Category Archives: Uncategorized

Q&A: Does It Hurt to Use Too Much Starter Culture?

A Customer Asked: Does it matter how much starter culture I use to make cheese or yogurt? Will it hurt if if I use too much? Sometimes I use the amount called for, and it doesn’t work. Should I add more?

Jerri’s Answer: Great question! You should always use the amount of starter culture specified in the recipe.

Starter culture contains the lacto-bacteria that grows when the milk is warmed. The culture helps create the acidic environment necessary for cheese curds to form, and for yogurt to set up properly. If you use too much culture, the milk will become too acidic and kill off the lacto-bacteria. And when the environment is too acidic, cheese curds won’t form and yogurt won’t set up as it should.

If curds didn’t form as expected even though you added the correct amount of rennet and starter culture, it’s often because there was problem with the milk. The milk might have come from a cow that had a sub-clinical infection. When undesirable micro-organisms are present in the milk, they can interfere with the process and prevent the rennet and starter culture from working. As a result, curds don’t form properly when making cheese. Similarly, when making yogurt, the starter culture is inhibited from working as it should, and your yogurt doesn’t set up to a thick consistency.

In these situations, it’s best to find a different source of milk and try again.

How to Fix Your Health by Fixing Your Gut

Did you know that your body’s overall health depends on the bacteria in your gut? It’s true! We have more bacteria in our GI tract than we have cells in our bodies. Collectively, these colonies of gut bacteria are called the microbiome. Scientists estimate the average person has 100 trillion micro-organisms in their gut. About 500 different species have been identified, but only 20 types make up 75% of the total.

bacteriaMany of these bacteria are beneficial, but we can have bad bacteria too. Good bacteria are protective. They help us break down food, absorb nutrients, and guard our immune system. On the other hand, bad bacteria produce toxins that wreak havoc in the body.

Optimum health depends on minimizing bad bacteria. We do this by encouraging more good bacteria to grow, so they crowd out the bad kind. And also, by eliminating the things that damage our gut and feed bad bacteria.

Fermented Foods Promote a Healthy Microbiome

To improve the health of our microbiome, we first need to protect the good bacteria we already have by eating foods that help good bacteria flourish. These include foods that contain prebiotics, which is a type of soluble fiber found in certain plant foods like garlic, onions, and asparagus. Our microbiome also thrives on probiotics, which are living bacteria found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and even dark chocolate. Continue reading

3 Insomnia Remedies You Might Not Know About

insomnia remedies

If you have persistent insomnia, you’ve probably already tried the more common sleep remedies. But what if you’re not one of the lucky folks who get relief with natural sedatives like chamomile tea or tinctures made from herbs like valerian? If you seek conventional medical treatment, your doctor will probably offer you a sleeping pill. But, unless you have a serious health condition, you might want to try one of these less-known sleep remedies before you get that prescription filled. Continue reading

Should You Use Calcium Chloride When Making Mozzarella?

Stretching Mozzarella

Lately, online cheesemaking forums have been abuzz with controversy over the question of whether calcium chloride should be used when making mozzarella. Some folks insist that calcium chloride is necessary for proper curd formation, and others argue that it prevents the curds from stretching.

So, who’s right?

To get to the bottom of this controversy, we turned to world-renown cheesemaker Margaret Morris, author of The Cheesemaker’s Manual, 2015 winner of First Prize at the American Cheese Society (ACS) Society, and 2013 winner of the top award at the Global Cheese Making Competition in Somerset, UK.

Here’s what we learned. Continue reading

Now Available: Lacto-Fermentation e-Course Kit with Grolsch Bottles

Wardee Harmon has partnered with Homesteader’s Supply in making all the supplies necessary for her Lacto-Fermentation e-course available to Traditional Cooking School members at one low price!

The Traditional Cooking School is an online e-course that offers simple lessons and tasty, nutritious recipes for pickles, chutneys, relishes, condiments, pickled fish and meats, sourdough, simple cheeses, beverages, grains, beans and more!

