We talk a lot about non-dairy products, including yogurt. In last week’s post, I reviewed some commercially available yogurts. I wasn’t wild about some of them, mainly because of the sweetness. When I was searching for a non-dairy yogurt some years ago, I couldn’t find any that I could tolerate. My former hippie friend told me “If you can’t find it in the store, make it yourself.” I remember being flabbergasted at the notion of making my own yogurt, thinking “But I don’t have a yogurt maker, and I’m no longer a hippie!”
However, the drive for a good yogurt was enough to persuade me to at least give this recipe a try, and I’m so glad I did. To say it was a life-changer is neither hyperbole nor fake news. It’s true! For years, I ate breakfast at my desk. (I know it goes against the grain of mindful eating, but that’s how it was for me then…) Every working day, my breakfast was the same: plain unsweetened yogurt topped with raspberries and blueberries. I loved it. I looked forward to getting to the office so I could eat it! When dairy was no longer an option, I was stymied on several food fronts. This was several years ago and there weren’t as many non-dairy milk options as there are now (I’d never even heard of almond milk at the time!). Even drinking coffee was a bit of a challenge.
And as for my daily breakfast…I just didn’t know what to eat. Honestly, for the intervening years before I found this recipe, I have no idea what I ate for breakfast. But now I’m happily back to eating yogurt and berries just like before (with the addition of a few drops of bitters, some flaxseed, and a shake of cinnamon as well).
A word about the ingredients
The recipe calls for only three ingredients (four if you include the soaking water): soy milk, cashews (or cashew pieces), and probiotic powder. But each ingredient has specific requirements…
Soy milk: the milk should be organic, non-GMO, unsweetened, and full fat. (The fat helps to thicken the yogurt). I’ve tried this recipe with WestSoy Organic Unsweetened soy milk and with Trader Joe’s Organic Unsweetened soy milk, and have had success with both. But beware – if you use a different milk, make sure that it contains nothing except organic soybeans and water. I’ve been told that the recipe doesn’t work with milk that contains other ingredients.
Cashews: the nuts serve to thicken the yogurt without needing the addition of other commercial thickening agents. Buy organic, raw, and unsalted. Cashew pieces work just as well if you can find them and are usually more economical.
Probiotic powder: You can either use the contents of a probiotic capsule or loose probiotic powder. The probiotic bugs need to be lively for this recipe. I learned this lesson the hard way… Because I already had some probiotic capsules in the fridge, I wanted to use them rather than buy the loose probiotic powder. In my first batch, I used two capsules, but the yogurt was thin and insipid. I used three in the next batch but it wasn’t noticeably different. I used six capsules (!) in the next batch and thought I could see only the beginnings of a difference. So then I bought some fresh probiotic capsules and they made all the difference – I got thick, creamy, and tart yogurt!
Over time, and I don’t remember the reason if there was one, I’ve migrated to using a loose probiotic powder from Custom Probiotics, which I like very much. At approximately $1 per gram, it seems expensive at first sight…but since each batch of yogurt requires only 1 or 2 grams, one bottle lasts many months. I tend to use two slightly heaped scoops in each batch. The scoops are tiny (1 gram) so I probably use a little over two grams total – and even with making yogurt every ten days or so, one bottle lasts me almost 12 months. It’s worth every penny to me!
If you want to test this recipe without investing a lot of money, you could use a yogurt starter like the one Ruth uses in her two minutes, two ingredients yogurt. It’s super quick and easy to use.
A word about equipment
There’s no need to buy a yogurt maker, but if you already have one you can use it with this recipe. (I don’t have one.)
Temperature is a factor when making yogurt. If the yogurt gets too hot, it will kill the probiotic bugs. You can use a normal thermometer to keep the heat under control, or for around $16 you can buy this neat infrared thermometer. It makes temperature control really easy, and it’s fun to use around the house to see where the hot spots are!
I seriously love the yogurt that this recipe makes. It’s a big treat to sneak a spoonful in the afternoon. (I’m the only one in the house who eats it so it’s OK that I’m lifting it right out of the pot!) If you make it, I hope you like it too! Let us know what you think of it, especially if you try it with a different nut or milk variety.
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