Can you freeze a yoghurt starter?


The things you forget you planted


Saffron crocus makes a surprise appearance in the bottom of a planter this weekend. Thought you might like to see its long red stamens!

And the answer to the question?  YES!

I successfully unfroze a couple of tablespoons of matsoni culture yoghurt that had been in the freezer for two months and made a fresh pot of yoghurt with it yesterday. Worth knowing if you go wild and get lots of cultures from a supplier to try out and are swamped with yoghurt, or if you are going away and want to wind down the yoghurt making for a while. I don’t know if you can do the same for kefir? I want to try that sometime and if you could freeze it, then I would certainly get some. There is only so much yoghurt you can keep going in a small household!

Here and here are a couple of links to earlier posts about making yoghurt in case you want some tips.

15 thoughts on “Can you freeze a yoghurt starter?

  1. Abby

    That’s good news, Joanna! I’ve wondered the same thing. Have you tried freezing a bit of your own yogurt to use for a culture? I haven’t purchased a culture; just use a bit of my current batch to make the next one…..

  2. Frandough

    Great photography. A lovely picture to a brighten up a very dull Monday weatherwise. Have recently made my own yogurt so thanks for the tips. I use an electric one from Lakeland makes a litre overnight yummy!

  3. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Hi Abby! Yes the one that I revived was from about the 8th batch of yoghurt I made with that original starter. I am going to try with the other one I froze from July today from a different sort, the piima one and see how that works. The only thing is to try and see I guess. There are different strains of yoghurt out there, but I’m guessing as long as it’s alive and happy when you freeze it then it will revive. Curious to know if anyone else manages it, I never had much luck with freezing sourdough starter, but I have now dried some and will see if that revives one of these days too.

    Hi Fran! I use the Lakeland one too :)

  4. Choclette

    Joanna, for all things kefir go to Dom’s Kefir In-site. He reckons dehydrating is better than freezing although it can be done. CT thinks he has successfully frozen it in the past, but was such a long time ago, he’s not certain.

  5. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Brydie, the bulbs came from a friend who had been in France and I planted them out last year and then forgot them. Maybe they will multiply and I will get enough saffron to make something with one day. It’s a bit sad having to pull out the stamens though, but they only last for about 36 hours.

    Choclette thanks for the link. There’s too much on that site to take in. I’ve never used kefir, sounds very complex, maybe I’ll just stick to the simple stuff for the time being.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Celia, I don’t have much luck with freezing sourdough either, I’ve tried several times. I am testing the drying and flaking method that Paul describes on his Yumarama blog at the moment. Well, I’ve dried it, I’ve yet to reanimate it. It may well be that the best way is to dry or dehydrate the yoghurt too, like Choc’s hubby says. All I know is that I haven’t had to buy a pot of store yoghurt now for about 4-5 months and I like the taste of fresh, fresh yoghurt better anyway!

  6. Christine

    Gorgeous saffron!! Well done on the freezing, Jo. I tried freezing some yoghurt starter several months ago although when used in a new batch after thawing the yoghurt was runny…not sure what went wrong there, but the subsequent batch made with a starter of ‘runny yoghurt’ set fine…weird! I haven’t tried freezing since so have nothing else to compare it to! And I agree, homemade is SO much nicer :)

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      It is all speculation isn’t it Christine? I think it might have been runny because only certain lactobacilli survive the freezing process and maybe they have to build up strength again over a series of builds, a bit like when you refresh a sourdough starter? I tried my other yoghurt that I had frozen yesterday, that had been in the freezer even longer, since July. It looked very unpromising, (that was the ‘piima’ one which is used as a drinking yoghurt in Finland. But it seems to have come back to life as well. They probably do lose something in the process, but you would need a lab to establish exactly what is going on! :)

      1. Christine

        Ahhh, that makes sense, thanks Jo. We eat enough yoghurt to make a fresh batch each week so it’s not really a problem..more if we were to go away on a holiday which I don’t see happening any time soon! That’s encouraging to hear your ‘piima’ revived so well. I love the fact that yoghurt making isn’t rocket science but it can be if you want it to be! :)

  7. Tutak

    Had your second cousin round for dinner last night, who has a house in France and was raving about bread made with bergamot….there’s a challenge for you… xxx

  8. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    An Earl Grey infusion maybe? I haven’t seen bergamot on the shelves… But I have had fruit bread with the fruit soaked in Earl Grey…. was rather good :)

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