How to Activate a yogurt starter culture (with recipes)

Who’s all up into fermenting lately?

That’s all I seem to want to do. Currently, we are fermenting kombucha, water kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, and sourdough starter.

And… it’s official y’all. I have officially given Mountain Man an official winter project. To build me the awesomest fermenting/store my canning equipment/canned good storer EVAH!

Why? One may ask. Well, if I keep using my kitchen cabinets I’ll have to start throwing dishes away because there will be no room for them!

Yep. I totally would choose fermenting things over dishes. Dang, man- I’d be content with eating my cookin’ right out of the ‘ol pot itself.

Just sayin’…

Yogurt and everything else we’ve been fermentin’ up in here has all sorts of good probiotics (and I am stuffing them down Mountain Man’s throat right now because he’s got that awesome stomach bug that’s goin’ around!).

What is a Yogurt Starter Culture?

It is a freeze-dried (powdered form) live yogurt culture.

I ordered mine from Cultures for Health. I order almost all of my cultures from there. It’s a super duper awesome (did I just say that?) place! I DID just say that. Whatevs- it is a really cool place and no, I am not affiliated with them at all.

They carry two different types of cultures: direct-set and heirloom. Here’s the difference:

  • direct-set: can only be used once
  • heirloom: can be used indefinitely with care (must culture them every 7ish days)

There are also two different ways to culture yogurt:

  •    Thermophilic– must be cultured in temperatures around 110 degrees
  •    Mesophilic– must be cultured in temps that range from 70ish to 77ish degrees

There are many different types of yogurt starters that you can buy in terms of flavor, process (ways to culture), and what type(s) of good bacteria they contain. HERE is a great comparison chart.

We went with the Viili. It has a mild flavor, is thick and jelly-like, heirloom, and mesophilic. This means that I have a mildly tasting, thick yogurt, that I can make indefinitely, and I can culture in a mason jar with a coffee filter on top. No heating, wrapping my crockpot, nothin’. I’m all into super-duper easy things to make from scratch since I am a mom, farmer, wife, and homesteader. Dang man, did I just say super-duper again? Clearly I need some adult friends (moms & dads you know what I’m talking about *wink*).

How to Activate a Yogurt Starter Culture

***Please note that these directions are for MESOPHILIC yogurt starters only***

Seriously. This. Is. So. Easy.

You Will Need:

  • Clean Quart-Size Mason Jar
  •   Mesophilic Yogurt Culture
  •   1.5 Cups Cold Pasteurized Milk (for directions on using raw milk click HERE)
  •   Coffee Filter
  •   Rubber Band or Canning Metal Ring


  1. Pour 1.5 cups cold milk into a mason jar.
  2. Carefully open freeze-dried yogurt starter culture and pour in.
  3. Stir gently but thoroughly.
  4. Cover with coffee filter. Use rubber band or metal ring to hold in place.
  5. Culture in a place (we use our dish cabinet) that ranges between 70-77 degrees.
  6. Check in 12 hours to see if yogurt has set. Yogurt is set when it forms a solid mass that moves away from the sides when you move your mason jar.
  7. If it hasn’t set then keep culturing, baby! Check every few hours. You can culture it for up to 48 hours.
  8. After 48 hours, if it still has not set, then refrigerate. You can still use this to make your next batch of yogurt. Even though it didn’t set it still cultured!

To-Die For Recipes That Include Yogurt:

Lemon Mint Frozen Yogurt with Chocolate Chick

Strawberry Fleeceflower Yogurt Pops

BOOYA! That’s it, baby. Activating a yogurt starter is easy as pie!


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Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to replace or be construed as professional health advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or veterinarian before implementing or altering the diet of your backyard animals. The author assumes no responsibility for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of any suggestions, preparations, or procedures discussed on this blog. If you are reading this for the purpose of making major financial or life decisions, please consult a professional before doing so. By reading and using my website, you are agreeing to my terms and conditions. Thanks y’all!

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