to use for starter, and I did one time have to resort to a frozen jar I had tucked into the back of the freezer (somebody ate my starter...) but I am impressed. The frozen stuff kicked in just as enthusiastically as the non-frozen, though I did make sure it had time to thaw very well before I used it in the new batch. I'd love to hear if someone has used chickpeas, though I will probably pass on the anthill option.

                                              25 Replies
                                              1. re: tonifi

                                                You have made a coagulated milk product, but to my best estimation, it's not yogurt. For yogurt, you need specific strains of lactobacillus bacteria, and those bacteria are not adapted to grow on chili stems. This doesn't mean you need to change anything, only that what you're making isn't yogurt. Might be tasty, though.

                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                  Yeah - I'm trying to wrap my head around the science of this. I don't get why there would be the right kind of bacteria on specifically chili stems. If they are on chili stems (and only stems?) would they not also be in other places in the environment? This is a puzzle to me.

                                                  1. re: Nyleve

                                                    lactobacilli are very widespread. After all, they are what ferments cabbage to make sauerkraut without the use of a culture, and also Kosher dill pickles, not to mention Kimchee. It is just a matter for finding the right strains. People have also used Ant eggs and dirt form an ant colony to get yogurt started. It is a matter of finding plants etc that suppress undesirable strains in obtaining a useful culture.

                                                    1. re: VillyCarl

                                                      There are thousands of strains of lactobacilli. There are lots of folks who think all lactobacillus are the same, but each strain is specifically adapted to grow on only one thing. There are separate strains for yogurt, for kimchi and sauerkraut, for wine, for sourdough starter, and on and on.

                                                      The bacteria or lactobacilli strain(s) to make yogurt can only be Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. They have adapted to work only in dairy production, and need dairy as a food source.

                                                      Both Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are not found on chili stems or green plants (the exception is in Bulgaria, hence the name). If these bacteria are placed on green plants, they adapt and become another strain of lactobacillus (they adapt to find a new food source since there is no lactose).

                                                      So chili stems cannot be the source of yogurt bacteria. And if you don't have yogurt bacteria, you don't have yogurt. But you might have a very nice thickened milk product, just not yogurt.

                                                      But what is it? Many different kinds of rennet are on vegetables. Vegetable rennets coagulate and thicken milk, and that is my best guess as to how the milk is being thickened, since it is not cultured by yogurt bacteria.

                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                        Only Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus will produce yogurt?? Not so! Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii, Bifidobacterium Lactis, -Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris, Acetobacter orientalis and others are are also found in various types of yogurt. There are numerous types of yogurt, and each has its defining mix of lactobacilli. In addition to our "Normal" yogurt found in markets throughout the USA there are such types as Matsoni (From Georgia, the country, not the state), Viili, Piima (from Finland), Filmjolk (Sweden) to name a few.
                                                        The two you mention will produce "Bulgarian" yogurt.
                                                        The list I have provided is not a complete list of all dairy lactobacilli species by any means nor is the list of types of yogurt complete.

                                                        As far as how the milk is thickened, the production of Lactic Acid coagulates the milk proteins in the same way that putting vinegar into milk will curdle it. The thickening process in yogurt does not use rennet.

                                                        You also seem to think that Lactobacilli are used to make wine and bread. Not true, those are made by yeasts. Yeast are fungi, not bacteria. Yeasts growing in an anaerobic environment covert sugars to ethanol and carbon dioxide. And the yeasts on grape skin will grow in bread, feeding on the sugars present there, just as bread yeast will produce wine and beer. It is just that certain strains do a better job in each application.

                                                        But there are also many different sugars chemically. They include glucose aka dextrose, fructose aka levulose, Maltose, Tagatose, lactose, and galactose to name a few.

                                                        Rennet is not a live organism but a mix of chemicals know as enzymes. It can be extracted from mammalian stomach and various other non animal sources. It is used to coagulate the proteins in milk.

                                                        1. re: VillyCarl

                                                          <<You also seem to think that Lactobacilli are used to make wine and bread. Not true, those are made by yeasts.>>

                                                          I see you are not familiar with malolactic fermentation. This is a secondary fermentation used in making wine after the initial yeast fermentation. It uses a specific lactobacillus that converts malic acid to lactic acid.

