Recipe: Soy Milk Yogurt (Vegan)

I grew up in an Armenian household.  Although we are Armenian Americans, my parents raised us to keep our language and our culture alive.  Along with that were the music, arts, and cooking of our people.  One of the things I remember distinctly about my childhood was that my mother would make yogurt nearly every Saturday.  We always had yogurt in the house, plain, custardy.  I used to love eating mine for breakfast with piece of toast in it along with sugar and cinnamon.

There were no fancy yogurt makers back then.  Nor were there all the varieties and flavors of yogurt that there are today.  The Armenian way was to keep a little bit of the old batch of yogurt.  Heat a quart of milk in a corningware covered dish.  Scald the milk but don’t let it boil.  And when you could dip your pinky into it and have it feel like it was luke warm, you would add your starter, stir, cover, wrap in a towel and put the whole thing on my stove top, preferable over the pilot light for the good 8 hours and you had yogurt.

We also held the religious traditions of our Armenian Orthodoxy.  During the lenten season we give up all meat and animal products for 40 days.  This allows us to live simply and focus on the goodness life has to offer.  My past lenten experiences were what paved the way to my vegetarianism…and later veganism today.  I never found the 40 days to be all that difficult.  And as I grew up and started trying to live a more peaceful existence, I decided to go plant based.

Giving up meat was not a big deal.  But one thing that I truly missed was yogurt.  Creamy, tart, plain.  So I started experimenting.   I’ve tried using almond and coconut milks, but the most successful yogurt I have made to date is using Organic Soy Milk.  Whereas the other plant-based yogurt results were hit-or-miss, I continue to get successful results usng soy milk, so I thought I’d share the recipe.

Anush’s Essential Soy Milk Yogurt

What you’ll need:

  • 1 carton Organic Soy Milk – one quart.  I use Westsoy because the only ingredients are soybeans and water.  No fillers or additives.
  • A food or candy thermometer
  • Vegan Yogurt Culture.  I buy this online from Cultures For Health, a great site for learning how to make cultured and fermented foods.
  • Either a 1 quart mason/ball jar or 4 eight-ounce jam jars with lids
  • Just a small amount of sugar (like a 1/2 tsp to feed the culture)
  • A crock pot or something to keep the yogurt warm in.  Even a heating pad will do.

Start off by making sure that your jars are clean.  Wash in warm, soapy water or run them through the dishwasher.  Turn on your crockpot on to high.   Pour your soy milk into a clean saucepan.  Put your thermometer on the side of the pan and heat the milk to 160 degrees.  Once it’s at the right temperature, turn off the flame and allow it to cool.

Once the temp reads 110 degrees it’s time to add your starter.  Do this by putting some of the warm milk in a small bowl (about a 1/2 cup) and then adding in the contents of one of the culture packets.  Stir it in, and then add that 1/2 cup plus the 1/2 tsp of sugar into your warm milk, and stir.

Fill your jar/jars with the soy milk mixture.  Your crock pot should be hot by now.  Turn it off.   Put a hot pad on the bottom of your crock and then line the inside of the pot with a dishtowel.  Put your jars into the crockput, cover with the towel, put the lid on and then leave it for 6-8 hours to incubate.  The longer you leave it, the more tart the taste.  I like it around 6 -7 hours.  Once the time is up, you carefully remove it from the crock and you’ll notice that it should be set…in other words, a small tip of the jar is going to show a thick, custardy yogurt that is no longer thin like milk.  Refrigerate andr use enjoy when cold.

Now let’s say you don’t have a crock pot.  You can put a heating pad into a shallow baking pan…turn it on, get it warm….turn it off.  Lay the jars on top of your heating pad and wrap the whole thing in a towel.  The reason to wrap is to keep it warm and insulated…keeping the warmth constant.  It’s important that your yogurt stays undisturbed during the incubation.

Serve with fruit and nuts/seeds or use as a milk substitute for cold cereal.  Makes 4 cups/1 quart.

Note:  I read that you cannot use plant-based yogurt starter from your previous batch as starter for your new batch.  I’ve tried it a couple times but was not successful…my yogurt just never set.  My results with the vegan yogurt starter have been consistent.  I’ve also read that some people have results using probiotic capsules (opened and the priobiotic sprinkled into the milk as culture too.)

As a 2x breast cancer survivor, I’m cautious on eating too much soy, so I’ll be experimenting with cashew milk next.  I’ll make sure to report my results.

I’d love to hear your your yogurt turned out and if you have any questions or comments just leave a comment below.