Yogurt is a healthy and delicious treat with numerous benefits to those who eat it. High in probiotics that boost digestive health, as well as protein and calcium for muscle repair and strong bone growth, yogurt is one of the best foods you can eat. In fact, there’s even evidence to suggest yogurt eaters are healthier on average than people who don’t regularly consume yogurt.
The best part about yogurt, though, is how easy it is to make at home. Not only that, recipes can be easily modified to include whatever you like. In this case, we’ll be covering how to make soy yogurt entirely from scratch. Whether you’re vegan and don’t partake in dairy products or just looking for a change of pace, this tangy treat is sure to be exactly what you need for your yogurt fix. We’ll be adapting a recipe found on FermentationRecipes.com with our own added twists and tips to show you how it’s done.
It’s incredibly easy to make your own soy yogurt, as there are only two essential ingredients in the whole affair. In order to create the thick and creamy yogurt you’re familiar with, you’ll need four cups of soy milk and half a cup of a live bacterial culture. You can find the culture sold in powder packets or, if you don’t feel like tracking those down/can’t find any, prepackaged non-dairy yogurt works just fine. If you choose to use homemade soy milk instead of store bought, too, you’ll need a cup of dry soybeans, three tablespoons of your favorite sugar or natural sweetener, and a quart of water. Any flavor additives you wish to put into the finished product also need to be collected.
Making Soy Milk
If you’re planning to use store bought soy milk, you can skip this section, though yogurt made from milk you cooked yourself usually tastes better despite the extra work. First, add soy beans to a sauce pot with enough water to cover and simmer for two hours on low heat. While some recipes recommend simply soaking the beans, simmering them helps to draw out more flavor and produces a better texture. If you prefer, though, soaking will still work fine.
After two hours pass, drain and rinse the beans in cold water and leave them to set for a few minutes. This shocks the beans and gives the skins a chance to separate from the beans, after which you can peel off easily by rubbing the beans between your hands while in the water. Just rinse out the skins from the water bath and drain again. It’s okay if there are still some pieces of skin left on the beans.
Once drained, place the beans into a blender with your quart of water and sweetener and blend until the mixture becomes thick and creamy. Strain through a nutmilk bag or cheesecloth into a container, squeezing the solids collected by the sieve to extract as much milk as possible. You can keep this in the fridge for up to a week until you’re ready to use it.
Making the Yogurt
The first thing you’ll need to do is preheat your oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit. You won’t be cooking the yogurt at this temperature, but the oven must be very hot to start with. After it reaches temperature for two minutes, turn the oven off completely. As the oven heats up, place four cups of your fresh soy milk into a clean pot and heat it on medium low temperature until it reaches about 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it reaches temperature, pour into a bowl large enough to comfortably mix things into it.
Once the warm soy milk is in the bowl, combine it with your yogurt or bacterial starter and mix well. If you haven’t overheated the milk, you should see bubbles starting to form quickly as the bacteria grows. If the bubbles are slow or nonexistent, your milk was likely too warm and killed the bacteria.
At this step, you can also add in any flavorings you’d like. Vanilla bean is a popular choice, though chocolate or fresh fruit juice is also an option. Flavor the yogurt to taste (literally), but try not to overpower the natural yogurt itself.
(A note on tasting: Always clean the spoon after you’ve licked it, as placing a dirty spoon back in the yogurt could introduce harmful bacteria into the mixture.)
Once the oven has come to temperature and been turned off, place your bowl of yogurt mix into the oven (you can also transfer portions of the yogurt into individual containers if you prefer). Let it sit like that for four hours or overnight to allow the bacteria a chance to grow in a warm environment.
After the first warming period, remove your yogurt from the oven and bring it back to 400 degrees before repeating the process for another four hours. Once you successfully complete this second cycle, taste the yogurt and see what needs to be added. Sweeter yogurt will benefit from additional sugar, while tarter yogurt can be made with another trip through the warming cycle.
Once you’re satisfied with the taste, allow the yogurt to cool down to room temperature and chill it in the fridge.
Time to Dig In
You’ve successfully made your own soy yogurt, and it wasn’t even that hard. As a final tip, remember that the bacteria in yogurt is still alive even after the heating cycles. Allowing the yogurt to cool before covering it and placing it in the fridge slows down bacterial reproduction, whereas immediately covering and chilling will allow the environment within the container to cool outward to inward, potentially leading to tarter or more sour flavors in areas. However you like your yogurt, though, it’s sure to taste even better knowing you made it yourself.