During last five years or so I have experimented a lot with fermentation of various plant foods, got a lot of really cool results, and gained some precious new knowledge. Some of it I've described on this blog. One of my favourites was almond yogurt made from homemade almond milk fermented with water kefir grains. I had not tried making yogurt "the fast way" using probiotic capsules until this summer because i thought it was unnecessary, having all these wonderful and more natural methods to do it. But then i found myself living on an island with a jar of barely functioning water kefir, too much work to do to even bother trying to get some kefir by mail, real hunger for some plant yogurt and a little health food store that had exactly what I needed - a box of vegan probiotic capsules and a few various types of plant milk.

I decided to give it a try without too much research. A few almost successful intuitive tries and reading too many articles about making yogurt in a yogurt-maker lead to developing this simple and cheap DIY method that might not be as perfect and easy as with a yogurt-maker but is certainly applicable in many more occasions.

I tried it with full-fat coconut milk and plain soy milk (just soy and water; it's ok if it has just a little bit of natural sweetener, oil or salt but the simpler the better). You should choose the milk that tastes good to you by itself; if your soy milk has a strong soy flavour that you generally dislike but it's ok in a cup of coffee, then get it from another brand because you will taste it in the yogurt as well. Coconut milk gives a beautiful, smooth, creamy yogurt and you can't go wrong here, but for my taste it's even too creamy and oily and I can only eat it like a desert or occasional treat - in small amounts and with some fruits in it. Anyway, you should experiment and see what fits your taste buds the best. The probiotic strains that i used were Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium infans and Bifidobacterium longum. I'm not saying that is the optimal mix - it was just the only one I could get in the store and it worked fine. Some of the species probably died if soy milk wasn't suitable food for them (hence this is not the perfect way, I just want to show you that you don't need perfect conditions for making plant yogurt) but fermentation still happened and I got a really nice yogurt.

Here is how: i heated 700 ml of soy milk to around 40 °C in a double boiler, poured it into a clean jar, emptied a vegan probiotic capsule inside and stirred it with a spoon. I covered the top of the jar with a cloth and left it in my clothes locker at work (you see? Not at all perfect and it doesn't have to be). Next to this jar, i placed a jar filled with hot water to maintain the temperature for the fermentation and left it there for 24 hours. In 24 hours (and it's summer in the Mediterranean, so keep in mind that it can take longer in cooler climate) I had a perfectly thick and sour soy yogurt with a thin layer of "whey" on the bottom. You can strain the whey through a coffee filter if you want, i just mix it all and get a bit thinner yogurt.

And now here is another cool thing - you can keep this yogurt in the fridge for more than a week and use the last 4-5 tablespoons of it for making the next batch - the same way but with this yogurt instead of probiotic capsule. I think it's even better to continue cultivating it this way because the bacteria which are not suitable for fermenting soy milk die out, and the ones that you need, continue reproducing happily (ok, maybe not happily but you are happy). Even the taste gets better with every batch if you do it right.

Now, get your good tasting plant milk and probiotic (or even just store bought yogurt and you can skip the capsule step!), make sure you have some very clean equipment to make it and start to experiment with this wonderful thing called fermentation. You won't be disappointed, and your body will be grateful :)

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