vegan • plant-based • dairy-free • sugar-free • gluten-free • low-carb • jump to the recipe

There’s always some controversy surrounding soy, and many people prefer to avoid it altogether. But on a plant-based diet, protein sources are valuable. Unless you have an intolerance or a related medical condition, you might consider including it in your diet:

  • in moderation
  • in organic (i.e. non-GMO) form
  • in fermented form

Further reading: Is soy bad for you, or good?


Why make your own?

Shop-bought soy yoghurt often has strange additives, and there’s no knowing what measures have been taken in processing to reduce antinutrientsMany recipes for homemade soy yoghurt use soy milk. Again, even if it doesn’t have any additives, there’s no knowing what’s been removed in processing, and – perhaps more to the point – what hasn’t.

Making your own soy yoghurt from scratch is a little time-consuming, but there are things you can do to help keep it simple. One time-saver (and mess-saver) with this recipe is that there’s no straining required. As long as you prepare the beans carefully, and make sure you blend them really thoroughly, the consistency should be just right. Admittedly it’s not quite as smooth as the sort you’d buy – there’s usually a little graininess – but it’s certainly rich and creamy.

This recipe makes just under a litre of yoghurt. If you like it a little thinner, add some extra water during blending. Depending on what you want to use it for, you can even make yoghurt milk by watering it down further.

Soy yoghurt is versatile and highly nutritious. Add it to smoothies, dollop it on fruit, sprinkle it with nuts and spices, use it to make tzatziki, or just eat it on its own.


What you’ll need

A starter culture

This recipe uses straightforward probiotic powder as a starter. You can buy it in sachet or capsule form – just pull the two sides of the shell apart and tip the powder into the mixture. You might see special vegan starter cultures on sale, but basically the active ingredient is lactobacillus, which is found in any probiotic supplement.

Lactobacillus has various different strains, each of which has its own health benefits. If you use a probiotic with several different strains, so much the better. The most important thing is that it’s still alive – usually that means keeping it refrigerated, and using it well within its date.

Don’t be put off by the ‘lacto’ part of the name – it’s just bacteria and doesn’t necessarily contain dairy. Some will be grown in a dairy environment though. If you’re not sure, check it says vegan on the packaging.

Ideally a yoghurt maker

A yoghurt maker is a very simple piece of kit. Basically all it does is keep ingredients at a stable temperature. Some allow you to adjust the temperature, and some have a timer. If not, it’ll be set to around 40°C (104°F) and will run for around 12 hours.

If you don’t have a yoghurt maker, you can just keep the mixture in a warm place like an airing cupboard. This may or may not work, as the range within which the bacteria are happy to grow is quite narrow (roughly 30-45°C or 86-113°F) but it’s worth experimenting. The ideal place could depend on the time of year, and the time it takes could vary too. Don’t leave it sitting around for too long, as it could grow unhelpful microbes rather than beneficial ones. If the mixture hasn’t soured significantly after 12 hours, it’s probably not going to, and should be discarded.

If you’re looking to buy a yoghurt maker, we recommend going for one with a single large container rather than lots of little cups, as that’s a more versatile setup. They usually come with a plastic tub, so either check it’s BPA-free, or use your own glass jar instead – glass is so much easier to keep clean. Also you can just lift the jar out of the machine when it’s done, leave it to cool and put it straight in the fridge to save on washing up. We use this machine by Lakeland, with a 945 ml Ball jar:


Organic soybeans

Preparation step 1: dehulling (or hulling)

By far the most daunting part of soybean preparation is dehulling. It’s important to get rid of the hulls as they’ll contain a lot of the antinutrients, and not much nutritional value – apart from a bit of fibre. Getting the hulls off is not so bad, but separating them from the beans is only for those with above-average patience and dexterity.

If you can only find whole beans (above left), you can get some tips on dehulling at Cultures for Health. We found massaging the skins off by hand to be the best way. You’ll need to soak them first in this case (see step 2 below).

