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How does one make yogurt when there isn't any existing yogurt to use as a starter?

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There are various bacteria that can make yogurt. They ferment milk at warm temperatures and are called "thermophilic" for that reason.

These bacteria were cultivated by millenia ago. I assume by having milk accidentally spoil to something that didn't kill the starving person who ate it.

Tasty thermophilic lactobacilli do exist in the wild but so do plenty of other very untasty bacteria that would love to eat the lactose in your warm milk. You can't just let warm milk spoil and hope you get yogurt bacteria. The only way to be sure is to not get sick when you eat it.

Getting yogurt starters is very easy.

Any yogurt from the store that contains "live active cultures" can be used as a starter. Yogurt starters can also be purchased dried online.

Once you have some yogurt, and won't be making more for a long time, you can save a little dried or in the freezer.

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Getting yogurt starters is easy right now. However, it may not be easy to acquire in a post-apocalyptic world where I want to recreate yogurt. I was looking for a definitive recipe to restart yogurt. – Error 454 Jan 30 '13 at 22:56
I think you actually have your answer implied here--get some dried starter(s) (more than one for redundancy) now, and put them in your stash of disaster recovery resources. Of course, in that imaginary post-apocolytic world, I wonder where you will get a cow or a goat. Do you know how to milk them? :-) This is not a skill I have in the modern world anyway :-) – SAJ14SAJ Jan 31 '13 at 3:23
If you ever find yourself in North Korea, good luck finding yogurt, you'll have lots of luck finding cows. @SAJ14SAJ I grew up milking goats, so I think I'm up for the task. So basically yogurt is so magical that only cavemen were able to break the secrets of bacteria culturing... hmm. – Error 454 Jan 31 '13 at 18:55
@Error454- It's not magical. It's just that when yogurt bacteria were discovered, people were desperate for food and food preservation so they were willing to risk getting sick eating questionable food. You could certainly make 20 portions of milk, heat them all overnight, and see which ones had a yogurt-like consistency and fragrance in the morning. Then you could eat them one at a time and the one that doesn't kill you you can use as a starter. Obviously you would have to be truly desperate to preserve milk to make that risk worth while. – Sobachatina Jan 31 '13 at 20:30

It is possible to use pepper stems to create a yogurt like product. They place the stems of hot peppers in prepared milk (heated to >70°C) for 12-24 hours at incubation temperature (40-45°C), after which time it solidifies. The stems are discarded and further batches are created with the product.

I myself have tried once with one stem from a sweet red pepper but I didn't dare eat the result and didn't try making further batches beyond the first one. One worry I had was that there is some question as to whether it is bacteria living on the stem or pectins from the pepper stem itself that create the "yogurt."

Sources: (Google has more)

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My grandmother used to say that you could make yoghurt the same way that homemade buttermilk is made - add a few drops of lemon to the warmed milk and let it ferment overnight. This would aid the creation of the necessary bacteria for the yoghurt.

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Vegan Richa has a recipe to make your own starter in her book. It's easy and all you might not like is what I prefer - these are non dairy yogurts like coconut, almond, etc.

ALL EASY and you should get her book VEGAN RICHA's INDIAN KITCHEN

For example she says she uses a probiotic yogurt starter:

1/2 cup cashew milk (made also from soaking cashews or almonds or buy your own) 1/2 tsp non dairy probiotic capsule or powder

Warm the milk over low heat just until lukewarm - mix in probiotic - transfer to glass bowl or jar. Cover let sit in a warm place for 6 hours. Refrigerate and use w/in 3 days to start yogurt.

You will have to buy the book to get the rest...ALL SIMPLE :)

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and if you want to know if non dairy is just as good for yogurt read here – Junebug Oct 27 '15 at 14:20
Do you know what probiotic capsules contain? – Stephie Oct 27 '15 at 14:59
@Stephie : it varies by company. They're good about listing them on the packaging, though. (as the goal is to get a lot of varied microbes into you). For your case, you might be able to get away with the cheaper ones that contain lactobacilus (or however it's spelled) and few others. – Joe Oct 27 '15 at 16:10
Here is a Vegan NON DAIRY Probiotic capsule. They make the same thing as the DAIRY Probiotic capsules :)....just w/out MILK It may be more information than you need and you don't necessarily have to buy Dr. Mercola's but they are high quality and all questions get answered so your might be too – Junebug Oct 27 '15 at 17:15

Its simple ,use dried whole red chilli in the warm milk and keep it to setin warm place.

Dried Red chillies have same bacteria as required for curd/yoghurt

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Do you have a source for that claim? – Stephie Jan 8 at 14:03

In the ancient times nomadic turkish tribes were making yoghurt via leaving the first boiled and cooled (around 43-44°C) milk in the forest or via adding the collected dew from the forest early in the morning and adding this to the boiled and cooled milk. In the modern times, in Turkey now, one of the ways to make yoghurt without using yoghurt is to add boiled chickpeas into the milk (43-44°C). Boiling milk is important if you are using raw milk because it will have plenty of other bacterias but for making yogurt, you only need two. the ratio for the chickpeas are 3 chickpeas per half a liter of milk. hope this helps. if you are interested in creating new tastes you can use or mix goat, sheep and buffalo milk into cow milk (that is also how it was done in the ancient nomadic tribes).

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I put 1/2 cup rice in the water for 10 minutes, then separate the water and mix itenter image description here with hot milk... after fermenting for 3 days. I open the container and it is smelling like cheese but have a nice quantity of yogurt mixed with lactic acid... then separate the yogurt and use it as starter to make more yogurt but good smelling like cheese in yogurt shape.

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