We eat a lot of yogurt. Breakfast on the daily. A lot of curries and Indian food. Smoothies. And mid-afternoon snacks. Our greyt boy enjoys a dollop now and then on his kibble, too.
The funny thing is, we didn’t eat much of it before we went vegan. And just the thought of the yogurt that we did eat back then makes me shudder now. Seriously, you non-vegans should check out the ingredient list on the container of your favorite commercial yogurt. Go on, I’ll wait.
Okay, there is the obvious dairy milk (or “pus juice”) ingredient. Did you know that the FDA allows combined milk (or “bulk tank” milk) to be sold to consumers even if as much as 2/3 of the dairy herd is suffering from udder infections? And how does a body fight infection? White blood cells, or “pus”, and it’s in the milk that you drink (or eat as ice cream, yogurt, cheese, etc.). Ugh! I could go on and on, but I won’t (you are welcome!). I’m not a fan of PETA, but they do have a lot of good information on the subject, if you can stomach it.
What else is in commercial yogurt besides milk? Commercial yogurt usually has gelatin among its ingredients, which is used as a thickener. Gelatin is the end product of boiling animal skin, tendons, bones, hooves, etc. from the same animals that spent their lives in factory farms being pumped full of antibiotics and pesticides and growth-inducing hormones. Sounds yummy, huh?
Do you typically prefer berry-flavored yogurts? As in red berries? Look closely at that label: I’ll bet it lists “carmine” or “cochineal” or “carminic acid” or “Natural Red 4” in its ingredients. Yeah, it’s “natural” all right: the aforementioned “natural” red food colorings are derived from crushed Cochineal beetles. Seriously, when did it become too much trouble to just add real fruit to yogurt?!
Okay, back to homemade soy yogurt. I was timid when I started out because I really didn’t know what the “H” I was doing. I ordered a small batch yogurt maker, a yogurt thermometer and vegan yogurt starter (it took a few days of research to figure that part out) and I learned how to make homemade soy yogurt. I consulted the two masters: FatFree Vegan Kitchen and Bryanna Clark Grogan and I became a yogurt master myself. And suddenly, the family was eating yogurt, a lot of yogurt. To keep up with the demand, I upgraded to a 2-quart yogurt maker and now I use it once a week. Sometimes I can go as long as 10 days, but that’s unusual.
We eat it most mornings for breakfast with fruit–real fruit–sans the smashed bug juice. I love it with homemade lemon curd (the store-bought variety always has eggs and/or cream in it) swirled into the yogurt. J loves it with homemade granola; it’s his daily breakfast. And, of course, it’s a staple ingredient of the Superfood Smoothie. It makes a great travel parfait cup, too.
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Homemade Soy Yogurt
Makes 2 quarts
4 cups (1 quart) room temperature soymilk, unopened
4 cups (1 quart) cold (refrigerated) soymilk, unopened
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1-1/2 teaspoons agar powder
1/8 teaspoon dairy-free yogurt culture – I use GI ProStart (or 1/2 cup plain unflavored soy yogurt with live culture in it)
It’s a good idea to sterilize everything that will come into contact with the yogurt ingredients before starting the process. Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil and scald the following utensils with boiling water using a sturdy pair of tongs: the yogurt thermometer, a large and a mini whisk, a small and a mini spatula, a 1-cup measuring glass, an 8-cup measuring glass, the necessary measuring cups and spoons, a large saucepan and the yogurt maker container and lid. Place all the items on a clean towel to dry.
Pour 1/4 cup of the room temperature soy milk into the 1-cup measuring glass and set aside.
In the 8-cup measuring glass, whisk together 1 cup of the cold soymilk with the tapioca flour and the agar powder until it is all dissolved. Whisk in the remaining (3 and 3/4 cups) room temperature soymilk until it is smooth.
Place the thermometer on the side of the saucepan (allow some clearance, don’t let it touch the bottom of the pan) and place the pan on the burner. Turn the heat on to medium-high (#7 on the gas dial) and pour the soymilk mixture into the pan and cook, stirring constantly but not vigorously, until it is thickened and remains at 180 degrees after being whisked. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner.
Whisk in the remaining (3 cups) cold soymilk, but don’t make it too frothy. Let it cool to between 110 and 115 degrees F.
In the 1-cup measuring glass, whisk the dried yogurt culture (or reserved soy yogurt starter) with the reserved 1/4 cup room temperature soymilk until smooth. When the soymilk temperature is between 110 and 115 degrees F, whisk the culture/starter into the soymilk.
Pour the soymilk into the 2-quart container and place in the yogurt maker with the lid placed loosely on it. Place the cover on the yogurt maker and incubate for at least 10 hours; 12 is best (note the time). Take care not to jostle the machine while it’s in use.
At the end of the incubation cycle, place the lid securely on the container and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours before eating. I make the yogurt in the morning, let it incubate all day, place it in the refrigerator at bedtime and it’s ready for breakfast the next day. Before serving the yogurt the first time, blot any excess moisture/condensation off the top of the yogurt with a paper towel and whisk well.
Optional if yogurt starter isn’t available: to start the next batch, reserve 1/2 cup of the prepared yogurt; bring it to room temperature before using. I haven’t done this myself, but I understand that it is possible to do this a few times before needing a fresh starter.