Coconut Yogurt

by angelaskitchen on April 5, 2008

This is for my friend, Laurie, who I promised to post this for over a year ago…  I am a slow poke…

If you have traveled this lovely journey at all, your research into good intestinal health may eventually lead you to learning about all the great benefits of cultured foods and probiotics, and that may lead you to think about getting some great yogurt.  Which is a great plan, if you can eat cow milk products.  There are lots and lots of options out there for the “moo juice” crowd.  However, there are only a couple of brands of soy yogurt and a rice yogurt that are both dairy and gluten free.  Now, I am not knocking them at all.  They are great tasting, my family has enjoyed them, and they have the “live” cultures you want in a yogurt.  However, they may be a bit cost prohibitive at your store and what if soy is not an option you can use?  At our house we try to rotate our food choices as much as possible (and not go nuts planning) to minimize depending too much on any of the high allergen foods.  Now what?

You know I love to experiment.  I had been toying with the idea of making my own yogurt for a while.  Everything I read made it sound like cow milk yogurt was pretty easy.  I thought maybe I needed a yogurt maker (I didn’t want to spend the cash or get one more appliance) or needed a starter (all starters I found at first were dairy based), so I shelved it for a bit.  But the idea kept nagging at me.   At some point my cook book addiction brought me to  Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, and I was set free from the yogurt maker plan!  In the book great ways to ferment and culture veggies and fruits are demystified and there are many vegan options also.  Not everything is gluten and dairy free, of course, but so many options are offered, it’s really does not affect how useful this book is.  It is a GREAT guide to live-culture foods.  Being the food freak I am, I love it!

So, in the spirit of experimentation, I decided to make a coconut yogurt, not really sure how it would work out.  Was I surprised and overjoyed to discover the coconut milk makes a great yogurt with the right mouth feel and taste.  And, using the guidelines in Wild Fermentation, it was really simple to make and takes very little time.  Below is the recipe I use.  I originally used a live culture soy yogurt for my starter as that is what I could get quickly at the time. As I only used a tablespoon originally and I have kept saving a tablespoon from each batch  for the next continuously since for  many batches over the past year and a half or so, I don’t know how much soy protein would be even left in my yogurt.  You can get a dairy free yogurt starter from G I Pro Health, and apparently G.E.M. Cultures carried one, but I couldn’t find it at the site at this time.  If anyone knows of another one, I’ would be glad to hear about it.

Coconut Yogurt - adapted from Wild Fermentation from the dairy yogurt recipe

**Edit 5-13-09:  I now make my yogurt by whisking in 3 Tablespoons Tapioca starch into the coconut milk before heating.  It makes for a great consistency and takes care of the variables in thickness during fermentation.  If you make coconut cream cheese from this thickened yogurt, I find it takes about twice as long to drain.

Equipment:

Quart canning jar with lid

lnsulated cooler (I use a soft sided one)

large heat resistant container (such as glass) with a cover, that will fit in cooler leaving room for the canning jar

Candy thermometer

Sauce Pan

Clean kitchen towels

Boiling water

Ingredients:

4 cups coconut milk (NOT light)

1 tablespoon gluten and dairy free live culture “yogurt” (If you use So Delicious plain coconut yogurt as the starter, I find that you should use the 6 Tablespoons.  You can use the entire 6 oz. container if you culture 42 oz. of coconut milk (3 cans or 5 1/4 cups).  I haven’t used a probiotic capsule yet, but read that you should use 1/4 teaspoon to one capsule per cup of liquid depending on the brand.)

The first thing I do is set up my cooler.  I use a soft sided cooler so that the glass measuring bowl with a lid that I have will fit.  I line the bottom of the cooler with clean kitchen towels, place my glass measuring bowl and a sterilized quart canning jar (I run it through the dishwasher to sterilize) in the cooler, and pack more towels around them.

 

(Edit:  If you do not have a measuring bowl like I have, you could put 2 or 3 more canning jars with lids in the cooler to fill with the boiling water .)

Not so pretty, but it works…

I fill the glass canning jar and measuring bowl with boiling water and put on the caps.  This is to preheat the jar and insulated cooler so they will not drain heat from the yogurt so it can maintain a warm enough temp to ferment.

