Vegan Yogurt Starter
Product Review (submitted on February 9, 2014):
I recently set out to provide my husband with an alternative to the sugarbomb liquid-candy grocery store yogurt I couldn't get him to stop eating. I bought some Cultures for Health "Mild Flavor Yogurt Starter," which is absolutely dynamite stuff - we really love it. Firm but creamy-smooth texture, perfect balance of sweet and tangy. With a pinch of stevia and some blueberries my husband prefers CFH Mild to the old sugarbomb yogurt. I would have declared victory and just left well enough alone, but it seems like a fair few gut microbiome studies have shown promising results with Lactobacillus rhamnosus. The Mild starter doesn't have L. rhamnosus, so I decided to explore the CFH Vegan starter, which does.
All three batches of vegan yogurt I attempted were wretched. Once with rice milk, twice with coconut/almond blend I got nasty separation of mealy curd from whey. The results were edible, but unappetizing enough that husband threaten to relapse back to sugarbomb. I double-checked the temperature repeatedly throughout the ferment and it was a perfect 110F. My third batch even included a hefty dose of nonfat dry milk, but that only seemed to make things worse. For me, the only real value of the vegan starter was to make me feel glad I'm not vegan and don't have to figure out the witchcraft of this fussy ferment.
A side-note for vegans interested in cultured food: CFH water kefir could be a great option. The water kefir is drastically easier to figure out than this crazy vegan yogurt. You can quickly turn a bottle of V-Fusion juice, which I find too sweet, into delightful tangy complexity with champaigney bubbles. Another noteworthy victory in my ongoing war against grocery store sugar-mania.
Response from CFH: Culturing with nondairy milks can be tricky. These are recipes we have created and had good results with: