Tag Archives: yogurt

~ Kefir Cheese & More…

cheese making 101

Today we’ll talk about making living, cultured cheese at home. Cheese can be made with dairy kefir grains or lighter yogurt strains. The process involves several steps, however, the overall procedure is very simple.

It is a basic 3 steps in cheese making…

1. Culturing the milk with a selected strain of kefir or yogurt until the milk separates into ‘curds and whey’.

2. Hanging the product to remove more of the ‘whey’ and to ‘dry’ the curd/fat solids.

3. Enhancing the cheese by forming it, adding dried herbs, and aging it longer, if desired.

finished kefir yogurt cheese


So Let’s Get Started…

First, start by culturing fresh dairy with the selected culture strain. Milk kefir grains seem to work the best but other types of yogurts may be used. Even different yogurt strains mixed together can form a better end product and add to the probiotic makeup. These include Fil, LangFil, Amasi, or even Buttermilk yogurt type strains.

Allow the milk to culture per directions, most should achieve separation within 24 to 48 hours. After the milk has split into ‘curds & whey’ remove as much of the ‘whey’ as possible leaving the milk solids/fats for the cheese production.
Note: Save the ‘whey’ as a starter for other ferments like lacto veggies. Makes a great drink for children. Save under refrigeration.

kefir cheese making
milk kefir bagged

Next step is to place the milk fat solids into several layers of cheesecloth or porous cloth. Make sure the weave is proper to hold the solids in.

Bring up the corners and tie together with string. Hang this, over a bowl, for 6 to 8 hours or until the desired thickness is achieved. If a firmer cheese is needed then place into the refrigerator and allow the cheese to thicken. The process of refrigeration will pull more moisture out due to humidity controls.

forming cultured cheese

Lastly, is removing the cheese from the cloth and enhancing it further. This is done by forming the solids into a block form, a mold, or mound. Before that herbs and spices may be added to enhance the flavor. A little sea salt and pepper is all that is needed sometimes, but adding herbs like basil or thyme will take it to another level!

If a thicker cheese is wanted, once formed, it can sit longer to firm up even more. By these methods, soft spreadable cheese or harder cheese can be created.

But What About the Cheese Going Bad?

The chance of living, cultured cheese is very small if any. By the process used, this cheese is alive with active cultures that have depleted the ‘food source’ so other bacteria and yeast have nothing to feed upon.
The cheese will be suspectable to mold spores if left out and uncovered.

cheese with herbs

Now Some Fun…

We have living probiotic cheese maybe with or without herbs and seasoning. Now, this can be enhanced by adding other cultured foods or infusions.
A mix of honey infused garlic and fresh cheese sounds like a winner. See how to make garlic honey here.

If milk kefir grains or yogurt culture starters are needed, visit our store for a selection of over a dozen starter types.

Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods…

~ What is Mongolia Milk Airag and Kumis? ~

airag milk

What is Airag?

Airag is the traditional national beverage of Mongolia. The most important animal of the Mongols is the horse. Horses don’t only serve as riding animals, the mare’s milk also has a special status. A glass of homemade Mongolian airag is said to bring health and vitality. Also known as kumis, it is made by fermenting raw unpasteurized mare’s milk over the course of hours or days, often while stirring or churning (The physical agitation has similarities to making butter). During the fermentation, lactobacilli bacteria acidify the milk, and yeasts turn it into a carbonated and mildly alcoholic drink.

How Fermented Airag is Used…

airag milk

Airag refreshes and sparkles softly on the tongue. It contains a small amount of carbon dioxide and a low amount of only 2% of alcohol. The taste is slightly sour, but quite agreeable after getting used to it. The exact taste depends on both of the characteristics of the pastures and the exact method of production. The beverage is a rich source of vitamins and minerals for the nomads. A Mongolian will normally empty it, but it is also acceptable to just take a sip and return the bowl. To reject the offer right away
would be gravely impolite.

Similar to Isgelen Tarag (Kefir), it is possible, but not as common, to distill Airag into Mongol Arkhi (milk liquor).

Strictly speaking, kumis is in its own category of alcoholic drinks because it is made neither from fruit nor from grain. Technically, it is closer to wine than to beer because the fermentation occurs directly from sugars, as in wine (usually from fruit), as opposed to from starches (usually from grain) converted to sugars by mashing, as in beer. But in terms of experience and traditional manner of consumption, it is much more comparable to beer.
It is even milder in alcoholic content than beer.
It is arguably the region’s beer equivalent.

