Get Cultured: Yogurt Making 101

Fermentation is everywhere! The process has been around for longer than we, most humans can probably imagine. There are a lot of different types of fermentation, and you have probably heard of some of the delicious products that result from the process. For example, there are many forms of vegetable fermentation, think pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, the list could go on forever. How about grain fermentation which is how our beloved sourdough bread and beer are made and last but not least, dairy fermentation, this includes cheese, sour cream and yogurt! Each type of fermentation has a specific process and in combination with different live active cultures or bacterias, results in these beloved foods.

Historians believe that a long time ago (before refrigeration) somewhere in the middle east, a herdsman was storing goat or camel milk, in the lining of an animal’s stomach. The bacteria from the stomach along with the natural heat, produced something similar to what we know today as yogurt!

On Thursday, March 28th, community members gathered in the Community Teaching Kitchen for a class on how to make yogurt, a delicious fermented product! The class was taught by Nancy Van Winkle who owns Nomadic Roots Kitchen and has taught classes with City Market on sauerkraut, sourdough and kimchi in the past.

So, why make your own yogurt? At the start of class, participants brainstormed some reasons why they thought it would be beneficial to make your own yogurt. Here are some of their ideas:

  • To reduce plastic consumption
  • Save money
  • Understand the process of the food you are consuming
  • Great hobby!
  • The delicious taste

The process itself is pretty straight forward. Nancy said she has made yogurt with a variety of different kinds ofmilk, any and all brands should work—but it crucial not to use ultra-pasteurized milk. She also noted it is important to be aware of the temperature of your milk because that is what is going to effect the viscosity of your final product, in other words what will make your yogurt, yogurt! She mentioned if you don’t have a cooler to store your milk, you can use a crock pot or turn the pilot light of your oven on and keep it in there! Take a look at the beautiful illustrated recipe card that Nancy designed to help guide you through the process.


While we waited for the milk to heat up, we had a chance to taste test a few of the numerous (26 to be exact), brands of yogurt we carry at City Market! It was fascinating to compare and contrast the flavors and textures of each variety of yogurt. We tasted plain varieties from local farms like Butterworks Farm and The Larson Farm and also tasted Icelandic yogurt from siggi’s, a lactose-free yogurt from Green Valley Creamery, an coconut flavored yogurt from noosa, and finally a non-dairy almond milk based yogurt from Kite Hill! Some of the words class participants used to describe the yogurts were, smooth, creamy, tart, sour, dairy barn (my personal favorite J), sweet and grassy!


Each batch of yogurt will be different based on the live cultures that you are using. As you are getting started it can be helpful to keep a log and document which starter (1 cup yogurt) and what temperature you stored your yogurt at, along with any other external factors that might affect the yogurt like the season, temperature of you house etc.!


Nancy's Homemade Yogurt!

If you are interested in diving in deeper, Cultures for Health has a number of different free eBooks on all sorts of fermentation that help with everything from techniques to troubleshooting!

Also, be sure to save the date on for our The Dish: The Wild World of Fermentation during Vermont Restaurant Week on Wednesday, May 1st. A number of brewers, chefs, farmers and business owners will talk about their experiences with fermented products—see you there!