Make Your Own Almond Yoghurt

Thick, Homemade Almond Yoghurt

I think these are the longest recipe notes I’ve ever written! I wanted to capture everything I’ve learned about making almond yoghurt so that you can enjoy making it for yourself.

Almonds are one of the trickier dairy-free milks for making yoghurt, but given their health benefits which include useful amounts of calcium, it’s worth persisting once you are confident with your yoghurt-making method.

I have made a lot of yoghurt in pursuit of the perfect recipe. It always cultured, but sometimes it was very thin. We used those batches up in smoothies and as a probiotic drink. Sometimes a lot of whey will separate out. The whey is nutritious and can be stirred back in or poured off after chilling and used in cooking. So don’t despair if you have the occasional ‘miss’!

So why are almonds so tricky to make into yoghurt?

Non-dairy milks have a different fat-protein-carbohydrate profile to dairy milk, which results in a less thick and creamy yoghurt. So to help the almond milk along, the recipe includes a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey to feed the bacteria.

Store-bought almond milk contains very few almonds and often contains additives that make it trickier to use. So this recipe includes making your own almond milk. It is so delicious and creamy compared to shop bought almond milk and hugely improves your chances of a good finished yoghurt.

Using a vegan yogurt starter culture

Yoghurt is made with two distinct cultures, the bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.  So, ordinary probiotic capsules probably won’t contain the right strain of bacteria to use in yoghurt-making. However, dairy-free yoghurt cultures are available on Amazon. 

Even with the extra sugar in the form of honey or syrup, the resulting yoghurt will be thinner compared to dairy alternatives.  Vegan starter cultures are direct-set, single-use cultures, and need a thickening step, included below.

Thickening the yoghurt

My preferred route to thickening the yoghurt is to strain it.  I also heat the milk before using. Heating the milk denatures the proteins, allowing them to form a stronger network when exposed to acid – like the lactic acid produced by the yoghurt culture bacteria. Heat the milk gently to 70 C and maintain the temp for 20-30 minutes.

Other options

Using an ingredient to thicken:

Pectin – the type used here is citrus origin low-methoxyl, or calcium-activated. We are using the natural calcium content of the almonds to activate it.  Allow ¼ tsp pectin per 500ml almond milk and add with the sweetener. Boil for 30 seconds to activate the pectin, and then cool before adding your culture.

Tapioca starch – is easily obtained and gives a smooth texture. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of tapioca starch per 500ml of almond milk at the same time as the sweetener. Heat whilst whisking continuously until the mixture is thick and glossy. Allow to cool before adding cultures.

Agar and arrowroot are both also widely used, but I’m not so keen on the finished textures.

Other thickening techniques:

Refrigeration – setting in the fridge overnight is essential.

Combining – for the health benefits of almond yoghurt but the thickest natural texture, try swapping out half of the almond milk with coconut milk from a can. The extra fat really helps the set.

Instructions

Make Your Almond Milk

  1. Soak 1 cup of almonds in plenty of water for 24 hours
  2. Drain and rinse well
  3. Blend in a Nutribullet or other highspeed blender with 2 cups of filtered water.
  4. Using a nut milk bag, squeeze the mixture into a container. You will be left with about 500ml of really delicious almond milk.

Make Your Yoghurt

Ingredients

  • 500ml homemade almond milk
  • 1 sachet of starter culture
  • 1 tablespoon honey, brown rice syrup or maple syrup

Method

  1. Slowly heat the milk to 70 C and simmer at that temperature for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Allow to cool to 40 C and then whisk in the culture and syrup or honey.
  3. Maintain at 40 C for a minimum of 8 hours, up to 24 hours for a tangier taste.
  4. Refrigerate overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours.
  5. Place a strainer lined with 2 layers of cheesecloth over a large bowl.
  6. Place the yoghurt in your lined strainer and allow to drip through for 2 hours.
  7. Scoop the yoghurt into a container and refrigerate until needed.
  8. Reserve the whey – it is rich in healthy bacteria. I like to use it in place of water or rejuvelac in homemade vegan cheese.

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