Friday, January 08, 2016

Smoked Salt and Pepper Peanut -Hempeh- w Vegetables, Pasta w Marinara (No Added Fat); Notes on My First Experience in Making Yogurt

We had some of the smoked salt and pepper "hempeh" left (now we'll have to buy some more!) and I thought I'd make a pasta dinner with the tempeh on the side. I sauteed the tempeh, along with half-moon slices of onion in a cast iron pan with no oil; when it was lightly brown, I added frozen spinach and bell pepper, as well as some chopped carrot that my wife had left, and cooked for maybe 5-7 minutes till hot.

I served the tempeh and vegetables, along with whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce. Dinner was good!

My first experiment with homemade vegan yogurt

I am excited to report that I finally made my first experiment today with making vegan yogurt, and I think that the results were promising. I first picked up my first Instant Pot back in March 2014, excited about the idea of making my own yogurt. It turned out that the Instant Pot was so incredibly useful for easily making meals, that I have focused on that.

My key resource was Instant Pot enthusiast Donna Haney, who has a nice description of the process online. I followed her basic idea of putting a plant milk with minimal ingredients (I used Westsoy brand unsweetened plain soy milk) into the Instant Pot along with a vegan culture and just using the Instant Pot's "Yogurt" button, which brings the milk to 96.8-109.4°F. The longer it is cultured, the more tart and sour it becomes; Donna recommends 9-10 hours.

What I did

  1. I used three separate glass containers. I didn't sterilize them, though, to be careful and not end up culturing any "bad bacteria", I could boil them first. Donna doesn't take this step and just makes sure that she starts with clean containers, as I did. I put about 6 ounces of the unsweetened plain soy milk into each of the containers.
  2. I added existing store-bought unsweetened yogurt. In the first container, I used a teaspoon of So Delicious brand Greek style plain unsweetened coconut yogurt. In the second and third, I used Kite Hill brand plain unsweetened almond yogurt; 1 teaspoon in one and 2 teaspoons in the second.
  3. I put the containers into the stainless steel pot that goes in the Instant Pot with nothing else - no water in the pot or anything. I pressed the "Yogurt" button and adjusted the time to go for 9 hours.
  4. When the time was up, the top readily opened; there wasn't much pressure. The yogurt was good but not very sour. I returned the bottles to the Instant Pot and pressed the "Yogurt" button again and adjusted the time to 5 hours to get a total of 14 hours of culture time.
That's it! The yogurt was runny (would make a great Indian lassi) but good. It had a good amount of tang. My wife loved the yogurt, especially the one with the double dose of the almond yogurt. My daughter and I preferred the first bottle with Greek yogurt as the starter. The yogurt was excellent when we then mixed something in for sweetness; I used organic strawberry preserves, my daughter preferred maple syrup, and my wife used raisins.

Though it was a bit runny, it was warm. We finished the Greek yogurt started one, but went ahead and cooled and refrigerated the other two bottles. We look forward to seeing what they're like tomorrow.

Without sweetener, this is of course good with Indian flat breads, served with rices, used to make a cucumber-yogurt raitha, for a salty Indian lassi, or any number of other savory uses. Sweetened, it's great to now be able to have organic berry yogurt (I have not been able to find yogurt made with organic berries in the store, and we are careful about trying to eat only organic berries). It's wonderful how easy this is and how it avoids buying yogurt in containers that we then have to recycle.

Ideas for the future

I'd like to try this again, using more starter culture, perhaps a tablespoonful of yogurt. I could certainly save some of the homemade yogurt as starter but for now want to first keep on experimenting with a base yogurt. I would again go with 14 hours or maybe 15 or 16 hours for more tang.

I'm not sure why the Instant Pot's yogurt program has such a range of temperatures. The Cultures for Health site suggests keeping the nascent yogurt between 105-112°F and culturing it for 6-8 hours, then letting it set in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours for maximal thickness. The fatfreevegan site suggests 110-115°F for 8-12 hours).

Here are some other things I plan to try:

  • I'd like to try other yogurt starters. For 6 ounces or so, I'd like to try a tablespoon of yogurt. I'll look for more plain yogurts, like by Nancy's.
  • It might be good to use a vegan culture, such as is available at Cultures for Health, but it seems expensive - about $10 for 4 uses, each making 1-2 quarts.
  • I could try a probiotic as a starter, such as by Custom Probiotics, which would be much less expensive - a bottle costs $25 for 50g, and only .4g is needed per 2-4 quarts of milk, which means that over 100 batches of 2-4 quarts of yogurt could be made for about 25 cents a batch for the probiotic. Klaire Labs also makes probiotics that are said to be made with no dairy. Probiotics and cultures are often grown on dairy medium, so one has to be careful to get an appropriate product.
  • I'd like to try different unsweetened milks with few ingredients. We should definitely try our homemade almond milk that we make in our blender by blending almonds without skins with water. I recently found how easy it is to make soy milk in the Instant Pot, and should try that sometime.
  • I wonder if I should introduce another ingredient to thicken the yogurt, such as agar, tapioca, pectin, or arrowroot. It may add a little extra processing time, such as increasing the milk's temperature and mixing in the thickener before proceeding, but if I find it gives a pleasing texture that I can't otherwise get, it may be a good option.
  • From what I've read, yogurt is typically made by scalding the milk to 180°F, pasteurizing it and killing any harmful bacteria, then letting the milk come down to 110°F (or at least below 115°F, checked with a thermometer or just till it feels lukewarm), introducing the culture, and then culturing it for some hours. Because I'm using plant milk, I don't think that the pasteurization is necessary. I'd like to try it though to see if it enhances the thickening of the yogurt. This would be easy to do with the Instant Pot:
    1. I'd start with putting the steamer rack into the Instant Pot and a cup of water, putting the bottles with milk atop the steamer rack, and, using the "Steam" button, pressure steam for just a minute.
    2. I'd give the Instant Pot 10m or so to come down in pressure, then carefully open it.
    3. I'd carefully take the bottles out, remove the steamer rack, and drain the water.
    4. Once the milk is under 115°F, or lukewarm, I'd add the starter, put the bottles into the pot without the steamer rack, press the "Yogurt" button, and adjust the time to 14 (or 15 or 16) hours to let it culture that long.
    5. When the time is up, the pot can easily be opened. I would do a taste test and, unless I want to culture for longer for more tang, I'd cool and enjoy.