We highly recommend buying them dehulled (above right). Organic ones are really hard to find in the UK, so we get ours sent from France. It’s absolutely worth the extra expense if you can manage it. The brand is Celnat, and they’re available from BienManger. The packet claims they’re actually grown in France, whereas many beans are grown in Asia, so that makes us feel a bit better about the extra transport cost to the planet 🙂


Soaking soybeans

Preparation step 2: soaking

We soak our soybeans in the yoghurt maker at 42°C (108°F), so as to further reduce antinutrients. We like to give them 24 hours, changing the water after 12. If you don’t have a yoghurt maker, just soak at room temperature or put them somewhere warm. In either case, ideally use filtered water, and add a tablespoon of accelerator such as whey, yoghurt, vinegar or lemon juice.

Hygiene is especially important for the whole process, as microbes love these mild temperatures. Ideally soak the beans in a glass jar with a good seal. Make sure the jar is carefully washed before use, either in a dishwasher or in very hot water – not boiling, as any sudden change in temperature could shatter the glass.


Organic soy yoghurt

Vegan Soy Yoghurt

Yields12 Servings

 165 g soy beans (dehulled and soaked as above)
 ¼ tsp probiotic powder (contents of 2 capsules)
 1 tbsp coconut oil (optional, for extra creaminess)
 1 tbsp vanilla essence (optional)

1

Have these handy:

  • A medium saucepan
  • A food processor or high speed blender
  • Filtered or bottled water
  • A litre storage jar (or equivalent smaller jars)

Ideally:

  • A yoghurt maker
  • A thermometer
2

Bring plenty of water to the boil in the saucepan and add the soaked beans. Boil rapidly for 20 minutes. Strain and rinse in cold water.

3

Put the beans in the blender (with the coconut oil if you're using it). Add filtered water up to the 750 ml mark. It's important to use filtered or bottled water, as the chlorine in tap water can affect fermentation. Blend at high speed for at least 5 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

4

As the mixture will probably be hot from blending, leave it to cool down to 40°C (104°F), or slightly warm to touch. Add the probiotics and blend again for a couple of seconds, or stir them in thoroughly.

5

Put the mixture in the yoghurt maker and leave it for 8-12 hours. When it's nicely sour to taste, it's done.

6

We like to add vanilla for extra flavour. We don't tend to use sweeteners, but if plain yoghurt is too sharp for your taste, you could add maple syrup, date syrup, agave or coconut nectar.

7

Once the yoghurt has cooled, keep it refrigerated in a sealed jar.

Ingredients

 165 g soy beans (dehulled and soaked as above)
 ¼ tsp probiotic powder (contents of 2 capsules)
 1 tbsp coconut oil (optional, for extra creaminess)
 1 tbsp vanilla essence (optional)

Directions

1

Have these handy:

  • A medium saucepan
  • A food processor or high speed blender
  • Filtered or bottled water
  • A litre storage jar (or equivalent smaller jars)

Ideally:

  • A yoghurt maker
  • A thermometer
2

Bring plenty of water to the boil in the saucepan and add the soaked beans. Boil rapidly for 20 minutes. Strain and rinse in cold water.

3

Put the beans in the blender (with the coconut oil if you're using it). Add filtered water up to the 750 ml mark. It's important to use filtered or bottled water, as the chlorine in tap water can affect fermentation. Blend at high speed for at least 5 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

4

As the mixture will probably be hot from blending, leave it to cool down to 40°C (104°F), or slightly warm to touch. Add the probiotics and blend again for a couple of seconds, or stir them in thoroughly.

5

Put the mixture in the yoghurt maker and leave it for 8-12 hours. When it's nicely sour to taste, it's done.

6

We like to add vanilla for extra flavour. We don't tend to use sweeteners, but if plain yoghurt is too sharp for your taste, you could add maple syrup, date syrup, agave or coconut nectar.

7

Once the yoghurt has cooled, keep it refrigerated in a sealed jar.

Vegan Soy Yoghurt


Storing soy yoghurt

Organic soy yoghurt

We can’t say for sure how long you can safely keep homemade soy yoghurt, but 5-7 days in the fridge should be fine. We regularly keep ours for a week or more and we’ve had no problems, but please use your own judgement. As with anything, if it starts to taste or look weird, don’t take any chances.

If you’re adding fruit, it’s best to do so when you serve it, rather than mixing it in when storing, as the fruit will not keep as well as the yoghurt.





Got any tips or questions of your own about soy yoghurt? Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

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