Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Growing new life forms...

As I said when I posted about my new green bags, we’ve been on a self-reliance kick lately. Well, our latest DIY project is the result of this purchase from the second hand shop. It looks like some kind of weird space capsule, and in a way it is—we use it to grow new life forms...

I love yogurt, and I always have. Unfortunately, the soy yogurt available in Townsville is overpriced, full of sugar, and comes in really wasteful single-serve containers. As a result, we only ever buy it when it’s reduced to clear.

That’s why I was so excited to find this yogurt maker for only $8. I grabbed it straightaway and was afraid to set it down when I was searching through the clothing racks. It even had all of the instruction books with it—now that was luck.

But, my yogurt-experimenting had to wait until we could find yogurt cultures that aren’t dairy-derived. A few weeks went by with no yogurt until Andy suggested we use probiotic capsules. I wasn’t sure it would work, but thought it was worth a try. We found good-quality, dairy-free and refrigerated probiotic capsules and gave them a go.

Our first experiment was with one capsule and one litre of soy milk. We let it sit overnight in the space capsule and in the morning I found slightly thick, yogurt-flavoured soy milk. According to Andy, it tasted like “that fancy expensive fresh yogurt that mum bought for [his brother] when he had glandular fever”.

I’ve read that soymilk doesn’t thicken as much as cow milk, so I wasn’t surprised at its consistency. The most important part was that it tasted like yogurt. Anyways, its consistency was perfect for smoothies or to have with muesli.

The next few experiments were an illustration of bad science—we changed more than one variable each time.

Batch #2: Andy mixed a half cup of our first batch of yogurt with more soymilk and some golden syrup. This batch separated a lot—but was it because of the starter or the sweetener? (Even without isolating variables, the yogurt was still drinkable and delicious, and none of it went to waste.)

We made the same mistake with Batch #3. Instead of golden syrup, this time we used raw sugar, and used ¼ c. of Batch #2 as the starter. And we let it sit for about 13 hours. The result was almost unbearably tangy.

For Batch #4, I thought I would try to thicken the soy milk before adding the cultures. But we were out of the organic soymilk we had used for the first three tests, so I just used Cole’s brand, thickened with corn flour and then chilled before adding another probiotic capsule. This one we tasted after 7 hours, and we found it had no yogurt taste. So we left it, and tasted it every hour. It sat for a total of 12 hours, and never lost its chalky taste and gained that tangy yogurtiness. Was it the brand of milk or the corn flour?

Batch #5 was similar—Cole’s milk and one capsule (no thickening)—and resulted in soy milk with only the faintest yogurty tang.

Finally, with Batch #6, we were back on track. So Natural brand milk and one capsule yielded a similar result to Batch #1. I think the trick is that the soymilk needs to be made from whole soy beans.

Needless to say, we’re still working out the kinks. But even the not-so-great batches are better than no yogurt, so I’ve been enjoying yogurt in muesli, adding it to bread, and Andy loves chugging it straight from the jar. Nacho even likes it mixed with some cat food.

I’ll let you know if I get a great batch, and if anyone has any yogurt tips, please share them!

23 comments:

Vegetation said...

Mmmmm I think your yoghurt looks yummy! I miss yoghurt terribly. I have on of those yoghurt makers, I got a little scared off experimenting when I tried to make cashew yoghurt once (the results were seriously terrifying, gray water and curdled sludge), so I have no tips for you :(

VeggieGirl said...

A ypgurt-maker, eh?? How fun!!

Mel said...

What a great idea! Make sure you update us if you get a perfect thick yoghurt!

Mel

Amy said...

That's such an awesome idea! I'm also waiting in anticipation.....

Alice (in Veganland) said...

I love yogurt too! The space capsule/yogurt maker looks huge in the picture!

oh, and I've passed an award to you :-)

The Vegan Snorkeler said...

I wish I had some yogurt tips for you! It will be so amazing when you perfect it!!!

Soja said...

