I really love coconut milk yogurt – but I really don’t like the price tag. Or the additives. Considering how simple it is to make your own from raw shredded coconut flakes, I encourage you to give this recipe a try. For me, there’s nothing quite like feeling chuffed you’ve made something really amazing out of something so simple!
I am a bit of a kitchen gadget fiend I must admit. I have 2 yogurt makers. The first machine I bought in a second-hand shop. I think new these cost around $20-$30 (£10-£20). I love its cute little jars – you can just open it up, add some fruit if you like, and there it is – a ready-made portion of yum! It has a timer that will switch off after it has finished culturing. You’ll need to be around to put the pots in the fridge after that though.
However, I really wanted to be able to make a larger amount each time, and although I could use a large mason jar, I just couldn’t resist this model, that cultures it at the right temperature for however long I set it for, then cools it (thus stopping the fermentation process) and continues keeping it cool until I turn it off. I waited until I saw this unit on sale, and I got it for $35 in Williams Sonoma – it usually runs around $100 though – not inexpensive. This model also means that I can just scoop out whatever portion sizes I like, whenever I need them, and put the tub back in the fridge. Excellent.
To make the yogurt, first you will need to make the coconut milk. Simply take 2 cups raw shredded coconut flakes/shreds and put in a blender jug. Add 5 cups of hot water from the kettle and let steep for 20-30 minutes. Blend for 1 minute in a high-speed blender (or 90 seconds in a regular blender – I use a VitaMix). Strain it through a nut milk bag (or muslin/cheesecloth) and there you have it. Find the full recipe here.
There are a couple of things you need to know about making a dairy-free yogurt. First of all, you will need to add sugar in order to give the bacteria from the culturing agent something to eat! Regular dairy milk naturally contains sugar in the form of lactose, so no need to add any extra sugar. For culturing the coconut milk, simply add a couple of tablespoons of granulated sugar – the bacteria from the culturing powder will feed on the sugar and culture the coconut milk into yogurt. The second thing, is you will need to add something to thicken the yogurt. Dairy milk contains casein, which will naturally thicken the yogurt – especially after it cools. However, the coconut milk will need some help to thicken. I have tried various thickeners – and it is extremely difficult to get that thick and creamy texture of dairy yogurt. If you are using coconut milk from a can, then you will be able to get a thicker result. And – because we are using a milk made from coconut shreds, and the fat content is less than canned coconut – you will struggle to get that perfect consistency. I have tried various methods, and there will be another recipe on the blog shortly that uses tapioca starch and agar agar – but this recipe uses the thickener I currently like the best – fruit pectin. The finished yogurt is set – but very soft set. The flavor, however, is fantastic!
The fruit pectin I really like for this recipe is Pamona’s Fruit Pectin as it always gives reliable results. You can buy it on Amazon (both in the UK and the US) if you can’t find it in your local markets. In the package are two envelopes – one is the pectin powder, and the other is a calcium monophosphate powder. A small amount of the calcium phosphate powder is mixed with water and added to the coconut milk. This allows you to use less sugar in the recipe. The pectin is derived from apples and citrus fruits. I also add a very small amount of xanthan gum – which adds some texture to the set. A little like gelatin, only instead of being an animal-derived product, it is made from fermented corn sugar. There are other ways you can set your yogurt – agar agar, gellum gum, flax meal, gelatin, arrowroot powder, tapioca starch – and I will be experimenting with them and adding alternative coconut milk yogurt recipes to the blog soon! Making the yogurt using pectin is very straightforward, however, and although takes a little time, I think it’s absolutely worth it! A large batch of yogurt lasts about 5 days in the fridge.
You will also need a probiotic powder to culture the yogurt. You could use 2 T of a store-bought coconut milk yogurt if you like. I haven’t tried it, but you could also use a couple of spoons of regular yogurt, if you don’t need the finished yogurt to be vegan. This brand, by Cultures For Health is what I use. (If you go to their website you can download a free Yogurt making e-book!) I buy it in my local Wholefoods Supermarket, although you can also get it from their website. Any vegan yogurt starter will work. Once you have made your yogurt, keep aside a couple of tablespoons from the batch, and use this to culture your next yogurt. The next few batches after that get creamier and creamier. On about the fifth batch – that’s when I really started noticing the difference in texture. And seeing as I make a batch a week – that didn’t take too long at all!
I do hope you’ll try this recipe – it tastes amazing, and will make your belly very happy!
- 2 Cups / 180 g Raw Coconut Shreds/Flakes
- 5 Cups / 1200 ml Boiled Water from the Kettle, cooled for 10 minutes before adding
- 2 T Sugar
- 1 package Vegan Yogurt Starter - Alt. use 2 T ready-made cultured yogurt of choice
- 2 t Pamona's Universal Pectin + 2 t Calcium Water OR
- 2 t powdered fruit pectin - and increase Sugar to 3 T
- ¼ t Xantham Gum
- A cooking thermometer (recommended)
- First Make the Coconut Milk:
- Soak the coconut shreds/flakes with 5 cups / 1200ml hot water from the kettle for 20 minutes
- Blend for 60 minutes using a high-speed blender (or 90 seconds in a regular blender)
- Strain liquid through a nut milk bag, muslin, cheesecloth or very fine sieve, pushing on the pulp until all liquid is released - caution, contents may be hot - allow to cool until safe enough to handle.
- To make the Yogurt:
- Pour 1 Cup /240 ml of the coconut milk into a blender with the pectin and xanthan gum. Blend 30 seconds, keep to one side.
- Pour the rest of the coconut milk into a saucepan with the sugar and calcium water.
- Heat on medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
- Turn the heat up to medium high and wait until the thermometer reads 140F (60C) - or until small bubbles appear at the edge of the milk. Stir from time to time to ensure it doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan.
- Take off the heat and whisk in the reserved 1 cup coconut milk, xantham gum mixture.
- Return to the heat until it again reaches 140F (60C) or bubbles appear at the edge of the pan.
- Take of the heat, stir once more and leave until temperature reaches 110F (approx 40C) or until you can insert your index finger in the milk and it feels comfortably warm.
- Remove about 5T of the milk and add the yogurt starter. Mix until dissolved and pour into the rest of the milk, stirring to distribute evenly.
- Pour the yogurt into the yogurt maker and culture for 8 hours. Cover the yogurt and refrigerate for 8 hours or over night. OR:
- Pour into a container, cover, wrap in a tea towel and put into the oven with just the oven light on. Culture for 10 hours. If you have a 'proving' setting on your oven, you may use that, and culture for 8 hours.
- Cover the container and place in the fridge for 8 hours or over night.
- The yogurt will set up more as it cools.