A Conversation with Heather, Our Yogurt Culture Wizard cover A Conversation with Heather, Our Yogurt Culture Wizard cover


A Conversation with Heather, Our Yogurt Culture Wizard

Ashok: Creating Yomee made me into a non-stop homemade yogurt fan. I imagine you must make a ridiculous amount of yogurt yourself. I’ve learned so much about the tough parts of getting consistent results too. What’re some the hardest parts of learning how to get yogurt right?

Heather: We’ve been making yogurt at home and working with yogurt cultures for over ten years now, and we’ve experienced pretty much all the challenges that anyone making yogurt at home will experience. We all eat a lot of yogurt, and everyone on the team has their favourite flavours. Mine is apple and cinnamon – that is old school real grated apple and real cinnamon mixed into a fresh full cream yogurt.

Over this time we’ve gained a real respect for yogurt bacteria – basically, we love the bugs – they are remarkable and science is only just beginning to understand the positive role they bacteria play in regulating so many aspects of our health, far beyond just our digestive system.

Making consistently great yogurt at home is all about method, temperature, time and ingredients. Many folks struggle with one or more of these and get disappointed with their results. Add vegan nut milk into the mix, and it gets even trickier.


Blending Starter Culture

What we’ve loved about the Yomee project is that we can help take the guesswork out of it for folks – apply all our knowledge about how to turn out a great yogurt consistently and get this fantastic device to do it – every time!

There are a lot of claims made about the health benefits of yogurt, and as a culture provider, we are very careful only to put forward claims we can back up with scientific research and testing.

Ashok: I love that you call yogurt bacteria “bugs”! With yogurt, I get a lot of questions about the quantity and quality of live active cultures (our wonderful bugs) in the end product. What can you tell Yomee backers about the yogurt that Yomee makes?

Heather: You often hear the phrase “cfu” (colonly forming unit) as a unit of measure for the live bacteria that yogurt has. One example of this cfu count is the National Yogurt Association “Live & Active Cultures Seal” granted to some yogurt products. It guarantees that the yogurt contained at least 100 million cfu – cultures per gram at the time of manufacture.

The great news for Yomee users is that the time of manufacture is whatever time you want it to be, and our test results show that Yomee contains on average 900 million live yogurt cultures per gram when made according to the recipe. Some of our tests are eve as high as 1.69 billion per gram (we get really excited by this kind of thing!)

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Katherine Martinez

Hardness Tests: Can we break it?

We often get asked if the bugs die over time, and our results show that some of the strains really do drop off – others hold their own quite well for a week or so. The bugs also aren’t that happy when they get a lot of additives thrown in with them and can you blame them? So we’ve learned what they like, what they don’t like and we can say that fresh and natural is best if you’re looking for maximum live and active cultures in your yogurt.

Ashok: Many of our backers would love to know the kinds and varieties of yogurt bacteria in Yomee yogurt. Tell us more about the many kinds of nice friendly bugs that help out with making our yogurt.

Heather: Yogurt is a mixture of different strains of bacteria that work well as a team. One without the other doesn’t deliver the goods. Especially with nut (vegan) milks, it’s a little more complex than just adding probiotic powder to nut milk to get good quality vegan yogurt.

We’re only just starting to understand the role each strain plays in the bacterial dance that takes place to make yogurt but what we do know is it takes two (or more) to tango, but it’s safe to say the standard Yomee pod will have Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

Some of the other pods include added probiotic strains well known for their health benefits such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria and the vegan pods include special strains of Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis. Yogurt making, at least from the bacteria viewpoint, is a team sport! And picking the right players is key.


Friability Tests: Can we chip it?

Ashok: Sounds challenging, but maybe fun too? What have been some other challenges and surprises developing the pods?

Heather: We’re trying to create a natural and healthy product delivered in a very innovative way. It would be a whole lot easier if we added artificial sweeteners and thickeners, especially for the vegan pods but that isn’t the kind of product we want to produce and we don’t think it is what Yomee fans want either.

The same goes for the packaging. If we put the formulations into a non-recyclable single-serve plastic pods it would be simple, but then we’d be left with a huge environmental footprint. Making a dissolvable pod has not been without its challenges but we believe it is worth it – the world has enough plastic pots right?

Ashok: Totally! We hate plastic waste too and love watching the pods magically disappear when making yogurt. We are also amazed and thrilled so many people want Yomee to make vegan yogurt! Can you tell us a little more about the special process of developing Yomee vegan yogurt pods?

Heather: We see that the interest in nut-milk based yogurts is rising. We know how to make soy yogurt, but nut milk presents some challenges to yogurt making because we need to find ways to deliver the ingredients the bacteria need to do their job in the nut milk. The diversity of different dairy-free kinds of milk on the market and their nutritional profiles makes this difficult. We have worked hard and found natural ingredients that we can include in our formulations that give the nut milks what the bacteria need to be happy and go make yogurt. It’s a tricky and exciting process!

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