HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Making yogurt without using commercial yogurt or starter

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?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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.

    4 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.

          1. re: VillyCarl

            You might be right. I am going to try it. Makes sense, I guess. So ya. Thx!!

        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.

          8 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.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Yes, but that would also be cheating. Mostly because homemade yogurt from other people has store bought yogurt in it.

                      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.

                  11 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 -
                    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:


                    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:


                    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!"
                            "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

                                  But that's cheese's just so story.

                                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.

                            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:

                              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:

                                    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.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: PatsyWalker

                                          Hoping you'll reply after all this time...is that Farenheit or Celcius? :) thanks!

                                          1. re: PatsyWalker

                                            Haha, stupid question in hindsight! :) now I'm wondering at what temp to incubate and for how long? What if you don't have an incubater/slow cooker?

                                            1. re: MysticMama

                                              I don't know the exact range because I use an electric incubator, but there's tons of other ways. I used to wrap my pot in several towels and keep it in a dark closet to maintain the warmth. You can preheat an oven, turn it off and use the oven (google is your friend). There's also ways of using your crockpot. I know folks that use a lightbulb wedged into a styrofoam container (again lots of info on google).

                                              1. re: PatsyWalker

                                                Thanks, yes I did google it and have decided to wrap in blankets and put it in a sealed cooler box...can't wait to see what comes out tomorrow! :D

                                          2. 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.


                                            13 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.

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

                                                    1. re: PatsyWalker

                                                      Thank you Patsy! Can't wait to make my own starter and yoghurt! Au Natural :)

                                                      1. re: MysticMama

                                                        I'm not sure that's yogurt, though. I've researched this -- I believe it's simply coagulated milk from the enzymes on the chili stems. So it won't have yogurt's health benefits. You need to use yogurt's specific group of bacteria to make yogurt.

                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                          Aw that's disappointing to hear...I've just picked some chillies to start on this! No offence, but I hope you're wrong :)

                                                          1. re: MysticMama

                                                            I believe if you go to the wild fermentation site, you'll get affirmation that this is indeed yogurt.

                                                            1. re: PatsyWalker

                                                              After reading this I also did quite a bit of research...it's not actual yoghurt, although it is yoghurt-like. It all gets very technical, but basically this is called filmjolk, a swedish concoction! Still awesome and healthy :)

                                                              1. re: MysticMama

                                                                You have tested this product to see what bacterial strains are present? If not you cannot say with certainty that it is not yogurt.

                                                          2. re: maria lorraine

                                                            It's real simple to tell the difference between enzymes and bacteria. Just passage the first round through successive rounds of fermentation, using your food source of choice. If it ferments, it's not enzymes present on or in plant materials. You can select for thermophiles by fermenting at yogurt culturing temperatures (95-105 F) or mesophiles (say below 85F) at lower temperatures. Buttermilk, cream fraiche and sour cream are examples of mesophilic lacto fermentations. Whatever conditions you use will impact the final flavor and texture but its all fermented food if it survives multiple passages and tastes good to you.

                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                              There is an easy way to differentiate between enzymes, which are biological catalysts, and bacteria. If it is an enzyme, (A chemical compound) it cannot reproduce itself, and therefore you cannot have several generations. But a bacteria (life form) will reproduce itself and grow for many generations. Therefore the medium from chili peppers is not enzymes, but bacteria. Therefore this is a bacterial culture.

                                                              1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                Might be bacteria and not enzymes, true. Or both.

                                                    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.

                                                        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.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          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! :)

                                                            1. re: swarthykhan

                                                              Have tou tried this before? Or has anyone else? Would love to know if it really works...

                                                            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.

                                                              44 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

                                                                              Maria, from what I understand LB and ST work on dairy products. I would like to make yogurt out of Peanuts or Almonds, what bacteria would I need for that?

                                                                              Very interesting discussion here! Came across this while trying to google a non-dairy way of making yogurt!

                                                                                1. re: Sam4u

                                                                                  Not sure you can make a yogurt like food out of peanuts or almonds. You might try using a soy "yogurt" culture. That might give you a yogurt like food.

                                                                                  In any case it would not be yogurt as yogurt requires a milk of some kind from a dairy animal, not a milk substitute.

                                                                          3. 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.

                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                  I have gone through my previous posts and nowhere do I see any personal attacks upon you. If you feel some are there, show me.

                                                                                                  And yes, Paper an Ink libraries. I did quite a bit of research long before the internet even existed.

                                                                                                  And I am well aware that in any scholarly research one must document the derivation of the evidence used to form a conclusion. That evidence can of course be derived from a number of types of sources, with repeatable experimental evidence forming the bedrock on which all other evidence stands.

                                                                                                2. re: VillyCarl

                                                                                                  Yogurt is defined, scientifically, and also by the FDA. This is so a product can legitimately be considered yogurt, not simply a coagulated milk product or a product cultured with non-yogurt bacteria. The definition of yogurt also excludes thickened "pudding-like" mixtures made of non-dairy ingredients.

                                                                                                  The definition of yogurt includes specific bacteria that yogurt must have. Other bacteria may be present, but those two specific bacteria must be used for the product to be considered yogurt.

                                                                                                  Here is the CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 -- for yogurt:

                                                                                                  PART 131 -- MILK AND CREAM

                                                                                                  Subpart B--Requirements for Specific Standardized Milk and Cream

                                                                                                  Sec. 131.200 Yogurt.

                                                                                                  (a) Description. Yogurt is the food produced by culturing one or more of the optional dairy ingredients specified in paragraph (c) of this section with a characterizing bacterial culture that contains the lactic acid-producing bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.



