Monday, 5 October 2009

Taste on trial: So Good soya drink

Last week, I got an email from Emma at Wild Card PR agency, asking if I'd like to try some So Good soya drink, as they're about to relaunch their range. Sure, I replied, if you're happy with some honest comments. No problem, said Emma, and she sent round two 1l packs of the milk in a dinky insulated bag. Included were some recipes and a fact sheet about the product. I'd asked Emma why people bought this stuff: mainly for health reasons, she said - the drink is lactose free and has no dairy ingredients but has plenty of added vitamins and nutrients.
Mouse took care of border control. I've often seen soya milk in the chiller cabinet, and I've never been tempted to buy it. My normal milk is organic unhomogenised full milk, delivered twice a week, so I wasn't sure whether to treat So Good as a milk substitute or an entirely new food substance. In the end, I decided to try to do both. So this is the first of several reports.
One of the recipes Emma sent was for goat's cheese and courgette cannelloni, so I decided to follow the cheese route as I'd had a beautiful Romenesco in my veg box. I stopped off at the International Cheese Centre at Liverpool Street Station and bought a hunk of hard sheep's cheese so that I could create a dish for those averse to cow's milk.
The Romensco cooked in boiling water for five minutes - it's a wonderful substitute for cauliflower as it stays a bit crisper. As with cauliflower cheese, I made a bechemel sauce using some of the veg cooking water as liquid. Then it was time to add some soya milk to the sauce...and as soon as I did, I could smell sweetness. It wasn't the sweetness of cow's milk but a much deeper, almost condensed milk caramel aroma. I was worried. And a quick taste of the sauce deepened my concern: the sugaryness was almost cloying. Ploughing on, I added a teaspoon of grain mustard and the cheese. The sweetness remained. I know that ewe's cheese has a sweetness of its own, but the soya was drowning that out.
After a quick blast in the oven, the dish was ready to eat. Oh dear. That sweetness was still very strong, and remained as a lingering after-taste. The Romanesco beneath was lovely, so I ended up forking out the florets and scraping off the sauce.
Hmmmm. Back to check the side of the pack. Sugar is the third listed ingredient (2.8g sugar per 100ml), followed by maltodextrin which is a starch sugar. Maltodextrin (if I understand right) can vary in sugaryness, so maybe the So Good folks have gone for a high sugar version?
My final verdict is that this milk is not usable in a savoury dish. The sweetness is really overwhelming and hangs along around long enough to drown out any other flavour.
I'll press on this week with some sweet things, but so far, I'm not loving it.


Lickedspoon said...

I agree with your conclusion Fran. All of the soy milk I have tried is so cloyingly sweet and strangely chalky that I couldn't imagine ever using it unless I was severely lactose intolerant. What a sad fate for your beautiful romenesco - I'm pleased you managed to salvage some of it!

fran39 said...

Thanks for that comment, Debora. I'm really disappointed, as having a good milk substitute for my attempt at vegan Tuesdays would have been great. Why on earth do they make it so sweet??

I am Stan said...

Hi the milk sounds vile...but that veg looks interesting..ive never tried one but ill look out for it and give it a go..

Scarlett the Heavenly Healer said...

What a pity they sent you the sweetened version, which, I agree, is hideously sweet. I'm not sure if SoGood even make an unsweetened version. I never buy this brand as it's so expensive!

I don't use dairy milk and haven't done for about 20 years, so am a bit of a soya milk connoiseur on the quiet. My top tip is always, always buy unsweetened, and never, never imagine it will be anything like dairy milk. My friend Graham used to rather bitchily call it 'liquid cardboard' - I know exactly what he meant.
I love it though, although for me it always, without any exceptions ever, must be unsweetend.

fran39 said...

Stan - romanescos are in season now - they really are beautiful and tasty: a great combination.
Scarlett - thank you for an very interesting comment. I'll have a nose around for an unsweetened version, as it would be good to know of a soy milk that's edible!

goodshoeday said...

Hi Fran. I was offered this to try as well but we hardly use milk at all. We probably only get through 2 pints per week and most of that is for OH hot chocolate.
From your write up I'm glad I didn't say yes. My mum is mildly lactose intolerant so she has tried lots of soya products and finds most of them are too sweet. She now tends to use rice milk or Oatly so you might want to try them for your vegan Tuesday.

fran39 said...

Thanks, Linda. I was thinking of going medieval and making some almond milk!