Making Soya Yoghurt From Soya Milk: Have A Vegan Culinary Adventure!
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If you’re vegan, or maybe even if you’re not, you may have come across commercially sold soya yoghurt. This product has many similarities to its dairy variant: thick, bland, slightly soured and readily adaptable to sweet and savoury recipes, it is made with soya ‘drink’ (usually known as milk to those of us unbound by the strictures of the Milk Marketing Board or truth in advertising or whatever quango it was that stopped soya drink producers from referring to it as such).
Just as with dairy yoghurt, whether cows’, sheep’s or goats’ milk products, soya yoghurt is made via the use of milk/drink and the addition of ‘live’ cultures such as lactobacillus bulgaricus and thermophilus. Once made, the yoghurt can be eaten or sold as an ingredient and adjunct to both savoury and sweet dishes, and comes in both 'natural' (unflavoured) and fruit and other sweet-flavoured varieties. You may have various reasons for preferring soya yoghurt to a dairy version: allergy, veganism, an interest in reported medical and health properties of soya products or any number of other incentives. However, what you're likely to notice when you go to purchase some is that the stuff can be rather pricey!
Is there a cheaper option to buying ready-made soya yoghurt from a supermarket or health-food store? Well, you could always just take the home-baking route and make some of your own! Does making soy yogurt work out cheaper? Depending on the variety you buy, a litre of supermarket own-brand UHT soya milk tends to come in at well under a pound and makes a goodly quantity of yoghurt, so I suspect the answer is yes.
But is it difficult to make your own soya vegan yogurt, and where can you find a recipe out there? Well, fortunately for those of us who do not count standing over a hot stove stirring a panful of milk as a hobby, the soya milk that you buy in the store tends to be of the UHT variety. Why is this such good news? That's because with UHT milk, the stuff is concentrated and sterile already: you don't need to spend ages simmering and reducing it down: you can just open the packet, heat it to blood-heat temperature (that's when you can't feel your own finger when you put it in the liquid, or for the more hygienic amongst us, when you can use a culinary thermometer to check for the correct temperature.), add the cultures and put in a covered warm place/pan of warm water for twelve or eighteen hours or so while it turns into yoghurt. Job done!1
Are there nutritional advantages to soya products? It often seems to be a rather controversial issue, judging by the Daily Mail-type articles one can come across on a regular basis, both pro- and anti-. I've come across one recent article by Hu in Circulation, claiming the benefits of soy in relation to issues such as heart health and blood pressure issues.2 Not that I'm one to worry: it's vegan and it tastes good, that's good enough for me!
1. Chandan, R.C. 'Manufacturing yogurt and fermented milks'. Carlton; Blackwell Publishing Asia, 2006.
2. FB Hu, MD, PhD. Do Functional Foods Have a Role in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease? Circulation. 2011; Volume 124: pp. 538-540