Yoghurt is made by adding a starter culture to milk. The starter culture is essentially a type of "friendly bacteria" that produces lactic acid and coagulates the milk. You can use store-bought natural yoghurt as your starter culture or purchase a dry culture, which will do the same job once you've turned it into a starter culture by mixing it with milk.
Dried yoghurt culture contains milk solids, sucrose and the bacteria required to make yoghurt, such as lactobacillus bulgaricus and lactobacillus thermophilus. It is freeze dried and is in powder form. Dried yoghurt culture is often sold in sachets or bottles.
Making Starter from Dried Culture
Sprinkle dried culture into a pan of hot milk and mix vigorously until the culture dissolves. Pour the liquid into the yoghurt maker and leave it for 6 to 8 hours. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to make yoghurt.
Once your starter culture is ready, you can make yoghurt in the same way as if you were using ready-made yoghurt as your starter. Add the culture to hot milk and leave it at a warm temperature for 7 hours. During the time the lactic acid is produced and curds start to form. Bear in mind that all the equipment used must be thoroughly sanitised, otherwise it might affect the quality of the finished product.
Dry yoghurt culture is only available in health food stores or over the Internet, while natural yoghurt can be purchased at any grocery store. It is also more expensive than buying yoghurt. Using the dried culture also means having the extra step of dissolving it into milk to make the liquid starter culture.
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