Kumis is very light in body compared to most dairy drinks. It has a unique, slightly sour flavor with a bite from the mild alcoholic content. The exact flavor is greatly variable
between different producers.

Kumis is usually served cold or chilled. Traditionally it is sipped out of small, handle-less, bowl-shaped cups or saucers, called piyala.

How Airag is Made…

The milk is filtered through a cloth and then poured into a large open leather sack called a Khukhuur, which is usually suspended next to the entrance of the yurt. Alternatively, a vat from larch wood (Gan), or in modern times plastic, can be used. Within this container, the milk gets stirred with a wooden masher or buluur.

leather airag milk
milk fermentation

The stirring needs to be repeated regularly over one or two days. Traditionally, anyone entering or leaving the yurt would do a few strokes. The fermentation process is caused by a combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeast, similar to Kefir.
The stirring makes sure that all parts of the milk are
fermented equally.

Traditionally, this fermentation took place in horse-hide containers, which might be left on the top of a yurt and turned over on occasion, or strapped to a saddle and joggled around over the course of a day’s riding. Today, a wooden vat or plastic barrel may be used
in place of the leather container.

Enjoy and Happy Culturing!
See our web store for all your culturing and fermentation needs:
Organic Cultures Store


~ 3 Traditional Indian Lassi Recipes ~

~ Traditional Indian Lassi ~

mango Lassi
The famous Indian yogurt drink that is smooth, creamy, and absolutely heavenly! There are many variations of lassi, which is basically a blend of cultured diary kefir or yogurt mixed with fresh fruits and/or herbs. If the yogurt or kefir is ready made, this great refreshing drink can be made in minutes. The lassi drink can be used as a before meal appetite enhancer or after a meal as a dessert beverage.

Lassi is a popular traditional dahi (yogurt) based drink that originated in the Indian subcontinent. Lassi is a blend of yogurt, water, spices and sometimes fruit. Traditional lassi is a sweet savory drink, sometimes flavored with ground and roasted cumin. Salty lassi, however, contains salt and other spices, instead of sugar. It is important to use fresh yogurt/kefir that is not sour tasting.

Main Ingredients: Dahi (yogurt), fruits, cream, sugar, water, and spices

Mango Lassi

lassi mango
– 2 Ripe mangos, cut, seeded, and diced
– 2 cups of yogurt or milk kefir
– ¼ to ½ cup of jaggery (A raw India sugar) or cane sugar

Place all ingredients into a blender and pulse until blended.
Pour into glasses and serve. Garnish with a mango slice and a sprig of mint.

Mango – Mint Lassi

mint lassi
It’s a great take on the famous Mango Lassi that you tend to see at various Indian restaurants because it takes the flavor to a higher and much more complex level. This can also be done with only mint, if desired, just double the amount of mint leaves used.

– 1 Ripe mango
– 3 tbsp brown or jaggery sugar
– 2 tbsp chopped mint leaves
– 1 tsp ground star anise
– 1 tsp ground cardamom
– 1 tbsp lime juice
– 2 cups fresh yogurt or kefir
– whole mint leaves for garnish

Blend the mango, brown sugar/jaggery, chopped mint, star anise, cardamom, lime juice, and yogurt in a blender on high speed until smooth. Pour into glasses and garnish with fresh mint sprigs to serve.

Strawberry Mango Lassi

lassi strawberry
This is a fruity twist to the traditional lassi.

– 300 to 350 gr of strawberries, remove hulls and steams
– 1 to 1.5 cups of chilled yogurt
– 2 to 3 tbsp heavy cream
– 6 tbsp of sugar or raw honey
– 1 to 2 tsp rose water
– Sliced strawberries for garnish

Prepare the strawberries, mix with the honey or sugar, and blend until smooth.
Next, add the fresh yogurt and rose water, pulse until a smooth lassi is created.
Serve the strawberry lassi immediately. Garnish with a strawberry and/or mint leaf.

lassi yogurt  Lassi is a great way to use yogurt/kefir and a different way to use it over making smoothies. Above is three classic lassi blends, there are so many ways to make lassi with a favorite mix of fruits and spices.
Let the imagination go wild with flavor combination!

For yogurt and milk kefir starters, visit our online store at: store.organic-cultures.com


Tempeh Gyro w/ Tzatziki

Tempeh Gyro
Tempeh Gyros are a great healthy sandwich that everyone will love.  Simple to make if you already have the bread and have the tempeh marinated.