                                                                                                  This is not to say that some very interesting yogurt-like concoctions are not being made, and that those might even be tasty, only to say that they aren't yogurt if they are not made with specific yogurt cultures.

                                                                                                  And while peanuts, almonds, soybeans -- and the "milks" they produce, might produce a yogurt-like product, they aren't yogurt per se because of the lack of dairy. Might be very tasty, just not yogurt.

                                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                    That's also the standard for France, Spain and Switzerland. Switzerland additionally requires a minimum number of bacteria:

                                                                                                    Article 56: The final product must contain a total of at least 10 million colony forming units of microorganisms under paragraph 1 or 1.2 per gram.

                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                      That is the standard for commercially sold yogurt. Legal standards do not always reflect the truth of what a product is, it is just a standard for the labeling of a product. For example, Some years back, a company came out with a more natural ice cream. Because it did not use sucrose as a sweetener they had to label it as "Imitation" ice cream. Thus a product that used Honey, or maple syrup, or dextrose as a sweetener had to be labeled "Imitation Ice Cream" Did that make them any less a real Ice cream?

                                                                                                      The legal standards for labeling a product also change over the years. Does that mean that the product that is yogurt changes?

                                                                                                      Just because a product has not been tested to show the bacteria present, does not mean that they are absent.

                                                                                                      And yes, there are products that are coagulated milk with other bacteria, but they smell and taste different than yogurt. Buttermilk, sour cream, and Kefir for example use other bacteria cultures, but they also taste quite a bit different and can be cultured enough to become semi solid like yogurt. Yogurt has been around for a long time before lawmakers decided to define certain specifics for what yogurt is.

                                                                                                      Again if it walks, swims, flies, quacks and looks like a duck, it must be a duck.

                                                                                                      1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                                                        Scholarly review on SF sourdoughs. Note a variety of yeast strains--mostly Saccharomyces exiguus, which are apparently not present in sufficient quantity OR variety on the grains to produce a starter--required to give the breads their distinctive flavor.


                                                                                                        History of fermentation: apparently all types of wild yeast harvesting and use began with fruits:


                                                                                                        Maria, you are welcome to cite scholarly papers that rebuke this info, but good luck finding them. I think you may be misinterpreting what you're reading. One species is not the same as one strain. Also, the bacteria involved in SF sourdough is partly to credit for its uniqueness. Just sayin.'

                                                                                                        1. re: LehaC

                                                                                                          That 1971 article was what began my interest in sourdough microbiology. I pored over Sugihara's and Klein's articles. I interviewed Miller twice. Those are the three authors of that study.

                                                                                                          That info from 1971 has been added onto, and superceded, by later writings on sourdough microbiology. 44 years was a long time ago.

                                                                                                          The main sourdough yeast was identified as candida milleri, in later writings, and named after the Miller in the study you cited, the scientist I interviewed.

                                                                                                          Michael G. Gänzle is an excellent current source. I'm mainly quoting him and his research on sourdough microbiology.

                                                                                                          Here's something more current:

                                                                                                          "Modeling of Growth of Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis and Candida milleri in Response to Process Parameters of Sourdough Fermentation?

                                                                                                          More articles by Michael G. Gänzle:

                                                                                                          <<Also, the bacteria involved in SF sourdough is partly to credit for its uniqueness. Just sayin.'>>

                                                                                                          If you had read this thread, or any of my other posts/threads on sourdough microbiology, you would realize you are preaching to the choir. I've long said, quoting Gänzle and other sourdough microbiologists, that it is the Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis that does most of the work in providing flavor and leavening to sourdough bread.

                                                                                                          Debra Wink, whose website is The Fresh Loaf, is another biochemist who specializes in sourdough chemistry. I have quoted her also, and read many of her reference articles. Read here on the role of Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis in lactic acid fermentation in sourdough:

                                                                                                          More about yeasts:
                                                                                                          Of the sourdough yeasts, Candida milleri is the yeast that best tolerates the highly acidic environment produced by the lactobacillus (they are what make sourdough "sour".) What's unusual about c. millieri is that is continues to function -- UNLIKE OTHER YEASTS -- in the very low pH of sourdough starters.

                                                                                                          More here, this from Wikipedia:
                                                                                                          "Traditional San Francisco sourdough is a Type I sourdough.[46] Type I sourdoughs are generally firm doughs,[1] have a pH range of 3.8 to 4.5, and are fermented in a temperature range of 20 to 30 °C (68 to 86 °F). The LAB Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis was named for its discovery in San Francisco sourdough starters, though it is not endemic to San Francisco. Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis and L. pontis often highlight a lactic-acid bacterial flora that includes L. fermentum, L. fructivorans, L. brevis, and L. paralimentarius.[37][46][47] The yeasts Saccharomyces exiguus, Candida milleri, or Candida holmii[46] usually populate sourdough cultures symbiotically with Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis.[25]

                                                                                                          [Ganzles is the source on that.


