Save Lots Of Money By Learning How To Make Vegan Yogurt Yourself
In this day where fast food and nutritionally deficient snacks abound anywhere food is sold, finding a quick, healthy and satisfying alternative that won’t break your bank can be quite challenging.
Moreover, if you have lactose intolerance or you simply prefer eating nondairy foods for other reasons, your challenge becomes even more difficult. I have a solution that may interest you. Allow me to show you the basics of how to make vegan yogurt.
I’m quite sure you’ll be amazed, like I was, about how easy it is. In fact, with four busy children, a limited income and a husband who is on the road almost every day, it’s important to me to supply them with inexpensive yet healthy foods so that they can keep their bodies strong and energetic.
Fiber-rich vegan yogurt is the answer. So, the next time you’re out in the stores, and you’re tempted to buy some of that fancy and expensive brand-name yogurt, stop and think about how much money you can save by making your own.
Besides savoring the rich, full taste of your own homemade vegan yogurt, you might also enjoy the kudos you’ll get from your family and friends!
1. The Equipment
The equipment you need will include:
- A large pot ( for sterilizing your tools )
- A 2-quart pot ( for heating your milk )
- A medium-size bowl ( to combine your ingredients )
- A measuring cup ( for measuring your milk or water )
- Powdered milk
- Starter yogurt
- A mixing spoon ( to blend in your starter and thickerner )
- A whisk ( for blending all the ingredients )
- A precise food thermometer
- A covered casserole dish / an earthenware bowl with a lid / a large insulated thermos
The precise food thermometer is to make sure your milk mixture stays a consistent temperature. Lastly, depending on how you want to incubate your yogurt, you will need a covered casserole dish, an earthenware bowl with a lid or a large insulated thermos.
2. The Ingredients
The ingredients required to make vegan yogurt include 4 cups of your choice of these types of nondairy milks (you can also blend several together):
- Cashew milk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk
- Sunflower seed milk, raw nut milk from hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts
- Macadamias, Brazil nuts or pecans
You will also need one package of plain gelatin or fruit pectin to thicken your yogurt. I found that you can use 1 teaspoon of powdered agar or 2 tablespoons of semolina, which is cream of wheat.
Plus, you can use your choice of one package of yogurt starter or culture or 1/2 cup of fresh, unflavored yogurt such as soy yogurt. Be sure that the yogurt has cultures in it.
Choosing you Method
1. Making Your Vegan Yogurt With Powdered Milk
If you want to make your vegan yogurt with dry nondairy milk, you can just substitute the water for mostly any type of dry milk. I like this way because you always have the milk you need on hand, and it won’t go bad.
You’ll need 4 cups of water that have been heated up to 115 F and 2 1/3 cups of powdered nondairy milk such as coconut, rice, almond and soy milk. You’ll also need a quarter cup of fresh unflavored yogurt of your choice or one package yogurt starter.
2. Taking a Shortcut: Using a Yogurt Maker
While you can make a successful batch of your own vegan yogurt by following my steps below, another alternative is to purchase a yogurt maker. They are inexpensive and easy to use.
Some yogurt makers come with individual containers with lids while others have one single compartment. With the convenience of a yogurt maker, you can rest assured that you’ll end up with a perfect batch of delicious yogurt every time because the maker consistently keeps the ingredients incubated at an even temperature.
3. The Old-Fashioned Method
If you don't want to buy a yogurt maker, a thermos with a tight seal, a casserole dish and an earthenware bowl all make great yogurt makers. The key is to keep your yogurt undisturbed and at the same temperature for several hours.
Since the earthenware bowl retains heat well, it can be placed in the oven to stay warm. You might think this way sounds complicated; however, many people have successfully made yogurt with their ovens to avoid buying yogurt makers.
As for the casserole dish, you can wrap it up in a towel and place it in a warm spot in your kitchen. Likewise, because insulated thermoses keep foods hot or warm for hours on their own, they make fantastic yogurt makers, and you can use any size you wish.
4. Use Your Crock-Pot to Make Yogurt
I found out that you can put that old Crock-Pot to good use as a yogurt maker! Mostly every household owns one, and the directions are fairly easy.
- Using a 2-quart Crock-Pot that has been sterilized, pour in 8 cups of your vegan milk and turn it on low for two-and-a-half hours.
- Then, turn it off, unplug it and let the milk cool for 3 hours.
- At this point, take 2 cups of the warmed milk and pour it into a sterile bowl.
- Thoroughly blend in your starter yogurt or package of culture and put the mixture back into the Crock-Pot.
- Put the lid on the Crock-Pot and cover it with a large, thick towel for extra insulation.
- That’s it! Your yogurt should be ready overnight, or in about eight to 12 hours.
Making Vegan Yogurt - Step by Step
Now, here is the actual yogurt making process in easy, step-by-step instructions:
Step 1 - Sterilization
Begin by taking your half cup of yogurt out of your refrigerator and letting it get to room temperature. Then, gather all of your cooking equipment and wash everything in warm, soapy water.
For best results, you should also sterilize these items by placing them in a big pot of boiling water for one minute. If you’ll be using a thermos to make your yogurt, carefully pour the boiling water into it, and let it sit for a few minutes.
Sterilization will ensure that both your cooking equipment and your yogurt will be free from harmful bacteria. A dirty spoon or bowl could affect the taste of the finished yogurt as well.
Step 2 - Start Boiling Milk
Now you are ready to start making your yogurt. Put your milk into your pot and heat it to the boiling point of 212 F. This step not only destroys any bacteria lingering in the milk, but it also provides a sterile medium for the yogurt culture to grow.