                                                          The lactobacillus in a sourdough starter -- not the yeast -- is the main agent for producing leavening and flavor, far more than the wild yeast. The yeast actually do very little work in the starter.

                                                          Sourdoughs from all parts of the world were analyzed, and it was found that they were all populated with the same lactobacillus bacteria and yeast with little variation by region. The bacteria and yeast were all found on the flour and grain, and adapted to work only on flour and grain, as I've stated.

                                                          The yeasts on grape skins will not work to ferment bread flour or grain. The yeast and bacteria on grapes and grape skins had no effect on the bacterial colony in sourdough starters in numerous scientific tests. I've researched this extensively and have even interviewed a few of the scientists who isolated the sourdough bacteria (l. sanfrancensis)and its specific yeast (c. milleri/humilis).

                                                          To make sourdough, you need that specific LB bacteria and that specific yeast.

                                                          To make yogurt, you need two definitive yogurt bacteria: Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

                                                          If those bacteria are not used to culture your milk, you don't make yogurt.

                                                          BTW, l. delbrueckii has been reclassified as bulgarius, and bifida is found in yogurt, like acidolphilus, but is not considered an essential yogurt bacteria.

                                                          Matsoni is yogurt, since it's made with yogurt bacteria, but not every thickened/cultured milk is yogurt.

                                                          Viili, piima and Filmjolk are yogurt-like but not yogurt because they're not made with yogurt bacteria. A couple of these are more like sour cream than yogurt.

                                                          Sour cream, creme fraiche, clabber and so forth, are all made with different strains of lactobacillus bacteria. The result is a thick, cultured milk product but you'd never say sour cream is yogurt or creme fraiche is yogurt because they're not. They're quite different from yogurt because the LB bacteria used to make them is different.

                                                          Like with viili, piima and Filmjolk, the thickened cultured milk made with the bacteria on chili stems (l. plantarum) is not yogurt since it is not made with yogurt bacteria.

                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                            Again you simply reiterate what you had previously stated without ANY references. You also state OPINION as if they were fact. If you make claim to scientific research it is up to YOU to provide corroborating evidence. And yes, malolactic fermentation is use in SOME wines to produce a wine that is less harsh. It is not used in all wines, and the vintner chooses to use or not use it depending on the flavor he is trying to achieve. It is desirable in area where the acid content of the grapes is high, but is undesirable in area where the acid concentration is low. A brief overview can be found at http://wine.about.com/od/vineyardvoca... while a scholarly detailed explanation can be found at http://lfbisson.ucdavis.edu/PDF/VEN12...
                                                            You state "The bacteria and yeast were all found on the flour and grain, and adapted to work only on flour and grain, as I've stated" That is so easy to disprove that if is almost ludicrous. How? simply take a bit of sourdough started and put it into some pasteurized grape juice being very careful to exclude wild yeast contamination. Voila, fermentation and wine production. Not as good as wine produced using yeasts specifically bred for wine making, but wine nevertheless. BTW pasteurized grape juice is available at grocery stores under such brands as "Welch's"
                                                            One thing that strikes my attention is that repeatedly you state that certain bacteria / yeasts will only work in certain very narrow conditions, and nowhere else. There are very few species that are tightly bound to a very narrow set of growing conditions, and the more "primitive" the organism, the less specialize they tend to be. You would have us believe that yeasts and lactobacilic bacteria are such very specialized organisms when they grow under widely varying conditions and in competition with many other microbes.
                                                            For some reason you try to define such as sour cream, creme fraiche, yogurt etc as narrow very items when in fact they are part of a wide spectrum of dairy products which blend into each other without sharp boundaries.

                                                            1. re: VillyCarl

                                                              I stand by everything I've written as scientifically correct, and don't wish to rebut your post point by point by point, but I certainly could. For example, I never said an ML fermentation was used in every wine, but you responded as if I had.

                                                              I'm under no obligation to provide you with references or links -- -- say on the adaptation of LB bacteria to work only on specific organisms, for example -- when that knowledge that is easily found in microbiology textbooks, scholarly articles, Google searches, etc.

                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                If it is so easy to find, it would be simplicity itself to post them, so why do you refuse to do so?