                                                                                                          "The perfect yeast S. exiguus is related to the imperfect yeasts C. milleri and C. holmii. Torulopsis holmii, Torula holmii, and S. rosei are synonyms used prior to 1978. C. milleri and C. holmii are physiologically similar, but DNA testing established them as distinct. Other yeasts reported found include C. humilis, C. krusei, Pichia anomaola, C. peliculosa, P. membranifaciens, and C. valida.[45][48] There have been changes in the taxonomy of yeasts in recent decades.[45][48] L. sanfranciscensis prefers to consume maltose, while C. milleri is maltase negative and cannot consume maltose.[7][8][9][10][11] C. milleri can grow under conditions of low pH and relatively-high acetate levels, a factor contributing to sourdough flora's stability.[42]

                                                                                                          "In order to produce acetic acid, L. sanfrancisensis needs maltose and fructose.[49] Wheat dough contains abundant starch and some polyfructosanes, which enzymes degrade to "maltose, fructose and little glucose."[50] The terms "fructosan, glucofructan, sucrosyl fructan, polyfructan, and polyfructosan" are all used to describe a class of compounds that are "structurally and metabolically" related to sucrose, where "carbon is stored as sucrose and polymers of fructose (fructans)."[51] Yeasts have the ability to free fructose from glucofructans which compose about 1-2% of the dough. Glucofructans are long strings of fructose molecules attached to a single glucose molecule. Sucrose can be considered the shortest glucofructan, with only a single fructose molecule attached.[42] When L. sanfrancisensis reduces all available fructose, it stops producing acetic acid and begins producing ethanol. If the fermenting dough gets too warm, the yeasts slow down, producing less fructose. Fructose depletion is more of a concern in doughs with lower enzymatic activities.[52]"

                                                                                                          Read the excellent list of references, and then read the actual citations at:

                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                            Regarding using grapes and starter:

                                                                                                            My source for my previous statement on using grapes for a starter, and why not to do that, is Roland Saldanha, a cereal molecular biologist.

                                                                                                            Saldanha deals in protein expression, protein purification and characterization. He has extensive experience with RNA, RNA/DNA protein interactions and aptamer selection.

                                                                                                            Here is what he has written on using grapes in starters, and on yogurt:

                                                                                                            "I am also skeptical of grape based starters, etc. I know Nancy Silverton and other celebrated bakers advocate this but I can see no logic in it.

                                                                                                            "Grapes indeed have yeast and lactobacilli on them. The problem is these particular varieties of yeast and lactobacilli have never been recovered in any sourdough starter that has been examined from any place in the world.

                                                                                                            "These organisms are undoubtedly specific to grapes as certain other lactobacilli are specific to YOGURT. There are hundreds of strains of yeasts and equally large numbers of lactobacilli. These organisms develop niches where they thrive. To transplant an organism from one natural environment to another is not a formula for success. It is like taking a polar bear and putting it in the desert. There are hundreds of cheeses made based on very small differences in starter cultures and processing.

                                                                                                            "These people are undoubtedly celebrated bakers but to them a yeast is yeast and a yeast on a grape is a "wild yeast" and they have no understanding of any of the nuances. I do not claim to know what exactly is resident in their starters and whether any organisms they introduce from the grape actually survive and are viable over time (years as opposed to weeks)."

                                                                                                            So, while we think that wild organisms may begin a starter or make yogurt, what really counts is the RESIDENT colony of the ongoing starter or batch of yogurt.

                                                                                                            Yes, there are differences across batches and regions, but there is a definitive core colony group for both sourdough starters and yogurt. As well as for every other cultured milk product.

                                                                                                            If you've got quotable material from a biochemist that refutes this, I'd love to read it. But anecdotal stuff won't cut it.

                                                                                                            So, we may think we can use pepper stems to make yogurt (IIRC the lactobacillus is plantarum), but what is the colony of resident bacteria?

                                                                                                            Is it roughly the same as the definitive core group of yogurt bacteria? Is it really yogurt or something like yogurt?

                                                                                                            I don't have the answer, and until we get a microbiological analysis of the bacteria, none of us know whether pepper stems are making yogurt or something similar to yogurt.

                                                                                                            There are genome analyses of cultured milk products that prove that this core group of bacteria exists for each cultured milk product. I'm referring to the core colony of resident bacteria found in household cultured milk products all over the world, not commercially produced products.

                                                                                                            The colony for traditional household yogurt is quite different from viila and different still from Filmjölk, which is more cheese-y. But both are generically called "yogurt."

                                                                                                            Also in the generic yogurt pantheon is Matsoni, but it is not considered yogurt by some. (Don't talk to me about it; do your own research on its colony of bacteria). Different still is Piimä.

                                                                                                            Each have these yogurt-like products have a definitive flavor, texture and distinct bacteriological signature. But are they yogurt?

                                                                                                            Should they be called yogurt if they don't have yogurt's core colony of resident bacteria? If they don't have yogurt's genome? That is what I have been getting at.

                                                                                                            I believe the scientists would say, "It can walk/talk/act like a duck, but if it doesn't have the genome of a duck, it's not a duck. It's something else."


                                                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                              I see you finally provided a reference...sort of. I say sort of because you did not provide a way for anyone to access it and verify your source. IN fact it is from an multi author article on sourdough bread making and only glancingly mentions yogurt at all. One phrase mentions yogurt as an example and draws no conclusions about yogurt. I therefore believe that you took this reference out of context.

                                                                                                              By the way, here is the link to that article: http://faqs.cs.uu.nl/na-dir/food/sour...

