FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

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.
  • 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 (see more information below).
How Long Does It Last? How Long Is It Shelf Life?

"Not long at our house with 8 kids!". The fresh probiotics should be good through the expiration date on the regular milk. With products with longer expiration (organic, ultra high pasteurized, or milk alternatives) dates you may want to consume in a couple of weeks for maximum freshness. The probiotics continue to grow while in the refrigerator but at a slower rate. Over time they may get more acidic and the fresh probiotics can start dying off (some strains may die off as much as 50% in a week). Factory yogurts usually have an expiration of around 40 days. We like to enjoy the probiotics while they are fresh for maximum potency (and don't like the taste of the probiotics grown from regular sugar) and before they start getting tart again after sweetening weeks before.

How to Use the Probiotic Maker?

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

  1. Start with a fresh, unopened gallon or half-gallon bottle of milk.
  2. Add the ProBiotic starter to the bottle.
  3. Replace the cap and shake to mix in the ProBiotic starter "seeds".
  4. Slide on the Probiotic Maker with the padded heating side in contact with as much of the jug as possible (e.g. put thin stretchy fabric side over the handle area where there are air pockets)
  5. Plug the Probiotic Maker into a GFI protected electrical outlet.
  6. Let the Probiotic Maker work its magic while you are sleeping or at work or school (~8 hours depending on conditions and preferences - see detail below)
  7. Unplug and remove the Probiotic Maker from the bottle.
  8. Place the bottle into the refrigerator to cool and thicken.
  9. If desired flavor the entire bottle or flavor by the bowl or glass or add to smoothies, recipes...
  10. Enjoy a glass of finished ProBiotic shake for a quick breakfast, snack, meal replacement...
How Many Strains & What Strains of Probiotics?

Most yogurt only has one or two strains of ProBiotic bacteria but the Probiotic Starter packs have a wide variety of 11 different types of ProBiotic cultures (below). The Probiotic Maker is designed to work with ProBiotics that thrive at your body temperature so they are specially formulated to make amazing ProBiotic shakes that maximize the health benefits for you and your family. The exact blend is also formulated to work well with skim milk for amazing fat-free shakes. So you get the benefit of both Kefir and Yogurt by culturing at body temperature.

  • 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.
How Do You Know When to Remove the Probiotic Maker and Place Bottle into the Fridge?

Normally it takes about 8+ hours for the ProBiotics to grow and cause the proteins to congeal/thicken into yogurt. Do not remove until the milk has started to thicken. The actual time may vary depending on the room temperature, starting temperature of the milk... Generally speaking you culture for about 8 hours for more mild flavor or 9+ hours for a thicker, more tangy flavor.

For a more mild flavor you can pull as soon as the milk starts to thicken (e.g. gently rock back and forth a little to see that it has thickened). In some cases we have pulled right at 8 hours even though it didn't seem the milk had thickened much but it thickened quite a bit when it cooled.

If there is any whey separation (whey protein often separate as the yellow liquid) the batch should be removed right away and placed into the refrigerator. It will not get any thicker but will actually start becoming more separated the longer it goes longer. 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. This is not a problem as you can shake the whey back in before each use or you could drain off (what makes greek yogurt thicker is they strain off the whey).

After cooling the shake will thicken up quite a bit. So you may want to pull it earlier rather than later for a milder flavor that won't require as much sweetening/flavor to counteract the more tangy/sour flavor. With a little practice you can begin to pull just after it starts to thicken and it will thicken in the refrigerator for a perfect texture and finish without being too sour or thick if desired.

To make kefir using milk alternatives, the product won't thicken like a yogurt (unless you started with a high protein content like soy milk). You can culture until you reach the level of tartness desired. As the taste changes from sweet to tart you know the ProBiotics are growing (because eat the sugars to grow and output the acids/tart taste).

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

The Probiotic Maker can be used with some milk alternatives (see some specific brands below) and there are 3 requirements to remember:

  1. Natural Sugars: There have to be natural sugars present for the probiotics to get energy to grow. You can check the Nutrition Label under Total Carbohydrates to see the amount of sugars (e.g. regular milk has about 11 grams per cup). If there are 0 g. then there is no energy for the probiotics to grow (they can't grow on artificial sweeteners).
  2. No Preservatives: Preservatives used to "maintain fresh" or preserve "flavor" can kill the probiotics. So avoid preservatives including the "natural" preservatives like ascorbic acid/vitamin C... We thought that Vitamin E would kill the probiotics but we had some good results (just had to culture longer than anticipated).
  3. Proteins are required to Thicken: Milks with higher protein content like regular milk, soy milk, pea protein... will thicken more like regular yogurt/kefir (a customer just had great success with pea protein- Ripple, and we had great results with the new 10g protein Silk Almond Cashew Milk). The other milks with little to no protein will not thicken but will turn tart as the ProBiotics consume the natural sugars and then output the acid and turn tart (acids are also what cause the proteins to thicken in regular yogurt/kefir).