This e-course covers the fundamentals, and then gives detailed instruction on various aspects of traditional cooking. As part of the Traditional Cooking School’s program, Wardee offers a variety of individual in-depth courses on topics such as culturing cheese and other dairy products, lacto-fermenting (vegetables, fruits…even condiments!), dehydrating (every food group imaginable!), and baking with sourdough starter you make yourself.

For a modest monthly fee, you get access to the above, plus several more wonderful courses—all which you can work on in any order and complete at your convenience! Wardee gives you the recipes, and then shows you on a video exactly how to prepare them. When you become a member of Wardee’s Traditional Cooking School, you can share in her forums and participate the live discussion groups she hosts. You will never feel left alone in your learning venture with Wardee!

In her Lacto-Fermentation course, Wardee teaches you how to “pickle” foods to make them more nutritious, stay fresh longer, and taste even better by letting the food develop its own complex flavors and pleasing textures. Fermented foods are supremely digestible and nutritious. Fermenting gives your food a probiotic boost and provides health benefits similar to those of yogurt. Plus, fermenting is a great way of using and preserving some of the bounty from your harvest. And it saves energy!

The Traditional Cooking School’s Lacto-Fermentation course requires a some special supplies, which you can purchase as a kit from Homesteader’s Supply. You will love our Pickle-Pro lids because they help the fermentation process complete more quickly—in as few as three days.

And here’s some more great news! We offer our Lacto-Fermentation eCourse Kit at 20% off the retail cost of the individual items!

We now have an updated Lacto-Fermentation E-Course Kit that includes a pair of 16-ounce Groslch bottles. Here’s what you’ll receive when you buy your kit from us:

  • 2 Pickle-Pro Lids for any wide-mouth canning jars
  • 2, 16-ounce amber Grolsch Glass bottles with E-Z Flip Lids
  • 1 ounce Vegetarian Rennet DS
  • Biena Meso B Culture
  • Danisco Yogurt Culture ABY-2C
  • Kefir Starter Culture – Foamy Kefir C
  • 2 yards, 90-count cheese cloth


Note  We continue to offer this same kit without the Grolsch bottles Be sure to specify which kit you want when ordering.

Free Gift!

pickle_pincherAs a special gift from Homesteaders Supply, you will also receive a Pickle Pincher Delux, which allows you to remove pickles and other veggies from your jars. It’s great for serving at the dinner table, parties, or just small gatherings. No more fingers in the jar!




As of this writing, both kits are on a special sale with FREE SHIPPING to the 50 US states!
There might be an extra charge for other destinations. Just give us a call (928) 583-0254 and ask!

Q & A: How to Thicken Yogurt

Question: Why do the directions on the package of yogurt culture say to add three tablespoons of dry milk powder to each liter of milk before heating for a firmer yogurt? I’ve noticed that some other recipes give similar advice, too. But, the directions on your website say to use just milk and yogurt culture. In fact, you explicitly state, “No other added ingredients!”

Jerri’s answer: You can add dry milk powder if you want, but there’s no need to. Your yogurt will come out thicker if you incubate it longer.

Yogurt can come out less thick if you don’t thoroughly mix the culture throughout the milk. When that happens, you get a runny layer near the top and thicker yogurt underneath…or even the exact opposite. All you have to do is mix the two layers together and refrigerate, and it will thicken.

One tip for getting a good mix is to sprinkle the dried yogurt culture on top of the warmed milk and let it sit there until it dissolves. This usually only takes about a minute. Then, mix thoroughly. If you start mixing before it dissolves, the dried culture can clump, and then you won’t be able to mix it in thoroughly.

Another reason why your yogurt might not thicken properly is because it didn’t incubate long enough at 105° F. In other words, the temperature decreased too quickly. You need to find a warmer place to keep your incubating yogurt.

And then, of course, using milk with less milk fat, like lowfat 2% milk, will yield a thinner yogurt. The same thing happens with raw milk if the cream has been skimmed off the top.