Yogurt, Mygurt, Easygurt

Yogurt Making Made Easy

I’ve mentioned yogurt many times. It is easy to make both for our own table and for feeding the livestock. We’ve been doing this for decades. The pork industry is starting to take notice of probiotics and get on the yogurt bandwagon with a lot of research now showing the benefits we’ve known all along. The difference is they spend big money to buy it in when it is pretty easy stuff to make. So easy that anyone can do it on a home or small farm level just as well, or maybe better, than the big boys.

Bacterial Culture

The point of yogurt for livestock is the bacteria cultures. By feeding yogurt to our animals, and ourselves, we’re inoculating our guts with good bacteria that help us digest foods and help fight off ‘bad bacterial’ that could make us sick.

You can use any live culture yogurt but they’re not all created equal. Some have just one type of bacteria while others, like the Stonyfield yogurt above, have six different cultures. Sometimes when money’s tight I’ve used the cheaper yogurt starter culture, and it works, but I prefer the good stuff. This one has:

S. Thermophilus
L. Bulgaricus
L. Acidophilus
Bifidobacterium animalis (Bifidus)
L. Casei
L. Rhamnosus

Wiki links for your enjoyment and edification.

There is a secondary point, tightly related to the first point, and that is that yogurt makes the dairy more digestible and makes it keep longer without spoiling. Yogurt bacteria fight off other bacteria in a territorial war and they stop many molds which could otherwise produce mycotoxins that are bad for smaller pigs and fetuses in particular.

I strongly suspect and there is now research that show that the fact that our pigs eat yogurt makes it so they are better at digesting high fiber feeds like pasture and hay which makes up almost all of what they eat. This is one of those little tricks to making pastured pigs work.

To make the yogurt I start with some store bought live culture yogurt and several gallons of milk. I take a little bit out of each milk jug to make room for the yogurt and have an air pocket for shaking to mix. Some of that milk goes into a jar along with half a jar of yogurt. Shake to mix and then pour some back into each jug to culture the milk. Then shake the jugs. I tend to use whole milk because if I’m making some directly for piglets that gives them extra calories.

It’s a good idea to have reasonably sterile conditions since you’re culturing bacteria and you want your team to win. Hot water is what I use to achieve cleanliness. Our tap water is 150°F as I run my water heater hot – that kills most everything. It’s a time vs temperature curve. At 180°F, what we have down in the butcher shop, the hot water kills on contact. This could be an issue in a household with small children or the elderly so you may instead want to boil some water on the stove instead.

Growing Culture

In the winter I tend to set the gallon jugs or five gallon pails on the stone shelf above my wood stove so that it warms and the yogurt producing bacteria can thrive. The kitchen sink’s hot water after finishing dishes is another easy way to do it if the wood stove isn’t going such as in the fall and spring. In the summer the interior of a closed car gets to a very good temperature for yogurt making. Nothing fancy, just use what you have for heat.

Common Question: “Does this work with pasteurized milk?”

Yes, you can use raw or pasteurized milk. There is no particular advantage to raw. Both work fine.

After a few days I’ll dump these into our 1,000 gallon whey tanks as we receive a load of dairy. Because of the warmth the yogurt will flow out of the jugs easily – it won’t have gelled like if it were refrigerated. The bacteria that has multiplied in the milk will then culture the dairy in the tanks. Not all of the dairy exits the tanks but rather some culture is left behind with each cycle so that continues to culture subsequent loads until I inject more culture.

Making yogurt is easy, tasty and healthful for man and beast.

Outdoors: 34°F/26°F 4″ Snow
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About Walter Jeffries

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19 Responses to Yogurt, Mygurt, Easygurt

  1. eggyknap says:

    Have you played with keeping some of the last batch to inoculate the next one, rather than purchasing starters?