Words of wisdom from Donna Haney

In July 2015, Donna posted in the discussion of making vegan yogurt that inspired my efforts, giving her thoughts based on her experiences over the past year in making yogurt:

1. Fat matters: higher fat content (higher ratio of soy to water, adding cashews, adding *coconut cream, etc) results in thicker yogurt. *Not necessarily ETL however.
2. Culture matters: I'm thinking about 15-30 billion viable cultures per quart of milk.
3. Time matters: 12 hours seems about right to me. Overnight so my pot is available during the day. The longer it is incubated the more tart and thick it tends to get, but not more than 20-24 hours as then the bacteria run out of food.
 Cleanliness matters, but sterilization is not necessary.
5. I prefer making it in 8oz jars, but if you have extra liners, you can make it directly in the liner, especially if you intend to strain it for a thicker/Greek style.
6. Making your own yogurt is fun, EASY and can be VERY inexpensive depending on your choices of milks and culture, homemade soy milk and probiotic powder being the cheapest-- unless you use pepper or cherry stems!? smile emoticon Most "failures" can be used in smoothies, so low risk.
7. AND some may wonder: the Instant Pot is SO energy efficient as to use only about .06 kWh for incubating yogurt for 10 hours per one very aware Instant Pot user, Mike Cameron. Less than one cent in his area.

Labels: , ,


At Mon Jan 11, 02:28:00 AM EST, Blogger Dilip said...

The yogurt was good; it thickened a little, but not much. I'm trying again tonight with three batches. I decided to go with 1/2 T of So Delicious plain, unsweetened Greek style yogurt per cup of milk and to culture for 14 hours.

For the first batch, I used a cup of the same unsweetened plain soy milk (ingredients are just soy beans and water) and 1/2 T of the Greek style unsweetened plain coconut yogurt. For the second batch, I used 1 1/2 cups of homemade plain unsweetened almond milk (just water and skinned, soaked almonds, blended together and strained through cheesecloth or paint strainer cloth) and 3/4 T of the yogurt.

For the third batch, I decided to try thickening with agar agar. I was going to use pectin, but then realized that it needs sugar or calcium, neither of which the plain milks I was using had. I had some agar agar and the instructions say to bring the liquid to a boil, mix in a T of agar per cup of milk, and simmer for 5m, stirring occasionally till the agar is dissolved.

I thought it might be convenient to use the Instant Pot for it all, so mixed in 2T of agar into 2 cups of soy milk and cooked with pressure steam for 1 minute (i.e., I put 3/4 of a cup of water or so in the Instant Pot, as well as the steamer insert, and put the bottle atop the insert before steaming for a minute). I let it slowly de-pressurize then after maybe 6-10 minutes, carefully let out remaining steam and opened. The agar wasn't fully dissolved, so I mixed some more. The milk was still not much thicker, so I am thinking that I won't see a big difference in thickness.

I let the milk cool down till lukewarm for about an hour and a half or so, then mixed in 1T of the Greek style yogurt (the agar was still visible). I then put all three batches in the Instant Pot and used the "Yogurt" function to culture for 14 hours. We'll see tomorrow how things turn out.

At Mon Jan 11, 09:03:00 PM EST, Blogger Dilip said...

I can't believe my results - terrific! First the bad news - the almond milk yogurt was not good. It was very liquidy and I didn't think tasted particularly good; it was a little sour but had no real distinctive flavor. Luckily, my wife didn't dislike it.

The great news is that I now have thick, creamy yogurt - and that even before being refrigerated for 24h! I can't remember finding a plain, unsweetened yogurt that I like better than what my Instant Pot made for me. Even better news is that the agar was not required. Both of the soy batches turned out equally thick. The agar batch still had little pieces of grainy agar, which was slightly unappealing. The only difference from the first experiment was that I used more starter yogurt. 1/2 T to a cup of milk seems to do the trick. The result was more sour than yesterday, which indicates that more cultures grew and I guess made the yogurt thicker. My wife and I loved the sourness; it was too sour for my daughter. I'll next make a 12h batch for her and stick with 14h for us.

I want to now try using the yogurt I have made as a starter for the next batch. I wonder if I increase the amount of starter a little bit, if the yogurt might be even thicker. We loved the thickness - it seemed perfect, gently giving to pressure. Once in a while one might want a thicker yogurt, and I guess that I could then try more starter.

I'm going to try using the yogurt itself as starter and experiment with different milks, but am delighted that I seem to have figured out how to let my Instant Pot do a great job with making yogurt. So, this is my formula, so far: Mix in 1 cup soy milk (with minimal ingredients) with 1/2 T starter (other vegan unsweetened yogurt or a previous batch) and culture for 10-12h for a not very sour batch, or 14h for a more sour batch.


Post a Comment

<< Home