If you’re reading this article, then you probably don’t need to be convinced of all of the health benefits of eating yogurt, such as providing nutrients, aiding digestion, balancing the bacteria in the gut, and a yummy snack. Homemade vegan yogurt is also easy to make with lots of ways to experiment with fun flavors.
Yogurt is really just fermented milk, with a few bells and whistles added for extra flavor like vanilla, cinnamon, or sweeteners. The process is simple, essentially heating the milk to pasteurize it before adding fermenting culture to convert the milk sugars into lactic acid. Then eat!
Here’s an overview of the process.
- Pasteurize the milk to remove any potentially contaminating bacterium that might interfere with the probiotics fermenting process. This is typically down at high heat of 185°F (85°C) for 30 minutes or at 203°F (95°C) for 10 minutes. The heat also enables the proteins to stabilize into a more solid form to prevent water separation later.
- Homogenize is mixing the milk after heating to create a smooth even blend.
- Cool the milk down to 108°F (42°C) which is the ideal temperature for the fermenting culture to work, any hotter would destroy the culture.
- Add Starter Culture either using a starter culture mix or probiotics, stirring into the cooled milk.
- Ferment maintaining a constant temperature of 108°F (42°C) while the bacteria are digesting the sugars and converting them to lactic acid. This process can take 8-12 hours.
- Chill the yogurt to 7°C to stop the fermentation process.
- Add Flavors/Sweeteners such as vanilla extract, cinnamon, maple syrup or other flavors, or fruit. source
- Probiotics should contain 100 billion “live, active, cultures”, including L. acidophilus and L. Bifidus cultures
- Milk 1 unsweetened milk carton (946 ml/ 32 oz/ 4½ cups) (soy, coconut, almond, rice) cans of coconut milk or 2 nos 14 oz. Or make your own milk, see our article on how to affordably make your own milk, it’s easier than you think and healthy as does not contain all of the additives that even alternative milks like almond milk have.
- Vegan Yogurt Starter (optional) this is a supplement to the probiotics if they are not strong enough to survive the refrigerator
- Thickener (optional) Agar agar or Tapioca Starch or coconut meat can be added to the yogurt mix to thicken it.. Other options to thicken the yogurt if desired is to skim the cream off the top of a chilled can of coconut milk, or strain it through a cheesecloth.
- Sweetener/Flavors you can add pinch of vanilla bean, cinnamon, maple syrup, raw honey or a sweetener like stevia.
You can follow the instructions below precisely using a candy thermometer or can do by feel. The most important thing to do when making yogurt is to maintain a sterile and clean environment including cooking utensils as any bacteria can spoil the batch. If your homemade vegan yogurt develops a pink or grey discoloration on its surface, that means it has been contaminated with bad bacteria. Do Not Eat!
- Warm the oven and sterilize the jars: Warm the oven to 110°F/43C, then turn off the heat and leave the light on to keep the oven warm. Fill the jar(s) you’ll use for storing the yogurt with boiling water to sterilize them.
- Pour the milk into a saucepan or large pot over medium-high heat. Gently stirring with a whisk continuously, warm the milk up until you see tiny little bubbles begin to rise in the milk, the thermometer should read 200F/93C. Whisk until the milk is smooth and uniform.
- Add the thickener can use either agar agar or tapioca starch.
- 2 tspn agar agar flakes sprinkle into the pot over the coconut milk but don’t stir, allow the flakes to melt together first, then turn the heat down and whisk occassionally until the flakes are dissolved, or
- 2 TB tapioca starch, scoop out roughly 1/3 cup of the coconut milk and transfer to a bowl with the starch. Whisk this together until the starch is dissolved, then pour back into the pot and whisk until the milk has thickened by the starch
- Cool the milk until it’s just warm to the touch, about 100°F.
- Add the probiotics: 4 capsuls. Open the capsule and pour the powdery contents over the milk (discard the capsule’s casing). Whisk. About 1 tspn of probiotic powder.
- Pour into oven-safe glass jar(s) with sealing lid (*avoid metal as it can react with the yogurt culture) and place into the oven. turn the oven light on to keep the environment warm. The oven light is enough to keep the oven warm enough for the yogurt to set, however, avoid the temptation to open the door as this will let out the warm air. If you are unsure if the oven is warm enough, wrap the jar in a towel but be sure the oven is turned off! Allow the yogurt to set for 8-12 hours.
- Chill the yogurt Place the set yogurt into the fridge and chill for at least 6 hours. Your homemade dairy-free yogurt will become thicker as it chills. The yogurt may have separated so you will need to stir the yogurt.
- Keep your homemade vegan yogurt refrigerated and use within 2 weeks.