Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Excellent Homemade Yogurt, the cheap & easy way

Maybe you have shed a few tears recently about the final demise of Whole Soy Yogurt. No doubt about it, it's a real shame to see such a wonderful family-owned vegan business go under. I was a big fan of their yogurt for many years. Back when they first had to take a long hiatus from yogurt-making, I finally got desperate, and figured out how to make my own yogurt. I first blogged about it back in February 2014. Since that time, my fridge has never been yogurt-less. I just keep using the last little bit of each batch to make the next, and by now I have some mad yogurt skillz.

you too can be a proud yogurt mama

Hearing all the sad-sackery about no more plain, unsweetened yogurt on the market... I decided it was a time for a detailed DIY post. As you may know, I make my yogurt following the recipe for Cashew Yogurt from "Artisan Vegan Cheese," by Miyoko Schinner. I LOVE this homemade yogurt so much. It's tart and thick and tangy and smooth and delicious. When I eat it for breakfast, I often add a bit of jam or fruit -- but since it's totally unsweetened, I can also use it all sorts of savory recipes with great success.

Plus, the best part is -- It doesn't require a yogurt maker or any fancy equipment (other than a cheap culinary thermometer). You'll need: a pot, a whisk, a blender, a thermometer, and some good sized jars for your yogurt. That's it! I got my thermometer for super cheap at the mainstream grocery store near my house, and it has served me well for years.

Happily, Miyoko has very graciously allowed me to share her yogurt recipe with all of you! 
Here's the recipe, and then I'll do a photo essay on how to do each step. 

Cashew Yogurt
shared with permission, from Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner
makes about 5 cups

4 cups plain or vanilla soy or almond milk (use plain if the aim is for savory recipes)
2/3 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 3 hours, then rinsed and drained
(for my take on this recipe, I've reduced the cashews to 1/2 cup per batch - partly to reduce the calories and also to reduce the sweetness of the cashew nuts in the final product)
3 tablespoons plain, unsweetened nondairy yogurt
(obviously, this is an issue, since such a thing doesn't readily exist on the market anymore. The very first batch I made, I used 3 Tbsp of store-bought plain, but sweetened, soy yogurt. Ever since then, I've just used the tail end of my previous batch of yogurt)

To make:
1. Process the Ingredients
Put 1 cup of the soy milk and the soaked & drained cashews into a blender and process until smooth and creamy.

2. Heat the soy milk
Transfer the blended mixture to a medium saucepan and stir in the remaining 3 cups of soy milk with a whisk. Warm over low heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture reaches a temperature of 110 degrees F or until a few drops placed on your wrist feel slightly warm. Remove from the heat.

3. Culture the yogurt
Add the nondairy yogurt and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour into a clean 1-quart glass jar and cover. Let rest in a warm place for 4-8 hours, until the yogurt has set and the desired degree of tartness has been achieved. Refrigerate the yogurt, it will thicken even more as it cools.

Now, a DIY Photo Essay, in case you are still feeling anxious about making your own yogurt. Hopefully this will convince you how easy it is:

Measure out your cashews
(I always make a double batch, because that way, I don't have to make it as often)

Soak the cashews for at least 3 hours, or up to 24 hours.
Drain and rinse them only when you are about to use them.

This is the soy milk I use for my yogurt
I like this milk because it is fortified with calcium and vitamins, and I like that. I'm pretty sure you could use any soymilk you fancy. I haven't tried it with almond milk. I don't eat loads of soy, and I like to use soy milk for my yogurt so that it will have a higher protein content. Otherwise, I usually drink plain almond milk.

Have your 3 Tbsp of plain (hopefully) unsweetened yogurt in a small bowl, measured out and ready-to-go, for when you'll need it later.
(or 6 Tbsp if you're making a double batch, like I am)

Pour the drained & soaked cashews into the blender with 1-1.5 cups soy milk
It's easier if you don't put in too much milk at this point -- you'll have an easier time getting a creamy result. Blend until the whole thing is smooth and creamy.

Pour your blended mix and all the remaining soy milk into a pot on the stove

 Put in your thermometer so that you can keep an eye on the temperature, and warm the mixture over low heat. Whisk it from time to time, until it reaches 110 degrees F.

Viola! 110 degrees F. 
Don't let it linger over the heat. Remove the pan from the hot burner.

Add in the pre-measured yogurt and whisk well to integrate it. 

My big, beautiful yogurt jars
Now, carefully pour the warm yogurt mixture into large, clean jars. I got these jars at the thrift store and they are great. The pouring process is a bit messy, and I couldn't do it and take a picture of it at the same time. You'll just have to figure it out. I trust you. 

 my low-tech method
Once my jars are filled, I seal them closed and I put them in the room-temp oven to set for 6-8 hours. I just figure that the residual warmth of the yogurt mixture gets trapped in the oven and is sufficient. It seems to work just fine! A few times I have preheated the oven to the lowest temp possible (175 F on my oven), and then left the door open to cool it off a bit before putting the jars in. Either way works great. I also usually turn the oven light on -- partly to remind me that the yogurt is in there, and also for the little bit of warmth it generates.

