Proper culture for soy yoghourt
November 18, 2009 4:35 AM   Subscribe

Trying to make my own vegan soy yoghourt from scratch, I ended up with an uncultured mess. Please advise on proper microbial use, or improvements upon whatever else it was that I mucked up.

I have a 1 litre yoghourt machine which plays a tinny "Macarena" when the 5-11 hour timer runs out, although I'm not certain of how exact the timer is. It does seem to keep the temperature constant at above room temperature though.

I made 2 litres soy milk — this I've done before since I occasionally make my own tofu — and let it cool. Mixed one litre into the machine with one sachet of the stuff in this picture and let it sit. After ten hours there was a 1cm gelatinous strata on top of the stuff, but below it was mostly curdled, like what you might expect if you mix soy milk with hot drinks.

The images below are after 24 hours. There's a slight tangy taste to the liquid, but it's nowhere near yoghourt levels of awesome, nor is there any texture except the grain you see. Looks like seperation, not a healthy process.

Texture 1 & 2
Separation 1 & 2

Possible stuff that has gone wrong:

1) Wrong kind of bacteria (intended for dairy?)
2) Contamination in the bucket (didn't wash it with boiling water)
3) Soy milk too watery or too thick

I'm in Sweden, so there's scant competition among the makers of soy products and I haven't found any starter kits to buy. The Alpro soy yoghourts are excellent, but I've read that they don't contain "live culture" so won't work as starters. Their yoghourt is what I ideally would end up with, so have that in mind, not the more gelatinous products out there.

What to use and where to get it would be appreciated — European stuff preferably — as well as any primers on the noble art of ennobleling the bean of soy by means of bacterium.
posted by monocultured to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It depends on how willing you are to have some dairy contamination. The filmjölks and other dairy yogurts in Sweden have robust active cultures and I used långfil in particular to culture coconut milk occasionally. Once you start culturing on the vegetable-based medium, it's possible to keep that culture going and eventually you shouldn't have much dairy, but it can be hard to keep a strong culture going in vegetable based milks.

Probably a better way would be to just try different yogurt starters. If you can get your hands on real kefir grains, they can ferment soy milks pretty well, but the texture is like filmjölk rather than yogurt. With kefir you might have to experiment for awhile, because sometimes I find I have to add sugar to the vegetable based milk to get a decent ferment.

I think commercial soy milk markets also use various additives to get the yogurt texture like arrowroot powder.

But there are plenty of bacteria-ennobled products that are traditional in Asia you might want to also check out. Miso is the obvious one and I was able to find the live cultured product at the Life stores. Tempeh is pretty awesome and you might be able to score it at an Asian market, but it's pretty rare in Sweden.
posted by melissam at 5:39 AM on November 18, 2009

Melissams link is great, you should try Bryanna's recipes first. At the very least you should add some sugar or other sweetener (dairy milk has natural occuring sugar - the fermenting process needs some sugar to feed on)
I have heard from others that the soymilk brand does make a difference. I think most soymilks that I can buy here are 7.4% soy beans, but there are also brands that have 8% soy beans, resulting in a better yogurt.
Where did you read that Alpro yogurt does not contain live cultures? I assume you are talking about the yogurts (it's called yofu where I live) that are in the refrigerator, not the desserts, right? Doesn't it have S. thermophilus en L. bulgaricus in the ingredients?
posted by davar at 6:17 AM on November 18, 2009

Excellent link Melissam. I'll go through it all and see what works. I'd rather keep the process all veg if possible, and noticed that the Bryanna page had some links to such stuff.

Also: Tempeh? Really? I've tried cooking with it but it came out exceptionally odd tasting. How do you use it?

Davar, I'll have to check what the bacteria are/were in the Alpro, but I mean the refrigerated yofu, yes, not the dessert pudding things. I don't know what was meant with "inactive culture" in reference to the yoghourt, but took it at face value upon reading; Obviously I could be totally wrong.

I make the soy milk from scratch, but obviously haven't checked closely enough for percentage Is that weight or volume and how do you account for the okara?
posted by monocultured at 7:00 AM on November 18, 2009

This marinade is a good start, then I'd cook it with some of the ingredients from the Asian section of the grocery store...which I found very generous in Sweden.

- Thai Peanut Sauce
- Black pepper sauce (I cooked it with this for some Swedish friends and they loved it)
- Thai curry paste with coconut cream
- Tamarind + sambal oelek + ginger + lemongrass + shallots
posted by melissam at 8:00 AM on November 18, 2009

The 8% is weight, but I have no idea how to account for the okara, sorry. Bryanna's website also has homemade soy milk recipes, so maybe you can see how she makes her soy milk.

See also this askme for tempeh ideas.
posted by davar at 11:45 AM on November 18, 2009

I used to make a lot of soy yogurt and one thing that I remember being different about the process was that you had to boil the soy milk first. A yogurt maker won't do this. IIRC this has something to do with the texture.
posted by tallus at 11:51 AM on November 18, 2009

Melissam, I thought you suggested using tempeh in the yoghourt process, and so was confused… The tempeh recipe is appreciated though; I was just today fondling a block in the store, trying to mentally conjure an image of how to use it…

Tallus: I boil the milk twice when I do it myself. Once before filtering the okara out and then once again afterwards, letting it simmer for five minutes having brought it to boil. I'll try to keep the texture aspect of it in mind - I guess it might effect how well the soy is dissolved?
posted by monocultured at 2:24 PM on November 18, 2009

« Older Weird YA book   |   massive Chrome memory leak Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.