If you want to taste a new yogurt every single day of the year, your supermarket can meet the challenge. Most of this abundance is of the cow’s milk variety. If you prefer a vegan option—for health or personal reasons—yogurt alternatives made from soy milk are available but a bit harder to find. Note that labelling laws in many countries restrict the name “yogurt” only to products made with milk or dairy products. Therefore “soy milk alternative” will be used below for what some brands sell as “soy yogurt.”
Plant-based alternatives may be better than whole milk yogurt due to heart benefits (no cholesterol or saturated fat). In addition, the soybean version is lactose-free, a boon for those people intolerant of dairy sugar.
According to a recent paper published by IPA director Arthur Ouwehand and a colleague, soy milk fermented by lactic acid may improve taste as well as bioavailability of isoflavones, mineral availability and level of B vitamins. Read Probiotic fermented foods and health promotion in Advances in Fermented Foods and Beverages, available at Science Direct.
Soy milk alternatives to yogurt are easy to make at home. Some home cooks are fermenting batches in crock pots or instant pots while others are sticking to the microwave or stove-top method.
The United States and other countries require that anything labelled yogurt must contain Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus. Many soy milk substitutes on the shelves contain these as well as other lactobacilli. But anything that ferments soy milk can be used at home.
Begin with an unopened carton of soy milk. Make sure the ingredients label lists only soybean and water. Flavorings and sugar will interfere with fermentation. If the carton had been opened, boil then cool the milk to 110 degrees F.
- Use a small cup of plain soy milk alternative bought from the store. Some cooks like to use capsules of Lactobacilli instead. Use five capsules of Lactobacillus acidophilus probiotic with 2.4 billion CFUs per serving for 4 cups of soy milk.
- Save one-half cup of finished soy product to use as starter for next time; you won’t need to use probiotics capsules again. Store starter covered in refrigerator for up to 10 days.
- If using a crock pot or instant pot, whisk probiotic grains into 4 cups of soy milk. Follow directions on pot (push yogurt button and wait 15 hours). Add or subtract fermenting time if you want either a tangier or milder product.
- Cool to room temperature. Reserve half cup for starter.
- If using a stovetop or microwave, heat milk then keep at a temperature of about 110-115 degrees F for 12- 15 hours.
One cup supplies only 90 calories, 4.5 grams fat, and 9 grams of protein. Calcium is low so be sure to eat lots of calcium-rich vegetables or supplement.
Now enjoy your soy milk alternative in breakfast smoothies, salad dressings, creamy soups, sauces or just topped with fresh fruit and granola.