My previous post about how to make yogurt got me thinking about all the kinds of milk out there that you could use as a base for delicious, creamy yogurt. Cow, sheep, goat, coconut, hemp, soy… The list goes on and on! I buckled down and did some research, so I could put together this guide that will give you the skinny (or skim) on choosing the best milk for you and your family.
Cow’s milk is the quintessential choice to home your yogurt culture. It’s easy to find wherever you live and affordable. This is the best option for getting a thicker, creamier final product. This milk is higher in lactose than other choices, so it may be the best fit if anyone in your family has lactose sensitivity.
Goat’s milk yogurt is quickly gaining on cow’s milk in popularity. It tends to be a bit more expensive and harder to find, but some people swear by it’s slightly sweeter taste. Goat’s milk also contains less lactose than other animals, so it’s a great choice for people with mild milk allergies. The structure of the milk is just a little different than the cow’s, making your final product a thinner than other yogurts.
Sheep’s milk is another great animal based milk for making yogurt. It’s going to be a bit harder to find (You’ll likely need to live in a larger city.) and as a result, it’ll be a bit more expensive. If you can manage to find sheep’s milk, you’ll be highly rewarded. This protein rich milk will produce a much creamier, thicker yogurt than cow’s milk that has a natural sweetness.
Before we dive into types of non-dairy milk, let me point out a few of the differences between animal and plant based milk. With dairy based yogurts, you can save a few tablespoons of your finished product for the next batch. With non-dairy milks you can’t save your yogurt to make more yogurt. You’ll need to use a new starter with each new inoculation. Plant based yogurt lack the lactose needed to keep their cultures alive long enough to start a new batch.
When making non-dairy yogurt, it’s best to make the “milk” yourself. You can sometimes use commercially produced milk, but you’ll need to check the label carefully for preservatives and other additives that will kill your culture before it starts. Provided you have access to a food processor, you can make your milk (and therefore yogurt) from cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, walnuts, coconuts, hemp, rice, sunflower seeds, and soybeans. Make sure you choose a non-dairy culture like this one.
Plant based yogurt make take a little more effort, but the pay off can be huge if you’re someone with lactose intolerance. Because non-dairy yogurt can be expensive, you’ll be saving yourselves some money too.
If you’d like to learn to make your own dairy based yogurt, you can check out my previous post here. While I haven’t had much experience with non dairy milk myself, you can find some great recipes here.
Happy yogurt making!