Making yogurt at home is really easy. Making dairy-free yogurt at home and having it resemble anything like regular yogurt, or even the dairy-free yogurt from the store, is definitely not easy.
I knew the odds were stacked against me. I’ve heard other people say they could do it, so I tried it.
For all of these experiments I used the same method as how I successfully make regular yogurt, and I used store-bought coconut yogurt for a starter.
My first experiment was with almond milk, though I didn’t have high hopes. It cultured, but it was still a liquid, and the result wasn’t pretty: a beige water with tiny white almond particles suspended in it. Not desirable.
I didn’t try soy milk, but I don’t see how it would thicken up any more than the almond milk, although the results might be smoother.
Next I tried to culture coconut milk. This didn’t seem like a smart idea, because who sits down to eat a nice big cup of heavy coconut milk straight? And in the end, that’s exactly what it tasted like: a big cup of coconut milk. I’m not sure it cultured.
Then I tried a blend of half coconut milk and half water. It cultured a little bit, but I had to keep stirring it to taste it. The coconut milk kept rising to the top in little clumps, and the water settled to the bottom. It was all right, if you were looking for a slightly-cultured coconut milk beverage.
There’s a good reason dairy-free yogurt has a combination of cornstarch, rice starch, tapioca dextrose, guar gum, or xanthan gum added to it as a thickener, and now I’ve experienced it first-hand.
I’m not sure what kind of results other people get when they say they make dairy-free yogurt. A drink? I was hoping for yogurt.
But that’s how it goes when you make gluten or dairy-free foods and hope they taste like something you remember. Sometimes you find something really good, and sometimes it fails spectacularly.