About a year ago, I had an urgent craving for plain, whole milk yogurt. I remember making a special trip to Whole Foods right before they closed; the craving was so intense that I just couldn't wait until the next day. I took it home and blissfully devoured it. The next day, I fed one tiny spoonful of that yogurt to Abiline, saw her entire body immediately break out in an angry, red rash, and that was it---that was my last carton of yogurt, ever. Since then, I have not craved dairy yogurt; I have found that once you stop eating dairy and get it out of your system, your body no longer wants it.
I started making my own non-dairy yogurt last summer since I wasn't happy with the price and very sweet flavor of So Delicious coconut milk yogurt. I have posted two yogurt recipes on my blog, which the kids and I have really enjoyed, but the texture was never thick like dairy yogurt, never quite what I wanted. I had been using xantham gum (before I knew it was corn-derived) to thicken the yogurt, as I had not had success with agar or various starches. Then it occurred to me this week, "Why don't I try combining agar powder AND tapioca starch?" So simple. So awesome. This is the real deal: non-dairy yogurt, as thick and creamy as that whole milk yogurt I once adored.
Equipment needed: medium-large sized pot, candy thermometer, large glass jar with lid and crockpot or a yogurt maker
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2 cups homemade oat milk (instructions below)
2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
1 heaping tsp. agar powder
2 Tbsp. already prepared plain yogurt, either store-bought or from your last batch of homemade
***Update! I just found this non-dairy yogurt starter at Whole Foods, and it worked great!
Notes on ingredients:
-I use homemade oat milk because I want to
make this more economical. I would think that you could use two cups of
your favorite non-dairy milk in place of the oat milk, but I am not
sure that you would get the exact same results. In my experience, if you want your yogurt to be tart, just be sure that the non-dairy milk you use does not have any added sugars.
-I use tapioca starch because it is more affordable than arrowroot, and my son is allergic to corn, so cornstarch is out. I do not know if another starch would yield the same results as the tapioca starch.
1. To make the oat milk, soak 1/2 cup steel cut oats (can use gluten-free, of course) in 2 cups of filtered water overnight. In the morning, pour the oats and water into your blender and blend for about a minute. Then strain the milk through a fine mesh sieve, squeezing the oat pulp as you go to get all of the creamy good stuff out. (I use the oat pulp in pancakes, muffins, etc.)
2. Pour the oat milk back into the blender along with the coconut milk, agar, and tapioca starch. Blend until thoroughly combined. Place the milk mixture into your pot and clip the candy thermometer to the side of the pot so that it
is touching the milk, not the bottom of the pan. Heat the mixture over high heat
until the thermometer reaches 185 degrees. This kills all of the
bacteria that you don't want to culture. Be sure to watch it so that it
doesn't boil over.
3. At this point, take the already prepared yogurt that you will use as a starter
culture out of the fridge. If you are using your crock-pot, warm it up
to 115. Take the pot off the heat and let the mixture cool until it
reaches between 120 and 115 degrees. Once the milk is the right temperature, stir in the starter culture yogurt and do one of the following so that the yogurt stays at 120-115 degrees for the full incubation period: 1) place
the mixture in a glass jar with the lid just placed on top, not screwed on,
and place it in the pre-heated crock-pot with the crock-pot lid on and a towel
wrapped around the jar; or 2) pour the mixture into your yogurt maker.
(I think it is worthwhile to just spend $30 on the yogurt maker; it reliably maintains the temperature with no fuss.) Allow the yogurt to incubate for 8-10 hours. The longer it sits, the tarter it
4. Once the yogurt is done, place it in the fridge for a few hours to cool
down. It will become very thick and almost solid. To get the desired texture, place the cold yogurt in a food processor (preferred) or blender and just blend for a few seconds to smooth it out. I like the yogurt just plain and tart, but if you want it sweeter, I think the best way is to just add a bit of stevia or maple syrup and a bit of vanilla or to swirl your favorite all-fruit jam into individual servings. If you add a bunch of liquid sweetener or fruit, this will water down the creaminess of the yogurt; it will still be good, but just not as thick.
This recipe is linked to Allergy-Friendly Lunchbox Love, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays ,Whole Foods Wednesdays, Wellness Weekend and Allergy-Friendly Friday.