Fermented – Cultured

Ingredients Needed…

4 ounces of homemade tempeh – cut into strips for marinating
2 chopped garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 tablespoon garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon rice vinegar or 1 teaspoon other vinegar


1/2 cup peeled grated cucumber
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 chopped garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 cup homemade plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup homemade sour cream
1 tablespoon parsley
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar or 1 teaspoon other vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano

Other Ingredients…

4 -6 Greek pita breads
olive oil (for cooking)
lettuce and tomato
Tempeh gyroDirections…
1. To make gyro “meat” cut tempeh into thin strips 1/2 – 1.5 cm in thickness works well.
2. Next make tempeh marinade with all ingredients listed under “Gyro Tempeh”.

Marinated Tempeh
Marinating Homemade Tempeh

3. Pour the marinade over the tempeh, make sure all surfaces are covered and place in fridge to marinate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
4. Next, make Tzatziki- combine all ingredients listed under Tzatziki. Stir well and also place in fridge to sit for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
5. When you are ready to eat, set the Tzatziki out to warm slightly while you cook the tempeh.
6. Heat a large skillet with 3-4 tbsp olive oil and heat over medium, once heated place tempeh strips in and let them cook until each side is golden brown.
7. Remove tempeh from pan, and one at a time heat the pitas over medium heat until warmed on each side.
8. Then layer your gyro (pita, tzatziki and tempeh) then top with lettuce and tomato.

Enjoy and Happy Culturing!

MANGO PULISSERY w/ Chilli & Yogurt



Sounds like a great recipe for fermentation!
It has yogurt in the mix and you may ferment or use fermented chilli, too!  The mangoes could be fermented the day before, too, however cooking will kill off the pro-biotics.  Happy Culturing…

Mango –1 Cup Chopped
Curd / Yogurt – 1 cup
Water – As required
Salt – To taste

Fresh Grated Coconut – 1/4 Cup
Green Chilli – 1
Jeera (cumin) – 1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric powder – a pinch

Coconut Oil – 1 tablespoon
Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Red Chilli – 2
Curry Leaves – a spring


– Peel and chop mangoes. Heat 1/2 cup water in a wok. Bring to a boil and add in the chopped mango chunks.
– Add in salt to taste and cook until the mango is cooked.
– Add all the ingredients listed under ‘grind and paste’, blending them into a smooth paste, add water if needed.
– Add in turmeric powder. Cook for 2 minutes in low flame.
– Take the thick yogurt curd. Beat until you get a smooth consistency. Add to the mango mixture.  Cook for few minutes. Remove from heat.

Heat oil in a tampering pan. Add all the ingredients listed under ‘for tampering’ and saute them.

Add the tampered contents into the ‘gravy’ and mix them slowly.

Delicious Pulissery is ready to eat.  Serve hot with steamed white rice.  Enjoy!

Yogurt Types – Mesophilic Yogurt Starter Cultures

yogurt starter
In the culturing world, one of the biggest varieties of culture starters are of the yogurt type.  The type of yogurt starters we carry are mesophilic, which means they can culture and ferment at room temperature and are able to be used as a starter, repeatedly!

Each yogurt starter makes a delicious homemade yoguurt that is ideal for the home food culturist.  No need of boiling and cooling milk before use or incubating your yogurt starter in a warm oven or home yogurt maker for hours before it will set. These yogurt starters are mesophilic yogurts or room temperature culture starters. In about 12-24 hours, these yogurt starters will have set and made tempting homemade yogurt, which after chilling, is ready to be flavored, eaten plain, or made into fresh pro-biotic cheese. No need for the extra expense and bother of a home yogurt maker
or heating mats to produce a finished product.

Tanekin Kefir Yogurt

Tanekin Yogurt
Japanese Tanekin Yogurt

Tanekin kefir-yogurt starter contains live active bacteria and cultures at room temperature on the counter: no yogurt maker required!  One packet of our yogurt starter can be used to make unlimited amounts of homemade yogurt as it can be serial cultured, reserving a small amount of yogurt from the current batch to inoculate the next batch of homemade yogurt.  With care, this yogurt culture can be used to make homemade
style yogurt indefinitely.

