Probiotic Maker Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

Safety First!

  • Only use the Probiotic Maker in Ground Fault protected outlet (GFI or GFCI)
  • Never immerse it.
  • Do not rinse it or get it wet or hold under running water.
  • Unplug first then wipe with a damp cloth to clean.
  • Do not use where it could fall into water or where there could be standing water.
  • Never hold it by the cord or use the cord to hold or lift up the unit, especially if connected to a bottle.
  • Do not use where it could be knocked or dropped or pull the cord out of the unit.
  • DO NOT FOLD or roll up the unit. The padded area should never be folded or rolled or damage or injury may result.
  • Trust your gut - If a batch smells really bad (like rotten milk and not like plain yogurt/kefir) or the bottle is bloated then discard the entire batch as the milk was bad or there was contamination. Your health and safety is most important. So let us know if you had a bad batch and we will send you an extra free starter with your next order.

How to use the Probiotic Maker to make yogurt, kefir, drinkable yogurt...

The process is quite simple and doesn't require any dishes, thermometer, special containers, hours of prep time...:

  1. Start with a fresh, unopened bottle of milk or some milk alternatives (see Milk Alternatives Page).
  2. Add an entire fresh probiotic starter packet to whatever size bottle you are using.
  3. Replace the cap and shake it to spread around the probiotic starter "seeds".
  4. Slide on the maker with the padded heating side in contact with as much of the bottle as possible (e.g. put thin stretchy fabric side over the handle area where there are air pockets)
  5. Plug the maker into a GFI protected electrical outlet overnight.
  6. Leave the maker on until the milk turns tart or starts to thicken (versions with a lot of protein). It can take up to 12 hours or more in the cold of winter, with milk alternatives, smaller bottles... You can culture a little longer for a little more tart/thicker.
  7. Unplug and remove the maker from the bottle. DO NOT SHAKE it while warm or that could break up the protein clumps and lead to more whey separation.
  8. Place the bottle into the refrigerator to cool and thicken a little more (if applicable).
  9. If desired flavor the entire bottle or flavor by the bowl or glass or add to smoothies, recipes...
  10. Enjoy a glass of fresh probiotic shake for a quick breakfast, snack, meal replacement...

How do you know when it is done or when to remove Probiotic Maker?

Batch time can vary greatly. For example a batch during the heat of summer with fresh milk and a fresh starter packet could take say 8.5 hours while another batch in winter could take 12 hours.

So it can take up to 12 hours or more for a batch to finish (takes much longer in the cold of winter, with alternatives, smaller bottles with less warming surface, cardboard that insulates...). Some alternatives can take twice as long as the minimum 8 hours.

Leave the maker on at least until it turns tart or starts to thicken (for versions with a lot of protein) &/or the whey (yellow liquid) starts to separate (if applicable). 

Normally it will thicken more as it cools. You can culture a little longer for more tart or for a little thicker result with high-protein versions.

If there is any whey separation (whey protein often separate as the yellow liquid) the batch is finished. Some times it will not get any thicker but will actually start becoming more separated the longer it goes. The whey separation happens much more on the skim milk as it doesn't have any fat and will be more chunky with thinner liquid in between. You can pour off the whey or strain it (how you make thicker Greek yogurt or kefir/cream cheese).

See the Milk Alternatives page for more information as most alternatives won't thicken. In that case you can culture until you reach the desired level of tartness. As the taste changes from sweet to tart you know the probiotics are growing (because the probiotics consume the sugars to grow and output the acids/tart taste).



How do you flavor or sweeten? Are there any recipes?

The beauty of the Probiotic Maker™ is that you can flavor and sweeten however you like. 

Customers love to experiment with flavoring options. Some favorites include blended fresh or frozen fruit, chocolate protein powder, monk fruit, Lemon Merengue Pie (stevia and lemon extract), crystal light, ranch dressing packet for veggie dip, freeze whey in ice cube trays to add to green smoothies...

The all time favorite is to blend up a bunch of strawberries with some sugar and vanilla and flavor the entire bottle! (So delicious and very beautiful!)

