Yogurt

Commercial yogurt warning commercial yogurt warning Many, if not most, commercially available (dairy) yogurt contains gelatin, which is almost always derived from the tissue of slaughtered animals, and so is unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans alike. This also applies to “kosher” gelatin, which is generally just derived from animals slaughtered according to Jewish law (and of course would not come from pigs).

So if you are lacto-vegetarian and wish to eat yogurt, make sure gelatin is not in the ingredient list. Pectin, especially “fruit pectin,” is a safe plant-derived gelling agent. The safest thing is to buy plain yogurt is usually gelatin-free and add your own fruit, or better yet make your own soy yogurt.

How to make soy yogurt?

Making soy yogurt really isn’t that hard. You basically put bacteria into soymilk, and let them do the work. You need:

Sweetened Template: fn soymilk starter culture: A little yogurt that has live cultures; available in many stores just some plain cultures/bacteria by themselves.Mix the soymilk and starter culture together, and heat it until it’s warm but not hot. It should be cool enough to put your finger in it, but not much cooler; if you have a thermometer, around 40-43 degrees C (100-110 degrees F). If it’s over 48 degrees C (120 degrees F) the bacteria will die. Or just heat the soymilk, and then put the culture in. It doesn’t really matter. If you use yogurt for your starter, you want about a spoon of it for every cup of soymilk.

You want to make sure you don’t let other bacteria into the mix, so you should wash your containers and utensils and hands, or even sterilize them if you want to get fancy.

Now leave the mixture somewhere where it can stay at the same temperature for 6-10 hours. If your temperature is on the low side, it will take longer to set. The longer you leave it, the thicker and sharper-tasting it will be. If you pour off the whey (clear liq uid), it’ll be even thicker.

A few ways to keep it at the right temperature:

Put it in a good thermos (pre-warmed!)Put it in a gas oven that has a pilot light – usually this will be the right temperature put it in a container picnic cooler, and pour a few inches of warm water into the cooler just set your oven to the right temperature, if it goes that low it doesn’t, try setting it to however low it will go for a few minutes, then turn it off a leaving it for a few hours. You might have to repeat the process a second or third time.As for the starter cultures, if you go the store-bought yogurt route, there are a number of options (see the next section if you need names). Just remember you need live or active cultures, or you won’t have any live bacteria, and nothing will happen. Once you start making your own yogurt, you can use your own yogurt as a starter culture for another batch. Just use a few spoons of it the same way you would with store-bought.

Another option is to buy just the cultures. Acidophilus isn’t too hard to find, but then you only get one kind of bacteria in your yogurt, whereas most of the above have at least four or five.

Now don’t expect it to be just like commercial yogurt. It will probably be a little runnier, or a lot runnier until you get the hang of it, or not come out at all. If you find you don’t fancy trying to make it this way, you might want to try some recipes for things that taste like yogurt even though they aren’t technically yogurt. (Scroll down the page.)

The hardest thing about making soy yogurt is that it legally can’t exist in the United States. In the UK, and probably other places as well (add them if you know), the goverment lets you call soy yogurt by the name yogurt (or yoghurt if that’s how you spell it). In the U.S., only dairy products can go by the name yogurt, so soy yogurt official is called “cultured soy”.

More on yogurt cultures

Of the following three brands with easily findable ingredients (White Wave, WholeSoy & Co., Stonyfield Farms), all three use the following four cultures:
Lactobacillus Bulgari-cus lactobacillus acidophilus. thermophilusBifidusBoth White Wave’s and Stonyfield Farms’ also contain Lactobacillus casei, and each has a sixth culture the others don’t have: White Wave’s contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a strain closely related to L. casei that is able to treat some forms of diarrhea template:fn. Stonyfield Farm’s contains Lactobacillus reuteri; according to the website of the company that seems to own or at least produce the bacteria, L. reuteri was isolated from the breast milk of a Peruvian woman living in the Andes – “someone living in perfect harmony with nature”. Stonyfield Farms says it boosts the immune system and inhibits the growth of a number of harmful bacteria.