I have been meaning to write about making my oatmeal yogurt for a while. I am so happy to have discovered it. I first read about making this in The Vibrant Table, Recipes from My Always Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan & Sometimes Raw Kitchen. The title of this book grabbed me, as I have been vegetarian since 1975, am mostly vegan – but refuse to be religious about it – and raw foods is how I naturally eat for more than half the day. Author Anya Kassoff has a talent I look for in cookbook writers….she tells a story while explaining her craft.
Kassoff states that she requires a high-speed blender. Even though my blender is sort of sucky in its well-used old age, it has worked out fine here. I'm trying to squeeze all the life I can out of it before it gets replaced. Kassoff's recipe calls for 1 cup of oat groats, 1 cup of rolled oats and ½ cup of Brazil nuts. I didn't have oat groats on hand and substituted 1 cup of steel cut oats the first time around. This still worked out fine…..though get the oat groats if you can, they make a better yogurt.
You rinse and drain the groats and cover with water (she states purified water….I used tap), making sure the water level is about a half inch above the oats. You soak this 8 hours or overnight. Make sure the bowl is glass or ceramic because of the fermentation process. I did this on a work night, but it took no time at all to blend them in the morning with their soaking water until smooth. You can add more water if you like. Just be aware that this yogurt does not thicken through fermentation, but from absorption. You blend the Brazil nuts into almost a flour and add them to the mix. I chose to soak the Brazil nuts right along with the oat mixture and ran it through the blender all at the same time.
Now you just loosely cover the bowl and let the mixture sit at room temperature for one to three days. Instead of cheesecloth I used a clean cloth napkin held tightly in place with a large rubber band. I think this works better because it is easier to remove for stirring and tasting and it keeps the cloth from touching the surface of the oat mixture. Stir the yogurt with a wooden spoon every 8 hours or so and taste it for tanginess. I like my yogurt sour so I go the whole three days. It can be kept refrigerated for up to a week.
I don’t tend to leave recipes alone, so I am going to tell you how I make this oatgurt now. I really like a smooth and very thick yogurt so I wanted to do something to get more of a Greek yogurt consistency. I didn't feel any loyalty to keeping this recipe raw, and I figured that cooking the oat mixture would be the way to go if I wanted to get the thickness I craved. So I cooked the oats and groats (using groats instead of steel cut oats makes a huge difference in creaminess) along with the nuts. I have tried Brazil nuts, almonds, filberts and raw cashews. The raw cashews definitely win out in my opinion for improving the flavor and creaminess. I doubled the nuts to a cup and now the recipe is even easier to remember - 1 cup each of thick rolled oats, oat groats, and cashews, and you can’t get much simpler than that. I bring it all to a boil and then simmer it (groats cook just like rice) and it takes about 45 minutes to be done the way I like it. The water is pretty much 2:1 in ratio with the oats….I might add a little extra to counterbalance the nuts, but not much. When it is cooked and at the consistency I like, I cool it down and then I blend it in the blender until it is as smooth as possible. Then I set it aside, covered to ferment, as explained before. The thicker your mix, the longer it takes to get its tang going, but if you stir it a little more frequently the timing is not that much different and it is still done in three days time.....sooner if you don't like it as sour as I do. You can keep a small amount to add to your next batch as a starter so that it ferments quicker. Adding a plain soy or coconut milk yogurt to the batch would be a simple way to get this going more quickly also, though I must admit I am super happy with the plain old bacteria that occur naturally at my house for the fermentation process. You can also buy yogurt cultures, vegan or non-vegan, easily online.
I buy my oats and groats and nuts at the local co-op. Making this really satisfies the need to be frugal. You get about two quarts of oatgurt for about $1. When going vegan I thought I would miss cheese and ice cream, but I just don’t…… yogurt was the one item I really missed. This stuff is amazingly satisfying and hits the spot. I keep it in my refrigerator every week now, and use it with fruit, granola, or maybe just a little maple syrup. I also use it to make a spread to put on my veggie wraps or pita sandwiches. Simply blend it to taste with a bunch of nutritional yeast, some tamari, and black pepper (and minced garlic if you have some). I usually just make how much I need on the spur of the moment, though you could easily keep this in a jar in the fridge. I like this spread instead of mayonnaise and it has a cheesiness to it that goes well on sandwiches. You can thin it down and heat it to make a gravy for mashed potatoes. I tend to like kimchee on these wraps also…..another fermented food I love to make now, but that will have to be another article.
So there you go! Give it a try!