Coconut yogurt. It has an exotic scent, a tart, yet slightly sweet taste and the texture of a creamy custard. And, it actually improves digestive and immune health. All this and both dairy and soy-free? The concept seems almost too good to be true. But, shopping for coconut yogurt can be challenging, if not frustrating. Most grocery stores carry limited, and seemingly over-priced options.
Let’s look at the So Delicious brand of coconut yogurt. If you need packaged convenience, it is not a bad product, made allergen, dairy and GMO-free from organic coconuts. Thumbs up! Their label boasts ‘6 live active cultures’, but fails to provide a microbe count, as is common with most commercial yogurt. The bigger issue is the length of the ingredient list, particularly the amount of thickeners and stabilizers.
ORGANIC COCONUT MILK (WATER, ORGANIC COCONUT CREAM), ORGANIC DRIED CANE SYRUP, CHICORY ROOT EXTRACT (INULIN), PECTIN, TAPIOCA DEXTROSE, NATURAL FLAVORS, ALGIN (KELP EXTRACT), MAGNESIUM PHOSPHATE, TRICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, LOCUST BEAN GUM, ORGANIC RICE STARCH, LIVE CULTURES, CITRIC ACID, CARRAGEENAN, GUAR GUM, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, VITAMIN B12.
Are these ‘dangerous’? Maybe not. But, does coconut yogurt really require this many ingredients? No. Just two ingredients are all that is needed. So, why not make your own?
You don’t need any special equipment or ingredients and can literally make it while you sleep. Simply mix together two ingredients into a jar. Put the jar in the oven, warmed by the light bulb and put yourself to bed. Let the cultures go to work fermenting while you sleep. The longer you sleep, the more tart goodness the yogurt will develop. Sounds like an excellent excuse for a leisurely morning.
I don’t have experience making dairy yogurt. As such, I selected the following coconut yogurt method for its simplicity; no special equipment or ingredients needed. Following are a recipe and some tips for making coconut yogurt at home. Give this one a try. It could not be any easier.
Which Coconut Milk Should I Use?
I use Native Forest organic coconut milk because it is GMO-free and packaged in BPA-free cans. Yes, there is a reason the can is upside down. Placing it in the refrigerator upside down allows the solids to settle to the bottom. After the can has chilled and returned to an upright position, the solids are easily scooped out from the top of the can, away from the water. The remaining water can be added to juices or smoothies. This step is not necessary, but will help create a much thicker yogurt in less time than using the whole can. Do not use the coconut milk ‘beverages’ in cartons. Do not use ‘light’ coconut milk for this same reason. In fact, don’t use ‘light’ coconut milk for anything…
Which Probiotic Should I Use?
One of the benefits of making your own coconut yogurt is being able to control the quality and quantity of probiotic strains used during fermentation. Evidently, the starter probiotic must contain one of the following species – Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streprococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis or Lactobacillus acidophilus.
I use 4 capsules of Metagenics’ UltraFlora Balance which provide 60 billion live organisms of L. Acidophilus NCFM and B. Lactic Bi-07 with potency guaranteed until the expiration date.* Sometimes I use 2 capsules of UltraFlora Spectrum. But, any probiotic with the species listed above and meeting the criteria below will work. You may want to adjust the fermentation time depending on the amount of microorganisms (CFU count) and how tangy you like your yogurt.
- Stomach acid and bile resistant
- Able to adhere to the human intestinal wall
- Able to colonize and grow in the human gastrointestinal system
- Able to inhibit the growth of pathogenic (bad) bacteria
- Of human origin
Sweetener and Flavorings?
Some folks are hard-core yogurt purists and don’t add anything for the ultimate yogurt tang. Adding a teaspoon of some sweetener, honey (ideally local) or maple syrup at the beginning will speed up the fermentation process. I like to add about a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract after fermentation. I don’t add sweetener as I find the coconut milk provides quite a bit of sweetness.
- 1 13.5 oz can unsweetened, full fat organic coconut milk
- 2-4 probiotic capsules emptied or 1 teaspoon of powder
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup (optional, more to taste after fermentation)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional, added after fermentation)
DIRECTIONS – COCONUT MILK SOLIDS ONLY METHOD:
- Place the coconut milk solids into a mason jar or other sealable and sterilized jar. I take mine straight out of the dishwasher.
- Break apart the probiotic capsules, emptying the powder into the jar with the milk.
- Stir the probiotic and sweetener (if using) into the coconut milk with a spoon and seal the jar.
- Turn on the oven light, keeping the oven turned off. The temperature inside the oven should slowly rise to about 110° F from the heat generated by the light. Alternately, you can place the jar in a cooler with a heating pad.
- Place the jar in the oven for 12-24 hours, keeping the oven light on, but the oven should be OFF.
- After at least 12 hours, remove the jar from the oven and check for taste and tanginess. If it has not reached your preferred tanginess, continue to check the flavor about every 4 hours.
- Flavor with a teaspoon of vanilla and if desired, sweeten with some honey or maple syrup. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- Store refrigerated for up to one week. The yogurt will continue to thicken over time.
- The last 1/4 cup can be scooped out and placed into a clean jar to help ferment a fresh batch of yogurt, by repeating all the above steps. This should work without adding additional probiotics if the probiotics used in the first batch are high quality and still viable.
Mmmm… This is quite the treat drizzled on top of oatmeal or fruit, especially persimmons.
How do you like to enjoy coconut yogurt?