How to make yogurt and kefir with vegan milk?
Yogurt and kefir are dairy food/drinks made through the bacterial fermentation of milk, which is triggered by lacto bacteria (lacto from Latin=dairy milk). The whole milk coming from cows, sheep, goats, and especially buffalo, is the only medium that can deliver thick and nicely flavoured yogurt. This is due to the fact that whole milk can provide the ideal food and environment lacto bacteria needs – and this precisely why it is called “lacto” bacteria.
The only plant-derived milk exception here is Soy milk, free of preservatives and additives. This milk can deliver a thick substitute for yoghurt with a slightly “grassy” flavour, as described by some.
Almond and coconut milk, as well as oat milk, are actually water-based substances that look like milk, but are very far from real milk in terms of components because their content is more similar to that of juices. For example, they have a very low in fat content and because of this the yogurt substitute made from these milk types will not be thick at all. The coconut substitute for yogurt, however, can be creamy if you add the shreds of the coconut, which are great fat carriers. But, this is not applicable for almond and oats milk, which will certainly separate into whey and curds. The curds will have a creamy structure and grainy texture. So, how to prepare yogurt substitute with soy, almond, or coconut milk? Just follow the steps below:
1. Take 1 L of soy, almond, or coconut milk, made with freshly shredded coconut pulp, which is the main source of fats. Make sure they are all free of preservatives and additives;
2. Warm the chosen milk slightly until lukewarm and add a half of teaspoon of sugar;
3. Add the starter and mix well, then incubate in the yogurt maker;
4. Soy milk will set and thicken just like homemade dairy yogurt. Coconut milk will have a pleasant creamy consistency and a small liquid part. But, almond milk will separate into curds and whey;
5. At this stage, you can strain the whey and keep only the curds or mix the liquid with the curds. If you wish to add thickeners then this will be the right time to do it;
6. Finally, refrigerate the obtained product for a few hours to stop the fermentation.
You can ask HERE if you can make them just like the commercial substitutes. The answer is yes, but you will need to use the exact same thickeners, additives, or equipment to make it happen. And let’s be clear about it – the resulting product is not yogurt, but a substitute for yogurt. So, in case you are not using additives, thickeners, or equipment, you should not expect to obtain substitutes for yogurt made at commercial quality without their help.
Again, the exception is the soy substitute for yogurt – which will be really thick in texture and offer natural soy flavour. More than this, you can re-culture the soy substitute for yogurt by simply taking a few spoons from the first batch and mix it with soy milk again. Some people love it and some people hate it, but whatever the case, please do not blame the bacteria for that. Bacteria have no flavour so it is not responsible with how your yogurt or yogurt substitute will taste like.