  Our Tanekin yogurt starter makes a wonderful cultured beverage.  Originating from Japan, it has a number of uses including making an excellent base for salad dressings, healthy breakfast, or at anytime of the day.  This yogurt culture can also be added to milk and consumed as a dairy beverage.  Doing so adds beneficial cultures to the milk and many people feel it helps replace beneficial
bacteria lost during the pasteurization process.

LångFil Yogurt Starter
lang fil yogurt

  LångFil is a style of Filmjölk with a characteristic long and almost elastic texture due to Lactococcus lactis var. longi, a strain of bacteria that converts the carbohydrates in milk into long chains of polysaccharides, which cause the long consistency.  Traditional comes unflavored only.  More common in northern Sweden. Sometimes eaten with ground ginger.  Has been in the Swedish language since 1896.  Långfil is a dying product, gradually disappearing from stores’ shelves.

  Its mild flavor makes an excellent base for dressings and smoothies.  – Cultures at 70-78°F, no yogurt maker required!
– Reusable culture with care a little from each batch can be
used to make the next batch.

Matsoni or Caspian Sea Yogurt

matsoni yogurt culture
Matsoni yogurt (pronounced Madzoonee) is also known in Japan as Caspian Sea Yogurt. A slightly tart yogurt, Matsoni is excellent sweetened with a bit of honey or served with fruit.  Matsoni yogurt has a thick viscous consistency, what is known as ‘ropy’.

This yogurt is easy to make and requires no heating for culturing.  Just add the culture starter to fresh milk and allow it to sit for 12 to 24 hours.  After this time, you will have healthy yogurt ready to eat.   With proper care, the Matsoni/Caspian yogurt culture can be used to make homemade yogurt indefinitely.  Just save some of the last batch as a starter for the next batch.

Buttermilk Yogurt – Like Grandma Made

butter milk pancakes
This buttermilk, organic grown culture, allows you to make fresh homemade buttermilk without all the additives in commercial products.  Homemade buttermilk can be used for baking, drinking or can be added to cream to make crème fraiche (European-style sour cream) or cultured butter.  The taste of this real buttermilk culture cannot compare to the thick, super tart commercial
brands that are found in the stores.

This culture starter is easy to maintain just add some of the starter to fresh milk and allow to set for 12 to 24 hours.  Once ‘setup’ the culture is ready to consume or used in your favorite recipes.  Make buttermilk pancakes or biscuits that will be the best you ever tasted by far!  Recipe here

Buttermilk culture contains the following lactic acid bacteria: Streptococcus Lactis.   With proper care, the Buttermilk culture can be used to make homemade cultures milk indefinitely.  Just save some of the last batch as a starter for the next batch.

Piima Yogurt Starter
piima yogurt

  Our Piima yogurt starter makes a thin cultured beverage.  Originating from Scandinavia, it has a number of uses including making an excellent base for salad dressing, cultured butter or for making Piima cream (a sour cream type condiment).  This yogurt culture can also be added to milk and consumed as a dairy beverage.  Doing so adds beneficial cultures to the milk and many people
feel it helps replace beneficial bacteria lost during
the pasteurization process.

  Mild flavor, makes an excellent base for dressings and smoothies – Very thick beverage-like consistency – Cultures at 70-78°F, no yogurt maker required! – Reusable culture with care a little from each batch can be used to make the next batch

Viili – A Traditional Cultured Milk

viili starter
The flavor is mild, not tart, and it forms a creamy, thick honey-like texture.  This culture starter is also ‘ropy’, but not as much as the Matsoni.  Each culture becomes the starter for the next, so make sure to save some for your next batch.  Use soymilk, plain or flavored, and dairy viili culture for a virtually dairy-free soy drink.  We recommend making your soy viili in a different container than your dairy viili to keep a pure culture.  You can also make viili cream cheese, plain or with fresh herbs.

  Over 215 years old, this viili culture is and still going strong!
Start a yogurt tradition yourself.

Customer Comments: “After talking with a brewer at Organic-Cultures, am very happy with the viili product. Growing up in Finland, this yogurt culture is the same as my grandmother would make each day…very happy!”  Dave, NY, NY

Very active culture on arrival.  Very mild tasting, excellent “ropey” texture, just what I was searching for!  – Jane R., San Diego, CA

Fil Mjölk Dairy/Soy Yogurt Culture
matsoni yogurt culture

At breakfast buffets in Sweden, it is served from a large bowl with a ladle and is found for sale in every store that sells dairy products.  Each culture becomes the starter for the next, then the next, etc.  Any pasteurized milk from nonfat to half-and-half may be used.

