Dairy-Free Home-Made Yoghurt

By: Elna Botes van Schalkwyk

One Liter rice- or almond milk
2 tbsp starter. (Recipe below. Take the starter out of the refrigerator about 15-30 minutes before you start, so that it's as near as possible to room temperature when you add it to the milk.)
A large pot with a lid.
A food thermometer (it needs to include temperatures from 110 to 180ºF (43 – 82ºC).
A large spoon.
Casein-Free Yogurt
  • Fill the pot with water, boil for a few minutes, then add the spoon and thermometer. This sterilizes your equipment and ensures a better end result.
  • Empty the pot, then pour in the milk. Gently warm it to a temperature of 185ºF (85ºC), to kill any 'bad' bacteria it may contain. Watch the pot closely and be careful not to burn the milk!
  • Remove the pot from the heat and set aside. You need to cool the milk to between 110º F (43ºC), because these are the temperatures between which the live bacteria will efficiently ferment the milk.
  • Thoroughly stir the starter into the milk, then immediately place the lid on the pot. Move the pot at once to a warm place, where you can leave it - undisturbed - for a minimum of six hours.
There are two important rules to obey at this point to guarantee a good yogurt...
  • Keep the pot at a constant temperature of between 110 and 180ºF (43 and 82ºC). The live bacteria will become inactive at lower or higher temperatures.
  • Don't move the pot at all, or stir the fermenting milk. This slows down the process and you may be disappointed with your results at the end of the waiting time!

How to keep the pot at a consistent temperature... Most ovens do not have a low enough heat setting for producing yogurt, so here are a few other methods to try:

  • Sit the pot in an oven warmed by the pilot light alone - our pilot light burns fiercely, so this works well for us! 
  • Sit the pot on an electric warming pad (like the ones you use for back pain). You may need to experiment a little with the heat settings!
  • Wrap the pot in a very thick blanket - if this isn't warm enough, sit the wrapped pot in a cooler for extra insulation.
  • Put the pot in the airing cupboard/boiler closet.
After a minimum of 6 hours, take a look at your yogurt. The longer you leave the yogurt, the thicker it will become (and the more 'tangy' it will taste!). Seven hours are the perfect length of time. Now - you may find that the yogurt doesn't look quite the way you were expecting it to! It will probably have a 'layer' of liquid on top of milk curds - and the liquid may even look a little yellow. Don't worry - this is totally normal! Just mix the curds and the liquid together (although it's OK to spoon the liquid off if you prefer!). The yogurt will be thinner in consistency than store-bought yogurts - but that's because they tend to contain additional thickeners and YOUR yogurt is 100% natural! Remember - you can make it a little thicker next time by allowing it to ferment for longer. Pour your homemade yogurt into suitable containers with lids, then refrigerate. Refrigeration actually stops the bacteria in the yogurt from creating any more lactic acid - that's why the yogurt doesn't ferment and thicken any further. You can store it for up to a week in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

750 ml cashews
500 ml water
1 tsp nutri yeast or 1½ tsp scorbic acid
⅛ small red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp sweetener of your choice – optional
1tsp Himalayan salt
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Blend everything in a power blender until completely smooth. Use 2 tablespoons as a yoghurt starter, put the rest in the refrigerator and use as a cream cheese.