For a simple easy solution that doesn't require any special work you may want to just flavor with some vanilla and 1 to 1.25 c. of sugar for an entire gallon (adjust to taste, remember to shake up well the first time to dissolve the flavoring so it won't settle on the bottom and that can break up the protein clumps and make more smooth if desired).

A cup of sugar per gallon may sound like a lot but if you do the math that may end up only being 1/2 to 1/3rd the sugar in yogurt tubes (64 per gallon) or low fat yogurts (32 per gallon).

We have reduced the amount of sugar to just over 1 c and the kids love it. Some people prefer it plain or add to green smoothies or on their cereal...

Get creative and note your favorite recipes to share with others.

How long do the fresh probiotics last before going bad? What is the shelf life?

"Not long at our house with 8 kids!".  

As the manufacturer, we recommend you enjoy the fresh probiotics within a couple of weeks or by the expiration date of the milk, whichever is soonest.


How hot will the Probiotic Maker™ get? Do I need to worry about my cat or kids or walls or counters?

The Probiotic Maker™ is designed to target around your natural body temperature of 37°C or 98.6°F. So under normal use it will generally stay around body temperature. 

The temperature of your maker is controlled by a thermostat so even if you left it plugged in forever, even without a bottle, it can never get hot enough to burn the skin or any type of counter or wall (your cat is safe too). 

There is also a back up thermal fuse that permanently shuts off the power if it ever gets too hot.

I am worried about heating plastic and toxic chemicals? Can I use glass bottles?

The Probiotic Maker™ works with all types of bottles (e.g. glass, cardboard, plastic...).

As the maker only targets body temperature, then it is nowhere near the temperatures where the plastics start to melt.

Touching a plastic bottle with your body temperature isn't an issue so the maker warming to about body temperature shouldn't be an issue either. The maker automatically shuts off when it senses the bottle has reached the target temperature and could be plugged in for years and still never get to a dangerous temperature. 

As the manufacturer we recommend growing probiotics right inside a sealed, fresh, pasteurized bottle of milk/alternative to avoid potential contamination.

How do I get thicker yogurt?

Traditional yogurt (contains thermophilic or heat loving cultures) is made at higher temperatures (~113 F or 42 C). Those are lethal-fever temperatures and can kill off many kefir-type strains (mesophilic or medium heat cultures). 

The inspired Probiotic Maker™ targets body temperature to get the benefits of both Thermophilic (yogurt) and Mesophilic (kefir). As such it will not thicken as much as traditional yogurts (most factory yogurts have artificial thickeners). 

You can culture it a little longer for a little thicker result. You can also make really thick authentic Greek yogurt by straining off the whey with a strainer or cheesecloth (e.g. 1 cup of Greek yogurt from 3 cups of fresh probiotics). 

You can culture the "yogurt" a little longer to make it more tart and thick. For example, the photo with the bowl with the fruit was skim milk (no fats to smooth out so thicker protein clumps with thinner whey liquid in between). It was cultured for about 10.5 hours and thoroughly cooled (never shake when warm or you can break up the protein clumps and cause dramatic whey/yellow liquid separation). 

Remember that any time you shake or blend that breaks up the protein clumps that will probably never get as thick again. So you may want to gently pour out of the container into a bowl or cup and gently stir in any flavorings. Or you can blend the flavorings with a little of the probiotics but then stir or shake the blended mixture in to flavor the entire bottle (that way you are not blending the probiotics).

What if it is Too Thick to Pour?

If your shake is too thick to pour congratulations on culturing a great thick batch. That is very rare as the probiotics are cultured at a lower temperature than yogurt so it will not be as thick as regular yogurt or factory products with artificial thickeners. You could squeeze it out of the jug into a bowl and flavor like traditional yogurt and eat with a spoon. 

For a shake, you can actually shake up the bottle to break up the thickened/coagulated proteins which makes it more consistent and thinner and easier to pour. 

If you shake in flavorings that will also break it up so it will no longer be too thick to pour. The more you shake it, the smoother it becomes and thinner. Some prefer it chunky and thicker while others prefer it more viscus and smooth.


How Do You Clean the Probiotic Maker?

Unplug the unit and gently wipe with a damp cloth to clean.

