Homemade Vegan Yogurt [In The Crock-Pot]

August 24th, 2010 - filed under: The Food » Recipes

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Yogurt is an ancient wonderfood, brimming with beneficial bacteria to keep your gut running good ‘n healthy. But standard yogurt is made with dairy milks – blech – which contain hormones and carcinogens and acids and allergens and irritants. Oh my! But no worries, making your own alt yogurt is *super* easy and totally fun. It also saves a small fortune versus buying prepackaged products (which contain a slew of additives as well).

If you already have a yogurt maker you’re super stoked – and you can still use this recipe, but follow your machine’s directions when it comes time to culture. If you’re interested in making lots of yogurt at home, a yogurt maker may be a good investment for you. They’re really quite cheap – especially if you can find one secondhand (check Craigslist!).

But, a yogurt maker isn’t necessary! I make yogurt in my crock-pot, which is one machine that’s worth the money for all sorts of reasons. (I <3 my crock so much!) But even if you have neither a yogurt maker nor a crock-pot, you can *still* make yogurt at home! Just see the note at the end of this post.


Alright, yogurt time! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One batch of homemade alt milk (about 4 cups) (you can try subbing store bought – let me know how it goes)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons tapioca starch (available at health food stores, specialty shops, or ‘ethnic’ markets)
  • 1 tablespoon organic evaporated cane juice (or sugar; I’ve tried maple syrup with no luck)
  • Some sort of culture (If this is your first time you have three options: 1 tablespoon store bought non dairy yogurt, 1 non-dairy probiotic capsule (refrigerated only, as the shelf stable ones are not alive), or a non-dairy yogurt starter.) (Every time you make a batch of yogurt, save some of it to use as a starter for your next batch. this will save you a lot of money!)
  • A small pot
  • A candy thermometer
  • A slow cooker
  • Dish rags/towels and a large blanket



IMG_0493Step One
Pour the entire batch of alt milk into the pot, over medium heat. Whisk in the tapioca starch and the sugar. Allow the milk to heat slowly until it reaches 180º F, whisking frequently. Don’t let it boil!


IMG_0498Step Two
When it’s reached 180º remove it from heat. Give it a good whisk, cover it, and set aside to cool. It will take 1 or 2 hours to cool down completely. You may be tempted to expedite the process by putting it in the fridge but I don’t recommend this. It can lead to tapioca lumps! Stir every so often to help prevent the lumpies.

At this point, place your crock-pot in the center of a blanket or big towel and turn it on to ‘low’. Leave the crock-pot on with the lid off while the alt milk mix is cooling.

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Also, remove your starter, whatever it may be, from the fridge. You want it to be room temperature when you add it to the mix. I’ve tried various soy and coconut milk yogurts with equal success. Just make sure that whatever you use is plain, unpasteurized, and explicitly says “live active cultures”. If this is not your first batch of yogurt, you should be using the last few tablespoons of your previous batch!


IMG_0501Step Three
The mix needs to cool to below 110º F, but closer to 90º is better. If it’s too hot it will kill the starter cultures. When it has appropriately cooled, add your starter and whisk thoroughly to combine. Don’t add too much! More does NOT equal better – the bacteria need ‘room’ to grow. A full tablespoon of store bought yogurt or a few tablespoons of leftover homemade yogurt, or a single probiotic pill.


IMG_0509Step Four
Pour the entire mixture into a large glass jar. Cover with the lid but do not tighten it. It needs to be able to ‘breathe’.

Turn off and unplug the crock-pot. Wrap the jar in towels and put it in the crock-pot, put the lid on, and then wrap the whole shebang up tight in the blanket!

Now, leave it alone for a good 12-18 hours.


IMG_0512Step Five – Done!
You will know your yogurt has ‘yoged’ if it has a bit of a tang to it. The longer you let it culture, the more sour it gets. Be careful – it can get pretty sour! When it’s done transfer it to the fridge, without stirring or shaking, and let it set up in there for a few hours. It will thicken, but probably not as much as traditional yogurt.


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Yay! Enjoy your yogurt! It’s awesome straight up with fresh fruit or nuts, or you can use it to make all sorts of incredible dishes, like . . . dairy-esque dips and dressings, labneh, tzatziki, raita, mango lassi, or frozen yogurt! It’s also delicious in – you guessed it – green smoothies! (Am I predictable or what? Ha!)

So have fun playing with it – it’s just so good for you, you can’t go wrong!

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*** If you don’t want to use a yogurt maker or a crock-pot, you can try the heating pad method, or the cooler method

  • Deanna Smith7

    I probably overlooked it but do I turn the crock pot on for awhile until I put the jar of yogurt in it?

  • Deanna Smith7

    Geesh, never mind. I found out. Gee whiz!

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  • MomLadyOR

    Hi Sayward! Thank you for a great post. I’ve been making homemade crock-pot (yes, isn’t it the best!) yogurt for awhile now and then recently learned I’m allergic to cow milk! Argh… I tried someone else’s coconut milk recipe and didn’t like it. I’m planning on trying this tomorrow, but am curious, is there a reason (other than taste) for the sugar? I’d rather not add any sweetener if I don’t need to.

    Also, have you tried this in a bigger batch? I used to make a gallon at a time and I’d warm it in the crock-pot on low for 2 1/2 hrs, then cool for 3, add the culture and sit overnight. Wondering if you can do the same with this. I was thinking of heating the milk and then adding the tapioca after the 2 1/2 hrs. Guess if I like your way, I’ll play with it and give it a try.

