Homemade Vegan Yogurt
Vegan + Probiotic + Gluten Free
Making vegan yogurt at home doesn't have to be complicated, but it is very different from traditional dairy yogurt. The process for making thick and creamy vegan yogurt is definitely more intensive than just popping a probiotic capsule into some coconut milk and leaving it over night (if you saw that viral video that did this, it was a facade... trust me). Due to the nature of plant based milks and the microbiology of yogurt making, under no circumstances will plant based milks thicken into a yogurt like substance just by adding a culture and leaving it at room temperature. Cultured full fat coconut cream will be a semi-solid mass at room temperature, but plant based milks will not. Let me explain why:
Various probiotic bacteria play important roles in the production of yogurt. Most often species of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus are the microbes found in various types of yogurt. Specific types of yogurt, such as Greek and Belgian, are distinguished by the species of bacteria used to culture animal sourced milk into yogurt. When in animal sourced milk, the bacteria can use up lactose present for energy which produces a by product of lactic acid. Lactic acid build up in the milk causes the coagulation of milk proteins into a semi-solid mass and a drastic change in taste. However, lactic acid fermentation does not happen in dairy free/ vegan yogurt the way it happens in animal milks, because there is no lactose in plant sourced milks. Instead bacteria utilize other sugars and proteins for metabolism and reproduction. The bacteria still produce some acid in dairy free milk, so the flavor is lightly tart. However, plant based milks do not have the same proteins that coagulate in the presence of acid as in animal sourced milk. So a thickener must be used to create dairy-free yogurts. Our favorite thickener to use when making dairy free yogurt is Agar agar. Agar is vegan and it is made from a type of sea vegetable.
There are many plant sourced milks on the market, but from our findings, yogurt microbes prefer a few types more than others. The plant sourced milks that have worked the best with vegan starter cultures are soy milk, cashew milk and hemp milk. For this recipe and in these photos we used a mix of hemp milk and organic soy milk, and its by far the best vegan yogurt we've made! Feel free to use or blend any plant based milks to your liking for this recipe though. All plant based milks will work.
Cultures + Supplies
When culturing your milk into yogurt you have two options: Use a starter culture, or use already made vegan yogurt. We like the second option, because already made dairy-free yogurt is easily accessible from health food markets and at Whole Foods. If you prefer to use a starter culture you can order a high quality Vegan Starter Culture from Cultures for Health. You'll also need a yogurt maker, and we suggest this one.
- 1 Quart Soy, Hemp, Cashew or Coconut milk
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Agar Agar
- 2 Tablespoons of already made vegan yogurt, or a packet of starter culture.
- Allow your milk to temper to room temperature and pour it into a quart sized mason jar
- Gently set your room temperature jar of milk into a pot and add water around the jar until the jar is half way submerged. *Do not put a lid on the jar
- Stick a thermometer into the jar of milk and bring the water to a boil, continuously stirring the milk. Once the milk reaches a temperature of 82 degrees Celsius (180 F), throughly stir in the Agar. Continuously stir the milk and agar at 82 degrees for about 3 minutes.
- Keeping the thermometer in the milk, remove the jar of milk from the hot water. Let it cool to about 44 degrees Celsius (about 110 F) stirring the milk occasionally.
- Once your milk is cooled, you can add your starter culture or already made yogurt. It is best to dissolve dried cultures in a small amount of the cooled milk, then add it to the quart sized jar and stir. Dissolving the starter in a small amount of milk helps to prevent clumping and distributes the culture evenly throughout the milk. If you are using already prepared yogurt with live active cultures, just take a spoon full of that and stir it into the cooled milk.
- Once your milk is inoculated with probiotic microbes you are ready to incubate! Dispense the milk mixture into the clean jars for your yogurt maker. Be sure the lids are off, turn it on and let it incubate for 12-24 hours. If you prefer a more tart yogurt, let it incubate closer to 24 hours.
- When your yogurt is done incubating, put lids on and place in the refrigerator. Once cooled, flavor however you'd like and enjoy! Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Pinterest for yummy upcoming recipes using vegan yogurt!
Peace, Love and Probiotics,
Peace, Love & Probiotics