Do not immerse, hold under running water, saturate, place in a washer, or wet the unit.

Remember to never fold or roll the unit up as that can permanently damage the unit.

It Taste Sour - Is it a Bad Batch?

The fresh probiotics will be tart/sour/tangy because the probiotics consume the natural sugars (e.g. lactose in milk) in order to grow and output acids as a result (e.g. lactic acid in milk). The more the probiotics grow, the more acid is produced and the more tart or sour the taste. That is why unflavored yogurt is tart/sour/tangy.

For a more mild, less-sour taste try culturing for a shorter period of time (e.g. pull a batch when it turns from sweet to tart or just starts to thicken).

Regardless you will want to flavor and sweeten to taste for your preferences and to offset the natural sour taste of the yogurt (unless you like lemon flavor which is already acidic:-).

If you have pre-sweetened and flavored the entire gallon you may need to turn upside down and shake as the sweeteners and flavoring have a tendency to settle to the bottom.

If a batch smells really bad (like rotten milk and not like plain yogurt/kefir) or it is producing gasses or the bottle is bloated then discard the entire batch as the milk was bad/old or there was contamination (our starters don't contain yeasts so it should not produce gases or bloat the bottles). We will give you an extra free starter with your next order to replace any starter used with bad/contaminated milk so don't take a chance with your health.

Why is it not heating Up? It appears to be broken or to have stopped working.

The Probiotic Maker has a sensor (hard rectangular piece on the middle of the inside of the warming pad). The unit will cycle on and off as necessary to try and keep the bottle around body temperature.

If the unit is not on a milk jug or has an air gap right around the sensor then the unit will heat up really fast and the sensor will shut off and not come back on until the temperature of the sensor cools down. So it will feel like the unit is not heating even though the unit is working.

The maker will cycle on and off dozens of times automatically every batch as the target temperature is reached at the sensor. Once the cooler milk circulates to the sensor then the unit will cycle on again until the target temperature is reached. So the maker will cycle on less and less frequently as more of the milk reaches target temperature. Once the milk starts to thicken and the circulation slows then the maker will cycle on even less frequently. 

The area around the sensor will maintain the target temperature so the top and outer side may be cooler, especially if the milk has thickened and stops circulating the heat.

So it is important to have the sensor close to the milk bottle/carton for best results. So on a gallon the sensor will set right on the edge on the side opposite from the handle.

If a cool maker doesn't heat up when first plugged in to a working outlet then the maker needs to be replaced. As long as you are getting our starters every month we will replace the maker forever with our Forever Free Replacement. Otherwise the makers have free replacement for an entire year from the date of purchase.

Of course the warranty only covers manufacturing defects and does not cover abuse, misuse, or damage from folding the unit, rolling up the unit, strapping/wrapping/clipping tightly around a smaller bottle, piercing the maker...


It doesn't have much flavor. Is that normal?

The protein clumps naturally have very little flavor and accept the added flavors very well. If you have flavored a shake and it tastes a little flavorless then you will probably want to shake up more to break apart the proteins that have coagulated.

You have cultured it to perfection but you may want to shake it up to get the flavoring throughout (like stirring up a fruit on the bottom yogurt). You may want to flavor more or perhaps flavor by the glass or add to a smoothie or...  There are so many ways to enjoy.



What is the yellowish liquid that separates?

The yellow liquid is called Whey (acidic whey to be precise). Whey separation is a natural result of cheese(whey) or Greek yogurt production(acidic whey is what is strained from regular yogurt to make Greek yogurt). Whey is a good source of protein and contains live probiotics. 

It can be shaken back in before dispensing (remember to never shake when it is warm as that can lead to dramatic whey separation and little protein chunks) or
drained off for a thicker yogurt shake. Whey separates over time naturally as the probiotics continue to grow and increase the level of acid.

Whey separation is much more dramatic when using fat-free milk as there are no fat molecules to keep things smooth and combined. So many times using skim milk will result in thicker protein globs with more liquid whey in between.



Milk Alternatives

Can I Use Milk Alternatives? Can I Use Almond Milk, Cashew Milk, Rice Milk, Soy Milk...?