Here are some brands that customers and our test showed good results (some had to be cultured longer than normal):

  • Ripple (pea protein so can thicken-remember requirements above)
  • Silk Almond Cashew 10g Protein (thickened)
  • Silk Soy Original (thickened)
  • Great Value Soy Original (thickened)
  • Planet Oat Oatmilk Original
  • Simple Truth Coconutmilk
  • Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Original (Large 3 Liter Bottle)
  • Simple Truth Organic Vanilla Almondmilk
  • Rice Dream
  • Lactaid Fat Free Milk
  • Meyenburg Goat Milk
How Do You Sweeten and Flavor?

The beauty of the Probiotic Maker is that you can flavor and sweeten how you like. You may want to take a bunch of strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries and blend up with about a cup to cup and a half of sweetener and then add to flavor an entire gallon.

For a simple easy solution that doesn't require any special work you may want to just flavor with some vanilla (~2 tablespoons) and just about 1.25 c of sugar for entire gallon (adjust to taste, remember to shake up well as flavors settle on the bottom and you want to break up the coagulated proteins to get the flavor throughout).

1.25 cups of sugar may sound like a lot but if you do the math 1 cup (200 g) of sugar per gallon is less than a third of the sugar in yogurt tubes. 1.5 cups of sugar per gallon is less than half of the sugar in yogurt tubes.

We have reduced the amount of sugar to just over 1 c and the kids love it. In fact once we and the kids consumed half a gallon of completely unflavored skim yogurt/kefir because we hadn't had time to flavor it yet! Some people prefer it plain or added to green smoothies or in their cereal...

Get creative and note your favorite recipes to share with others. There are future plans for forum and recipe competitions.

What Is the Yellow Liquid?

The yellow liquid is called Whey(acidic whey to be precise). Whey separation 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 also separates if the temperature gets too hot or it is left to culture too long.

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.

How Do I Get Thicker Yogurt?

Traditional yogurt(thermophilic or heat loving cultures) is made at higher temperatures (~113 F or 42 C). Those are lethal-fever temperatures and can kill off the 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 (many yogurts have thickeners or other artificial ingredients as well to make thicker). Authentic Greek yogurt is made by straining off the whey to make a thicker yogurt (e.g. 1 cup of Greek yogurt from 3 to 5 cups of regular yogurt).

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 can cause dramatic whey/yellow liquid separation). Also, it was not shaken even after cooling but rather was squeezed directly out of the bottle.

So to get thicker yogurt you can do the following:

  • Start with milk/milk alternative that has a lot of protein to thicken (e.g. regular milk or pea or soy) or no fat for thicker protein clumps
  • Culture a little longer (e.g. 10.5 to 12 hours). After a time it will actually start to get a lot more whey separation or the amount and types of live cultures could start reducing as the probiotics run out of food and it gets too acidic.
  • Strain off the whey - Straining off the whey with a cheese cloth/strainer is how they make real/traditional Greek yogurt. Some even strain even more to make kefir cheese.
  • Don't shake or blend - Shaking or placing in a blender will break up the protein clumps. So consider blending the fruit or flavoring separately and then gently shaking in or stirring in. For the thickest only stir in the flavoring.

Or you could start experimenting with the more drinkable "yogurt" like they enjoy in most of the world. Personally I would prefer to enjoy 3 to 5 cups of drinkable rather than say 1 cup of strained/Greek yogurt (tastes kind of chalky to me). Most customers realize that this is much more than traditional yogurt and they start enjoying as shakes rather than thicker yogurt.

I Am Worried about Heating Plastic and Toxic Chemicals? Can I Use Glass Bottles?

As the maker only targets body temperature, then it is nowhere near the temperatures where the plastics start to melt or release chemicals(milk would have to boil off milk first). Touching a plastic bottle with your body temperature isn't an issue so the maker warming to about body temperature isn't 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 per pouring milk into a different container, as the manufacturer we can only recommend using fresh, sealed, purified containers to ensure there is no contamination.

How Hot Will the Probiotic Maker Get? Do I Need to Worry about My Cat or Kids or Walls or Counters?

Most factories and home yogurt makers target at up to 45°C or about 113°F. Which is higher than a deadly fever. The Probiotic Maker is designed to target your natural body temperature of 37°C or 98.6°F so that the ProBiotics you culture will thrive at in your body temperature. So under normal use it will generally stay around body temperature.

The temperature of your Probiotic Maker is controlled by a thermostat so even if left 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 secondary thermal fuse that would shut off the power if it every started to overheat.

How Do You Cancel or Change a Subscription/Autoship?

You can modify the AutoShip options directly through the website or from an order confirmation "Manage your subscription:". You can cancel or change the number of days between deliveries (e.g. ship every 30, 42, 60... days).

You can also email or call to change your subscription if there is a problem getting into the system.

Too Thick to Pour?

If your shake is too thick to pour congratulations on culturing a great thick batch. You could squeeze 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 jug to break up the 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.