Hi, great blog. I've been making my own soya yoghurt for a few years, my first few batches were a bit thin too, you can just use bought soya yoghurt as a base, as long as it is the refrigerated stuff. I use a tablespoon or two in a litre of soya milk with no further additions. The other thing I read, which made a huge difference, is to use some of your homemade yoghurt as the base for the next batch, even though it seems to thin, each further batch comes out thicker, now my homemade yoghurt has the same consistency of commercial yoghurt. And th result varies a lot with different brands of soya milk. I strain my yoghurt to make soya yoghurt cheese and eat it on toast for breakfast. Hope this helps. :-)

CeciLiA said...

Oh wow, I must go into a second had store one day to look for this stuff ... I miss yogurt a lot, and you are right - The soy yogurt here are either too expensive or gross :0/

Hrmm ... maybe Renae from "ieatfood.net" can help, she's a vegan and she does lots of DIY stuff, she even makes her own tempeh and tofu!!

mad about udon said...

I sort of gave up on yogurt when I embraced veganism, and it never occured to me to make my own! Good luck in your experiments!

Liz² said...

this is so cool! I never thought to use probiotic capsules, which is pretty genius. and I like your unscientific experiments, I'd love to try them.. do you think you would make any with flavoured milks or fruit? I had this vision of chocolate soygurt, but I'm probably weird! :p

Vaala said...

The yoghurt experiment sounds like fun. My Mum has one of those yoghurt makers at home. They look real funny. I love how you refer to it as the Space Capsule!

Isaac said...

I mostly hear cheese is the hardest thing to give up switching from vegetarian to vegan- but for me it was yogurt (not that I'm 100% vegan yet) - At the moment I buy those wasteful, expensive, sugary soy yogurts and wish every time there was a larger more economical size, I could easily have 1L of yogurt a day so those tiny tubs just depress me. I'm glad you're doing the experimenting because soy milk varies so much that it hurts to think about the variants of soy yogurt. My soy suggestion- Golden One Soy milk (from woolies)

CeciLiA said...

Ok .. I REALLY want to say this ... "HAVE YOU GOT YOUR INNER HEALTH PLUS TODAY?!"

Teheee ... sorry, I'm SO weird!! Ah! Gotta go to bed, nitoz!! :0)

the little one said...

I love your stick-to-itness! I couldn't help but giggle at your admission that you were going about it in a completely unscientific way. So true, but yet your way was so fun (for the reader anyway)! Hey, and you sure got a lot of yogurt out of your trials.

DJ said...

you're so daring - experimenting with strange new cultures...

bazu said...

Cool- I've always wanted to make yogurt at home... I can use your trials as a guide when the time comes!

Lori- the Pleasantly Plump Vegan said...

thats pretty cool!

Veggie said...

Have you tried adding some pectin powder (for thickening) also heating the soymilk to a certain temperature like in regular (dairy) yogurt making?

I nominated you for a blogging award; check out my blog for the details!

Vivacious Vegan said...

I've made Bryanna's new yogurt and it had a wonderful consistency as well as taste.

http://www.bryannaclarkgrogan.com/page/page/1999382.htm

Theresa said...

DJ--lol!

Thanks everyone for your tips and encouragement! I tried Woolworth's homebrand soymilk this weekend, which is made with whole soy beans, and I got the thickest yogurt yet! We're talking smoothie thickness, with no extra thickeners.

Veggie--I haven't tried pectin but I should, and the reason I don't heat the soymilk is that my yogurt maker calls for cold yogurt-ingredients which are then placed in hot water.

Urban Vegan said...

i'm not a huge yogurt fan but I am a big fan of self-reliance! Kudos to you!

Mihl said...

That yoghurt maker looks really awesome!
You could also mix some of the soy milk with a thickener of your choice, boil it, let it cool down and mix it with the rest of the cold ingredients to thicken the yoghurt a bit. That's what I always do. Susan over at fatfree vegan also posted a bit about making your own yoghurt. I found that quite helpful. Good luck with your next batches!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Oh I love reading about kitchen experiments!!Sounds like you're having fun with your yogurt maker.