    • That is how the tanks keep themselves inoculated day to day as new dairy is added. They never empty fully so some culture is left from each batch. Occasionally I add more pure culture from the store yogurt. I’ve done what you suggests and it works but if I’m trying to make sure all the bacteria are present then a little store bought yogurt is a cheap way to do that.

      • Greg says:

        Thanks for this Walter. I’m excited to experiment with yogurt. I have a couple of questions. How often roughly do you add more starter to the whey tank? In a 1000 gallon tank how much ‘cultured’ whey approximately do you leave behind before filling with new whey to ensure that there’s enough culture? Does it matter a great deal? And finally….how long do you wait before feeding the cultured whey to the pigs after adding the starter…or adding new whey to ‘cultured’ whey? Does it need to rest? Thanks so much!


        • I don’t do it on an exact schedule but rather by eye. If I see red mold that means I’m late and should have done so earlier – that takes over a month to happen. Typically I add some every two or three weeks but as I said, it’s not exact.

          Because of the design of the tanks there is probably 10 to 15 gallons of cultured whey left in the tank after ’emptying’ since these are flat bottomed rather than conical bottom tanks. I use this ‘feature’ rather than considering it a flaw.

          I don’t wait. The one to five gallons I add to each tank gets mixed and dispersed with the new whey. Some will stay in the tank, some feed down to troughs. What stays in the tank grows.

  2. For family use my method was a warmed thermos flask. Put about 100ml of live yoghurt with all the good cultures into the warmed flask. Fill this then with warmed unpasteurised (raw) milk. You warm the milk slightly in a saucepan just testing with a clean knuckle if it is human body temperature i.e. 37.4°C. When this temperature is reached slowly pour the milk into the thermos flask on top of the yoghurt. Let this stand on a sunny windowsill for 24 hours. The next day slowly up-end the flask 5 times. So not shaking but rotating it over itself slowly. When you then open the flask you will have full-fat fully cultured yoghurt. You can then add fruit to this if you want but it is delicious on its own.

  3. Rosangela Teodoro says:

    What about making the Greek yogurt?
    Do I used the same principle?


  4. Nina says:

    Awesome, well thought out procedure W! Sometimes I wish I was one of your porcine charges (kidding); you care for them so well. Kudos to having the forethought to put a stone on your woodstove to facilitate the inoculation so you don’t have to worry. Can you ship your product to CA? I miss home (New England). Happy Spring!

  5. YES! After milking the cows the extra milk is set aside for the pigs, a cup of yoghurt in each 5 gallon bucket and fed out in the morning! easy peasy on a much smaller scale! Pigs love it! LOVE it! c

  6. jeremy says:

    Hi Walter,

    can this method be used with both sweet and acid whey?



  7. Servius says:

    I’ve done this at home using a few jars of hot water in a cooler to keep the nacent yogurt warm for the time it takes to ferment.

    I’ll also heat the milk to just below boiling and reduce it to 110 degrees just before adding the yogurt to the milk.

  8. Glenn Warren says:

    I have heard that Stonyfield cultures each of their strains in separate containers and then at some point blends them. So when we use it as a mixed culture at home, several of the heartier strains most likely take command within the resulting culture. Do you have any idea which types of bacteria end up surviving in your resulting cultured milk? For some reason I suspect Hope has the answer to this question….

  9. Shannon Berridge says:

    Dear Walter,

    We are new to raising pasture pigs, Idaho pasture pig here. We have 7 born in February eating 3rd cut hay after weaning, and mixed pasture all summer& all kitchen/garden scraps as well. Free choice Redmond mineral salt with Selenium. But growth seems to have slowed as pasture drying up. How much yogurt per pig, per day or week would you figure on our small scale farm? Appreciate your great information as this seems to be a piece we are missing. Thank you

    • How much… Well, if you have enough I find that pigs will eat up to about 3.5 gallons of dairy, which yogurt is an example of, per hundred weight of pig per day. They would likely fatten up greatly on that, perhaps too much in fact.

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