                                                                                                              Roland says
                                                                                                              "No. I think starters are different, a good starter should be treasured. Fortunately, the very valuable work of Ed Wood makes it most simple to prove. All you have to do is to try the Russian or another "fast" starter from Sourdough International vs a slow starter from them. The behavior of these starters is very very different with respect to rate of leavening, and ultimate levels of acidity produced and anybody willing to spend a few $$ can verify this. I also think that starters are discernibly different with respect to flavor. In fact the classical San Francisco sourdough does have a signature flavor that no other sourdough I have tasted resembles (I do not have the SI San Francisco culture so do not know how their version of it behaves with respect to the signature flavor).
                                                                                                              I am also skeptical of grape based starters, etc. I know Nancy Silverton and other celebrated bakers advocate this but I can see no logic in it. Grapes indeed have yeast and lactobacilli on them. The problem is these particular varieties of yeast and lactobacilli have never been recovered in any sourdough starter that has been examined from any place in the world. These organisms are undoubtedly specific to grapes as certain other lactobacilli are specific to yogurt. There are hundreds of strains of yeasts and equally large numbers of lactobacilli. These organisms develop niches where they thrive. To transplant an organism from one natural environment to another is not a formula for success. It is like taking a polar bear and putting it in the desert. There are hundreds of cheeses made based on very small differences in starter cultures and processing. These people are undoubtedly celebrated bakers but to them a yeast is yeast and a yeast on a grape is a "wild yeast" and they have no understanding of any of the nuances. I do not claim to know what exactly is resident in their starters and whether any organisms they introduce from the grape actually survive and are viable over time (years as opposed to weeks).”

                                                                                                              Both what he says and DOES NOT say in this article are interesting. You say "Yes, there are differences across batches and regions, but there is a definitive core colony group for both sourdough starters and yogurt" but this article simply does not support that. Rather, what he says supports that there are different sourdough cultures with quite different properties. One, in particular he mentions is San Francisco Sourdough which he states has a distinctive flavor.

                                                                                                              He also states that he is "skeptical" about grape based sourdough starters, but he doe not say they cannot happen. In fact hes says "I DO NOT CLAIM TO KNOW what exactly is resident in their starters and whether any organisms they introduce from the grape actually survive and are viable over time" (emphasis added) I find that you are drawing conclusions from this source that simply are not stated by Roland.

                                                                                                              You also say "I believe the scientists would say, "It can walk/talk/act like a duck, but if it doesn't have the genome of a duck, it's not a duck. It's something else." You did leave out "Looks like" But if I saw a bird that walked. vocalized, and acted like a mallard Drake, and had the plumage of a mallard drake, I would be a fool to call it a loon or a wood duck, much less a non duck bird, especially if I happened to be talking to a game warden.

                                                                                                              There is a great deal of difference between anecdotal references and scientifically reproducible. A practice performed by many people using reproducible means and showing the same repeatable results are NOT anecdotal. Reproducible practices / experiments are the very backbone of scientific knowledge.

                                                                                                              1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                                                                You are making the discussion exceedingly tedious and argumentative.

                                                                                                                Certainly appears you just want to argue without reading more citations and scientific literature.

                                                                                                                So, let's keep the discussion based in science, using scientific sources and links to those sources. That will make the conversation less personal, and we both will learn credible information.

                                                                                                                <<<IN fact it is from an multi author article on sourdough bread making and only glancingly mentions yogurt at all. One phrase mentions yogurt as an example and draws no conclusions about yogurt>>

                                                                                                                It's a specific quote from a cereal biochemist about using grapes to begin a starter. Would LOVE to read your scientific sources on the validity of using the yeast on grapes to populate a resident sourdough colony.

                                                                                                                That quote is NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT YOGURT. You didn't expect a quote from a cereal scientist to be about yogurt, did you???

                                                                                                                Even so, this cereal biochemist has an understanding of bacterial colonies, whether in sourdough or starters.

                                                                                                                If you have a specific quote FROM A SCIENTIFIC SOURCE on the VALIDITY of using grapes in starters and those yeasts becoming part of the starter’s permanent resident colony, like you claim, bring it on!! Haven't read anything like that you.

                                                                                                                Until then, I'm going to trust the expertise of this cereal biochemist over anecdotal claims.

                                                                                                                < In fact hes says "I DO NOT CLAIM TO KNOW what exactly is resident in their starters and whether any organisms they introduce from the grape actually survive and are viable over time" (emphasis added) I find that you are drawing conclusions from this source that simply are not stated by Roland.>>

                                                                                                                All that means he has not put each household's individual starter through an analysis.

                                                                                                                It does NOT mean that the same colony of resident bacteria and yeasts has not been discovered in sourdough starters from all over the world.

                                                                                                                I'm sure you read in Ganzle's articles that the colony of bacteria and yeasts is consistent no matter where it is found in the world, with minute variations. (That explains the minor SF flavor variation, if you think it exists. The flavor variation could just as easily be explained by a difference in fermentation temperatures since sourdough LB produce different flavors depending on temperature.)

                                                                                                                You did take the time to read Ganzle's articles before attacking what I wrote, right? You wanted links -- I gave them to you.

                                                                                                                I also gave you links to many other articles on sourdough microbiology. When you read them, I'd love to read your rebuttal using quotes from scientific sources, with links.

                                                                                                                How about Debra Wink, the bread biochemist? Did you get a chance to read the articles at her website? Again, I gave you the link. I'd love to read your rebuttal of my statements using the bread biochemistry references from Wink.

                                                                                                                <<Both what he says and DOES NOT say in this article are interesting. You say "Yes, there are differences across batches and regions, but there is a definitive core colony group for both sourdough starters and yogurt but this article simply does not support that. >>

                                                                                                                Well, that one quote is only one source related to using grapes and starters. Again, it's not even supposed to be about yogurt -- it's about SOURDOUGH.

                                                                                                                Speaking of yogurt, did you dive in and take the time to read about cultured milk genomes and resident colonies??? Your post reveals you probably haven't.

                                                                                                                Did you research the bacteria responsible for each yogurt and yogurt-like cultured milk product? I have.

                                                                                                                Did you read about the bacteria on pepper stems and find any correlation with those and the bacteria found in yogurt or yogurt-like products?