Dairy Fil Mjölk starter and soymilk makes a rich cultured soy drink.  Directions for the Fresh Fil Mjölk Starter explain the easy, moderate room temperature culture method, how to keep a starter going, some simple soft cheese recipes, and a soymilk variation.

Also known as Crème Fraiche or European Clotted Cream if made with half-and-half;  a close relative and good substitute for Piima.

Amasi Heirloom Yogurt Starter

amasi culture starter
Our Amasi yogurt starter makes a thin cultured beverage.  Originating from Africa, it has a number of uses including making an excellent base for basting meats, addition to dishes, or drank like a beverage.  This yogurt culture can also be added to milk and consumed as a dairy beverage.  Doing so adds beneficial cultures to the milk and many people feel it helps replace beneficial bacteria lost during the pasteurization process.

Bulgarian Yogurt Starter
Bulgarian Yogurt Starter

Lactobacillus Bulgarian bacteria is used to make traditional yoghurt in Bulgaria. It was first identified in 1905 by the Bulgarian doctor Stamen Grigorov. The bacterium feeds on dairy lactose and produces lactic acid, which helps prolong the milk’s shelf life.

Lactobacillus Bulgaricus is named after Bulgaria – the country where it was first discovered and used. The bacteria is freely found in the nature of Bulgaria. When cultured into milk and under certain conditions the bacterium causes natural lactic acid fermentation, leading to what we call yoghurt.

Note:  This is not a direct sit yogurt and requires a temperature
controlled time frame to form the yogurt.

  About Different Yogurt Strains…

As a mesophilic yogurt culture, this yogurt starter cultures at room temperature.  To make a batch of homemade yogurt, the yogurt culture is simply added to milk, stirred, and then allowed to culture on the counter before being placed in the refrigerator.

This yogurt culture can be serial cultured: a small amount of homemade yogurt from the current batch is reserved to inoculate the next batch of homemade yogurt.  With proper care, the piima yogurt culture can be used to make homemade yogurt indefinitely.  Just save some of the last batch as a starter for the next batch.

Our yogurt starters are maintained on organic cow’s milk, packaged and shipped fresh to you.  We send enough starter to get you making you own culture, plus some for a backup.

Feel free to order any yogurt starter from our secure online store.  All starters are 10% for a limited time, order today –


Culturing Recipes For the Week…1.25.2015

Today we shall look at some recipes for pro-biotic drinks from traditional Indian food culture. Yoghurt or buttermilk plays an important roll in Indian cooking. Bringing richness to a dish and helping to cool down a chillies heat in an entrée.
Yoghurt type drinks, called Lassi, and herbal teas add not only pro-biotics but also the medicinal properties of the herbs added.

Here are three Lassi drinks to get you started:

Cultured yoghurt lassi
Simple to make Indian lassi is great!

Spicy Lassi

2 c water
½ c of plain yoghurt of your choice
2 tablespoons of sugar (or to taste)
½ tsp fresh, grated, ginger or ¼ tsp dry ginger
½ tsp ground cardamom

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for 1-2 minutes. Adjust sugar to taste and dosha. Doshas are part of Ayurvedic medicine system with the goal of keeping the body in correct balance. This lassi is good for all body constitutions and has a heating effect on the body.

sweet lassi
Sweet Indian Yogurt Lassi

Sweet Lassi

2 c water
½ cup cultured yoghurt of your choice
2 tbsp of sugar
1 drop rose water

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for 1-2 minutes

Good for all body types but especially balancing for pitta dosha types.


A spicy lassi ready to drink
Hot and Spicy Drink !

Jalapeño Milk

This is a great drink for heading off colds and flu’s. It provides inner heat and energy to the body when needed. This is one of my favorite medicinal drinks for taste and easiness in preparation. The jalapeño milk is not as hot as the name sounds. The milk and sugar will mellow out the chillies heat.
People are surprised by the amount of energy it gives!

Start with 2-5 fresh jalapeño chillies

8 oz cultured yoghurt or milk

Raw honey or unprocessed sweeter, to taste

Chop the jalapeños and blend with the milk. Blend for least 5 minutes. The long blend time, ensures the chilies are incorporated and helps to froth the milk. Add sweetener and blend for a few seconds. Adjust the sweetener to taste. Strain and enjoy!

We hope you like these drinks as a change from the common yoghurt smothies here in the USA.   Yoghurt style cultures are avalible in our store: store.organic-cultures.com