Making your own dairy-free yogurt is very simple, inexpensive, and it is great way to make sure that you are getting a good dose of probiotics in your diet. I played around with a few different dairy free milks and different ways of thickening the yogurts to find the combinations that seemed to reliably make a nice thick yogurt.
This post is about soy milk yogurt (and I will cover nut milk yogurts later this week). Like all experiments in culturing, the trick is to find a good active culture. You can buy single use cultures online which will produce a nice product. You could also try probiotic pills with yogurt strains (though I have tried to culture several strains of expensive probiotic pills, I’ve yet to find one that was worth writing a blog about). I was lucky enough to find a very good vegan yogurt in my local grocery store, and that is what I have been using to make my vegan yogurts.
The other trick to making yogurt is finding a nice warm place to culture it. Most yogurt strains thermophilic and grow best at 105 F (40 C). Typical yogurt makers make several small jars of yogurt. However, I use a bread proofer so that I can make a large volume of yogurt at once. Before I had my bread proofer I just wrapped my jars of yogurt up in a warm wool sweater (or a cooler) and left them in a warm part of my house (above the fridge, or beside my hot water heater). It took a lot longer, but eventually I had yogurt.
- 2 tbsp of yogurt with live culture in it (or a culture pack)
- 4 cups of soy milk (your choice of flavour, but make sure it's preservative free)
- Slowly heat your milk to 110 F (40 C), whisking occasionally to keep the milk from scalding on the bottom of the pot.
- Pour the milk into the culturing containers and stir culture into the milk. (If you are using store bought yogurt you may want to up to 6 Tbsp yogurt as they tend to have weaker cultures).
- Maintain at around 105F (40 C) until it is set to a thicker consistency (at least 4 hours, or if you like a strong yogurt then you can leave it for up to 24 hours).
-I tried several thickeners, but soy milk seemed to form a fairly thick yogurt without any added thickeners.
-I made plain soy yogurt which I then could use as a yogurt replacement in all sorts of recipes, but you could use flavoured soymilk.
-If you want a really thick Greek-style yogurt, line a colander with cheese cloth and drain the “whey” out of the yogurt for 2-3 hours. Below are some photos of the “whey” and the resulting thick creamy yogurt made without thickeners. The whey can be used for culturing grains and vegetables, or you could just add it to a smoothie.