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?
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.
When I was in my homemade yogurt phase I would always use some of my previous batch to make the new one. For the first batch I ever made I just bought regular yogurt from the store as my starter.
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: