The power of SCD yogurt

SCD yogurt samples are between 2 to 30 times more potent than most commercial yogurt

Most SCD users consider the 24 hour yogurt a staple of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, whether it is dairy or nut based yogurt. As a matter of fact, some users find that increasing yogurt consumption helps their body when it needs to calm a flare or nurse a cold. However, yogurt is not always necessary for diet success.

I know many people diagnosed with IBD that healed and sustained long-term wellness without using any kind of yogurt. Some of them used capsules of SCD legal probiotics, while others just practiced the diet without adding probiotics, and did very well.

Thermos flasks of yogurt fill Morana’s suitcase just before flying for a two week vacation.

Yogurt does seem to be more important for SCD kids, as an important source of probiotics, and as a versatile ingredient in calorie-reach smoothies, ice-cream and sauces. This is enough to explain why yogurt making has become an ongoing conversation topic amongst SCD parents. We post photos of the inevitable mess of spilled milk that happens when we multi-task in the kitchen, we strive to find “the best” yogurt maker, and we pack yogurt for travel like packing supplies for a war.

Yogurt experts needed…

My good friend and fellow SCD mom, Morana, is my trusted yogurt expert. Whenever I have a question about yogurt, I email her and follow her guidance. Morana has a PhD. in molecular biology and prepares SCD yogurt for her whole family on a regular basis. Despite her professional background and her cumulative experience in making homemade yogurt, Morana admits that she finds yogurt making frustrating at times, yet a very important part of SCD, which makes it even more frustrating when problems arise.

For example, she shared that she had problems with contamination when fermenting coconut milk (both home-made and canned). There was a red film or spots on top of yogurt. With the help of lab testing she traced it to Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus cereus spores, which could be present in coconut, but in particular honey seems to act as a reservoir for them. These spores are highly resistant to heating (it takes at least 10-15 minutes of heating at the boiling temperature to kill them). Since she began using the Instant pot and first sterilizing not only milk, but also honey and gelatin under high temperature and pressure, these problems have stopped. Morana added that since they live in Switzerland and have been using organic honey which only comes raw, she is not sure how finely filtered the honey is there. Maybe in the USA a different treatment of honey would make it less prone to harboring these spores (which are not dangerous per se, it is only when the honey is diluted in a huge pot of milk and left at the fermenting temperature that they can multiply).

Lab testing

Being a scientist by profession, a dedicated parent, and, as she admits, a bit of a perfectionist, Morana periodically sends SCD yogurt samples to be checked in a specialized lab in Switzerland. The lab is called SQTS (Swiss Quality Testing Services)  and they also test commercial yogurts. Morana was told by the lab that commercial yogurt normally contains around 5,000 000-10,000 000 CFU/gram Lactobacilli and around 20,000,000 CFU/gram Streptococcus, so as you can see below SCD yogurt is much more potent!

Morana notes regarding the lab results below, “I was comparing different starters and times of incubation. However, I have to add I omitted to test for Streptococcus thermophilus in addition to Lactobacilli (I have just found out this lab can do that, too) and I am planning on doing that soon. I hope the probiotics count will be even higher then.”

  • Yogourmet starter with cow milk: over 300,000,000 CFU/gram
  • Yogourmet starter with sheep milk: 200,000,000 CFU/gram
  • GIpro Start starter with cow milk: 20,000,000 CFU/gram
  • GIpro Start starter with sheep milk: 100,000,000 CFU/gram
  • Coconut yogurt (made with homemade coconut milk , 2 tbs honey and 2 tsp gelatin per quart) with GIpro start (1/4 teaspoon per quart) : 76,000,000 CFU/gram
  • Coconut yogurt (made with commercial coconut milk without additives, 2 tbs honey and 2 tsp gelatin per quart) with GIpro start (1/4 teaspoon per quart) : 54,000,000 CFU/gram
  • Coconut yogurt (made with homemade coconut milk , 2 tbs honey and 2 tsp gelatin per quart) made by adding 1 capsule of GIpro health SCDophilus 10+ to 100ml coconut milk and fermenting for 22h: 37,000,000 CFU/gram
  • Coconut yogurt (made with commercial coconut milk, 2 tablespoons honey and 2 tsp gelatin per quart) made by adding Kirkman Lactobacillus Duo to 200ml coconut milk and fermenting for 22h: over 300,000,000 CFU/gram

Cow and sheep milk yogurts were fermented at 40 degree Celsius for 26-28h. Coconut yogurt was fermented for 22h.

On the day of testing,

  • the cow milk yogurt was only 3 days “old” (time in the refrigerator after fermentation was completed).
  • sheep milk yogurt was 10 days old.
  • coconut yogurt was 7 days old.
  • Note that some variation in bacteria count may depend on the age of the starter. Any starter will deteriorate over time, and deterioration will accelerate after opening the container.
  • Also note that, like many, I had a harder time dissolving the GIProhealth starter, and when a starter is not completely dissolved the fermentation may be less effective.

A few bits of helpful advice from Morana

I now ferment coconut yogurt for 12 hours (instead of the recommended 8-10 hours) and I also had it tested at the lab for probiotic count and that came back as more or less the best time (some starters had a high probiotic count already after 8 hours, but some needed a bit longer). Maybe up to 15-16 hours is still ok, but after that the probiotic count starts dropping, so fermenting coconut yogurt for 24 h is too long (it is not bad for you or anything like that, just not as “powerful”).

Like many, I’ve also had difficulty dissolving the GIProhealth starter. What I do now is I add a tiny amount of milk (maybe a teaspoon or less) to the starter in a cup first and then mix it thoroughly, then add more milk, then a bit more again and only then do I return it to the “mother” pot of milk. This is important, because undissolved starter may not be as efficient in fermenting.

Lately, I have been using dates for sweetening of the coconut milk and then I forego the honey, but I still sterilize it all since Bacillus spores could be on dates as well.

The starter from custom probiotics is SCD compliant, dairy free and dissolves really well. Or you could even just open up a capsule of a probiotic and use it as a starter, I have tried it and it works.

We got an Instant pot and discovered a very efficient and quick method to make yogurt in it. I simply adore that pot! If you recall the contamination problems we had in coconut yogurt with added honey, they were tracked it down to Bacillus spores in honey which are very hard to destroy by normal sterilization methods. Now I just pour 5-6 liters which is a bit over a gallon, of coconut milk, add the honey or pureed dates/dried figs and use the instant pot to sterilize it all under pressure, after which I let it cool down for several hours or overnight (it is all tightly closed and remains sterile). Then I just quickly add the starter and start the fermentation process (Yoghurt setting and manually set the time). The Instant pot (Model IP-DUO60) we have is the one that has a manual setting! It also has an automatic setting for yogurt which is also very practical if you do not need sterilization under pressure.

We used to travel with the convenient light weight folding bread-puffer that we used as a yogurt maker on all family vacations. We still take the bread puffer when flights are part of the vacation, but nowadays we take the instant-pot when travelling by car.

One of the best parts of using the Instant-pot is that we no longer need to sterilize the jars, we just pour the yogurt after fermentation into clean jars and store them in the fridge (you could also leave the yogurt in the inner pot and close it with the top that you can buy separately and keep it in the fridge like that, but I find it more practical to store it in jars).

For making coconut milk we use another gadget that I love: Thermomix- I am not sure you will find it on the USA market. Theoretically you could make coconut milk directly in the instant-pot and maybe even strain it after the fermentation is done (if I ever try this, I will let you know the result) but lately I have been using canned coconut milk a lot, because it saves me time and I got a confirmation that it is ” clean”. I always dilute canned coconut milk 1:4 with water, though, as it is too rich for our taste buds otherwise.

In conclusion

Note the wide variations in bacteria counts in different yogurt preparations. This is enough to merit large scale SCD yogurt testing and analysis. Clearly different SCD dieters ingest different amounts of probiotics based on how they prepare their yogurts. This might explain some of the variations in the efficacy of SCD on different dieters. It can also help us determine what the best methods and starters are to ensure maximum bacteria present in the yogurt many of us prepare diligently. If we already bother with home preparation of this staple – we should know what parameters will help yield ideal results.


  1. That’s awesome!

    I seemed to be tolerating Half & Half yogurt well, but occasionally my intestines seemed upset and I wasn’t sure why. Switched to the Goat Yogurt and it seems to be doing well so far!

  2. Like you, I love my Instant Pot, and I wonder how I ever lived without it. It makes 24-hour yogurt making SO MUCH EASIER. I have a batch cooking at home right now.

  3. With regards to testing the probiotics levels – the post above states which starter was used in each test.
    As a general answer, most SCD families use one of the following:
    Yogourmet Freeze Dried Yogurt Starter, Note that this company makes several kinds of starters, but ONLY this specific one is SCD legal
    GI ProStart™ Yogurt StarterDannon plain natural yoghurt full fat (avoid the low fat and non-fat versions as they both contain pectin).

    ONLY the following probiotics strains are approved for SCD yogurt:
    L Acidophilus
    L Casei
    L Bulgaricus
    L Thermophilus
    L. Rhamnosus is a cousin of L. Acidophilus, and is permitted, it is in the Elaine-approved LYO-san capsules.

  4. I wonder if there is a typo in this article. The results of the lab test on the GI Prohealth starter indicates 20,000,000 cfu for yogurt made with cow’s milk. This is materially lower than the other starters and testing. Perhaps there is a zero missing and it should read 200,000,000. Or is there that big of a difference in the yogurt starters mentioned? Thanks

  5. Thank you, this is all very interesting information, and also makes clear that everything you do in the process of the yoghurt making effects the potency of your yoghurt.
    Has Morana, or anybody else, ever done a nutritional test of the SCD yoghurt? So amount of calories, carbohydrates, protein etc? Also, dripped yoghurt versus non-dripped? I would think that the dripped yoghurt barely has any carbohydrates left, is that correct? I understand, that this would also vary, based on type of milk, but a general indication for Whole milk 24 hours yoghurt?

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