                                                            2. re: maria lorraine

                                                              ML, where do you get this stuff and why the authoritative replies with what is clearly just made up nonsense....

                                                              "The lactobacillus in a sourdough starter -- not the yeast -- is the main agent for producing leavening and flavor, far more than the wild yeast. The yeast actually do very little work in the starter.

                                                              Leavening is the process of creating gas in the dough, whether by chemicals such as baking soda and baking powder or yeast leavening. LAB do not produce CO2, hence no leavening from bacteria. Hey if yeast did not introduce their own flavor profiles, why does soda bread taste so different from yeasted breads?

                                                              1. re: dsweedler

                                                                If you read a bit about the microbiology of sourdoughs, you'll uncover that the Lactobacillus in sourdough comes in several types: homofermentative, which produces no CO2; facultatively heterofermentative, which can produce O2; and obligately heterofermentative, which produces CO2.

                                                                The yeast (c. milleri or c. humilis) do very little of the leavening work in sourdough starters -- it's mainly the LB.

                                                                Where do I get this from? Well, from Martin Miller himself, after whom the yeast (c. milleri) in sourdough is named, when speaking with him on numerous occasions -- he worked with Sugihara and Klein to isolate the bacteria and yeast in sourdough starters. But I went on after that to study the microbiology of sourdough for years, reading scientific papers from all over the world about sourdough's microbiology.

                                                                You could done some reading yourself easily on Wikipedia before you posted and then refrained from calling what I wrote nonsense.

                                                          2. re: maria lorraine

                                                            Bacterial transformation is common in lactobacillus species. Lactobacillus cover decaying plant material of any kind. Generally the strains you end up with will be determined by the environment you introduce them to. Traditional yogurt has many strains of lactic acid bacteria. The reason store bought yogurt typically contains l. bulgaricus and s. thermophilus only is because industrial food manufacturers require a high degree of control over consistency, taste, incubation time and temperature. Heirloom cultures contain many more strains of lactic acid bacteria, and it is this diversity that allows them to survive indefinitely, while the bulgaricus and thermophilus pair, unsupported by other strains and lacking adaptive exogenous DNA fragments, will fail after a few generations even when introduced into an ideal environment. Chili stems can be a source of yogurt bacteria, as can broccoli, flower petals, or indeed any handful of leaves. All that is needed is a diverse selection of lactobacillus strains and a few generations of environmental selection.

                                                            1. re: seanmft

                                                              Yogurt LB bacteria have adapted to be dairy-specific, according to my reading. No doubt heirloom varieties of yogurt have a more diverse culture pool, with a few dominant primary strains.

                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                Bacterial adaptation is shared. That's what bacterial transformation is. Extrinsic DNA fragments are taken up by similar strains. It's often not necessary for one specific strain of bacteria to evolve an adaptation independently because DNA isn't fixed inside the cell. It's more accurate to say LB in general have evolved DNA that is suited to a dairy environment, than it is to say l. bulgaricus evolved. When LB adopts a certain dairy specific DNA profile we call it l.bulgaricus.

                                                      2. re: maria lorraine

                                                        You make sourdough bread from grapes because the bacteria are on the skins of the grapes. So why can't lactobacillus be on the stems of the chilis?

                                                        1. re: hayley3

                                                          I'm not arguing. Just amazed by this possibility. How crazy is this world!?!

                                                          1. re: hayley3

                                                            The grapes thing is a myth.

                                                            Scientific analysis of sourdough starters from all over the world revealed that grapes or grape skins contribute no bacteria or yeast that create a sourdough or that work on grain.

                                                            In fact, the scientists discovered that all the bacteria that populate a sourdough are already on the grain and flour -- they just need a proper setting to grow. The scientists also proved that "harvesting" sourdough bacteria and yeast from the air (as in San Francisco) was a myth, since again, the bacteria and yeast are already on the flour and grain.

                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                              You state the "Scientific" studies of sourdough starters reveal that grapes or grape skins contribute no bacteria or yeast to create a sourdough or that work on grain. Funny, I have both used bread making yeast (NOT BACTERIA) and wine yeast to make both wine and bread.Both types work in each application. I would like you to produce your references to back up your statements. The "Bloom" on the skin of the grape is a yeast colony that will rapidly grow when sugars become available for it to feed upon.

