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Fab or Flop Friday – Making Vegan Yogurt, Part 2

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Part 1 is here, if you missed last week’s installment.

Yogurt isn’t hard to make. I’ve been successfully making yogurt from goat’s milk for a while. So it didn’t seem like a stretch to make non-dairy yogurt while my source of corn-free goat’s milk was on maternity leave.

It was, unequivocally, a flop.

The day after incubating my hemp milk yogurt, I tasted some. It was still very sweet like regular hemp milk, but also a smidge tart like yogurt – not at all what I was expecting, and not very tasty. Considering how the liquid had separated into watery yellow stuff and the off-taste of the liquid, it was a bit off-putting. I shoved the jars into the back of the fridge and tried to figure out what to do next.

It was a few days before I was brave enough to consider trying the yogurt again. At that point, I decided to strain the yogurt through cheesecloth. The batch with the goat’s milk yogurt starter had far more solids in it than the batch with the vegan yogurt starter, which was pretty much just liquid. I think out of 2 quarts of hemp milk, I ended up with one serving of actual yogurt – not much more than the goat’s milk yogurt I added to start with. And it was strange tasting yogurt, to be sure.

So then I had 1 serving of weird non-dairy yogurt, and a bowl full of whey-like stuff that tastes funny. I ate the yogurt. It wasn’t that great, but with enough granola mixed in, I could get over it. The whey-like stuff is a different matter. I tried it on cereal, but it was too sour. I tried it in pancake batter. That worked, but there was still more left. I thought about trying to make a smoothie, but the blender always seems to be dirty around here, and I didn’t have much fruit on hand.

I wasn’t about to commit the sin of letting it go to waste. I hate to waste anything. Even failed experiments usually find their way into being useful for something. So I made more pancakes – lots more pancakes.

Did I break down the hemp milk by overheating it to begin with, causing it to separate? Did I kill the culture with my uneven incubation temperatures (which would also explain the overly sweet taste)? Or do I need to use different non-dairy milk, since the vegan starter said it was optimized for rice milk or soy milk, and never said a word about hemp milk?

I think next time I’ll try making a smaller batch, using my usual incubation method, and using rice milk instead of hemp milk. Stay tuned for the continuing saga…

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Fab or Flop Friday – Vegan Yogurt, Part 1

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My friend has a nanny goat that she feeds a corn-free grain mix, and It’s been wonderful to have a source for non-bovine dairy products! However, the goat is having a baby, so no more goat milk for us for a little while. Since I’ve been really enjoying making yogurt lately, I started looking for a way to make non-dairy yogurt. I found a company that had a vegan yogurt starter, so naturally, I jumped on it.

We use hemp milk on our cereal and to make non-dairy ice cream, so it seemed only natural to try using that for our yogurt, despite the fact that the vegan yogurt starter said it was designed for rice milk or soy milk. I’d found online reviews where people were trying it with almond milk, so why not try hemp milk? To give the vegan yogurt starter a fair chance, I decided to do side-by-side batches of yogurt with both the vegan starter and the last of my goat’s milk yogurt.

I accidentally over-heated the hemp milk. It probably got to 140 degrees or so. I must have gotten interrupted while the milk was heating. Not that that sort of thing ever happens around here with a one-year-old and a four-year-old underfoot. Oh, well. I normally heat the goat milk to 180 and let it cool from there, so I figured it was no big deal. It looked fine, it smelled fine, so I boldly carried on.

Once the hemp milk cooled to 110, I split the milk into two bowls, adding my homemade goat’s yogurt to one and the powdered vegan yogurt starter to the other. I stirred them up, poured the mixtures into pint-size jelly jars, keeping each batch carefully separated, and put them in the oven to incubate. Now, I’ve never tried incubating yogurt in the oven before. Usually, I put the jars of yogurt with a heating pad into a little insulated bag that I have. But, alas, my batch this time was too large for my regular method, so I stuck them in the oven. It was substantially more challenging than I thought it would be to keep the yogurt at a consistent temperature. They got too hot, too cold, and the oven just pretty much wasn’t my friend that day. Oops.

I let it incubate for a long time – 6 hours or so, just like I normally would. The liquid inside the jars had separated and looked a bit less than yogurt. I kept checking on them, hoping something miraculous would happen. I eventually conceded that nothing amazing was going to happen, and put the “yogurt” in the fridge overnight.

Watch for Part 2 next week to find out if this was Fab or a Flop!

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