Cuddle Yogurt: The Yogurt Making Method That Wasn't

Posted on Saturday, September 19, 2015 | By Alycia Lang |

An Update On "Cuddle Yogurt"

Earlier this month, we wrote a brief comment at the end of another blog post about a rumored method of making yogurt called "cuddle yogurt" in which you heat your yogurt by putting it in a jar and tucking it into your bed for the night. After our own set of trials, we now must report to you that cuddling your yogurt culture is not, in fact, a viable way to make yogurt (womp, womp). While we don't have a great batch of yogurt to share at the end of this experiment, we do have a yogurt-like substance and a funny story.

As the first hand director of this great experiment, I'd like to walk you through how on earth this simultaneously great and terrible idea came about. I should preface by saying that like many unfortunate ideas, this one originated while I was in college. I was first introduced to the idea by a friend who gleefully announced one day at a group dinner that she and her significant other were going to make "cuddle yogurt" by simply warming their yogurt culture with body heat overnight then enjoying their perfect mason jar yogurt in the morning.  So naturally, with no existing knowledge of yogurt making and too much time on my hands, I also tried it.

Needless to say, there are many things that could have gone wrong with that first batch of "Cuddle Yogurt", seeing as I simply mixed some existing yogurt into milk and tucked it in bed beside me. I chalked my failure up to inexperience and continued on happily eating real yogurt for the next several years.

Years later at FARMcurious HQ, I mentioned my failed cuddle yogurt experiment to our small team over lunch and watched my co-workers' eyes widen at the thought of an untapped yogurt making method... surely I had just done it wrong in my earlier attempt. But after nearly an hour of internet research trying to attribute this absurd method to someone, as well as a phone call to my original source, it became abundantly clear that perhaps "cuddle yogurt" was something that quite possibly originated when the idea came into my friend's head at the dinner table. The good people at FARMcurious maybe should have stopped here, but we're a team full of ambitious DIY enthusiasts and food-lovers. So did we let it go? ...Of course not! We tried to make it a "thing."

Where there's a will there's a way, so with my cultures and my organic whole milk, I announced to my semi-reluctant boyfriend that we would now be sleeping with a mason jar of yogurt in our bed on our weekend vacation to Santa Barbara. 

Here's how it went:

First we tried our greek yogurt culture, hoping that we could kickstart the process by heating the milk to 180 degrees for 30 mins, then rapidly cooling it down to 115 and rushing off to bed with our precious jar swaddled tight. In the name of innovation and the pursuit of the ideal 110 degree holding temperature, we slept in 90 degree heat, under a down comforter with no fan for a full 8 hours.  In the morning we awoke to... Kind of chunky milk!

I would love to say that we slept soundly with our little mason jar, but all romanticism aside, I can't say that I recommend sleeping with a hard jar which radiates heat next to you for eight hours. I also don't feel entirely sad that this method didn't work as it would require you to risk overheating.

The one upside of our experience with the greek yogurt culture was that it resulted in something along the lines of buttermilk which we then saved and successfully used in recipes. Waste not, want not! So if you are looking for a viable buttermilk alternative, this is one way I suppose.

Next I attempted the more low-maintenance Viili culture, which usually needs a temperature of about 70-75 degrees to thrive. The instructions for Viili call for cold milk and prolonged time just above room temperature. Following a slightly less involved set of instructions, I simply mixed the culture with the milk and tucked it under the covers with me (at the far end of my bed this time). In the morning I woke to the sight of another jar of unfortunate looking milk beside me.

The Verdict: 

Like Goldilocks and the three bears, some conditions were too hot, other's were too cold, and unfortunately it seems none were just right.

What may have gone wrong in both cases was the amount of movement as well as the inconsistent temperature. I would imagine that the cultures prefer stillness to help the yogurt set. Where the greek yogurt culture needed a higher temperature, it's likely that the Viili needed a much lower one.

We all want to believe in the power of cuddles. But for now, dear readers, I regrettably have to recommend that you use your cuddling skills to cultivate things like love, relationships, and comfort rather than cultured dairy.

If you'd like to (successfully) make delicious yogurt at home there is a great how-to in an earlier blog post HERE. If you're interested in trying different types of yogurt at home, check out our cultures and yogurt making kit HERE.