Homemade Soy Yogurt
Last week, I went to a pet shop to buy a fish tank heater. Not that I intended to buy a fish tank, and I sure enough did not intend to purchase a fish. I prefer to see animals in the wild rather than keeping them in captivity. I needed the heater to create perfect conditions for the cultivation of my own plant-based yogurt at home.
There’s hardly anything simpler than making yogurt. You only need two ingredients: milk and a yogurt starter. You can either buy a vegan yogurt starter or– even easier– purchase one small organic soy yogurt (if you can’t find a plain one, use vanilla soy yogurt) and use 1 teaspoon to start your yogurt. As soon as you have made your first yogurt, you can use a teaspoon of it to make more yogurt. That one store bought yogurt might be the last one you’ve ever bought.
One of the keys to maintain the same quality and taste of yogurt, is to keep it at a constant temperature while it ferments. Ambient temperature can have an effect on the culturing process. The ideal temperate range is 21°C-25°C (70°F-77°F). That’s the reason for the fish-tank heater. My Indian friends place their yogurts overnight in the oven (they preheat the oven at 50°C or 120°F for a few minutes, turn it off and place the yogurt inside), but I find that the temperature ranges quite a lot and the more you control the temperature, the more consistent your results are because different bacteria flourish at different temperatures. My baker friend Geoff set up the perfect environment for his sourdough starter to be kept at 25°C (77°F)and I copied his model. Take a cooler, place a large pot with water into it and place the fish-tank heater on the side of the pot, submerged in the water. Set the temp between 25°C and 27°C. As soon as it has reached the desired temperature, place the jar with yogurt into the warm water. Close the cooler and let the yogurt cultivate overnight.
How does milk exactly turn into yogurt in the first place?
To turn milk into yogurt, bacteria ferment the milk, turning the lactose sugars in the milk into lactic acid. The lactic acid is what causes the milk, as it ferments, to thicken and taste tart.
Some of the species you find in yogurt include fancy names like: Streptococcus thermophilus (S. thermophilus); Lactobacillus bulgaricus (L. bulgaricus); L. acidophilus; L. casei; L. rhamnosus; Bifidobacterium animalis (B. animalis, or sometimes just “Bifidus”); and B. bifidum.
Making your own yogurt is
Step by step instructions on how to make soy yogurt:
- Sterilize the canning jars, their lids, rings and tools (spoon) that you will be using in the process. Do this by separating these pieces and putting them all in a large pot, adding about one inch (2.5 cm) of water, covering the pot, and boiling the water for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the jars sit, still covered, in the pot. I find that the easiest way to sterilize is to use my old Avent Baby Bottle Microwave Sterilizer. No pot, no mess, no additional work.
- Heat a carton (4 cups) of organic soy milk in a pot over medium heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon agar agar flakes*. Heat the milk to 90°C or 195°F which is just before it starts to boil. Do not let it come to a boil! Remove the pot from the stove and let the milk cool off to room temperature. I use a thermometer to check that is has no more than 25°C or 77°F because I am a very impatient person who would throw in the starter too early and kill the bacteria.
- Stir in the starter– about 1 teaspoon of soy yogurt and pour the yogurt into the sterilized jars. Transfer the jars to the preheated oven or the water bath in the cooler and let it ferment for at least 8 hours (I prepare the yogurt in the evening and leave it in overnight). Don’t open the oven to peek in during the process!
- Cover the jars and keep them in the fridge.
* agar agar makes the yogurt thicker. You can substitute with tapioca flour, xanthum gum or corn starch. Add more or less thickener depending on the consistency that you want. Another– natural– way to thicken yogurt is to place it in a cheesecloth lined wire mesh over a bowl for a few hours (after the yogurt has fermented overnight) and drain its liquid.
✣ Instead of soy milk, you can use coconut milk from a carton and create a delicious coconut yogurt.
Endless ways to use homemade soy yogurt:
Add a few drops of stevia to make it sweeter
Add pure vanilla powder to get vanilla yogurt
Use yogurt over fruits with a drizzle of honey (optional and not necessary for sweetness)
Blend yogurt with fresh raspberries for an afternoon treat or yummy dessert
Mix yogurt with fresh fruit (apple, banana and berries), activated seeds, nuts and activated oats (see last post on activation/ soaking of foods click here http://plantbasedhappy.com/?p=6272)
Blend yogurt with frozen banana, acai powder and bee pollen for a breakfast acai bowl
Mix yogurt with lemon juice, organic lemon zest, salt, pepper and minced mint to get a yogurt dressing that everybody will love
Make your own cream cheese with the yogurt: in a blender, process 1 cup activated cashews with 1 tbsp filtered water, 1/8 tsp salt and 1/4 cup plain soy yogurt. Transfer to a large bowl and let sit, covered with a tea towel, for 24-36 hours until it has the desired taste.
At the moment, I am waiting for my first plant-based cashew yogurt cheese to mature. Hopefully it’ll turn out great and I will be able to share the recipe with you soon.