A German inventor, Wilhelm Hansen, has been awarded a US patent to protect his process for making cheese, curd and yoghurt from soya beans. Hansen refers to the growing number of consumers opting for soy milk over cow’s milk, and the increase in the number of people who are required to, or choose to, eat vegetarian food exclusively. His process aims to substantially eliminate the taste of soybeans in dairy substitutes such as soy-based cheese and yoghurt.

Protected under US patent number 6,254,900, the abstract reads:

A process for producing cheese, curd or yoghurt products from soya beans involving the steps: (a) preparation of soya milk from soya beans; (b) addition of vegetable sugar to the soya milk in the proportion of about 1 to 5 wt %; (c) emulsifying vegetable fats and/or oils in a total proportion of some 15 wt % in the soya milk; (d) preparation of a culture cocktail with a pH between about 3.8 and 4.5 by the addition of commercially available cheese cultures and animal lactose in a proportion of some 10 wt % of the vegetable sugar added in step (b) to the soya milk as in step (a); (e) addition of the culture cocktail to the soya milk as per step (c) to curdle it and ferment it as desired, and (f) subsequent ripening and final processing in a known manner to provide the desired cheese, curd or yoghurt product.

The first claim (of 18) is for:

Method for the manufacture of one of cheese, quark, cottage cheese or curd products comprising predominately vegetable products from soybeans to produce a product having an appearance, consistency, scent and taste not significantly different from a corresponding product made from animal milk, comprising the steps of:

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    (a) preparation of soy milk from soybeans;

    (b) addition of vegetable sugar to the soy milk in a proportion from approximately 1 to 5% by weight;

    (c) emulsification of vegetable fats and/or vegetable oils with a total content of approximately 15% by weight into the soy milk;

    (d) preparation of a culture cocktail suspension with a pH of between approximately 3.8 and approximately 4.5 by the addition of commercial cheese cultures and animal lactose, which animal lactose is fermented substantially entirely into lactic acid, in a proportion of approximately 10% by weight of the vegetable sugar added in Step (b) to soy milk as described in Step (a), to stimulate the lactic acid bacteria in the commercial cheese cultures to ferment the vegetable sugars to thus produce lactic acid;

    (e) addition of the culture cocktail to the soy milk as described in Step (c), to acidify the soy milk and to ferment it, and

    (f) a final ripening and processing in the manner of the prior art into the desired cheese, quark, cottage cheese or curd product.

To see full details of the patent, please click here.