Soy pulp turned into healthy probiotic drink by NUS food scientists

From left: Doctoral student Miss Vong Weng Chan and Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan from the NUS Food Science and Technology Programme have devised a unique cocktail of enzymes, probiotics and yeast to produce an okara beverage rich in gut-friendly nutrients (PHOTO: National University of Singapore)

A team of food scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has successfully created a healthy probiotic drink from soy pulp. 

Okara is the residue from the production of soy milk and tofu that is typically discarded, according to an NUS press release on Monday (27 August).

Using a patented process, the team has turned okara into a drink containing live probiotics, dietary fibre, free isoflavones and amino acids.

The drink can be stored at room temperature for up to six weeks and retain high counts of live probiotics. In comparison, commercially available dairy-based probiotic drinks have an average shelf-life of four weeks and require refrigeration to maintain their levels of live probiotics. Such beverages also do not contain nutritious free isoflavones.

“Okara has an unpleasant smell and taste…Our breakthrough lies in our unique combination of enzymes, probiotics and yeast that work together to make okara less gritty, and give it a fruity aroma while keeping the probiotics alive,” said project supervisor Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan, who is from NUS’ Food Science and Technology Programme.

Vong Weng Chan, a PhD student from the Programme, proposed the idea of using fermentation to produce the drink. She took a year to create the recipe after experimenting with 10 different yeasts and four different enzymes.

The NUS researchers are currently experimenting to refine their recipe and looking to collaborate with industry partners to introduce the drink to consumers.