Experiments

Homemade vegan probiotics; attempt 1

All probiotic drinks for sale in the supermarket closest to my house are with milk, but I would like to see if it is also possible to make a probiotic drink with plant based milk.

For this experiment I bought probiotic pills. The bacteria are supposed to survive the way through the stomach and end up alive and kicking in the intestines. Right now I don’t know if the probiotics also need to the stomach to be activated. So I will compare probiotics with a stomach simulation (lemon juice) and without stomach simulation.

Experimental set-up

Materials
  • Probiotic pills
  • Coconut drink
  • Soy yogurt
  • Three jars
  • Lemon juice
  • Mortar
Making a nice white powder
Method

Make a powder of the probiotic pills
Mix the probiotic powder of one pill with 10 ml lemon juice, let it stand for 10 min
In one jar, mix the probiotic powder of one pill with 200 ml coconut drink
In the second jar, mix the probiotic powder and lemon juice with 200 ml coconut drink
In the third jar, mix 15 ml soy yogurt with 200 ml coconut drink

Wait

Day 0 of the experiment

Results

Usually when making probiotics it takes a week for the bacteria to grow (check probiotics experiment), so I was planning to wait a week with this experiment too. However phase separation (separation of the original mixture, usually fats and water) was visible within a day and a week after I started the experiment I saw all kinds of colonies growing in the coconut drink.

Day 1 of the experiment: phase separation is happening

Obviously I didn’t feel like tasting my experiments with so much bacterial growth (I know that bacterial growth is exactly what you want when making probiotics, it just looks a bit scary and gross). So I just let it stand for some more time, to see what would happen. What I saw was even more growth (naturally) and more phase separation. It is possible to mix the product again, although some clumps remain.

Differences between samples

A clear difference can be seen between the probiotics without lemon juice and the probiotics with lemon juice. In the second one all kinds of bacteria are growing, this can be seen by looking at the colors of the colonies. The one colony is red, another one is a dark dirty color. The place where the colonies grow is also relevant, one grows on the glass in the air and others grow in the drink.

Day 7 of the experiment, colonies have started to form and the phase separation is undeniable

In the first one it’s harder to see anything growing, now I’m not sure if it is hard to see anything growing because nothing is growing, or because only a white type of colony is growing. The phase separation between the two is also completely opposite. I don’t have a clear explanation right now, but I’m guessing it has something to do with the pH since the only difference between the two is the lemon juice.

The equipment I have at home is not advanced enough to check the type and quantity of bacterial growth, I think I need plates to make plate-counts to check for bacterial activity. Then I would also need a sterile environment, otherwise I would count the bacteria that live in the air combined with the bacteria that live in my sample. All in all, I would need a microbiology lab at home. So I guess I know what I want for my birthday.

Conclusion

In general these vegan probiotics will need an emulsifier or a stabiliser to prevent phase-separation.
Next time, I promise I will also consume my home-made probiotics. It remains quite scary to me, since stuff is growing in there and I’m not sure what, but I feel like a coward for not trying. In conclusion, more experiments clearly need to be done before a good recipe for vegan probiotics can be given.

Leave a Reply