For people with special dietary needs, grocery shopping can be expensive and, if you live in a smaller town, somewhat of a challenge. However there are some things like soy yogurt that you can make yourself at home!
Soy yogurt is actually not technically yogurt; that term only really applies to the traditional, dairy variety. The technical name for this substance is cultured soy milk. But I still call it soy yogurt!
As you may have guessed from the name, the main ingredient in any soy yogurt recipe is soy milk. It is possible to make your own, but you can also use store-bought soy milk. Any soy milk will work. I usually use a plain or original flavored soy milk and add my flavorings right before I eat it.
The other ingredient in soy yogurt is the one that makes the magic happen: the starter. You will need about 1/2 cup of cultured soy milk to use as this starter. Pick a plain, unflavored variety of cultured soy milk to use as your starter. When choosing your starter, read the package very carefully. It is imperative that you look for the phrase “live active cultures” in the ingredients or elsewhere. These are friendly bacteria that facilitate the transformation of the soy milk into a more solid state, and are also responsible for the digestive health benefits associated with eating yogurt.
The most important thing to know before you begin and to remember throughout the entire process is that you must take care not to get any other outside bacteria into the soy milk while it is thickening. Other bacteria will compete with your good bacteria and can easily spoil your entire batch of homemade soy yogurt. The best way to prevent this contamination from happening is to be rigorous about hand washing and to scald with boiling water any utensils and anything else that comes into contact with the yogurt. I recommend that you keep a pot boiling until you are done with your mixing and are ready to let it set.
There is no “right” way to make soy yogurt. Many conditions effect the way the bacteria multiply, such as heat and humidity. You will have to play around a bit and find what works best for you.
Take about 4 cups of room-temperature or slightly warmed soy milk and add your 1/2 cup of starter yogurt to it, mixing them together in a container with a lid such as a canning jar or other storage container. Be careful not to use soy milk that is hot, because the heat will kill the good bacteria. Use a sterilized whisk and beat the mixture together until the starter yogurt is well mixed into the soy milk.
Place the lid on your container and place it in a warm spot. The ideal spot is consistently about 100 degrees F, though a few degrees variance does not hurt your finished product. Remember, however, that the bacteria is still susceptible to dieing off in too hot of temperatures. Be careful not to let the mixture get above 120 degrees F!
The time it takes your soy yogurt to completely set will vary, but is usually between 6 and 8 hours. Check its progress after 4 or 5 hours to gauge how it is coming along, and continue to recheck every hour until it is completely set. This is much like checking to see if gelatin has set!
When it is ready, remove it from the warm spot and place it in the refrigerator for storage. If you wish to make another batch, you should keep aside 1/2 cup of your finished soy yogurt to use as a starter the next time around.
Remember that you will not succeed with every try. Even people who have been making their own soy yogurt for years have occasional failures. Don’t let discouragement stop you from trying again!