If you’re using powdered nondairy milk, boil the water in place of the milk and continue to the next step.
Step 3 - Cool Down
Let the milk cool down to lukewarm, which is about 115 F on your food thermometer. You can tell it is cool enough if you put a drop of it on your wrist and it no longer feels hot.
Do this step for the boiled water, and when it is cooled, pour the water into the medium-size bowl with the powdered milk and mix thoroughly. You do not need to sterilize powdered milk.
Step 4 - Adding the Important Stuff
Add in your package of yogurt starter or the room-temperature yogurt and mix well. At this point, you can also add in the thickener of your choice and let it sit for a few minutes to soften, according to the package directions.
Note that some thickening agents must be added to the milk prior to heating it.
Step 5 - Mix Like Crazy
Make sure there are no lumps in your yogurt mixture by completely stirring it with a wooden spoon or whisk. It is very important that the culture is completely combined with the milk and that your mixture is nice and smooth.
You can also pour the mixture through a strainer into the container you’ll be using to incubate the yogurt so that you can catch any lumps.
Step 6 - Time to Incubate
Yogurt in an Eathenware Bowl
Transfer your batch of yogurt mixture into the container of your choice. If you want to use an earthenware bowl for your vegan yogurt experiment, you will need an accurate oven thermometer to ensure your yogurt stays at the right temperature.
After placing your yogurt mix in your earthenware bowl, cover it and put it in your oven. Slowly heat the mixture until it reaches 120 F.
Once it gets to this temperature, turn the oven off and let it cool down gradually to 90 F. Then, try to keep the yogurt between 90 and 105 F.
You might need to reheat the oven after 2 or 3 hours before the yogurt gets to the consistency you like. This method could take up to 6 hours before the yogurt gets thick.
Yogurt in a Thermos
If you want a simpler and more reliable method to make your yogurt, pour it into a large, insulated thermos and tightly seal it. A large thermos with a big mouth works well, but you can also use any type you wish as long as it is insulated.
If the opening is narrow, use a funnel to make it easier to fill. Then, carefully place the thermos where it will not be disturbed for 4 to 6 hours.
Covered Dish Special
Making your yogurt in a covered casserole dish is similar to using a thermos, but you must find a warm place to keep it, such as on top of a radiator or by another source of heat. However, the area should not exceed 115 F.
Prior to using the dish, warm it up for a few minutes in a hot oven or under hot water. Once you put your yogurt into the warm dish, put the lid on and wrap it in a thick towel.
It can sit for about 6 hours or overnight. Making yogurt this way typically takes about 24 hours and takes some practice to get right.
If you prefer to use a yogurt maker, you will have wonderful vegan yogurt in a matter of 4 hours, depending on the type of machine you have.
After pouring your yogurt into the machine, make sure it is in a place where it won’t be disturbed. While some yogurt makers automatically shut off when the yogurt is done, some do not, so you'll have to keep an eye on it.
Step 7 - Get It Chilled
To see if your yogurt is done, carefully and gently tilt the container, making sure not to jar the contents. The yogurt is finished when it has the consistency of heavy cream; otherwise, if it appears thin, it will need some more time to incubate. When your yogurt is solid enough for your liking, refrigerate it right away.
When your batch of yogurt is completely chilled, usually in about 6 hours, go ahead and indulge! Eat it plain, beef it up with a topping of granola or mix in your favorite fruit.
Similarly, the yogurt will make a marvelous topping on your breakfast cereal or as a side dish with pancakes and waffles. You can also freeze it for a special summertime treat or add it into your favorite smoothie recipe.
While it may be difficult, try your utmost to save about a cup of your delicious finished yogurt to use as a starter in a fresh batch.
Pro Tips From the Experts
1 - Do Not Disturb Your Milk While Incubating
To achieve success when making your vegan yogurt, the yogurt experts will tell you not to disturb your milk mixture while it is incubating. This is because just a few bumps or tilts can cause the curd to separate from the whey just as it does with cottage cheese.
When this happens, the yogurt will not have a smooth and creamy texture but a lumpy and watery one that is similar to cottage cheese. While this is fine to eat, it won’t taste as good.
2 - Watch The Temperature
However, if your hopeful batch of yogurt still failed to resemble yogurt and you don’t know why, I may know the answer: The yogurt was either too cold or became too hot.
Yogurt is made when the bacteria it contains is able to grow. If your yogurt gets cold, this good bacteria is unable to grow. On the other hand, if the mixture is too hot, the bacteria will likely be killed. Should this happen to you, simply add more starter to your mix, increase the incubation time or adjust the temperature.
3 - Check Your Yogurt Starter
If you still cannot come up with that perfect batch of yogurt, a third reason may be because your milk or yogurt starter was not fresh. The fresher your starter product is, the quicker it will incubate and vice versa.
Therefore, the next time you try your hand at homemade vegan yogurt, make sure your starter is no more than 5 days old. Moreover, if you used a pure yogurt culture in your milk mixture, it usually takes more time to thicken than if you used prepared yogurt in your recipe. You can learn more about at Choosing A Yogurt Starter.
Start Making Vegan Yogurt Today!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to make vegan yogurt. Whether you’re a veteran at cooking and baking or just starting out, you'll find that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to make your own yogurt.
When I made my first batch of yogurt in a couple years ago, it turned out quite well, so I naturally kept doing it. However, I could have used some of these tips back then to solve some of my yogurt-making troubles.
My goal for this article is to help you make successful vegan yogurt every time. If not, you can always turn to a convenient yogurt maker.
Please let me know in the comments section about your vegan yogurt experiences and pass along my tips to others who may benefit from them.Enter your text here...