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Piima Starter Culture

By: Denise, December 24, 2011
Cultured Dairy Products, Recipes

1 cup good quality cream

1 envelope piima powder*


Piima culture (also called vili or Finnish culture) is derived from the milk of cows that feed on the butterwort plant. Centuries ago, Scandinavian farmers discovered that milk clabbered better when their cows consumed this herb.

Start with the best quality cream you can find, such as the thick old-fashioned cream available at health food stores and gourmet food shops. Raw cream is best, but pasteurized cream will do. Do not use ultra pasteurized cream – it does not contain enough nutrients to support your culture.

Using a room thermometer, find a place in your house where the temperature is a fairly constant 72 – 75 degrees, such as a closet or cupboard with a light bulb or a shelf over a refrigerator or near a heating vent. If the temperature is below 69 degrees, the culture will become stringy and slimy. If the temperature is more than 75 degrees, the culture will separate and sour.

Place the cream in an impeccably clean glass jar. It is very important to avoid contamination by airborne bacteria or by aerosols, sprays, paint fumes, dusts, molds, yeast and insecticides. Stir in the piima powder and cover tightly. Leave in a spot that is 72 – 75 degrees for about 24 hours until it thickens slightly. Transfer to refrigerator, where it will become firm. The culture will keep well chilled for several months. Always test it with your nose before using. If it smells bad, throw it out and start again.

*Piima culture is available from: Piima, P O Box 2614, La Mesa CA 91943,  G.E.M. Cultures LehmansHoeggers, New England Cheesemaking Supply, and Body Ecology.

Reprinted with permission from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon with Mary Enig, Ph.D.