Contributing Monkie Sayward Rebhal
Published on November 12, 2012
Photographer: Sayward Rebhal
Yogurt is an ancient wonderfood, brimming with beneficial bacteria to keep your gut running good ‘n healthy. But standard yogurt is made with dairy milks – blech – which contain hormones and carcinogens and acids and allergens and irritants. Oh my! But no worries, making your own alt yogurt is *super* easy and totally fun. It also saves a small fortune versus buying prepackaged products (which contain a slew of additives as well).
If you already have a yogurt maker you’re super stoked – and you can still use this recipe, but follow your machine’s directions when it comes time to culture. If you’re interested in making lots of yogurt at home, a yogurt maker may be a good investment for you. They’re really quite cheap – especially if you can find one secondhand (check Craigslist!).
But, a yogurt maker isn’t necessary! I make yogurt in my crock-pot, which is one machine that’s worth the money for all sorts of reasons. (I <3 my crock so much!) But even if you have neither a yogurt maker nor a crock-pot, you can *still* make yogurt at home! Just see the note at the end of this post.
Alright, yogurt time! Here’s what you’ll need:
1. One batch of homemade nut or rice milk (about 4 cups) (you can try subbing store bought – let me know how it goes)
2. Two heaping tablespoons tapioca starch (available at health food stores, specialty shops, or ‘ethnic’ markets)
3. One tablespoon organic evaporated cane juice (or sugar; I’ve tried maple syrup with no luck)
4. Some sort of culture (If this is your first time you have three options: 1 tablespoon store bought non dairy yogurt, One non-dairy probiotic capsule (refrigerated only, as the shelf stable ones are not alive), or a non-dairy yogurt starter.) (Every time you make a batch of yogurt, save some of it to use as a starter for your next batch. this will save you a lot of money!)
5. A small pot
6. A candy thermometer
7. A slow cooker
8. Dish rags/towels and a large blanket
Step One: Pour the entire batch of alt milk into the pot, over medium heat. Whisk in the tapioca starch and the sugar. Allow the milk to heat slowly until it reaches 180º F, whisking frequently. Don’t let it boil!
Step Two: When it’s reached 180º remove it from heat. Give it a good whisk, cover it, and set aside to cool. It will take 1 or 2 hours to cool down completely. You may be tempted to expedite the process by putting it in the fridge but I don’t recommend this. It can lead to tapioca lumps! Stir every so often to help prevent the lumpies.
At this point, place your crock-pot in the center of a blanket or big towel and turn it on to ‘low’. Leave the crock-pot on with the lid off while the alt milk mix is cooling.
Also, remove your starter, whatever it may be, from the fridge. You want it to be room temperature when you add it to the mix. I’ve tried various soy and coconut milk yogurts with equal success. Just make sure that whatever you use is plain, unpasteurized, and explicitly says “live active cultures”. If this is not your first batch of yogurt, you should be using the last few tablespoons of your previous batch!
Step Three: The mix needs to cool to below 110º F, but closer to 90º is better. If it’s too hot it will kill the starter cultures. When it has appropriately cooled, add your starter and whisk thoroughly to combine. Don’t add too much! More does NOT equal better – the bacteria need ‘room’ to grow. A full tablespoon of store bought yogurt or a few tablespoons of leftover homemade yogurt, or a single probiotic pill.
Step Four: Pour the entire mixture into a large glass jar. Cover with the lid but do not tighten it. It needs to be able to ‘breathe’.
Turn off and unplug the crock-pot. Wrap the jar in towels and put it in the crock-pot, put the lid on, and then wrap the whole shebang up tight in the blanket! Now, leave it alone for a good 12-18 hours.
Step Five – Done!: You will know your yogurt has ‘yoged’ if it has a bit of a tang to it. The longer you let it culture, the more sour it gets. Be careful – it can get pretty sour! When it’s done transfer it to the fridge, without stirring or shaking, and let it set up in there for a few hours. It will thicken, but probably not as much as traditional yogurt.
Yay! Enjoy your yogurt! It’s awesome straight up with fresh fruit or nuts, or you can use it to make all sorts of incredible dishes, like . . . dairy-esque dips and dressings, labneh, tzatziki, raita, mango lassi, or frozen yogurt! It’s also delicious in – you guessed it – green smoothies! (Am I predictable or what? Ha!)
So have fun playing with it – it’s just so good for you, you can’t go wrong!