Organic Homemade Yogurt in China? Easy!

make your own yogurtI love my morning routine: I cradle Alex in my Ergobaby as I make fruit smoothies, topped off with spoonfuls of freshly made 100% organic yogurt. I scoop it right out of the cooker and give Alex a big sloppy glob that he immediately flings across the kitchen. It’s great. And it also gives me an empowering boost to my day, eating something in China even healthier than I would have eaten in California. And it’s so darn easy, I just have to share it again with everyone here.

Step one: buy a yogurt maker. I followed former Beijinger Nutritoneer’s advice and bought the Bear 小熊 brand, easily bought online at Amazon China and the usual other websites for a totally reasonable 140 RMB. We’ve already had it for over two years and it still works perfectly. It’s very easy and quick to use, literally taking about five minutes to prepare. You just add your yogurt starter, blend with milk, set the machine for how many hours (at least 8, preferably 10-12), press the button and that’s it! Cook it overnight and you can wake up to fresh, warm yogurt.

Step two: organic yogurt. There’s only one purely organic, locally made yogurt available in Beijing — or all of China, if I’m not mistaken. That’s  the Green Yard 归原 brand. Their unsweetened yogurt is the best I’ve tasted here, and it has always been a consistently effective starter yogurt. My second choice would be Wondermilk 万得妙 which isn’t organic but has very good quality control and organization. My third choice would be local Herun 和润, which again isn’t organic but is a great value and tastes very good — but my results with that as a starter have been inconsistent. My last choice would be any of those local, pourable yogurts. Gosh, they’re just filled with sugars and flavors and extra whatevers — whatever it is, it just doesn’t belong there! Yogurt should have exactly two ingredients: milk and healthy bacteria. That’s it. Your local market may also carry some imported yogurt, but I just don’t see how any bacterial cultures inside could survive any long trip across the oceans; I tried a couple times and never got my yogurt to set. Bad yogurt with dead bacterial cultures won’t grow out any yogurt, leaving a runny mess instead of thick, creamy yogurt. (UPDATE: my Weibo fans also mention yogurt powder from New Zealand 新西兰酸奶粉 that you can buy online, including organic Easiyo. Has anyone tried these?)

Step three: organic milk. You could use Green Yard’s locally made organic milk, and I’ve also tried Wondermilk, as well as Sanyuan’s top line ESL brand. But I now actually prefer those imported boxes of milk, because I’ve had outstanding and consistent results — at a cheaper price than Green Yard. And anyone anywhere in China can buy organic milk: all the major shopping websites now sell organic milk such as Organic Valley from the USA, Living Planet or True Organic from Australia. I grew up in America with fresh milk, not this milk-in-a-box UHT stuff, and I’m still perplexed how it can survive for half a year at room temperature, but I’ve never read any credible literature that said it was harmful or seriously lacking in nutrition.

So there you go, three easy steps to a great start to your day. Given all the uncertainties with food safety here, why not take a bit of control over your daily life — and be healthier for it!

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2 thoughts on “Organic Homemade Yogurt in China? Easy!”

  1. Dear Dr. St. Cyr,

    I went to see you once at the United Family hospital. Thank you for this wonderful article. I have several questions:

    1. My typical breakfast includes a bowl of muesli that I soaked in yogurt overnight, since it will make the muesli softer and help nutrition absorption. Is it okay to make the yogurt at night, use it to soak the muesli overnight, put it in a fridge, and eat it in the morning?

    2. Since you recommend Green Yard and Wondermilk yogurts, what makes you use them to create your own yogurt as opposed to eating them straight?

    3. I have been eating Sanyuan’s yogurt. I agree that it’s really sweet, but it’s still pretty creamy that you won’t be able to drink it using a straw. Have you done any research about Sanyuan’s yogurt? Is it safe to eat on a daily basis?

    4. Since Green Yand and Wondermilk yogurt are only available in tetra-paks that you can’t seal once you open them, is it safe to open the packaging and put it in a fridge for the remainder of their written shelf lives (21 days)? Or do you need to consume them in a certain number of days that is shorter than their written shelf lives?

    Looking forward to your answers. Thanks a lot!


    1. Hi Anthony. Sorry, no time to answer everything — I like to make my own yogurt mostly because it’s more cost effective plus I have even more control over my food choices. I don’t know any details about Sanyuan or tetrapaks but our yogurt is still fine in a tetrapak after a few days…

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