                                                              Contrary to your opinion, the air is full of yeast spores waiting to land on an appropriate growing medium. You can toast flour, mix it with water and some salt, set it out and it will develop a yeast colony. One recipe I have seen calls for boiling a flour water mix to cook the flour, then cool it and set it outside for a day. Then bring it in and keep it in a warm place. The boiling of the flour breaks down some of the starches into sugars which the wild yeast spore can then use for food. It also calls for mildly acidifying the mix to help prevent unwanted bacteria.

                                                              1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                Just read the microbiology research on sourdough, VillyCarl. Google will get you there. The LB bacteria and yeast that populate a sourdough starter are the same all over the world and already on the grain or in the flour. You don't need to add anything. The grape thing in sourdough has been disproven quite awhile, as has the idea that we harvest yeasts and bacteria from the air to make sourdough or bread. That's the reason San Francisco sourdough was proven to be a myth, since those "San Francisco" bacteria are found on flours and grain all over the world.

                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                  You make the statements, it is your burden to show the proof of the research, not just say "Go look for yourself" As for San Francisco sourdough bread, a very simple Taste test will show that there is something that makes it unique. Sourdoughs made elsewhere simply do not taste quite the same. If those very same bacteria and yeasts are found all over the world why is the flavor of S F sourdough bread unique?
                                                                  You also ignore the methodology for making a sourdough starter that involves BOILING the flour and water first, which would kill all the yeasts and bacteria in it, then setting it outside for a time to obtain the wild micro-flora. Again a simple experiment proves that you can "Harvest" wild yeasts. In fact in most places it is hard to avoid them entirely.
                                                                  The "Grape skin myth" is also easy to disprove. Simply mix some flour and water then put some in each of 2 canning jars and boil them inside the jar (Using a boiling water Canner) then inoculate one with a grape skin that has not been washed and is not laden with chemicals to prevent spoilage.

                                                                  1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                    I'm sorry, no, this is not correct. Not about SF sourdough's organisms, not about harvesting bacteria/yeasts from the air to make sourdough (disproven for many years), and not about grapes. Your repeating these things as if they're so will not make them so. Time for you to do a lot of reading -- and not just crappy internet stuff!

                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                      First hand experimentation trumps all the written works. That is the Nature of science. Form a Hypothesis from known information, formulate a repeatable method to test the hypothesis. All the "Papers" which you refuse to show will not take the place of first hand experiments. Or did you not listen to the fact that what I have been saying is backed by actual experience. For example that heat sterilized flour mixed with water and a bit of salt left open to the air will develop a yeast culture with which one can make bread. It is called "Salt Rising Bread" Of course sometimes it will develop an undesirable culture, but such is life.

                                                                      Some of the other methods, such as the ant eggs to start yogurt have been used with positive results. Just because something is printed and distribute does not make it true. But even then since you refuse to show your sources, I have to conclude you are making them up.

                                                                      So, if you want to be believed, show your proof. But then since what you are saying has been experimentally disproven, you obviously cannot.

                                                                      1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                        I don't think you read closely enough what I wrote about flour (you will see we are not in disagreement about your latest statement on the starter for salt-rising bread). You seem to want me to give you a list of sourdough microbiology citations, which I certainly could, but I've given you plenty of information that you could use to begin digging for scientific information. Go to Google Scholar or to some scientific journals and do some scientific reading.

                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                          You assume that I do not know how to do scholarly research. I have used Paper and ink libraries, and such as the "Readers Guide to Periodicals" Microfiche's, as well as scholarly works on the internet. Of course when doing research on the internet one must be very discerning as to the source.

                                                                          I am also fairly intelligent with an aptitude for the natural sciences. Intelligent enough to be able to carry 22 credit hours and make a 4.00 in Computer Engineering while doing so. Good enough at scholarly research to introduce a new technology to my computer security professor.

                                                                          You also ignore the experiential evidence I have presented. I have made wine with bread yeast, and Ginger Ale and beer. Not as good as the strains that have been developed for that specific purpose, but it does work. I have also made wine and hard cider without the addition of any yeast culture beyond what was on the skins of the fruit.

