Swirled with vanilla extract and agave nectar.
I love DIY living; it’s so very liberating. When I saw a post by SusanV on Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen about homemade yogurt, I was so down! (In a good way, of course.) It became my latest mission (a.k.a. obsession), and in a couple of days I had procured all the necessary ingredients.
Cooking different kinds of foods puts you in different frames of mind, ya know? Like, baking fresh bread might remind you of being in an Italian village, or making an apple pie might make you feel all domestic. Well, making your own soy yogurt makes you feel like a hippie on a commune and a 4th grader doing a science project at the same time! It’s amazing, the way the yogurt is transformed after 6 hours of incubation, with the bacteria cultures all multiplying and making the yogurt tangy and such. It’s way cool.
I’m really pleased with the way the flavor of the yogurt came out: tangy like plain dairy yogurt. Commercial soy yogurt never has that. (Granted, I’ve only tried two brands. While Silk soy yogurt is creamy and tasty without the tang, WholeSoy yogurt is just plain bland, with very little flavor whatsoever.) The homemade yogurt tastes really great with some agave nectar and just a bit of vanilla. My mom also recently bought a huge bag of organic frozen mixed berries, so I suspect those will be added in as well.
The texture was kind of mystifying at first, though. SusanV uses 1 teaspoon of agar powder to thicken her yogurt, and she says it’s a bit runny. Agar flakes were all I could find at Whole Foods; however, I read on the original soy yogurt tutorial, by Bryanna Clark Grogan, that you can sub 2 tablespoons of agar flakes for 1 teaspoon of agar powder, so substitute I did. When it came out of the fridge after chilling for a few hours, it was way thick, and when I broke it up with a fork, it disintegrated into little chunks, kind of like tofu. But then I whizzed it up in a food processor, and the texture was perfect, just like silk.
But regardless of all this, I think everybody should be more connected to the food they eat. If you think so too, then you should really try this.
*Note: I’m just recording here the method I used to make my soy yogurt. You can find multiple variations and alterations both at the original tutorial and at SusanV’s site. The original tutorial is especially helpful when trying to figure out a method for incubating the yogurt. Good luck!
Bring 1/2 c. plain soy yogurt to room temperature.
Put a pot of water on to boil. Meanwhile, gather the materials that you’ll need:
*two large spoons
*whisk (or hand blender)
*food thermometer (got me a candy thermometer at the grocery for $2.50!)
*1 measuring teaspoon
*agar-agar flakes OR powder
*1 quart plain soymilk (SoyDream is a popular choice here)
*large metal thermos
When the pot of water comes to a boil, scald the entire dinner plate with the boiling water (either dunk it in the pot or put in in a large bowl and cover it in water). Then scald the spoons, whisk, saucepan, food thermometer, and tablespoon. A pair of tongs is handy for this job. Place all of these items (excluding the saucepan) on the scalded plate. Also, fill your fancy metal thermos with boiling water, cap it, and let it warm for 10 minutes. The science of yogurt is intentionally growing probiotic bacteria, but you need to sterilize all your equipment so that you don’t have any unwanted mystery bacteria gettin’ busy in your food.
Turn on the light in your oven (but nothing else!). The gentle warmth provided by this light, as well as the temperature stability and consistency of the oven, is perfect for incubating yogurt.
Pour half of the soymilk into the saucepan and sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons agar flakes (OR 1 teaspoon agar powder). Let it soften for a few minutes. Then cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly but not vigorously, until the mixture is thickened and glossy.
Stir in the remaining soymilk. Stick the thermometer in the mixture and wait for the temperature to come down to 115F, stirring ocassionally to keep the agar from gelling.
When the temp comes down to 115F, add the 1/2 c. soy yogurt. Whisk it into the mix very well.
Pour out the water from your metal thermos and pour in the soymilk mixture. Screw the cap on tightly and wrap in a towel. Place it in your oven-with-the-light-on.
Check the yogurt after 5 or 6 hours for the desired level of tartness that you want. Be forewarned: when you first open that thermos, the smell is gonna be straight buttermilk, so you need to taste before judging it. Also remember that it’s going to be tangy, not like eating Silk vanilla straight from a plastic little cup. Incubation could take up to 12 hours, so wrap it back up and put it in the oven if it’s not done.
When it seems tangy enough, remove the thermos from the oven and pour the contents into an airtight container. Make sure that you don’t forget any clumps of culture on the sides of the thermos: that there is valuable probiotics, and you don’t wanna be missin’ out on them. Give everything one final vigorous whisk, seal up the container, and stick it in the fridge for several hours, until it’s completely chilled.
If, when it’s all chilled, it’s not as smooth as you like, or it’s too thick, try blending it up in a food processor or blender for a bit. If you used agar flakes, you probably will; if you used agar powder, you probably won’t.
Don’t forget to save 1/2 c. of yogurt to use as your next starter!
Doctor your yogurt up with sugar, jam, fruit, agave nectar, vanilla/other extracts, or anything you’d like.