Quarantine Comfort Food Recipes Tips from Janani

Homemade Vegan Yogurt – Instant Pot Version

Hi Vegetarian Carnivores! I know we all have our favorite foods- foods that are just nostalgic to us. For some people I know it is mac and cheese, or a really good PB&J. As a South Indian by heritage kind of gal, that food to me is yogurt. And no, I am not talking about the Yoplait high sugar nonsense. Sorry, not sorry. I am talking about fresh curd- thick, tart, and lip smacking good! So here I present to you, my homemade vegan yogurt, super simple and foolproof in the Instant Pot.

Yogurt is my life

Yogurt is literally the one thing I ate every single day when I was a child without complaining. I was a majorly picky eater and often refused everything except some yogurt and veggies. When I decided I was going vegan I easily substituted milk, cheese was a challenge but totally doable, but yogurt was incredibly difficult. I tried really very hard to find a non dairy yogurt in the store- I tried all the brands, researched the best recipes, and read all the vegan blogs before I found one that kind of makes sense. And from that, I adapted this masterpiece.

Here’s the problem though…

The issue with store bought yogurt is that it is too sweet. Yes, even the “plain and unflavored” varieties. It was really confusing to me until I ate a parfait one day with one of them and then it clicked! Yogurt, at least in the western world, was perceived as a sweet thing. That explained the fad of yogurt with fruits, parfaits, and other sugary foods. I knew that I wasn’t going to get the level of tartness with anything store bought so it was back to the basics with homemaking yogurt.

Requirements for homemaking yogurt…

I had never made yogurt before- at least the dairy kind. But with the help of my trusty Instant Pot and its own yogurt setting, I was ensured an ideal environment for my cultures. But beware that this process takes 14 hours, so I recommend you keep set it at 7 pm, so that at 9 am the next morning your Instant Pot frees up- or else it will be occupied all day and you can’t make anything in it (been there, done that!).

One more thing to keep in mind is the importance of the quality of milk you use. I was alerted to this by a few different blogs I read- it is important to use soy milk that has just soybeans, water, and maybe salt in the ingredients. Most soy milk has some kind of gum- gellan or xanthan gum. They are not bad ingredients and they’re not bad for you, but for the purposes of homemaking yogurt, I was lucky enough to avoid the disasters that other not so lucky people ahead of me unfortunately faced and had to waste entire batches of yogurt 🙁

I use the brand West Soy- I love them because they come in cardboard containers and they are shelf stable until opened. This means I can stock up on them in my pantry and open as needed without struggling to fit it all in my fridge- major benefit! But feel free to use anything that has just soybeans, water, and perhaps salt.

The general rundown

Here’s the general process. You’re going to heat up (preferably microwave at short intervals) the soymilk until it is warm. I know warm is a pretty generic term, but hear me out. You just want to kill off any bacteria causing impurities, but not kill the cultures. So it should be only warm and definitely nowhere near boiling when you put the cultures in. I like to microwave at 1 minute intervals and I find that 2 minutes is usually the sweet spot for warm enough but not culture-killing heat.

2 tablespoons of any unsweetened unflavored commercially available soy yogurt will do the trick. I know I said above that the commercial ones have taste, but since we are using such a small amount in comparison to the 32 oz of completely plain soymilk, the taste does not come through. Just be sure you make sure it is unsweetened and unflavored, or else you’ll get weird blueberry undertones, which you probably don’t want.

After microwaving, mix in the two tablespoons of yogurt and mix well. Put the container directly into the bottom of your Instant Pot- not on the rack. Do not add water to the bottom. It should be completely dry. Set the Instant Pot to sealing, and yogurt setting for 14 hours. Done! The entire prep work takes all of 3 minutes and then it’s just a waiting game.

A few notes.

  1. This process is an iterative process, meaning that each round gets better, thicker, and tastier. The very first time I made this, the yogurt was like a thick buttermilk and carried some raw soy flavor. It was not very good. But when I took some leftover yogurt from the not-so-good batch and did it again, the second round was noticeably better, and the round after that was super thick and tangy with almost no soy traces.
  2. What I have found is that if you leave the yogurt in the fridge for 2 weeks, it gets tangy enough to carry that taste over into the next round. I’ve been using that hack for the last so many rounds.
  3. Make sure you do not eat all of the yogurt. You want to leave 2-3 tablespoons worth at all times to serve as culture for the next batch. If you eat it all, you’re back to square one from the commercial yogurt and redoing all the culture work you previously did. So always keep some separate or eat until your container has a bit left on the bottom. It doesn’t need to be exact.
  4. While you are iterating and working on getting the taste ideal, I recommend tempering some mustard seeds, green chilis, curry leaves, and oil over the stove and adding that. It is a very common Indian spice addition to many dishes and gives the dish an oomph! It also works to mask any underlying undesirable taste. I don’t use it now that my culture is really good and the taste is identical to dairy yogurt, but I was doing that while I was perfecting it.

Ok so let’s get started! The ingredients are really very simple.

Ingredients

  1. 1 carton (32 oz) plain unsweetened soy yogurt
  2. 2 tablespoons culture (from store bought soy yogurt, or from your previous batch)

Instructions

  1. Pour your soy yogurt into a microwavable container that fits inside your Instant Pot too. Start at one minute intervals. Stir and check the heat with your finger- it should be warm and not hot. This does not have to be precise, it is just to remove any impurities that may preexist in the milk.
  2. Stir in the culture and mix until well combined.
  3. Put the container in the Instant Pot directly- not on the rack and with no water underneath.
  4. Set to sealing.
  5. Press Yogurt and go up to 14 hours.
  6. Enjoy and store for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

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