After scouring the internet for information on making vegan yogurt, I started to experiment with using thickeners and eventually landed on my own formula that has been working wonderfully! So far it's been a few months, and I've been able to keep the same culture going. It still amazes me that all I need for a new batch of yogurt is soy milk, corn starch and a couple tablespoons of the last batch of yogurt to act as the starter!
Making your own yogurt may sound complicated, but I promise that it's not difficult at all. You don't even need a yogurt maker, although I personally prefer to use one for the convenience. In addition to the ingredients, you will need:
- A saucepan for heating the soy milk (preferably one that's easy to pour from)
- A whisk
- A candy thermometer
- A way to incubate the yogurt
Once the yogurt is done, you'll need to refrigerate it a few hours before you can eat it. I always eat mine with preserves to mimic store-bought flavored yogurt. Pictured above is my yogurt with Crofter's Organic Strawberry Premium Spread swirled in.
Kristin's Plain Simple Soy Yogurt
Makes about 42 oz., or seven 6 oz. cups
5 cups organic plain soy milk (just about any kind will do. I use a store brand to save money.)
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (non-gmo, I use Bob's Red Mill)
2 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons yogurt to use as starter culture (once you're in the habit of making yogurt, set aside some starter for your next batch)
Heat the soy milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally. While the soy milk is heating, whisk together the cornstarch with the cold water to make a slurry.
When the soy milk reaches 140° F, whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Continue to heat the mixture, whisking occasionally, until it reaches 180° F and mixture has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool to 110° F. This should take about an hour. If any skin or film has formed on the surface, gently remove it with a spatula and discard it.
Whisk yogurt starter culture into the soy milk mixture. Pour mixture into jars and culture for 4-8 hours in the yogurt marker (or other incubation method), until yogurt is set, and depending on how tart/tangy you like your yogurt. The longer you culture it, the tangier it will taste. (I like mine cultured for 6 hours.)
If you are using store-bought yogurt as a starter culture, it may take much longer. It took 11 hours for my first batch. I thought it was a failure after 10 hours, but hubby convinced me to wait a bit longer, and the yogurt finally set! It wasn't until later that I learned that the cultures in store-bought yogurt aren't as active as fresh homemade yogurt, so it can take much longer to use as a starter culture.
When yogurt is ready, put the lid(s) back on the jar(s) and store in the refrigerator. Allow to cool for at least a few hours before consuming the yogurt.
- There are two strains of bacteria that you need to have in your starter culture if you want to be able to keep perpetuating and using homemade yogurt as the starter for the next batch: Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, (sometimes shortened to L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus). The Whole Soy & Co. yogurt that I used as my starter contained 4 different bacterial strains, but the two important ones were there, so I have been able to perpetuate and keep making yogurt for a few months now.
- To keep your cultures active and happy, you need to "re-culture" regularly. In other words, you need to make a new batch of yogurt at least every 7-8 or days or so. If you don't make yogurt this often, you might consider setting aside a couple tablespoons of yogurt from a new batch and freezing it. Although I haven't tried it myself, I've read that freezing starter from freshly made yogurt will allow you to wait about 2 weeks before you need to make another batch.
- Yogurt cultures need sugar! If you make your own soy milk or buy unsweetned soymilk, you should probably add a little sugar to the milk before heating it. Otherwise, the bacteria won't have much to eat and your yogurt may not culture.
- You can also use another thickener if you don't want to use cornstarch. Tapioca and arrowroot powder would both work well. You may need to adjust amounts to get the desired thickness.
Feel free to leave me any questions you have in the comments, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!