                                                                                                                When you're ready to discuss specifics –
                                                                                                                BACTERIAL COLONIES
                                                                                                                SOURDOUGH BIOCHEMISTRY
                                                                                                                SOURDOUGH RESIDENT BACTERIA AND YEASTS
                                                                                                                BACTERIA ON PEPPER STEMS
                                                                                                                RESIDENT BACTERIA IN YOGURT AND YOGURT-LIKE PRODUCTS

                                                                                                                and can reference scientific sources with links
                                                                                                                instead of using personal anecdotal information,
                                                                                                                that will further the conversation.

                                                                                                                Until then, it appears you want to nitpick and argue without doing the actual reading of scientific research.

                                                                                                                So, let’s keep the conversation based in scientific references. I welcome the reading of the research at the links you provide. I love to learn. Bring it on, VillyCarl!

                                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                  My, what a strong reply. Do not like me pointing out fallacies?

                                                                                                                  As far as "Personal and anecdotal" information, I have not used any. In science, definitions of anecdotal evidence include: "information that is not based on facts or careful study" "reports or observations of usually unscientific observers" "casual observations or indications rather than rigorous or scientific analysis"

                                                                                                                  I am an amateur scientist, and have been for many decades. Amateur Scientist have made many important discoveries whether they have high academic credentials or not. A persons experimental evidence does not have to be accredited by some major industry / university to be valid.

                                                                                                                  Also, I DID NOT attempt to rebut any of this scientists statements, just YOUR conclusions drawn from them.

                                                                                                                  While I do not have an advanced degree, I have had PhD's tell me that my undergraduate work was Masters and even doctorate level work. I have also managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA taking 22 credit hours and working a part time job.

                                                                                                                  Bottom line, I am erudite enough to be discerning about both what is and is not said in an article. Such as your statement "It's an article about SOURDOUGH MICROBIOLOGY." Actually, no it is not. It is about the differences in sourdough cultures and some of their characteristics, but a scientifically rigorous article on sourdough microbiology it is not. It obviously was not meant to be such,

                                                                                                                  1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                                                                    Waiting on the scientific references and links!

                                                                                                                    1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                                                                      <<<Bottom line, I am erudite enough to be discerning about both what is and is not said in an article. Such as your statement "It's an article about SOURDOUGH MICROBIOLOGY." >>>

                                                                                                                      If you're as erudite and discerning as you say you are, you wouldn't say I've written something I haven't. I've NEVER WRITTEN those words ANYWHERE in this thread.

                                                                                                                      <<but a scientifically rigorous article on sourdough microbiology it is not. It obviously was not meant to be such>>

                                                                                                                      I never said anywhere it was. That doesn't mean the quote or the cereal biochemist is not credible.

                                                                                                                      Besides, that quote is more informed than anything you've given. Where is the scientific proof FROM YOU that backs up your claim that wild yeasts from grapes are found in a sourdough starter? At least the quote I've provided is from a cereal scientist and on topic.

                                                                                                                      I've provided you with links to MANY RIGOROUS SCIENTIFIC ARTICLES on sourdough microbiology. Why not read some of them?

                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                        I've made bread using raisins soaked in water for 5 days, the resulting liquid was indeed a starter. The bread did not have the characteristic sour flavor of a sourdough bread because This was a yeast starter with little to no bacteria. I've read a lot of claims here from people who know nothing of bread nor yogurt. Personal experience always trumps reading and attempting to interpret someone else's experience. Also, I've yet to see a source claiming that bacteria do the leavening in a sourdough starter. Yes they produce the acid, but they aren't responsible for the leavening. If that were true, my sourdough would not produce alcohol as a byproduct of fermentation as it routinely does.

                                                                                                                        1. re: josephcassini

                                                                                                                          Some info upthread on this.
                                                                                                                          Lots more found by Googling.

                                                                                                                          The Biodiversity of Lactic Acid Bacteria in Greek Traditional Wheat Sourdoughs Is Reflected in Both Composition and Metabolite Formation

                                                                                                                          Handbook of Dough Fermentations

                                                                                                                          The Genera of Lactic Acid Bacteria

                                                                                                                          Todar's Textbook of Bacteriology

                                                                                                                          Read about three different metabolic groups of LAB in sourdough starters and the different gases they produce:

                                                                                                                          About Lactobacillus sanfrancensis on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactobac...

                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                            If it is the bacteria that provides the leavening, why can one make bread in short order using just added yeast! And why if one does not add yeast, does it take days to get the bread to rise? I have made hundreds of loaves using both starters and just commercial yeast. The yeast obviously causes the bread to rise.

                                                                                                                            1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                                                                              Mentioned upthread: Both the bacteria and very unusual yeast in a starter culture provide leavening.

                                                                                                                              Commercial yeast is a completely separate subject; of course commercial yeast provides leavening.

                                                                                2. 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.

                                                                                  7 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.

                                                                                        2. re: thegutterdude

                                                                                          Here is an interesting article www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23291551
                                                                                          The first line of this abstract is:
                                                                                          "Lactobacilli (Lactobacillales: Lactobacillaceae) are well known for their roles in food fermentation, as probiotics, and in human health, but they can also be dominant members of the microbiota of some species of Hymenoptera (ants, bees, and wasps)."

                                                                                          1. re: AnnKnepper

                                                                                            Ahem, yes, that would verify the practice of getting a yogurt culture from ants. All that would be needed would be for some of the 2 yogurt lactobacilli present to get the yogurt culture started.

                                                                                        3. Do not do chili stems. Its crap, I have pictures to prove it. Waste of time money and precious almond milk. Going to Winco for $1.14 and picking up soy yogurt.