Now you have to go away and do other things for 6-8 hours. That's the hard part. Don't forget about your yogurt! Although, once I did forget about it until the next morning, and it was totally fine and I ate it anyway and it was good. So, this whole yogurt-making process is actually quite forgiving after all.

 Look at that!
After your 6-8 hour wait, you'll come back to discover beautiful, perfectly set plain, unsweetened soy yogurt in your very own kitchen. It's so awesome!

After this, the jars go into the fridge
The yogurt really does continue to set and become more tangy in the fridge. Sometimes a bit of liquid forms and I just pour it off - because I like thicker yogurt. If you like thinner yogurt, you could just stir the whole biz and re-integrate the liquid. 

In her cookbook, Miyoko says that the yogurt will last 1-2 weeks if kept in a covered container in the fridge. But, I must confess, I keep mine for much longer (4 weeks?), and it's just great. In fact, I love how it gets thicker and thicker as time goes on. 

So there you have it! 

I hope I've inspired you to try making your own yogurt at home. It turns out to be quite easy, with just a few minutes of active effort - and the yield is totally delicious homemade yogurt. Dry your eyes and get cooking! 


  1. I've been wanting to try this recipe for awhile! I need to get on that! Very sad about the loss of Whole Soy. Thankfully, the Farm in Summertown, TN (where my publisher is located!) makes and sells plain vegan soy yogurt. It's 3 hours away from Memphis, but I stock up when I'm visiting.

  2. I SO wish I liked yogurt. This sounds like such a fun thing to make! I may have to make some for my husband just for experiment's sake :-)

  3. I'm so excited to make this! I've been thinking of making my own yogurt for ages but a lot of recipes call for thickeners or just seem overly complicated.
    I'm the same, I mostly drink unsweetened almond milk but enjoy soy (or coconut) yogurt.
    We do have one variety of unsweetened soy yogurt here in England but it's still quite expensive to buy.

  4. Looks easy enough for me to give it a try! Thanks!

  5. I've tried three times now to make yogurt, once with this recipe and twice with a yogurt maker...Each time has meet with tears and disappointment when my milk yet again fails to turn into yogurt. Maybe I'll give it one more try...

  6. Ok, you've convinced me to give this another go!

  7. I am keen to try this recipe. We do have a plain unsweetened soy yoghurt here in Australia, but it is kind of horrible. In fact, vegan yoghurt in Australia is generally not that great. *sniffles* But if I could make my own then it could be tasty and I can do whatever I want with it. :)

  8. Ugh! I just picked up a big tub of Whole Soy Yogurt recently because it was on sale, and thought it was pretty dang good. Now I know why it was on sale. *sigh* I hate trying new things finding out they are going out of business.

  9. Homemade vegan yogurt is the best! I have recently finished recipe testing for Vegan Richa's new book and she has a yogurt recipe with an option to make your own yogurt starter using probiotic powder (or a capsule). I didn't try that version because I couldn't find any non-dairy probiotics (and I can get unsweetened coconut yogurt here). Richa's recipes are really reliable, so that's an option if plain vegan yogurt is not available :)

  10. Thank you for that very convincing post! I'm in the process of getting the equipment required to make yogurt (old yogurt maker, starter, etc.), but I also really want to try this one.

    Too bad for the lack of picture of the pooring process, he he he

    I really like the huge yogurt jars you use.

  11. Hi! I'm going to try this, it sounds great!

  12. I was devastated when Whole Soy closed down. So excited by your post that I bought a Vitamix and followed your instructions. Could not have been easier and the resulting yogurt is sublime - rich, thick and tangy. Thank you so much for your information and encouragement! One question - does this yogurt contain live cultures?

  13. Ok, I officially give up! Time after time, my yogurt just does not set up! Used my last precious Whole Soy yogurt last night to give this recipe one last try, and I have failed again! {sob!}

  14. Anonymous5:05 AM

    This has been so timely...I'd been mucking around with cashew yoghurt and not quite getting it right for the last few months. It wasn't far off this recipe, mine were coming out really runny....with this method, it's PERFECT. I can't get over how thick and creamy it is going. Thanks for sharing! I have been meaning to buy one of Miyoko's books for so long, have just ordered it after this success :D

  15. Anonymous5:09 AM

    My post stuffed up...hopefully this doesn't double. Thanks for sharing - so timely! I have been mucking around with a cashew yoghurt for a few months that just wasn't working - was so runny. This has worked PERFECTLY every time. So delicious and thick and creamy! I have been meaning to buy one of Miyoko's books for so long - have gone and purchased it after this success :D

  16. just wondering how long can i ferment my yogurt for without it going bad? its been out for 12 hours now and it still hasnt thickened past the point of being milkshake texture

  17. I already have Miyoko's book. Thanks for the post! You've given me confidence to get started making a tart plain yogurt for my Dutch husband. He's never been happy with plain yogurt in the USA even before we went vegan. Maybe this will be what he's been looking for! Thanks again, I'm going to soak my cashews right now!

  18. I cannot get mine to thicken. I followed the directions just as you did yours only I used her homemade almond milk recipe. Mine is barely thicker than the milk I started with. Any tips or advice on what might have gone wrong?


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