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Trying Again: Vegan Yogurt with Homemade Almond Milk and Agar Agar Powder

by Jerri

Someone out there is successfully making almond milk yogurt with agar agar powder, and I want to join the ranks! I'm giving it another go this week! In my first attempt, I tried a heaping teaspoon of agar agar powder (not flakes) added to my homemade almond milk. I heated it slowly to 110ºF, added the culture, and then let it ferment in my Instant Pot. It fermented well, tasting tart, but the thickening did not happen. I successfully experimented with guar gum to thicken it after the fact, and my husband then enjoyed strawberry vegan yogurt for the next week in his smoothies. This time, I'm adding a lot more agar agar powder, but keeping everything else the same. I used my devoted-only-to-yogurt IP seal (below, see the difference between one used for broth/meats/rice/quinoa/steamed eggs, and my yogurt-only seal): yogurt2 I made my homemade almond milk, it always surprises me how beautiful and bright white it turns out! I assembled the rest of my supplies (remember you can order a Vegan Yogurt Starter from NW Ferments). yogurt-4 Then like the time before, I:
  • Preheated the IP by turning it on to the yogurt setting
  • Heated the homemade milk in my mama's Revere Ware pan on the stovetop to 110º
  • Added 4 teaspoons of agar agar and stirred well
  • Added the culture and stirred well
  • Poured it into the IP and let it run on yogurt for 8 hours
The expected result at the end of fermenting was this: yogurt5 Until I moved it, it looked like a shrunken round thick layer floating on top of water. Here it looks chunked because of the movement to remove the pot from the IP, but it tasted fermented (whew). I had hope that it would thicken in the fridge over the next 12-24 hours, so into a mason jar it went. I shook it up really well, and in 24 hours it looked like this: yogurt6 Don't be fooled.there is no thickness to that deceiving top and bottom layer. Hello, guar gum, dear friend to the thickening rescue again! Worked beautifully to mix it up with 2 tsp of guar gum in a blender, and let it sit in the fridge 12+ hours. Hubby now has TWO quart jars of yogurt for his smoothies! NOT GIVING UP. Did more research on success stories. Most said to use just a tiny bit of agar, but heating to higher temps was involved. Some said heat to boiling, some said heat to 190º, some said heat and hold for €œx€ minutes€I opted for heating to 190º and holding for 10 minutes. I have a glass top stove and old, old pan, so holding it at 190º was difficult. I kept it between 189º and 195º for 9 minutes - so fingers crossed agar was not going to be THAT picky (as I have met some really finicky cultures and additive support). So the steps:
  • Preheated the IP by turning it on to the yogurt setting
  • Added 1/2 teaspoon of agar agar powder to the 4 cups of homemade almond milk in my mama's Revere Ware pan on the stove top, and stirred well
  • Heated to 190º, keeping it at 189-195º for just over 9 minutes
  • Cooled to 110º and added the culture
  • Poured it into the IP and let it run on yogurt for 8 hours
  • Let it cool for 1 hour.
  • Put the yogurt in a quart mason jar and threw it in the fridge
  • Prayed
The result? A miracle 12 hours later! Look at the separation and chunks, just like cutting the curds in cheesemaking. Gorgeous cuts. yogurt7 yogurt8 The texture did not look appealing to me, and I knew once I started messing with it, it would likely change anyway€I mixed it up and although thinner than before, it was thicker than almond milk and looked more appetizing. yogurt9 It strongly resembled milk kefir! It is now ready for fruit and a sweetener. Can I make it better? I read that the ½ tsp of agar agar powder is just a guideline. I'm curious what happens if I double it? Or, I wonder if I need to use a lot more powder due to the acidity of yogurt and the volume of milk, so I can skip the high heat and hold time? Here are the directions that came with my powder€That's why I originally thought a heaping teaspoon and just heating to culturing temp would work€what do you think? yogurt10 Until next time, Get Fermented!