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: opaqueincandescence

                                                                                            The bacteria has to have lactose sugars in order to ferment. Almond milk has none. I can understand it wouldn't work with almond milk, although I have heard of non-dairy yogurt starters at Cultures for Health, I've not tried them. You would have better luck trying it in soy milk I'd think, than almond milk. Have you ever seen Almond milk yogurt in stores?

                                                                                            1. re: opaqueincandescence

                                                                                              "Duh, I did not use milk, but I do not understand why what I used did not work." Of course it did not work! Had you used a yogurt culture from a commercial yogurt it also would not have worked.

                                                                                              And your soy "yogurt" is not yogurt, but a yogurt substitute. For it to be yogurt, it must be made from MILK from an animal. It is quite likely that substitute for yogurt cannot be made from almonds at all.

                                                                                              "Full Definition of YOGURT

                                                                                              : a fermented slightly acid often flavored semisolid food made of milk and milk solids to which cultures of two bacteria (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus) have been added"

                                                                                              Lactobacilli feed on lactose. Lactose is the sugar found in milk not in plants. Lacto has the same root as Lactate, lactation etc.

                                                                                              a combining form meaning “milk,” used in the formation of compound words ( lactometer ); specialized in chemical terminology to mean “lactate,” or “lactic acid.”"

                                                                                              1. re: opaqueincandescence

                                                                                                I haven't experimented with soy, almond, or rice liquids to make yogurt. I'd imagine you'd have to introduce some sort of sugar to provide food for the bacteria. I've seen soy yogurt and was curious how it was allowed to called itself yogurt since it's not dairy.

                                                                                                1. re: PatsyWalker

                                                                                                  Part of the problem with making "Yogurt" with not dairy liquids is that the lactic acid produced by the culture bacteria causes the proteins in the milk to coagulate into a semi solid mass. Thus you would have to have a solution of proteins that "Solidify" in an acid environment. Thus it may be that almond "milk" would not work for "yogurt" in any case. (Most likely would not)

                                                                                                  1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                                                    Certain lactobacillis ferment cellulose or other things in soy and what about coconut yogurt - I have a starter for soy " yogurt" it worked to set it - the flavour was mild. Kombucha yeast and bacteria together ferment sugar and tea to make a slightly fizzy drink - the mat on top is cellulose made from bacteria and yeast synergy.

                                                                                                    1. re: yogibug

                                                                                                      Ah yes. Lactobacillis are ubiquitous in many foods. They produce pickles from cucumbers, sauerkraut from cabbage, Kimchee from a number of different and a number of other fermented products. None of these of course are anywhere near to what yogurt is like.

                                                                                                      Being able to make soy "yogurt" is not surprising as soy protein is easy to coagulant into "soy cheese" also know as Tofu. Like milk, the proteins in soy do easily coagulate under the right circumstances.

                                                                                                      That is not necessarily true of almond "milk" and "milk" made from other sources. Coconut milk, for example, has been around for a long time, but I have never heard of an equivalent to tofu made from it.

                                                                                                      As for the "mat" on top of kombucha, "Kombucha is sweetened black tea fermented by a mixture of yeasts and bacteria that form what looks like a “mat” on the surface. Sometimes called a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), the “mushroom” or simply the “mother”, this “zoogleal mat” ferments the sugar, producing alcohol, vinegar, and other by-products" (from http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/k... ) That mat is not cellulose, but rather a symbiotic yeast / bacterial colony.

                                                                                                2. re: opaqueincandescence

                                                                                                  "I have pictures to prove it" lmao

                                                                                                  Not to delve too deeply into the obvious here, but...Almond milk isn't milk. The word "milk" in "almond milk" is just a loose descriptor designating what is actually water run through almond pulp as a (dubious) replacement for milk, it doesn't actually mean that *watery almond juice* has any tangible relationship with **actual milk**. Slap yourself, and move on.

                                                                                                3. Forgive the possibly dumb question, but is there something wrong with using starter? I just purchased Matsoni heirloom starter from Cultures for Health and am currently waiting for my first batch to set. I'm really excited about this and hoping that it will taste somewhat like the yogurt I had in Iran. I might try the Bulgarian one too and see how that compares.

                                                                                                  Am I missing something?

                                                                                                  (And btw, I learned about Cultures for Health from listening to an interview with Sandor Katz on The Splendid Table.)

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: pistachio peas

                                                                                                    Oh, I don't think there's anything wrong with starters, I think we're all just enjoying our yogurt experiments. I just made up another 'mother' batch with peppers picked from the pots out on our deck. It set up nicely in just about 7 hours and has spawned several generations of terrific yogurt. And as to earlier posts about whether or not what I've made here is 'actual' yogurt...well, it looks like yogurt,it tastes like yogurt, and if I hear hoofbeats, I look around for horses, you know? I've been making yogurt for years using a couple spoonfuls of whatever plain yogurt was on sale, so enjoy your experiment, and let us know how it turns out. I've been making our own Greek-style yogurt for three-four years, it's much cheaper and the texture is much better than any store-bought we've tried.

                                                                                                    1. re: pistachio peas

                                                                                                      Nothing wrong with using commercial starters at all. With a starter you know you are getting a proven strain and what that strains characteristics are. No surprises. With a wild culture you do no know just what you are getting until you have made it. Can get a great strain, or a poor one.

                                                                                                      Matsoni is a Georgian culture, and from what I understand, quite tart.