                                                                          Experimental data, repeatable experimental data, using ant's eggs and pepper stems does work to start yogurt culture. And repeatable experimental results trump all the "scholarly works" you can produce, if you can even produce them at all.

                                                                          The burden of proof for any scholarly statement is on the person MAKING the statement, and telling someone to go find it themselves is a cop out. If a person is pulling their idea out of thin air it is a cheap trick to lend credence to their statements.

                                                                          1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                            I'm under no obligation to go through my many scientific documents on sourdough microbiology, and take the time to cut-and-paste to build a bibliography of references for you.

                                                                            Since you're confident that you're good at research ("paper and ink libraries"?? *microfiche*???), please read further on *current* research in sourdough microbiology, since what I've written is pretty basic as far as sourdough microbiology goes.

                                                                            I stand by everything I've written, and will not respond to any of your posts that attack me, as it seems like you want to argue, which I refuse to do.

                                                      3. Re: Ant Hill Yougurt:

                                                        Yep. It's no kidding. After reading about it I flooded the slab beneath my porch til' the little boogers started marching out with their eggs. I pinched about three teeny-weeny eggs (and the teeny-weeny ant carrying them) into a bottle cap, stuck it back on the bottle (raw goat milk), shook it and let it sit. In about three hours it started smelling sweet, and in another two started cheesing up. At that point it had a slight earthy musk.

                                                        I transferred the "cheese" to a clean bottle and repeated. Once done I took a swig and I'm not only still alive but it made some of the best yogurt I've had!

                                                        It kinda makes sense: Ants need beneficial bacteria to process all sorts of junk, but also to protect the hive from harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and the like.

                                                        I'm going to try different types of ants to see if the yogurt is different. Wish me luck. If it doesn't work out, send donations to your favorite charity in lieu of flowers.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: thegutterdude

                                                          Good to know that ants' eggs work. This is something that merits some photos next time. I'd love to see how large (small) an ant egg is.

                                                          1. re: PatsyWalker

                                                            I hope thegutterdude continues to report on his efforts - I notice that this is his first and only CH post thusfar. This thread is also the first and only for wyersmd, who introduced the ant idea upthread. Anyone checking obituaries? ;-)

                                                          2. re: thegutterdude

                                                            I had to replace the top course of a wooden retaining wall. After bashing the rotten wood up to remove it, I was covered by angry ants trying to move their eggs and larva to safety. I brushed a teaspoonful into a lidded jar along with some pulpy wood shavings. When finished with the wall, I cultured some milk with the larva and also with the pulpy wood fibers. Both made yogurt and the milk set firm with a nice lactic tang, but one culture could be Vegan for coconut, almond, soy or rice milk yogurt. The other not so much! Couldn't really taste a difference between the larva and their pulpy wood foss with first passage results as both were good but not better than commercial yogurt starters. My ants were black and some kind of wood eaters and yours could be called pavement ants. I hope these wild sources yield distinctive yogurts compared to commercial starters but nothing special has appeared yet in my hands.

                                                            Diana Kennedy's Oaxaca cookbook has recipes for wasp larva soups and salsas and the latest Phaidon Press title on Thai cooking has a recipe for Red Mango Tree Ant salad so we know some cultures go crazy over wild harvested ant eggs.

                                                            1. re: dsweedler

                                                              It's great to hear that experimenting is going on with the ant eggs! I'm glad I posted the entry about this. Very exciting, and I'm pleased to hear that it has been working out. (I live in the heart of Istanbul, surrounded by concrete, so I haven't come across any anthills I could raid to try it out on my own.) Years ago, I was living in the deep south of Thailand and had ant-egg (and adult ant) soup and wasp-egg soup, maybe that's why the ant-egg concept captured my imagination... The eggs themselves pop between your teeth and taste much like vinegar. Anyways, I wonder if the eggs (and environments around them) of other insects carry the same yogurt-creating bacteria?

                                                              1. re: dsweedler

                                                                Culturing wild cultures is always a gamble. Sometimes the results will be excellent, sometimes not so much so, and occasionally a complete failure. If you get a great culture it would be good to keep it and perpetuate that strain.