NW Ferments offers various other cultures for your DIY needs. Once you get the “Fermentation Fever”, you may find that you want to venture into other types of gut-healthy fermented products. You never know where your hidden talents may lie…

Buttermilk Starter Culture

Make your own probiotic, cultured Buttermilk with our starter culture. This heirloom variety is reusable- by reserving some back from each batch (called backslopping), you’ll have the starter for your next batch. You can share with friends as well as continue making Buttermilk! The sour flavor in Buttermilk comes from the lactic acid that is produced by the fermentation of the lactose in the milk. This action is carried out by the beneficial bacteria lactococcus lactis and/or lactobacillus bulgaricus.

Commercial Production

Home-cultured Buttermilk is far superior to a store bought product. When commercially produced, the milk is often pasteurized (killing good bacteria) and homogenized (to produce a uniform product). Many of these products aren’t actually cultured, but are created through acidification, using food grade acids such as vinegar or lemon juice. This adds sour flavor and helps the milk curdle to add thickness, as opposed to the culturing process with beneficial bacteria.


The process is very easy- the directions are the same as for our Mesophilic yogurts. The starter culture is mixed into milk in a jar, covered with a breathable lid, and allowed to culture for 12 to 48 hours (subsequent batches will culture faster). Ideal temperature is 70 to 78 degrees. Once set, it is refrigerated until ready to use. Always remember to save back at least 1/4 cup for your next batch!


Buttermilk contains less fat and calories than whole milk. It also contains vitamins, calcium, and phosphorus. The lactic acid produced by the beneficial bacteria help it to be more easily digestible, making it a better dairy option for those that are lactose intolerant.


You can do more with this tangy, delicious beverage than just drink it. Use it in your baking recipe to add flavor and moistness. Make your own sauces and dressings- real Buttermilk ranch is always a crowd pleaser. The lactic acid in Buttermilk makes it a great ingredient in marinades for meat. It acts as a tenderizer, as well as tames any unwanted “gamey” flavor in lamb or game meats.
Yogurt may have surpassed this underappreciated gem in popularity, but we say: BRING BACK THE BUTTERMILK!

Tempeh Starter Culture

What Is It?

Did you know that you could make your own Tempeh? More importantly, do you know what Tempeh is? Tempeh is a versatile, protein-packed, fermented superfood that is traditionally made with soybeans, but can also be made using other legumes, rices, grains, or a mixture of these. It’s a staple in Indonesian culture, and is often used as a substitute for meat.


Tempeh is not only a good source of protein (one 3 oz. serving contains 16g of protein), it also contains calcium, zinc, iron, and loads of fiber. It’s a great addition to vegan and vegetarian diets. The fermentation process also makes the nutrients more available to your body. Soy carbs are more easily digested due to the action of the fungal spores of Rhizopus oligosporus or Rhizopus oryzae. These Rhizopus cultures also help reduce the oligosaccharides associated with gas and indigestion. The fermentation process reduces the phytic acid in soy, allowing the body to better absorb soy’s minerals.

Making your own Tempeh not only can save you money, but allows you to avoid some of the unwanted aspects of commercially produced Tempeh. 94% of US produced soy is GMO (genetically modified). Buying organic soybeans is the only (hopefully) sure-fire way to ensure they are non-GMO. In non-organic practices, hexane is a chemical solvent used to extract the oils from soy. Choose your soy products carefully!


The process is really not difficult. Partially cooked, dehulled soybeans are mixed with the Tempeh starter culture and an acidulant (vinegar). The inoculated beans are then packed tightly into thin cakes (a perforated plastic zip bag works well), and allowed to ferment at higher temperatures (85-90 degrees F is ideal) for 24 to 36 hours. A food dehydrator can be used for this step, as it’s not easy to maintain that high temperature. As the beans ferment, the starter culture produces white spores (mycelium) that weave their way through the cake, creating a solid mat of Tempeh through aerobic fermentation.


The finished product is then usually steamed, and ready for use. It can be eaten as is, or marinated and flavored. You can slice it or grate it, depending on your recipe. Frying produces a crispier texture. It freezes well, and can be dried for even longer storage.

All in all, making Tempeh is a great way to add fiber and nutrients to your diet, as well as exercise your culinary imagination.

Cheese Cultures

I Can Make My Own Cheese?

Home cheesemaking has recently exploded in popularity. It not only allows you to control the quality of the ingredients used, it’s also a great way to express your creativity. Starting with a softer cheese and an easy recipe is the best way to go for a newcomer. Cheese starter cultures are used to ripen the milk and start the fermentation process of cheesemaking. They also help determine the flavor, texture, and type of cheese you’re making. It can be as easy or as complicated as you’d like- there’s a cheese recipe for every level!

Cheese Culture Varieties

Flora Danica is a mesophilic type culture. It adds a buttery flavor, and is used in soft cheeses- Gouda, Camembert, Havarti, Edam, Feta, Bleu, Brie, and Crème Fraîche. You can also use it to make cultured butter, buttermilk and sour cream. It can be used as a direct-set culture or to incubate a mother culture. Flora Danica contains the beneficial bacteria s. lactis, s. cremoris, s. lactis biovar diacetylactis, and m.s. cremoris. These bacteria produce a small amount of carbon dioxide gas, which helps to produce a lighter textured product.

MA11 is a direct-set mesophilic culture. It’s used in making fresh and semi-soft cheeses, including- but not limited- to Colby, Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Feta and Chevre. The bacteria involved are lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis and lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris.

TA61 is a direct-set thermophilic culture. It’s used in hard cheeses, such as Romano, Parmesan, Provolone and Emmenthaler Swiss. It contains the bacteria streptococcus thermophilus.

Making your own artisan cheese is not only a great way to impress your friends, but can be a fun project for you and the whole family!

Vegetable starter culture is a way to jumpstart your vegetable fermentation while using less salt. It contains the bacteria Lb. plantarum, pediococcus acidilactici, Leu. cremoris and inulin. It’s very versatile, and can also be used in making cultured butter, sour cream, and crème fraîche.

So, don’t be scared to try something new- maybe it’s time to embark on your next culinary adventure!