Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt
For those who love yogurt and are avoiding or are allergic to dairy...
Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt
- 3 14-ounce cans organic coconut milk OR 1 liter TetraPak coconut milk OR 1 liter of homemade coconut milk (recipe here or here.)
- 1/4 cup plain store-bought coconut yogurt OR 1/4 cup homemade yogurt from previous batch, OR 1/8 tsp non-dairy yogurt starter
- 1-2 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
- 1-2 Tbsp. unflavored grassfed beef gelatin, agar agar, pectin, guar gum, etc. OR 1-2 cups pureed young coconut meat (Optional, if you prefer a thicker yogurt)
- Candy thermometer (Very important)
- Glass or ceramic containers with lids (Do not use metal). Almost anything will do, but I use these.
- Fresh organic berries, bananas, nuts, vanilla or other flavoring (Optional)
- Sterilize your yogurt containers, mixing spoons and other utensils with boiling water. This will keep bad bacteria from competing with the good yogurt bacteria.
- In a saucepan, bring coconut milk to 160 degrees, then remove from heat. (Do NOT microwave, which harmfully alters the chemical structure of the milk). Some say you don’t have to heat coconut milk very much, because it usually comes from sterile containers. However, if you have made your own coconut milk, make sure you’ve heated it to a full 160-170 degrees, or you risk of contamination with burkholderia cocovenenans or other bacteria.
- Cover and cool to 100-110 degrees. It is very important that you allow the temperature to drop so as not to kill the bacterial culture you are now ready to introduce.
- Add maple syrup or honey and stir thoroughly. (The sweetener provides food for the bacterial culture and will be mostly consumed by the time your yogurt is done.)
- If you prefer a thicker yogurt, you can experiment with adding a Tablespoon or two of pectin, agar agar, guar gum, unflavored gelatin or a cup of pureed young coconut meat to your batch at this point. I sometimes add some unflavored grassfed beef gelatin or coconut purée because we are sensitive to other thickeners.
- Remove about 1/2 cup of cooled coconut milk, and add either 1/4 cup of plain coconut yogurt or 1/8 tsp. of yogurt starter. (You should save 1/4 cup of your homemade yogurt as a starter for the next batch.) Stir well.
- Mix the inoculated batch back in with the remainder of the cooled coconut milk.
- Pour cultured milk into any appropriately-sized, shallow glass or enamel containers, cover and let stand at 100-105 degrees for 8-24 hours, to a maximum of 29 hours. (You can check for readiness at 8 hours, but if you want all the sugar to be fully consumed by the bacteria, ferment for at least 18 hours.)
- To keep the correct temperature for the culture, I use my Excalibur dehydrator set at about 105 degrees, and place the containers on the bottom, away from the heating element. You can also use a temperature-adjustable heating pad or crockpot, or put a 60-Watt bulb in your oven and leave the light on. No other heat is needed. Remember, too high a temperature will kill the bacterial culture; too low of a temperature will prevent proper fermentation. You will know you have done it right by the proper yogurt-sour smell and taste.
- After 8–24 hours, remove from heat, stir to an even consistency, and refrigerate. Homemade yogurt is usually thinner than commercial varieties that have added thickeners, but it will thicken up a bit once cooled. If you have added gelatin, coconut puree, pectin, etc. it will thicken even more, depending on how much you added.
- Your yogurt should smell sour. If you notice any off or foul odors, mold, or pink splotches on the surface, discard and try again, making certain all your implements are sterile and you’ve well heated your milk.
- Once fully cooled, you can stir in fresh berries or other fruit, vanilla, nuts, coffee extract, or any other flavoring you desire.