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Yoghurt starter says to make the yoghurt at 20C/68F. What's different about it instead of the usual 43C/110F? Does the incubating temperature depend on the type of starter?

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Yes, it certainly depends on the type of starter.

Just like penguins and cockatoos prefer different environments, most bacterial strains have a specific environment in which they thrive. Going slightly away from the optimal conditions will result in lower quality, since it will shift the microbial balance in your yogurt. Going further away is a safety risk, since it will shift the balance far enough that pathogenic bacteria might get a foothold, instead of being outcompeted by your starter. And going very far off (such as trying to ferment a 43C starter at 30 C) will likely result in complete failure, because your starter won't multiply.

So, the main takeway: Always follow the exact procedure prescribed for your starter. This will not only give you the best quality and eliminate quite a few typical problems, but is also safest.

As a small aside, I haven't yet encountered actual yogurt cultures that use a 20 C temperature, this sounds more like a kefir or a buttermilk culture. Regardless, the same rule applies. Stick with the temperature prescribed by the culture's producer.

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  • Yes. I looked up the instructions online for the starter. Seems it's made to start at 20C then to put in a yoghurt maker. Thank you! :)
    – Pat
    Sep 4, 2022 at 22:44
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    Ah, then it doesn't require you to make the yogurt at 20 C. It probably assumes that the yogurt maker will only keep the proper temperature if the milk goes in at 20 C, and might overheat if it is still hotter than that.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 5, 2022 at 6:50

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