Close the lid of the cooler.  Next, I take my 4 cups of coconut milk -

- and put it into my sauce pan.  Clip your candy thermometer to the side of the pan about halfway into the coconut milk.  Do not let the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan.

Whisking often, slowly heat your coconut milk over medium heat until it reaches a temperature of 180 degrees F.

 

Turn off the heat, and let coconut milk cool to 110 degrees F.  When the coconut reaches 110, add your reserved yogurt or your starter and mix in well.  I am adding one tablespoon of coconut yogurt from my the previous batch.  More starter WILL NOT make a thicker yogurt.  The bacillus needs “room” and if too much is added you will end up with a sour, watery product.  Blah!

 

Open your cooler, dump out the boiling water from the canning jar.  Leave the water in the covered measuring bowl.  Pour your coconut yogurt mix into the canning jar, cap and put back into the cooler.

 

Tuck more clean kitchen towels into the cooler, close the lid and place cooler in an area where it won’t be jostled.  Yogurt doesn’t like to be bumped around too much while it is culturing.

 

Look!  My yogurt is all tucked in.  Doesn’t it look cozy?

Check on your yogurt after 8-12 hours.  I usually leave it overnight.  It should have a tangy flavor and have some thickness.  If it isn’t thick, warm it up by filling the covered measuring bowl with more hot water, adding more starter, and leaving it 4-8 more hours.  You can also leave it to ferment longer if you wish.  It will become more sour tasting.  I find my yogurt thickens more after it has chilled.  You may experience some separation in your canning jar.  Sometimes I find my yogurt floating on the “whey”.  How much usually depends on the water content of the coconut milk I started with.

Yogurt should be stored in the refrigerator, and will become more sour over time.  Be sure to save some coconut yogurt to make your next batch.

 

Sweeten with fruits and/or the sweetener of your choice or use plain.

Enjoy!

I also use the coconut yogurt to make “cream cheese” and “cheese” cake pops.  The recipes are here.

Edit on March 5, 2009: I had an email about yogurt batches not turning out as thick as mine appears.  I have that issue sometimes also.  Remember, yogurt cultures are a live product and are effected by various factors, temperature, humidity, etc…  Also, the homemade yogurt is not as thick as the dairy or non-dairy yogurts from the store as the homemade doesn’t have the thickeners they contain.  Here are some tips that should help your yogurt if it is not turning out as you would expect:

The question: “I was wondering how you can make finished the coconut yogurt thicker. I have been using your recipe, but tend to get a product that is more runny (more like drinkable yogurt). Any ideas? I usually leave it overnight for 12 to 16 hours in my yogurt maker. I only put 1 Tablespoon of the previous batch in when it cools to between 100 and 110 degrees (or the appropriate amount of starter according to the starter directions). My original starter is from Custom Probiotics. The yogurt tastes great, but is just a bit too runny. Is coconut yogurt supposed to be more runny than “regular” yogurt? Or am I missing something? Thanks!”

The answer: “I have not used that starter, so I am not sure how that would work (making a thick or thin yogurt) but maybe because it is so much of a high potency one that you may need to use less of the starter.  If you use too much starter, the yogurt doesn’t get thicker, it makes a more watery product when the cultures are too crowded.  So, maybe try a little less starter for the next batch.

Also, I use Thai Kitchen organic coconut milk for my coconut milk and I know some of the other coconut milks have a different texture, so that may be it also if you use a different brand.
I also found a tip about thickening homemade yogurt with gelatin (I haven’t tried it, but it seems promising)  It is for dairy milk yogurt, but seems like it would work for coconut milk yogurt:  ’I use plain powdered gelatin, and buy it in bulk. I sprinkle the gelatin over my cold milk and let it sit for about five minutes. (I add 1 tsp per quart, but you could add more to the thickness you desire. You’d just need to experiment a little). Then I stir it in and heat the milk to 180 degrees to kill any “germs” that could get in the way of my yogurt doing its thing. When the milk cools back down to 110 degrees I add yogurt starter and incubate as usual.’

