Homemade yogurt question
I have been making homemade yogurt in a Salton machine for about 6 months, and I love it! I would, however, like to find an economical and practical solution to the need for starter. I've used powdered starter, which works great but is not cheap. (yogourmet brand). I don't really like buying yogurt as starter every couple of batches, because it seems to defeat the purpose of switching to homemade in the first place.
My question is: can a quart of store-bought yogurt with active cultures be purchased, then divided into small quantities and then frozen? I don't know if the cultures survive the freezing process, or if they just emerge too weakened. Does anybody have experience trying this?
Any suggestions for getting a "tangier" finished yogurt? I used a bought, plain, non-gelatinized, live culture yogurt as a starter. I didn't get much in the way of structure, though I know I and powdered dry milk to address that. I'm a fan of tangy and tart yogurt and would love any thoughts on how to make some.
Ooops, I tried to respond to this once and something happened before I finished it, so if it is out here as a partial submission, my apologies in advance.
Assuming ("assuming" gets you in trouble every time, doesn't it?) you did everything right, then the answer to your question or solution to your problem is time.
Two days ago I got a new Waring yogurt maker from our local Tuesday Morning store for $29 - a steal, I think/hope. My first experiment was to take 3 store-bought yogurts - Giant Food Store's plain yogurt, StoneyFields plain and Fage vanilla - all with active cultures and add some of each to some whole milk. The milk was first heated to 185 F for 10 minutes and then cooled to 110 F for addition of the cultures to each of 3 batches. So each of the 3 batches made 2 cups each as intended for the cups which come with yogurt maker - 6 in all. The results after waiting for 1 of each cup of the 3 batches to "harden" or firm up and then waiting a total of 9 hours for the second cup of each of the 3 batches:
In less than 3 hours, the Giant plain and the StoneyField firmed up - my wife and I tasted those and the StoneyField was best - creamy with only a bit of tartness. The Giant was not as creamy but still good. At 50 cents a cup for the original used as the starter culture, it wasn't bad at all and certainly a low cost culture option for our yogurt making. And the Fage took 5 hours to get a bit of firmness - tasted ok but not as good as the StoneyField. It was certainly not worth the $1.99 I paid for the small cup of it.
For the 3 cups that went the full 9 hours, each was much, much more tart but not much changed in the way of firmness. In fact, the Fage seemed less firm than what it was at 5 hours.
So TIME is important in getting the tangy flavor you are looking for, IMHO.
I agree with Foodfuser that using the tail-end of your last homemade yogurt seems to become weaker. I have done this, but after two or three times had to resort to buying the commercial kind for starting a new batch of homemade. I always used Dannon.
Haven't tried it as yet, but the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company sells a powder. They are good people to deal with but I have never bought nor tried the yogurt powder.
Here is the website for the powder:
It absolutely does freeze well. The lactobacilli survive the freezing.
While it is ok to use the tail end of your last batch as a starter, the reality is that each batch picks up some airborne organisms that compete with the yogurt lactobacilli for colonization of the milk, thus quality declines over batches.
Buy a good yogurt, plain or fruit at the bottom, ungelatinized, that says "contains live yogurt cultures". In my area, Stonyfield Farms is the best: it lists 6 live species present.
For freezing, I use small glass jars (recycled spice jars) that I microwave-boil to sterilize just prior to filling with the freshly purchased commercial yogurt.
I usually make 2 back-to-back batches of yogurt with the Salton, in which case I do use the 1st batch as a starter for the second. You can stretch that to another batch, but just remember that with the frozen jars you are assured a perfect culture. A "failed" batch is still totally drinkable, and drainable for "yochee", if it ferments thin. Firmness is also augmented by adding several Tbs of dry milk powder to each quart of milk prior to incubation.
This is great info, thank you! I've been having many of the same questions and issues as jono but freezing the starter batches never even occurred to me. What a great idea.
And, while you can use the end of your last batch as a starter, the instructions that come with the Salton yogurt makers specifically advise against doing that for more than one generation.
Fraidy cat that I am, I always assumed that was for health reasons (rather than quality reasons) and, therefore, have never gone more than one generation.
I like Stonyfield Farms as my starter, too.