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non-dairy yogurt, experiment no.1

17 Apr

I was invited to speak as the Yogurt Pedaler for Earth Month at Ohio University this month. My primary “appearance” was at the Vegan Cooking Workshop. I was immediately suspicious of being invited to make milk products at a vegan event, but I was assured they were enthusiastic about the Yogurt Pedaler trying to get people to care about what they eat, regardless of its origin. I was in!

In preparation, I tried to make vegan yogurt.

I honestly didn’t do too much research, but what I did suggested it would be pretty easy, following the same method as real dairy yogurt. That was wrong.

This is the failed almond milk yogurt. I was surprised I couldn’t find plain non-dairy yogurt at the grocery store. (I have my own theories that it’s because it tastes gross – I’m definitely a purist when it comes to my yogurt, so far.) The yogurt made with soy milk didn’t turn out so well either:

I’ve learned a bit about the microbiology of incubation in yogurt making over the past year, but I’m still confused about how the yogurt cultures that live on lactose can thrive and work to make yogurt in a non-dairy home that has no lactose. The “live active cultures” advertised in the soy yogurt are the same as the ones found in real dairy yogurt, but I obviously don’t know if their presence is actually the cause of the soy yogurt’s yogurt-like texture. I have my doubts, honestly. I also suspect a large part of the failure of both of these experiments is because the soy milk and almond milk I used are both very, very processed and sweetened.

Next time, I am going to try the intriguing process I found in my google adventures of fermenting my soy milk with chili pepper stems, and I am going to try it with unsweetened soy milk. If I get really ambitious, I may try to make soy milk myself from soy beans. But I wouldn’t keep your fingers crossed.


28 Jul

I’m no biologist. But I’ve learned a lot in the last few days about microbiology, bacteria, fermentation, proteins….and I’m putting it together in a sort of “lesson” on the science of making yogurt. There are still a few parts that totally confuse me, and most of it baffles me healthily, but for now, I’ll give you a few teaser photos that I think are AWESOME.

Lactobacillus bulgaricus, one of the bacteria necessary to make yogurt

Streptococcus thermophilus, the other necessary bacteria to make yogurt

Concept sketches 1.0

17 May

Culture Caravan beta version

2 May

I inaugurated my Culture Caravan on May Day, heading to the VERS10N Festival’s Chicago Art Parade. It took a lot longer than expected to get the bike and trailer all the way to the West Loop.  I was really lucky the wind was at my back, but I was still completely exhausted by the time we got to the intersection of Green and Wayman, where the Chicago May Day Art Parade had finished…over two hours before.  I gave out some yogurt to a little crowd standing around anyway, though, and it was a great first test run!

photo by Cristina Bejarano

photo by Erin Watson

Erin and Nick showed up for support and we pedaled up Milwaukee to the Polish Triangle, where I plan to hang out for a bit tomorrow on my way back down to Hyde Park.

photo by Erin Watson