YogurtNest UK Vegan Week Day 1: How to make Soya Yoghurt

Welcome to the first post of our 2020 Vegan Week. In response to the frequent questions we receive about how best to use a YogurtNest for making dairy-free recipes we thought it would be nice to try to answer your queries, provide some simple tips and set you up for making tasty yoghurt. 

We're going to start with Soya Yoghurt, for which the process is not too dissimilar to making a dairy yoghurt, just there's an additional step involving the use a thickening agent. Dairy milks deliver a higher fat content that increases the thickness of your homemade yoghurt, so most plant-based recipes (there are some alternatives) will require this. That said, if you like a looser consistency or want to make a yoghurt drink, then you may not need a thickener. Regardless of the thickness, you will still get the benefit of the live bacteria which will have incubated properly when in the YogurtNest.

First you need to choose your soya milk and starter cultures. For the milk you want something with the least additives you can find, so we chose Tesco Unsweetened Organic Soya Drink, which is about as basic as it comes. For the starter we used Alpro Plain soya yoghurt but you could also simply use a live starter culture sachet, just as long as whatever you use contains S. thermophilus and L. bulgaricus live cultures. Be sure to check the ingredients as some cultures are derived from milk and may not necessarily be vegan friendly.

We made three different versions, each with a different thickening agent, just to show the results. Here's how we did it:

Before we start, make sure all of your utensils, jars, spoons and accessories are clean. As with any yoghurt making, foreign bactieria, yeast from bread making and other things from around the kitchen can influence the success of your recipe.

Guar Gum:
Guar gum can be a tricky ingredient to get to grips with since it's a more powerful thickening agent and requires much smaller quantities. It reacts quickly so you need to be whisking constantly while it dissolves.

Method:

  • Pour the desired amount of milk into a saucepan.
  • With a whisk at the ready, sprinkle a teaspoon of guar gum (per 300ml of liquid) over the cold milk and start mixing.
  • The milk will start to thicken after about 20 seconds, once the gum has dissolved.
  • If you want a thicker consistency you can add more, but do so sparingly, bit by bit.
  • Now heat the milk to 50 degrees (no more) and transfer it to your chosen jar.
  • Add your starter cultures (a teaspoon if using live yoghurt), close the lid of your jar and place it in your YogurtNest for at least 6 hours.

It's worth pointing out that guar gum can have a distinctive taste that isn't necessarily to everyone's liking, so it's worth testing and experimenting with adding different fruits and flavours after the yoghurt has incubated in the YogurtNest. You can buy guar gum easily online.

Arrowroot Starch:
Arrowroot Starch or Ground Arrowroot can be found in the baking section of most supermarkets and generally comes in 8g sachets, but can also be purchased in bulk from places like Holland and Barrett. 

Method:

  • Pour your milk into a saucepan.
  • Dissolve a sachet of arrowroot in a couple of tablespoons of milk.
  • Pour the dissolved arrowroot into the saucepan and heat to about 70 degrees.
  • Pour into a chosen jar and leave to cool back to between 45 and 50 degrees.
  • Add your starter cultures (a teaspoon if using live yoghurt), close the lid of your jar and place it in your YogurtNest for at least 6 hours.

soya yoghurt with arrowroot starch

Corn flour:
If you've ever made custard then this is pretty easy. Corn flour probably offers the easiest manipulation of thickness, but be aware that it will thicken further in the fridge after leaving the YogurtNest and can turn a little bit 'blancmange' in texture if you add too much. 

Method:

  • Pour your milk into a saucepan
  • Dissolve the corn flour in a few tablespoons of milk - roughly 1 tablespoon per 300ml, although you can obviously adjust to your own preference. And you can add more milk or corn flour whilst heating in order to get the desired consistency, just make sure you keep stirring throughout!
  • Heat the milk to boiling point, stirring constantly. It will thicken most as it approaches boiling.
  • Transfer to a jar and leave to cool back to between 45 and 50 degrees. As it cools it is likely to develop a skin so give it a stir.
  • Add your starter cultures (a teaspoon if using live yoghurt), close the lid of your jar and place it in your YogurtNest for at least 6 hours.

soya yoghurt with corn flour close up

Whichever your choice of thickener a soya yoghurt gives a great canvas for adding flavours and other textures. Pictured here is the yoghurt thickened with corn flour to which we added a sprinkle of organic cold milled flaxseed, a drizzle or organic agave nectar and a few summer berries picked from the garden.
 Soya yoghurt with flaxseed loganberries and agave nectar

Homemade Soya yoghurt with loganberries