I do get different yogurt consistencies/incubation times etc. when I make yogurt depending on the day/temp/etc that I make it.  Our yogurt is a bit softer than “regular” yogurt, but it is a soft, thick yogurt, not a drink texture.
I hope that helps!”
Also, as another thought, I know some commercial non-dairy yogurts use tapioca starch in their yogurt.  I haven’t experimented with it, however tapioca does thicken liquids when heated.  If you whisked a small amount into the cold coconut milk (start with 1 tablespoon for the first batch, then increase if needed in the next batch, and so on…) then heat as instructed, the yogurt would start thicker before it even thickens from the starter.  That is how I would start to experiment.
Also, remember if you do get a thinner yogurt batch occasionally, it isn’t a waste!  Use it in smoothies, drain it in cheese cloth to remove more liquid if possible, blend it with some fruit and put into an ice cream maker, use it as a buttermilk replacement in recipes, etc…

4 Comments $manage-tooltip$


Monday, April 7, 2008 – 08:01 AM
You are so ambitious and creative. While I am in the process of trading out cows milk for soy, I am stumbling on the yogurt part of it, and cottage cheese.

Monday, April 7, 2008 – 10:01 AM
What a wonderful post! :)   I’ll need to look for that book.
I’ve been experimenting with some fermented grains lately, and I use that same “batter bowl.”  :)
Blessings,
Michele :)  www.frugalgranola.blogspot.com

Monday, April 7, 2008 – 07:57 PM
I’m back- I reserved the Fermentation book at our library, so I should be able to pick it up soon! Thanks! :)
By, the way, thanks for stopping by my blog.  No, I haven’t tried the gingered carrots or pickled ginger.  They sound great, though! :)
I bet your coconut yogurt would work fine for soaking the grains.  Good luck! :)
Blessings,
Michele www.frugalgranola.blogspot.com

Monday, April 28, 2008 – 03:43 PM
This is just what I’ve been looking for….and I’ve been searching for months for info on nondairy nonsoy yogurt you can make. Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

 

 

 

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Christie March 4, 2009 at 12:50 am

I am anxious to try your coconut yogurt, and I think I understand your directions. However, I suspect that there are some great photos interspersed with the directions, that are not showing up on my screen, which probably would confirm what I think you’re saying. If you can tell me how to get those photos, I would be ever so grateful.

In case there is no way to view the photos, would you please clarify the part about the glass measuring pitcher with a lid. First I thought you set the quart jar down in the pitcher of hot water, but then decided that the lidded pitcher of water is instead, a source of heat next to the jar of yogurt in the cooler.

If it doesn’t set, do you just stir the additional starter into the jar, and refill the other vessel with hot (or boiling) water? Could 2 or 3 quart jars with lids substitute for the lidded pitcher? Thanks, Christie

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angelaskitchen March 4, 2009 at 9:22 am

You are right. There are photos, but I haven’t reattached them after the blog move as I have to attach each photo by hand and hand link each recipe back onto the recipe page. That is taking much longer than I had hoped! Oof!

I will work on this one tomorrow (Thursday, 3-5-09) and get all the photos hooked up for you. Thanks for letting me know you needed it sooner!

I hope it works well for you!

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Laura Flowers July 7, 2009 at 12:58 am

This post was really helpful. Thank-you!

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Karen July 23, 2009 at 9:22 pm

I’ll try this for my next batch! Right now I’m trying my first batch of yogurt in my new Yogourmet maker. I once made it in a thermos, but I wanted to buy a new contraption anyway!

Where do you get those great plastic lids for Ball jars???

They look great! I’d love to have some.

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angelaskitchen July 25, 2009 at 6:32 pm

I got the lids at Fleet Farm, but I have seen them at my local grocery store, Walmart and at Target. You can order them on line also. I usually find them with the other canning stuff with the lids and rings. They come in regular and wide mouth sizes. They are great!

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Sarah Irani August 17, 2009 at 12:11 pm

HI! I make my own yogurt from raw milk, but would love to try this kind. Homemade yogurt does end up more runny b/c commercial yogurt often uses a thickener. I strain my yogurt with cheesecloth to make it thicker. And I feed the watery fermented whey to the dog for her digestive health. :-)

I can’t wait to make this coconut yogurt! THanks!

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angelaskitchen August 17, 2009 at 2:05 pm

I hope it works well for you! I like to use the coconut “whey” also.

