After becoming vegan nine years ago, I missed yogurt, but through trial and error eventually found a couple of nice commercially available nondairy yogurts. My favorite almond milk yogurt is made by Kite Hill, and I used to like one made by Whole Soy (sadly a company that is no longer with us).
But you know what might be even better? Homemade yogurt! Why? It’s fresh, tangy, creamy, and delicious.
I make yogurt that’s unsweetened, which makes it perfect for adding to savory dips, dressings, and sauces. Unsweetened also invites you to control exactly what comes next, in case you want to add your own fresh fruit or jam, toss it into a smoothie, or top it with granola.
My method makes an entire quart, which easily means enough for 4 to 6 servings, so the savings can add up, too. Homemade yogurt may save you around $8 per week or more, depending upon how much yogurt you like to use.
I begin with Trader Joe’s soy milk, which is made only with organic soybeans and water. To that, I add live probiotic cultures. It’s the easiest starter ever.
For delicious yogurt, look for at least two strains of live cultures in your probiotic, including Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Lactobacillus acidophilus. I use Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic. (More information about cultures below.)
I use a Cuisinart Electronic Yogurt Maker, the easiest system I’ve ever found. I got this machine quite a few years ago, because I loved that it switches automatically from fermenting to cooling, without babysitting. It gently heats up during fermentation, then transforms to a mini-refrigerator to chill it right down at the end.
But you may have your own yogurt machine, and if not, many of the newer electric multi-cooker/pressure cookers have yogurt settings too. Use whatever system you like.
The real story here is how easy and flexible live probiotic cultures make this process. With probiotic cultures in your refrigerator, instead of relying on commercially purchased yogurt for a starter (or scouting for a nondairy starter online), making homemade yogurt is one step away, any day of the week.
EASY HOMEMADE SOY YOGURT
1 quart plain unsweetened soy milk (Trader Joe’s is my favorite)
2 probiotic cultures capsules (look for 50 billion cultures per capsule)*
In a medium bowl, mix soy milk with probiotic cultures. To do this, just open each capsule, and separate the two halves. Pour all of the powder into the bowl with the milk, and discard empty capsules. Whisk together to incorporate fully.
Follow instructions for your yogurt machine, fermenting as recommended. (I use the Cuisinart Electronic Yogurt Maker. If using that system, pour ingredients into the yogurt container and cover with the lid. Plug unit in, and set fermentation for 8 hours. Press “Start” button. After 8 hours, machine automatically switches from fermenting to cooling.) Allow yogurt to chill for 8 to 12 hours. Stir well and serve, or store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
If using an electric pressure cooker, whisk together probiotics with milk, and pour mixture into Mason jars. (It will not matter how many jars you use or how full the jars are, as long as they all fit into the pressure cooking pot.) Place jars, all uncovered, into the pot. Lock lid in place. Select the Yogurt setting, and allow fermentation to take place for a full 8 hours. After fermentation is complete, carefully remove lid. Refrigerate yogurt for 8 to 12 hours. Stir well and serve, or store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
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* NOTE: I recommend using a vegan probiotic, available in capsules in the refrigerated supplements section of larger grocery stores or specialty health food stores. I use Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic made by Renew Life, with 50 billion cultures per capsule. You can use one with less cultures, in which case you will just need to use more capsules.