About two years ago, my doctor recommended that I start eating plain, unsweetened yogurt for digestive health. As a vegan who is allergic to dairy products, this was easier said than done. After several days of research, I found that my options were exactly two–and neither was easy to find. I eventually was able to order one brand by the case at my local health food store.
Then, this May, my favorite (only) brand was unavailable. After having my order delayed for several weeks, I learned that the company had production problems after a move. And, then a month later, they announced there would be no yogurt until the end of the year.
I did some research and found I had no options. I could buy sweetened plain vegan yogurt or nothing at all. I was frustrated as this is a pattern that has repeated through out my life with chronic illness. I find products I like that my digestive tract can tolerate and they stop making them.
The only other option left was to make it myself. I don’t do much in the kitchen anymore. Standing for longer than 5 minutes sends shock waves through the soles of my feet. And, I don’t trust my arthritic hands with heavy pots or anything glass. But, I did some research anyway to see if it was within my abilities.
What I learned was it was easy and challenging all in one. Easy in that it was simply warming up soy milk and cultures in a pot and putting it in the oven to incubate. Difficult in that the temperatures must be just right or the batch fails. And, I read about a lot of failures on the web!
In the end, I decided, “What the Heck!”. I bought some cultures recommended by one vegan blogger, bought a candy thermometer and oven gauge, and set out to make yogurt.
That was July. Since then, I have made a batch every week. And, every batch has turned out fantastic! It took a few tries to get the incubation time down right so the yogurt was thick and just the right amount of sour. But, I got it eventually.
I’ve also figured out how to do the set up, cooking, and clean up with minimal foot abuse. The most difficult part for me is the washing up. You have to either sterilize or wash your cooking utensils prior to use. Then, you have to wash them when you’re done (obviously…LOL) This is the part that just kills my feet. I’ve learned to wash everything in the morning, let my feet rest, then make my yogurt in the evening. It incubates overnight in the oven which is perfect since it’s ready when I get up in the morning.
I have to tell you I was nervous before trying. I am leery to attempt anything in the kitchen that involves standing and handling glass jars. I heard of people’s failures and found that soy milk could be testy when it came to making yogurt. But, I tried anyway, and now I’m glad I did. It saves me about $1.50 per quart to make soy yogurt myself. That in itself makes it worthwhile. If I find the right sized plastic containers, I might try freezing it. That would allow me to make a double batch. I wouldn’t have to make it every week.
It reminds me of something that I’ve learned over and over with digestive issues. Sometimes the only way to get something you can eat is to make it yourself.
Here’s one of my batches of homemade vegan yogurt…
If you’re interested in the process, I’ve written about it: How to Make Dairy Free Yogurt