Yoghurt is truly wonderful stuff. I still recall getting a tub of flavoured yoghurt as a treat as a kid and just loving it. In those days, it was all fruit pulp and sugar. Things are very different now, with supermarkets having a huge range of flavoured and unflavoured yoghurts to choose from. (In Australia, I think we have to give a big shout out to our Greek community for pushing things forward in this area). Still, similar to the hummus situation: such small tubs; such high cost.
The English-speaking world struggles with the word yoghurt. It’s apparently Turkish in origin and the way people say the word in English tends to fall into two camps: yo-gurt and yog-ert. I think each group considers the other’s pronunciation as odd and slightly foolish. I come from the yog-ert part of the world and live in the yo-gert part, can’t find it in myself to change and have had to come to terms with the fact that I sound faintly ridiculous.
I eat yoghurt most days, either in my morning muesli smoothie or with something like preserved peaches or a drizzle of honey for a simple dessert. Making dairy or non-dairy versions are just as easy, as the same ‘good’ bacteria work on both dairy and plant milks.
Years ago, when I was a vegan, I started making my own soy yoghurt. The homemade stuff is really cheap, has all the good stuff in it (blah, blah, probiotics), and can be made with the minimum of faffing about.
In the old days, I had a wide-necked thermos and I’d bring a pan of soy milk up to just below the boil, let it cool to just above blood temperature (too hot, the bacteria will die; too cold, the bacteria won’t multiply), take off the skin, then add a bit of the previous batch (or some shop-bought live yoghurt) and let it sit overnight.
More recently, I’d been making it directly in mason jars using much the same method, only this time putting the filled jars into an esky with a jar of boiling water overnight to maintain the temperature.
However, about six months ago, I bought myself a rice cooker. Turns out that the ‘keep warm’ setting is perfect for yoghurt fermentation. I just pour in two litres of unsweetened soy milk, add the starter (either the last of the previous batch or a few tablespoons of bought yoghurt), flick the switch and leave overnight. I end up with two litres of thick, delicious, nutritious soy yoghurt.
My extensive internet research tells me (rightly or wrongly) that I don’t need to bring my milk up to near-boiling point anymore, so I don’t.
I primarily use unsweetened soy milk, largely because it has a good protein content (as opposed to, say, oat or almond milk, is lower in cholesterol than cow’s milk, and has a pleasant ‘beany’ taste. Also, I’ve found that different brands of soy milk produce very different results – not so much in flavour, but in consistency. I recently tried hemp milk, which made a runny yoghurt, with a pleasant taste, but cost a dollar or so more per litre.
I understand that you can also put it in your pants if you get thrush.