March 13, 2012

Home-Made Oat-Berry Yoghurt

Lately I have had a huge craving for something 'yoghurt-like', just something soft, creamy and light, like the dairy-based yoghurt I used to eat by the bucket load before I went vegan. It was interesting to realise that it actually is the texture (creaminess, softness) and the mouth-feel that I was craving. This kind of craving goes for other animal-based products, as well. When people say "I crave for meat", they are most likely only craving for fat and salt, and not the actual meat itself. After all, we are not true carnivores and we certainly don't have any nutritional need for animal-based products.

Even before I went vegan, I was trying to find non-dairy based yoghurt to satisfy my cravings. Back in Finland oat yoghurt is quite widely available, but I have not yet come across it here in Australia. As far as I know, the only non-dairy yoghurt available here are soy yoghurt and coconut yoghurt, both of which have a disturbingly long list of (unnatural) ingredients, along with quite a lot of added sugar.

It was this frustration that led me to experiment with making oat yoghurt at home. I found some guidelines online and the process seemed very easy and doable. Unfortunately, my first batches were not successful: too sour, not sour enough, too thick, too thin, and so on. I'm sure you can imagine how excited I was when I finally got it right, and I really couldn't be happier with the outcome!

This oat yoghurt has the sourness and creaminess of dairy-based yoghurt. Mixed with berries, sweetened with a little stevia and pure vanilla, it is so delicious and I know it will be my regular treat from now on. Although it is quite difficult to give you exact measurements and instructions (because of factors like room temperature, etc.), I urge you to give this a go - it really is worth the (little) effort!

Home-Made Oat-Berry Yoghurt
(2-4 servings)

100g whole oat grain (groats)
100g rolled oats (not instant)

100-200g fresh or frozen berries
1 teaspoon stevia
1/4 teaspoon ground pure vanilla

* I have found that a combination of whole oat grain and rolled oats makes the yoghurt creamier and also gives it a nicer texture than using just all groats or all rolled oats.

1. Place the oat groats and rolled oats in separate glass bowls. Add enough water in each bowl to just cover the oats (the water should reach about 1 cm above the oats). Leave to soak for 8 hours. Add a little water during the soaking if the oats have soaked up all water.

2. After soaking, puree the oats (along with the soaking water) in a blender until very smooth. Pour the mixture in to a clean ceramic or glass bowl. The mixture should be creamy and soft. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave to ferment in a warm place for 1-2 days. I left mine on the kitchen bench for just one and a half days and it was just perfect, but in cooler weather you might need to find a warmer place for the bowl or wrap it in tea towels to keep it warm. Keep checking and tasting the mixture and stir it a couple of times whilst fermenting. You might need to leave it for longer (3-4 days), if you want it more sour, so just keep tasting to find the perfect balance.

3. Once the yoghurt is sour enough, take a small batch of the yoghurt to keep as a starter for your next batch. Keep the starter in a sealed container in your fridge. Store the remaining yoghurt in the fridge for up to 3 days.

4. To make the berry version, simply blend the oat yoghurt with some fresh or frozen berries, stevia and vanilla. I made this with frozen berries and had it cold, a bit like frozen yoghurt, and it was so delicious!