Recipes Yogurt

Starting Caspian Sea Yogurt (CSY) purchased From the Happy Herbalist

Why CSY?

~ Caspian Sea Yogurt (Matsoni) may contain as many as 173 strains of lactobacilli. Not all strains of LAB can colonize

~  Real Live,Yogurt typically contain colony forming lactobacillus units of 1 x 10 8 CFU – one billion Colony Forming Units (cells) per milliliter. There are ~237 mL in one cup (8 fluid ounces). According to the internet a good probiotic should contain between 1-10 Billion CFU. One note is that real, live kefir are active, alive and REPRODUCING. Those dried and dormant in a capsule may wake up but many are not capable of reproducing. Even the store bough kefir and yogurts may not be full of vitality. See for yourself by taking some live organic kefir (or yogurt, or dry packaged kefir) off the store shelf, adding fresh organic milk and within a few cycles the yogurt peters out. Real Live Kefir should grow and grow for a lifetime.  

~ per 100 gram (100 mL) = 100 Billion CFU = 97 calories, 9% protein, 5% fat and 4% carbohydrates, including 4% sugars vitamin B12 (31% DV) and riboflavin (23% DV), phosphorus and selenium (14 to 19% DV) and of course that is just a broad statement as home fermenting live probiotics results vary based upon Time, Temperature and Ration of starting colony to harvest time. The more sour the greater the CFU, and the less the lactose/sugar and type of milk used. Whey will contain more proteins and minerals and the curds more CFU and lactose / sugar. and fat.

The Happy Herbalist
Image from Happy Herbalist

At first when I heard that CSY had colonizing bacteria, I didn’t believe it. I was taught that yogurts had transient bacteria and kefir had colonizing bacteria. However, Ed Kaspar says CSY is an exception — it’s officially a yogurt, but a close cousin of kefir.

CSY tastes smooth and bland. The texture semi-thick.


How to Start Caspian Sea Yogurt From the Happy Herbalist
Happy Herbalist sells two yogurt cultures – Caspian Sea Yogurt and Villi. Usually they recommend Caspian Sea Yogurt because it multipies best at 68 °F to 86 °F. Villa multipies best at 60°F. Starting instructions are the same for both.
Prep Time10 minutes
4 days of yogurt making (10 minutes per day of hands on time)4 days
Total Time4 days
Course: Yogurt
Cuisine: Universal
Servings: 1 cup
  • clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid — wide and round is best (more surface area for the bacteria to absorb oxyen)
  • paper towel or cloth towel that will cover the opening of the glass container while fermenting
  • rubber band to secure the covering over the glass container
  • 1 package Caspian Sea Starter
  • 8 ounces FRESH milk (per day x 4 days) purchase the best sell-by date possible and start culturing immediately; to start a culture, it’s best to use whole homogenized milk
  • Obtain culture
    Order the culture on-line from Happy Herbalist. You'll receive live starter in a food grade plastic bag and an instruction booklet.
    It will likely ship the same day and arrive in your mailbox 2-3 days later. Possibly during very hot summer days, it will be arranged to be shipped on a "cooler day". You don't want it sitting in a hot mailbox for too long. As soon as possible after receiving the starter, refrigerate it. Also, since it is a live culture, it needs to be started ASAP. Within a day or two is best.
  • Repeat these steps 2-6 four times (each cycle will take about one day)
    1st time: Snip a corner of the starter package and squeeze the starter into a clean glass container.
    2nd, 3rd & 4th time: Place about 2 tablespoons of yogurt from the previous batch into a clean glass container.  Use the creamier center yogurt for this purpose. Sadly, the remaining yogurt from the previous batch must discarded,  it is not ready for consumption yet.
    Adding the Caspian Sea Yogurt starter culture for the first time
  • Add milk, stir and mix well.
    Adding milk and stirring
  • Cover with a paper towel, and secure with a rubber band. Set on counter. Allow to sit at room temperature for 8-24 hours.
    Covering the Caspian Sea Yogurt with a paper towl
  • After about 8 hours, you can start to check to see if your yogurt has set (is ready). Check every hour or two by slightly tilting the jar. If it is like milk and runs along the tilted side, it is not done. If it is similar to the firmness of a milkshake, it is done. If it has separated into a liquid (whey) and lumpy (curds), it has over-fermented. Ideally, check often and stop the ferment before it gets to the over-fermented stage. However, if it has over-fermented, do not throw it out. Refrigerate as below and then in step one, stir mixture and take appropriate amount for the seed for the next round.
    Yogurt has set (doing the tilt test)
  • Remove the covering and cap the container tightly. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
    CSY in sealed container ready for refrigeration
  • Consume and propagate like regular yogurt
    Your ferment is now very healthy, active and balanced. You can start consuming it.

Problem solving

Your yogurt has not set after 24 hours

  • Put it in the refrigerator after 24 hours. Let it stay there for at least 12 hours. Then take 1-2 tablespoons and reculture as usual. Most likely everything will be fine.
  • Just let it sit out for 48 hours or so until it thickens

You may need to get fresh milk. If your milk is close to the expiration date, yogurt will not culture well.

Special thanks & sources

Ed Kaspar and Lactic Acid Bacteria Fermentation 101 which comes free when you order a starter culture.

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