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

Theoretically you could use some of a previous batch as a starter. However there are several issues with this. First is there is a risk of contamination. So if there are any contaminants or germs or bad bacteria, mold spores, viruses from the air or bottle or refrigerator or hands... then those could be grown.

Second, as the ProBiotics grow some of the strains will become stronger and may kill off the other strains depending on the conditions. So you may end up with just one or two strains that killed off the other 9 or 10 strains and you may lose the benefit of the variety and diversity of the different ProBiotics. Also, the texture, flavor, body, consistency... of the finished product could start to deteriorate.

Third, the time to make a batch will vary greatly depending on how much starter you use and you will not know when to pull the batch.

The price for the starter packs has been brought down so you can make the equivalent to 32 yogurt cups or 64 yogurt tubes or 4 quarts of kefir all for less than buying any yogurt, kefir, probiotic pills...So you save up to $25.00 or more with every use so there is no reason to not use a fresh starter pack on each batch.

Can I Use Other Yogurt Starters?

You could theoretically use other starter packs but they normally cost more, only contain a 1 or 2 of types of ProBiotics. Also, you will not know the right amount of time to use (e.g. could finish in the middle of the night).

It took months and months of time by experts to get the custom starter blend perfect (and for it to work even with skim milk). Also, why do most yogurt starters cost more than the quart of yogurt they make!?

It was very important to us to get the cost down so as many people as possibly could benefit from the product. Now the price with the perfect custom blend costs you less than buying any pills, powders, yogurts (even expired yogurts for $1.99 a case!), kefir, probiotic drink...So you are getting the freshest, best tasting, easiest to make...probiotics all at the lowest price!

The Shake Taste Sour – Is It a Bad Batch?

The ProBiotics consume the lactose (milk sugars) in order to grow and as a result produce lactic acid. The more growth the more acid or sour taste. This is normal (have you ever tasted plain yogurt it is very sour/tart). The longer the ProBiotics culture the more acid is produced and the more sour the flavor. If heated too high or left too long it becomes too acidic and the ProBiotics start to perish and you get more and more whey (yellow liquid) separation. For a more mild, less-sour taste try culturing for a shorter period of time.

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. So each time you want to pour some shake you can shake up the jug to mix around the flavoring. Also, when flavoring a fresh jug you may want to pour some out into a previous jug. That way there is room to add flavoring to the new jug and the raw shake will tone down the sweetness of the previous jug as the sweetness tends to settle to the bottom.

The Batch Smells Bad or the Bottle Is Bloated or Has Pressure!

Remember to never take a chance with your health. Always start with a fresh bottle of sealed, pasteurized/purified milk that has been refrigerated the entire time and has not passed the expiration date. If the bottle is swelling or bloated or has pressure then carefully dispose of the entire bottle. There are no yeasts or molds or bad bacteria in the starter packs so if there is any pressure then that means that there is some sort of contamination or the milk has gone bad.

The only time during hundreds of test batches that a batch swelled was tests on milk well past the expiration date and use of the maker just accelerated the milk going bad. Please use only sealed, fresh purified milk.

For these reasons you should NOT USE RAW MILK. Yes the purification will take out some of the good items but it also kills off the bad and the maker will accelerate the growth of whatever "seeds" are present. Think of it like clearing a field before planting. You get rid of the good and bad so you have a clean area to plant the good "seeds". Also, the process of purification may help make for a thicker finished product by allowing more protein to thicken.

The batch should smell like plain yogurt(cheesy, tart/sour). If the batch has a horrible smell like rotten milk or dairy then you should trust your body to know it is a bad batch and not just the natural smell of raw yogurt/kefir. Normally this will be associated with bloating bottle/increased pressure so you have two warning signs.

Your safety is paramount to us so don't take any chances. We can add a free starter to your next order to replace the contaminated or spoiled batch.

Doesn’t Have Much Flavor?

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.

Why Is It Not Heating Up? It Appears to Be Broken.

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 jug at 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 hundreds 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.

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 opposite side of the handle.

If a maker doesn't heat up when first plugged in or when placed on a cold bottle of milk then the maker needs to be returned or replaced. All makers come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee/60-day warranty so you can email or call to get the return address information for a refund or replacement.

Issues are very rare and we have gladly replaced every single unit with issues even after years of use although technically the warranty is good for 60 days and does not cover abuse or damage (e.g. folding the unit, rolling up the unit, strapping/wrapping/clipping tightly around a smaller bottle.to avoid air gaps- remember that air gaps on the sides are fine so please don't damage your maker).

Can I Use Kefir Grains As Starters?

Our custom blend of ProBiotics contains 11 types of strains that you would find in commercial kefirs. We recommend that youDO NOT USE KEFIR GRAINS!

Kefir grains contain yeasts that produce alcohol (up to 1.5% or 3 proof alcohol). Also, the kefir grains produce off gases so thebottle could explode! In addition the kefir grains may be growing some contaminants that could be very dangerous. Use our starter packs and you get the benefits of 11 different kefir 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 whenever you want 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.