We’re going off topic today! After many, failed experiments, I wanted to share my perfected recipe for almond yogurt with some friends. So, I figured I should post it here for our readers as well! Seriously, I kid you not about the many failed experiments. It’s challenging to replicate some of our favourite dairy foods without dairy (I make fermented nut cheese too… but that’s for another day!).
I tried many times to make a soy yogurt from homemade soy milk and not once did it work. I feel a bit sick about all the ingredients that wound up in the garbage or went down the sink. So, now that this one works consistently, obviously I’m excited to share it!
The video above was actually my inspiration. But I still had to finesse the recipe a bit for it to work well for me. Here is what I do and some of the tips I learned along the way…Easy, never fail almond yogurt recipe:Step 1:
Don’t start with almond milk, but rather with raw almonds. Almond milk often contains preservatives, which will deter your culture. And, don’t go substituting with just any other nuts or seeds. Some work some don’t. Walnuts definitely go rancid! Tried that! I read that macadamia and hazelnuts work, though I haven’t tried.
So, the first step is to soak your almonds. Craig gives a terrific tip in this video. Soak them for 24 hours. Sprouting would be way less. But for yogurt, this allows the almonds to absorb more water allowing for a smoother blend.
Use a lot of water. It should look like the water more than doubled the volume in your bowl.
Be sure to use filtered water here. If you don’t, you will inadvertently kill off that lovely culture you are trying to encourage with the chlorine from the water. Yes, I learned the hard way!
Rinse the almonds well and discard the water the almonds soaked in. There are difficult to digest materials in that water. It’s done.
Now you need to blend the almonds with water. Again, use filtered. The amount depends on the consistency you’re looking for. If you like it a bit watery, go for one to one almonds to water. A bit thicker works for me.
Now, I tried doing this part in a blender or food processor and ran into issues. The food processor drips liquid all over the place and both only got the almonds as far as a crumb state. But with a high speed blender I was able to get a really fine grind. Honestly, the difference is so key that the final product didn’t really taste like yogurt and was a bit like eating a drink with crumbs in it. Not enjoyable at all. If you don’t have a high speed blender, make your yogurt with a friend that does! Worth it.
I use the smoothie cycle on the Vitamix and get a good result. But I find that it helps to start with a small amount of almonds and a lot of water. Go one round and then add the rest. This way you have a starter liquid which facilitates the blending process.
My favourite thing about this recipe is the fact that it actually works!! My second favourite thing was totally inspired by Craig in the video above. This recipe literally only uses 3 ingredients – almonds, water and probiotics. Also, there’s no waste. We use the whole almond, No cheesecloth. No mess. And you don’t have to go to the trouble of scouring the city for vegan yogurt starter. They exist. But they are hard to find. Yes, I did that too! And I have found I get a better result with a probiotic supplement.
So, step 4 is just to open and pour contents of a few capsules of probiotics into your blended concoction. Mix well with a wooden or stainless steel spoon. I have been using 1 capsule to 1 cup of almonds and it’s been working. The supplement I use, CYTO-MATRIX, Multi Strain II, is from my naturopath, so I’m not sure if this is easily available at retail. If not, I would suggest starting with a recommended brand for a quality strain of probiotics.
I use a pyrex or glass bowl. It must be very clean. Remember you’re culturing a bacteria here. Avoid metal and plastic at this stage. And leave it uncovered in the oven. Yes, I tried both and uncovered is better!
If you want it sweet, adding honey or sugar should be fine at this stage. I make mine plain so I can go savory or sweet as I wish when I want to eat some. Plus that’s the other benefit to making this homemade. Plain dairy-free yogurt is harder to find at retail.
But don’t add any other ingredients at this stage, as they may interfere with the culturing process. I read somewhere that adding salt (even sea salt) can interfere. When I stopped adding it the results improved.
Culture the yogurt. So, the instructions on the starter packages all say that 108 degrees Fahrenheit is the magic temperature for yogurt to culture. But I have found that it really depends on your oven. I consistently killed my culture dead at 108 (sad but true). So, I experimented a bunch of times (told you!) at different temperatures and finally landed on 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But the interesting finding was that, with my oven, it worked much better if I left the convection on (which, honestly was a total accident!). I leave the yogurt to culture overnight. Try not to leave it longer than 8 or 9 hours, as it may ‘overcook’ which changes its nature.
I actually tried culturing on the counter, as opposed to in the oven, as Craig does in the video. It just didn’t do much.
Of course, if you have a yogurt maker, you can avoid all this guess work! Just use that!
Wake up with anticipation! You will literally smell your yogurt before you even open the over door!!
Give it a good mix, as the water tends to separate, and taste! Then refrigerate.
You will notice that your yogurt has a natural, pleasing thickness to it. It’s really a food and not a thin liquid like some of the other dairy-free yogurts out there. This is because we used the whole almond and its natural fiber content has created a thickening effect without the need for other ingredients.
Your yogurt will continue to ferment as it sits in the fridge. I’ve kept it a while, just to see how long it would last. After about two weeks, it tasted a bit more like sour cream. But unlike the packaged yogurts, there was no mold growing on it.
Yes, there’s a step 7! Now that you’ve successfully made almond yogurt, you can use your yogurt as a starter for your next batch. I haven’t done this for more than one or two rounds. But I have read that three might be the limit. I save about a cup for 3 cups of almonds and it’s worked.
Since the yogurt continues to culture as it sits in the fridge, I am careful about never introducing any other ingredients or elements into the yogurt bowl. But I have repackaged it into Tupperware when I refrigerated it and it seemed fine.
Enjoy!! And please feel free to share your pictures and success stories!