Remember the 3 main rules any time you are trying to grow probiotics (see the Milk Alternatives page for specific brands that worked):

    1. Natural Sugars: There has to be some natural sugars for the probiotics to consume to get the energy needed to grow. Check the label for carbohydrates and sugars to see there are some natural sugars present. Probiotics can't grow on artificial sweeteners.
    2. Avoid Preservatives: You will want to avoid harsh preservatives that can inhibit probiotic growth. There are even some natural preservatives that can inhibit growth. So you may want to avoid Vitamin C, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin E...  Some of the alternatives worked even with preservatives "to protect freshness" or "to preserve flavor" but we had to go much longer than normal as they slowed down the probiotic growth quite a bit. Some milk alternatives with Vitamin C or more Ascorbic Acid didn't grow the probiotics even after nearly 24 hours of culturing.
    3. Protein: Remember that if you want the probiotics to thicken the proteins then there has to be enough proteins present (e.g. 8 grams per cup like regular milk). In some cases with very little protein, you could see the protein "flakes" had congealed/thickened but there was not enough protein present to thicken all the liquid. 




What brands of milk alternatives work?

Here are the brands that worked in our tests (videos below) and a few customer tests (remember to maybe culture a little longer to see if turns tart). We ran the test batches much longer than usual to get definitive results (e.g. ~24 hours but you may only want to culture until it turns tart normally well under 12 hours max). You only need to culture until it turns tart (or starts to thicken on versions with a lot of protein).

Please email us with other brands you have tested and whether they worked or did not and we will send you a couple of starter packets for testing.

Brands that Worked:

  • Silk® 10g Almond Cashew (Merrick's favorite alternative, thickens as has a lot of pea protein)
  • Ripple® Original (Customer recommendation – we did not test)
  • Blue Diamond® Almond Breeze Original (only turned tart as not a lot of protein to thicken)
  • Simple Truth™ Vanilla Almond (only turned tart as not a lot of protein to thicken)
  • Simple Truth™ Coconut (only turned tart as not a lot of protein to thicken)
  • Silk® Soy Original (Thickened)
  • Great Value™ Soy (Thickened)
  • Planet Oat® Oat Milk (only turned tart as not a lot of protein to thicken)
  • Rice Dream™ Rice Milk (only turned tart as not a lot of protein to thicken)
  • Lactaid® Lactose-Free Fat-Free Milk (Thickened-probiotics consume the lactose to grow so normally wouldn't use lactose-free)
  • Meyenberg™ Goat Milk (Thickened-would like to try for cream cheese)
  • Orgain® Organic Almond Milk 10g Protein Unsweetened Vanilla (per customer "This did thicken really well")
  • Silk® Ultra, Unsweetened, 20g Protein(soy) (per customer "Worked Great!")
  • Silk® Chocolate Soy (per customer, normally you add all flavoring and chocolate after but customer said it still had a hint of chocolate)

What Didn't Work

  • Great Value™ Almond
  • Silk® Coconut
  • So Delicious® Organic Coconut Unsweetened (per customer)

Please let us know if there are any other brands that have worked or have not worked for you or of any brands that you would like us to test.

Starter- Questions about Starters/"Seed" Packets/Other Yogurt Starters...

How do I order more probiotic starter seed packets?

The starter "seed" packets are available via the Shop link or directly here:
Never run out and SAVE UP TO 20% with an auto ship subscription. 

Do I use half a starter packet with half gallon or smaller bottles? Should I use 2 starters in a gallon?

You should use an entire unopened starter packet on any size bottle to ensure that you are getting all 11 types of probiotics as well as avoiding potential contamination.

Smaller bottles have less surface area and so they may take hours longer than a gallon batch so it is also best to use a full packet to start with more "seeds". 

You do not need to use two starter packets on a gallon batch because there is more warming surface area on the larger bottle. 

How many different probiotics or strains are in the starter "seed" packets?

Many products may only have one or two strains of probiotic bacteria but our starter "seed" packs have a wide variety of 11 different types of probiotic cultures. 

The Probiotic Maker™ targets your body temperature get the benefit of both kefir (mesophilic probiotics) and yogurt (thermophilic probiotics) probiotics by culturing at body temperature (not too hot and not too cool but just right).