                                                                                                      1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                                                        Gotta tell you, this thread has shown me that there are certain points beyond which I will not go. The chili stems may work because ants have been cruising around on them...or maybe the ants work because they cruise around on the plants...BUT... while I can deal with the ants-once-removed, I don't think I could bring myself to culture actual ants. Or eat the results. I salute the brave souls who have, thank you for furthering the cause of the research for me without my ever having to handle, ugh, bugs.

                                                                                                        1. re: tonifi

                                                                                                          ROFL who knows where the strains used in commercial yogurt originated. Some strains have be around for 100's of years passed down through the generations. Maybe they originated with ants. But weather they originated with ants, chili pepper stems, or who know where, the important thing is Do they taste good, and are they good for you.

                                                                                                    2. This is all very fascinating, especially the ant experimentation and funny too. Incidentally, I left a glass of raw milk in the fridge for a few days and it turned to what looked like very delicious yoghurt, but I was too scared to try it. After reading this blog, I have realised I was a coward and will definitely try it next time. I'm quite into fermentation although lately have had a lot of failures, but there maybe some useful bacteria flying around my kitchen

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Lactowoman

                                                                                                        There are many different bacteria that can produce a product that looks like yogurt, but likely what you had would not have tasted like yogurt at the temperature conditions were not favorable for yogurt bacteria. Most likely you had "sour milk" which unless it tastes is highly unlikely to be harmful. There used to be many recipes for sour milk as an ingredient, but they seem to have disappeared as the occurrence of sour milk has become more rare. Milk that has been pasteurized tend to develop an unpleasant taste, while sour milk gets, well, tart in flavor.

                                                                                                      2. Hello! I made an account just to post here! I've actually been following this post about a month or so. I've tried 12 stems for fresh jalapeños in a half gallon it set wonderfully. The second times used less milk to just make a starter to keep and it over firmented and got a little too firm. The last time I added 2 cups to 12 stems and I got some bizarre over cultured spongy ... Cheese? It was nearly carbonated. I tried all 3... I didn't die so I guess it was still fine to eat anyway.

                                                                                                        I'm curious on ratios. I saw one person say 1 cup and 12 stems... Anyone use other ratios, or just make a whole batch instead of just a starter batch?

                                                                                                        Also the ants thing cracks me up! There are fire ants in our front yard. I wonder if I should risk it. Hehe do you literally just plop the eggs in? Do you fish them out later?

                                                                                                        14 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: TheCookingNoob

                                                                                                          Hello, as you have already done this 3 times, you know that using pepper stems can be a bit of a gamble. I would advise that once you found a culture that you like, perpetuate it. Take some of the yogurt that you have left and place it into a new batch of milk and ferment if again. You can keep a culture alive for many years that way. I have been using the same culture over many generations for about 3 years now.

                                                                                                          How firm your results are, are dependent upon several factors. These include the strain of bacteria, how long they ferment and the temperature at which the fermentation takes place.

                                                                                                          I make 4 to 6 quarts of yogurt at a time in "recycled" 32 oz. yogurt containers from commercial yogurts. Just wash them thoroughly after each use.

                                                                                                          Ant eggs, yes just put them in prepared milk and allow to ferment. It is up to you whether you fish them out, I doubt they would hurt you as we eat insect bits all the time in various of our foods.

                                                                                                          Once you have a good culture that you like, I would keep it and reuse it. Why gamble when you have a good thing?

                                                                                                          1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                                                            HEHE. Unfortuantely I have kids and a hubby who don't realize what starter looks like. I'm a little frustrated over it to say the least.

                                                                                                            1. re: TheCookingNoob

                                                                                                              Get a "Do not touch" container to hold some yogurt for the next batch? Make sure it is well marked so no excuses?

                                                                                                              1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                                                                Ha! Thanks. I'll try that. I made a new starter last night. At first I thought it might have smelled "off" but it seems ok now that it's been in the fridge a bit. Gen 1 currently incubating. Wish me luck.

                                                                                                          2. re: TheCookingNoob

                                                                                                            Hello i don't know how it come up with ants or chili stems but what i know i been looking how to make a homemade yagurt for years then i come up on how ancient Moroccan used to do so by add chokes from artichokes to warm milk add drops of orange flower water after 8 hours you have your homemade yogurt

                                                                                                            1. re: fsail

                                                                                                              Artichokes and thistles have been used to make cheese curds from milk b/c they contain a rennet like enzyme that can cause milk to coagulate. Not lacto-bacteria fermentation but still good stuff.

                                                                                                              1. re: dsweedler

                                                                                                                Lactobacilli could well exist on artichoke chokes. The real test would be if the first material could be used to culture more generations of yogurt.

                                                                                                                And by the way, artichokes are thistles, so saying artichokes and thistles is redundant.

                                                                                                                1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                                                                  Google "thistle rennet" and get 36 thousand hits on the topic although some are undoubtedly redundant. Nettles, Sorrel flowers and Cardoon flowers can also used to curdle milk and make cheeses without animal rennet enzymes. That means many unrelated plants have enzymes that are currently used to make sheep's milk cheeses in Italy and other Mediterranean countries. The first step is coagulating the milk into usable curds that can be drained and aged into an edible cheese. Milk curdling with animal or vegetable rennet has nothing to do with lacto bacteria regardless of their ubiquitous presence around us. In fact many cheeses are inoculated with lacto bacteria while curdling to drop the pH of the curds as they age but this step is not needed for farmer's style fresh cheese and is not responsible for the making of curds from fresh milk.

                                                                                                                  1. re: dsweedler

                                                                                                                    Yes, many plants contain a rennet that will coagulate milk. Coagulation does not mean fermentation has taken place, though, which for milk would be the conversion of lactose into lactic acid, either directly or by splitting lactose into glucose and galactose. And even if fermentation has happened, it does not mean yogurt is the result; some other cultured milk product may be the result instead. This relates to the OP and what is produced using pepper stems.