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Lindsey September 22, 2009 at 2:09 pm

I am trying this tomorrow. We just found coconut milk yogurt about 2 weeks ago and my mult. food allergy 5 yo LOVES it. I’m not sure yet but, I think it is clearing his eczema. The stuff in the store is so expensive so I hope he likes it homemade.

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angelaskitchen September 23, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Let me know how it goes. I hope he likes it! :)

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Sheryl January 16, 2010 at 8:05 am

Angela,
I just discovered coconut milk yogurt at my specialty food store and my kids ATE IT UP! It is very expensive, so when I found your website I jumped for joy! Our family has been GFCFSF for 3 1/2 years and yogurt is something we all missed! I can’t wait to try this recipe…THANK YOU for making it sound so easy! Off to Walmart for those fab plastic lids….wish me luck!

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angelaskitchen January 18, 2010 at 2:23 pm

I hope it works out well for you!

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Natalie W February 11, 2010 at 2:43 pm

I made your recipe using my Total Chef yogurt maker. The first time, I tried using Turtle Mountain’s coconut milk from a carton, their coconut yogurt as a starter, and cornstarch instead of tapioca starch. I ended up with a watery mess, so I tried again, following your directions, without substitutions, and it turned out fabulous! Perfect consistency, thick, creamy, and heavenly. Thanks for putting up a great recipe that will be a new staple in my lactose-free repertoire.

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David September 6, 2010 at 9:46 pm

I tried making coconut milk yogurt with milk from a carton (So Delicious brand – which is a Turtle Mountain product, now that I look it up) too, and it also did not work. I suspect there are some preservatives in the cartoned milk which prevent the fermentation process from starting.

I’m trying again now with an Asian brand of canned coconut milk, with So Delicious plain coconut yogurt as a starter, and it appears to be working much better (it’s not done yet).

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marilu August 3, 2010 at 10:26 pm

I accidentally put too much culture in my coconut meat mix (for yogurt)… will this spoil it? will it ferment any faster?

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Muse Gourmet August 29, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I’ve been searching for information on making coconut yogurt and your information is wonderfully detailed. Thank you! I’ve tried it before and got a runny product but added too many cultures…it was very watery. I will try it again.

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Stevena October 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Gelatin is not even vegetarian……just so you know:)

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angelaskitchen October 7, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am aware of gelatin not being vegetarian, though I appreciate you pointing it out for those who may not know. :o ) We were vegan for many years, but are not any longer. We make coconut yogurt due to severe food allergies, so gelatin is a viable option for us. If you would like, you could use agar or use the tapioca thickener. We get the most consistent results from using the tapioca thickener and that is what I always use now.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy cooking!

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Debbie Baker July 14, 2012 at 9:47 pm

I want to tell you that this is excellent yogurt…best batch I have tried to make. I did alter it just a tad and used 22 ounces of coconut milk with 11 ounces of heavy whipping cream…it was the right consistency before I even got it into my jar to ferment. Thanks alot for the recipe, Angela.

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angelaskitchen July 15, 2012 at 9:33 pm

So glad it works well for you! :)

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Debbie Baker July 23, 2012 at 10:30 am

I have made 3 more batches like this; however, my last batch turned didn’t turn out as good. It seems that the whey has separated from the yogurt…do you know what could have caused this? I made it just like the first 2 batches. Any ideas would be appreciated :)

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Jessica March 28, 2013 at 8:45 am

after doing tons of reading on gluten, dairy and soy free living I am finally making the transition to a largely fruit and veggie based diet…I feel great but getting rid the of the dairy while avoiding soy (I have a soy intolerance but am ok with diary, I’m just not a fan of big industry farms and really do believe that we weren’t meant to consume milk from other animals, no matter how good it tastes) has proved difficult…thank you for this post!!! I just recently discovered a recipe for a non-fat veggie dip using yogurt cheese that I love but since I want to avoid dairy and coconut yogurt is expensive I went on the hunt this morning for a recipe to make my own coconut yogurt…this looks so amazingly easy and possible! yay!!!

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angelaskitchen April 15, 2013 at 6:40 am

I am so glad it could help! Let me know how it works for you. :)

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