What are the individual probiotics or cultures or strains in the starter packets?

The Probiotic Maker™ Starter "Seed" Packets include the following strains:
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Streptococcus thermophilus
  • Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris
  • Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis
  • Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis
  • Leuconostoc mesenteroides ssp. cremoris
  • Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis.
We didn't want any "frankenstrains" or expensive designer strains but rather wanted a good variety of probiotics that have been helping people live healthier, happier lives for thousands of years.

Can I Use Kefir Grains as Starters?


Our custom blend of probiotics contains 11 types of strains that you would find in commercial kefirs. 

Kefir grains contain yeasts that produce alcohol (up to 1.5% or 3 proof alcohol). Also, the kefir grains produce off gases so the bottle could explode! So we recommend that you DO NOT USE KEFIR GRAINS!

Use our starter packs and you get the benefits of 11 different probiotic strains without all the risks associated with kefir grains. Plus you don't have to worry about maintaining the grains or them dying. 

Simply add a pure sealed starter pack and forget about all the sterilizing, maintaining, contamination, dirty dishes/bottles... Plus you only need to culture overnight and not leave on your counter for 48 hours or more like they do with kefir.


Can I use some store-bought yogurt or some a previous batch as a starter?

During product development we were unable to find heirloom (reusable) starters with a large number of different probiotics. It turns out that heirloom or reusable starters usually just have one strain because if you try and reuse a previous batch that most of the strains could have died out and you may only be growing as few as one strain. 

That is why when multi-strain factory yogurts were used to run test batches the results were very sporadic and inconsistent. Since some of the strains may be overpowered by others you may end up with It turns out that some strains can overpower other strains and that is why there were such inconsistent results. 

So reusing some of a previous batch could result in missing out on 9 or 10 of the probiotics. You may only be getting the body strain and not realize all of the other probiotics you could be benefitting from.

As the manufacturer we can only recommend using a new packet every batch to ensure you get all 11 types of probiotics and to avoid growing any pathogens or contaminants. 

Even accounting for the cost of the milk and starter packet, you can grow trillions of 11 fresh probiotics for less than buying ANY pills, powders, yogurt, kefir, drinks... One batch equals hundreds of pills, 32 yogurt cups, 47 probiotic drinks, or 64 yogurt tubes! Plus you can eliminate over 100 pieces of plastic/garbage per batch!


Can I Use Some of a Previous Batch as a Starter?

As the manufacturer we can only recommend using a new packet every batch to ensure you get all 11 types of probiotics and avoid any potential contamination. 

We want you to avoid growing any bad germs. Also some of the strains overpower the more mild probiotics so you could end up growing just 1 or 2 strains instead of all 11 probiotics.

Even accounting for the cost of the milk and starter packet, you can grow trillions of 11 fresh probiotics for less than buying any pills, powders, yogurt, kefir, drinks... A one gallon batch equals 4 quarts of kefir, 32 yogurts, or 64 yogurt tubes!


Subscription or Auto Ship

How do I manage, change, or cancel my subscription or auto ship?

To change, cancel, postpone, skip next shipment, change days between shipments, or modify your subscription where possible please visit the Manage Subscriptions link in any of your subscription emails or Click Here to Manage Subscriptions

What are the details of the Free Maker while on subscription?

With the Free Maker while on subscription option you get a free Probiotic Maker™ as long as your subscription is active.
You can cancel the subscription at any time by returning the free maker, buying out the maker, or after 12 months the maker is yours to keep:-) At that point the subscription monthly price automatically decreases or you can switch to another subscription if desired.

Returns and Exchanges

What is your return or replacement policy?

100% Satisfaction Guarantee: Return your maker for any reason within 60 days for a full refund! Go ahead and use up the free starter packets as we cannot accept returns/refunds of any starters. Please contact us (info@ProbioticMaker.com or 801-484-5300) for details on where to return your maker and what information to include.

Lifetime Guarantee with Forever Exchange: As long as you are buying our starters every month, you can exchange any maker that stops working for a replacement forever! Otherwise you can return a broken maker for a free exchange for an entire year from the date of purchase.