                                                                                                                    1. re: dsweedler

                                                                                                                      But unless steps were taken to refine the rennet like enzyme, it could also have been wild lactobacilli that caused the coagulation. The test is to re culture from the resultant batch. The point is, there is not enough information to make that determination at this point.

                                                                                                                      1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                                                                        In cheesemaking, the clabbering of the milk proteins isn't related to the presence of lactobacilli or any other wild or starter bacteria. It is an enzymatic process, period! That fact is quite well studied and known as fact among cheese makers and dairy scientists. The exception is the Middle Eastern and in particular, Lebanese Labneh cheese made with yogurt, well drained and aged, often under salt brines. But bacterial starter cultures are very important for flavor and texture differences in cheese, typically after some degree of aging. L casei and L. helveticus are two thermophilic cheese related lacto strains that are commonly used to age and develop distinct flavor profiles through the controlled degradation of proteins into peptides and amino acids as well as fatty acids that then can be further broken down or metabolically changed into volatile flavor compounds. Claiming that a solution made from the rind of a an aged cheddar creates a yogurt like product when pitched into fresh milk, therefore the cheese itself is made from yogurt is a gross oversimplification of the role these bacterial cultures play in cheesemaking. And it is also a logical fallacy as it ignore the role of process in contributing to the final product. There are also non starter based bacteria (and fungi) present on and inside aged cheeses that are responsible for their unique flavors and smells but these non starter bacteria develop long after the initial clabbering of the milk casein proteins and are likely found in the aging rooms along with molds and fungi that can contribute to the overall uniqueness of each regions unque cheeses. Re-culturing from the finished product does not establish the role of the various microflora in the original process, the role of each living organism in the final product is very complex and poorly understood, even when investigated with modern rt-PCR and gel electrophoretic methods. Some of these organisms are present at extremely low copy number at the intial start of the process and only come to dominate much later in the life cycle of the food product. Others show up much later without being present at all in the initial conditions. Many unique cheeses do not rely on sterile technique but manage to remain true to type after centuries of process and they are still being made in the same way today. They all share a clabbering process that uses animal or vegetable based rennets at their start, with or without added bacterial cultures added for flavor and texture development later on. No they are not yogurt but cheese.

                                                                                                                        1. re: dsweedler

                                                                                                                          I agree that the product made is a soft cheese not yogurt.

                                                                                                                          The Artichoke (botanical name Cynara cardunculus ) has been used to make cheese for centuries. The artichoke flowers are made into an extract, and that liquid extract is added to the milk to coagulate it.

                                                                                                                          This article identifies the protease enzymes in artichokes as coagulants, and lactobacilli, lactococci, enterococci, streptococci and yeasts as ripening agents.

                                                                                                                          Read it to learn more. Pay particular attention to what appears when.

                                                                                                                          "Bacterial dynamics in a raw cow’s milk Caciotta cheese manufactured with aqueous extract of Cynara cardunculus dried flowers."

                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                            Why do you say / imply that I have stated things that I did not? To make curds effectively from artichoke "chokes" one must make an extract. Was an extract used used? That was not revealed. There are too many variables in this picture for there to be a firm conclusion. Note, you say "and lactobacilli, lactococci, enterococci, streptococci and yeasts as ripening agents." so it is quite possible that what happened if an extract was not used was to produce a fermented yogurt type product. Hence what I said about 2nd + generation cultures.

                                                                                                                            1. re: VillyCarl

                                                                                                                              You've completely misunderstood. I wasn't replying to you. I'm guessing from your post that you replied without reading the scientific article.

                                                                                                                              Artichokes contain two powerful coagulants. The use of coagulants results in curds. That means cheese. Cottage cheese, farmer cheese, pot cheese, queso blanco, junket, what have you. Cheese.

                                                                                                                              Whether or not an extract is used doesn't matter -- the coagulants are in the water-based extract and in the artichokes themselves. But making a water-based extract from artichokes and using that to coagulate milk is how cheese has been made for centuries. The scientific analysis of what happens when milk is coagulated using artichokes doesn't change if an extract is used.

                                                                                                                              If there weren't coagulants, there might be some lactobacilli action taking the lead from the beginning. If that had happened, a Lactic Acid Bacteria-cultured product might have been produced, and, depending on the LAB involved, that might have been yogurt.

                                                                                                                              But that wasn't the case, in the scientific analysis of the milk treated with artichokes.

                                                                                                            2. Cultural or should I say Culture fight . . . vow . . . what a post . . .

                                                                                                              Once upon a time, I read

                                                                                                              Take 1/2 cup of cabbage cut to small pieces.
                                                                                                              Add water to it about 3/4 cup.
                                                                                                              Keep it covered at NTP, overnight.
                                                                                                              Filter out the water.
                                                                                                              Mix the cabbage with rest of cut cabbage and cook. (Trick!!)
                                                                                                              The water has the live culture good to be used as yogurt starter.

                                                                                                              I have not tried it myself, but lots of scientists on this post may explain, the feasibility, possibility of this process written by someone, sometimes.

                                                                                                              1. I'm not sure if this would help or not, but I make my own cheese, and 99% of the time, the culture naturally. I'm not sure about the yogurt, I need to find it. It has to be out there some where, because obviously, someone invented it. So, hopefully she has found something.

                                                                                                                1. Anyone have luck finding Fil Mjolk Yogurt Starter Culture in Toronto? I can find it on Etsy but the shipping is the same as the item! :-<