Yogurt. I love it but have been so disappointed with the store-bought varieties of non-dairy yogurts. They are all full of thickeners, flavorings, additives and sugar, yuck! As you can see from the above photo, truly luscious, thick and creamy soy yogurt can be accomplished with no added thickeners. The process is an ancient one, and it is simply a method of sieving the whey from the yogurt to thicken it and the result is called labneh. Why commercial producers do not use this method to thicken non-dairy yogurt is beyond me. Maybe because it reduces in volume by about half, which would mean less product, and therefore, less profit. Just another very good reason to make your food from scratch!
Fig. 1: Sterilize glass jars with boiling water. Fig. 2: Heat soy milk to 110˚F and whisk in direct set vegan starter culture. Fig. 3: Pour soy milk-culture mixture into sterile jars and seal, then incubate for 8-24 hours. Fig. 4: Yogurt ready to be strained. Fig. 5: Strain yogurt through a coffee filter or cheesecloth lined sieve over a bowl. Fig 6: Fold coffee filter/cheesecloth over yogurt to protect it in the refrigerator. Fig. 7: Whey being strained from yogurt to transform it into labneh. Fig. 8: After whey is removed, yogurt is now labneh and is thick with a soft cheese-like consistency, and is ready for use.
Waiting is the hardest part….
Homemade Soy Yogurt & Labneh
- 2 glass quart-sized wide-mouth mason jars
- 2 plastic wide-mouth mason jar screw caps
- incubator--see details/options outlined below
- large coffee filter or cheesecloth
- 2 quarts 1/2 gallon unsweetened plain soymilk
- 1 packet of direct set vegan culture
- Heat 2 quarts of soy milk on medium heat in a saucepan until the temperature of the milk reaches 110˚F. Note: I measure out the milk in the jars before heating it, because a 1/2 gallon box of soy milk usually has a bit more milk in it than what fits in the jars, and I hate wasting anything! If the temperature of milk goes up above 110˚F, let it cool back down to 110˚F before adding starter culture.
- Once soy milk reaches 110˚F, remove from heat and whisk in the contents of the packet of starter culture. Quickly and carefully dump out the hot water from the jars and fill them with the cultured soy milk. You may want to use a ladle so you don't lose any milk when pouring.
- Seal jars with the sterilized plastic lids, but not too tightly.
- Incubate jars for anywhere from 8-24 hours until cultured soy milk is thickened to a yogurt consistency. Soy yogurt will look a bit clumpy and watery compared to store-bought yogurt, hence why I strain it to produce labneh.
- At this point you can refrigerate the yogurt or continue on to make labneh. See below...
- Place a sieve over a bowl and line it with a lightly dampened coffee filter or several layers of cheese cloth (or possibly a nut bag would work too). Note: Chemex style coffee filters are perfect for this because they unfold into a large square.
- Pour 1 quart of the yogurt into the coffee filter and you will immediately see the whey being sieved from the yogurt. I sieve 1 quart at a time but you could set up another sieving apparatus and do them simultaneously if you wish.
- Fold the edges of the coffee filter or layered cheesecloth over the top of yogurt and return it to the fridge to complete sieving. Pour off whey if it fills bowl enough to touch the sieve. Save whey for other uses if you wish (google it).
- Let it sieve for anywhere from 2-12 hours until desired consistency is reached.
- Transfer labneh to a bowl, using a rubber spatula to scrape off any labneh that sticks to the coffee filter. Labneh will still look a little clumpy at this point. Whisk labneh until it is smooth if you wish to eliminate clumps. The clumps melt right out in your mouth but may not look as appealing as when whisked smooth. Enjoy!