Makes about 2 cups
The first time you make yogurt, use a store-bought yogurt to culture your milk. Subsequently use your own homemade yogurt to culture your milk; the yogurt will incubate better and render a thicker yogurt with more tang. It also tastes way better! The fresher the yogurt, the more live cultures are present.
1 quart original plain soymilk, containing at least 6 grams of sugar
1/4 cup vegan yogurt, store-bought or homemade, for culturing
1. Use soymilk that is not flavored and contains, preferably, 6 grams of sugar. If using soymilk that contains zero grams of sugar, add 1 teaspoon maple syrup to the milk before heating. The best sugar content is 6 grams; any lower than that and the yogurt will have more whey and less curds.
2. Shake the container of soymilk and empty it into a large clean pot. Bring the milk to boil over medium heat, about 15 minutes. Boil the milk for 2 to 4 minutes, making sure not to boil-over the milk onto the stove top. Do not skip boiling the milk.
3. Remove the milk from the heat and set aside to cool to about 100 to 110 degrees, but not more than 112 degrees, about 15 minutes. Use an instant-read thermometer or other thermometer to measure the temperature of the milk. Tilt the pot to immerse the thermometer into the liquid about halfway up the meter.
4. When the milk is boiled it creates solids. For a completely smooth final yogurt, strain the milk through a nut milk bag or a fine mesh strainer into a large glass or stainless steel bowl.
5. Using a whisk, stir in the 1/4-cup yogurt culture. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap.
6. Transfer the bowl with the inoculated milk to a warm place. Incubate the yogurt in an environment that is consistently 110 degrees for 9 hours. The yogurt will be thin because of the whey.
7. Transfer the yogurt to a 5-cup container and chill in the refrigerator.
8. When chilled, remove 1/4 cup of the yogurt and set aside to culture your next yogurt. Drain the yogurt for 30 minutes through 8 layers of cheesecloth (rinse brand new cheesecloth very well under running water before use) or a nut milk bag by transferring all of the yogurt to the cheesecloth or nut milk bag. Place the nut bag over a strainer and the strainer over a bowl. Move the whole thing into the refrigerator. Drain the yogurt for 4 hours for making sour cream. Drain the yogurt for 8 hours for making cream cheese.
9. Transfer the drained yogurt to a storage container and mix it using a whisk for a smooth texture, if needed.
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