    Thanks so much!!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    I have never made a bigger batch, but I’ve played around with it a lot and from my experience, it’s a fickle recipe that takes getting used to in your own kitchen with your own tools, etc. So try to just think of it as a rough guideline, and play around with it. ;-)

  • Dana Lynn

    Step Two

    When it’s reached 180º remove it from heat. Give it a good whisk, cover
    it, and set aside to cool. It will take 1 or 2 hours to cool down
    completely. You may be tempted to expedite the process by putting it in
    the fridge but I don’t recommend this. It can lead to tapioca lumps!
    Stir every so often to help prevent the lumpies.

    At this point, place your crock-pot in the center of a blanket or big
    towel and turn it on to ‘low’. Leave the crock-pot on with the lid off
    while the alt milk mix is cooling.

    OK SO I AM CONFUSED IN THIS STEP… after the cool down process I am going to put the crock pot on and wrap it in a blanket and then put the crock pot inside the heating base of the unit? Or are you telling me to wrap the container of the heated milk in the crock pot? Not sure what you are saying here??? And I was also wondering about no heating this at this point… but just putting the milk in, putting the probiotic powder in it and soaked cashews all together in my blendtec, no sugar, because I don’t want it sweet… or is the sugar to feed the bacteria? And then blending it all up fine then letting it sit out overnite, then put into the fridge? Do you think this would work?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    When I say “crock pot” I mean the whole thing, including the base. So you are going to put the base, with the crock in it, on a large blanket, and turn it on to low.

    The sugar is necessary to feed the bacteria. The finished product will not be sweet.

    You can play around with whatever methods you want – there are tons out there, so have at it! =)

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  • Bri

    Help! I keep trying to make yogurt out of almond milk but it splits every time, even using tapioca starch. Any suggestions?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    splits?

  • http://www.greenthickies.com/ Katherine Natalia

    Thank you, this is just what I’m looking for. I was wondering what happened when you used maple syrup instead of sugar? I don’t like using sugar in my recipes but would prefer something like date syrup. Would this ruin the yoghurt? Many thanks

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    It didn’t culture with the maple syrup – the bugs couldn’t eat it I guess. I know others have had luck with maple syrup though, so you’re welcome to try it!

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  • Red

    Do you think chia seeds could replace the tapioca starch since they get gelatinous in liquid?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    That’s an interesting idea! I’d say it’s definitely worth experimenting with.

  • Red

    Hey Sayward:) I tried using chia seeds instead of the tapioca starch and it is wonderful! It’s like a glass of tapioca because the seeds get a mucilagenous coating but the seed stays crunchy inside. I’m finding 1 drawback to making my own almond milk, since I make a batch every 3-4 days I run out of ways to use all the ground almonds,any ideas? I wonder if I can dry them on a cookie sheet in the oven to use as a replacement for some flour?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Yes, that’s exactly what you can do! I dried and used it in baking/raw cooking. Also makes great dog treats. There are lot of recipes if you google around for “almond pulp” or “nut pulp”.

  • emmalisa

    im planning on trying your lovely recipe this weekend, but I was very intrested in trying a raw version too. could you please tip me on where to find blog entries or links on how to do this process without the cooking? Thank you so much!

  • sylvieanne79

    I can’t find tapioca starch, so this is awesome!! How much did you use?

  • Joanna

    Can you use any type of non-dairy? I avoid soy because it is genetically modified and full of toxins. Does coconut milk work?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Yes, as I posted here, I use almond – but any kind of nondairy will work!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Ah, I see you mean the yogurt starter not the milk. Yes you can use any non-dairy yogurt!

  • Jacki Blevins

    Honey isn’t vegan :)

  • Tim

    Full of toxins? Wha?

    And a huge portion of veg-marketed soy foods are organic or certified non-GMO.

  • alkaline98

    Sure it is. The bees collect flower nectar and cure it by removing the moisture, and honey is the end result. Honey isn’t an animal byproduct. Beekeepers take the excess that bees don’t need to survive.

  • kahlanpatel

    yes coconut milk works to

  • Jean

    I was under the impression that bees vomit the honey up? That sounds like a byproduct to me.

    I was also under the impression that the honey the bees produce for themselves gets taken and is replaced by inferior sugar. Also that it’s nigh on impossible to not crush some bees while you’re doing that.

    So….doesn’t sound vegan to me. Why even use honey, when you can use agave nectar?

  • Jean

    This is a great “hack” for making yogurt. I just got a yogurt making set for my birthday, so I’m looking forward to trying it out! I ordered a vegan starter, but there’s one thing here I’d like to find out. The site from which I ordered the starter advises that while you can take some of your previous batch for REGULAR (dairy) yogurt to start a new batch, it doesn’t work the same way for vegan yogurt:

    “Q. Why can’t I reculture yogurt made with non-dairy milk?

    A. Non-dairy milk is generally cultured using a direct-set starter. Please see previous question. Heirloom cultures consume lactose as their food source and cannot survive long term culturing alternative milk. A dairy mother culture must be maintained and used to culture the non-dairy milk. If you must be completely dairy free, the Vegan Yogurt Starter is your best choice.”

    I found this information here: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/yogurt-starter-frequently-asked-questions-faq

    I was just wondering, with your real-world experience, if you can shed any light on this? I gather that you *do* use a bit of the previous batch to start your next one.

    Thanks in advance for any answer!

  • Becky

    Hi – if I dont add tapioca starch do I still have to bring the milk to 180 degrees, or can I just start with 110 degree milk? Thanks!