What’s with the coconut yoghurt explosion you’re wondering? Or perhaps you’re part of the explosion. It’s part necessity for those with allergic reactions to cassein, lactose or both. It’s partly to add another interesting food to the mix. It’s partly because of the rise of paleo and vegan food choices, both groups avoiding dairy.
So, while it’s popular and that’s great, if you wanted to buy it commercially, you’re either bleeding cash (In Australia it’s around $9 for a small, 2 serve tub) OR you’re worried about the environmental impact of yet another single use plastic item in the food trolley. The best solution is to become a yoghurt maker. It’s one of those things that seems like an impossibly complicated thing to start doing in a world gone time starved, and truth be told, the first couple of times will probably be time consuming and fiddly, BUT the reward is money saved, less plastic tubs and a blissful cultured food to add to your immune building stable.
A couple of things before you start on your yoghurt making journey…
1. Trust that you will get this.
2. Know that a batch might not work every now and then for various reasons and that’s Ok.
3. Don’t stress about failed batches if this happens, as that stuff will work beautifully for smoothies to use it up. You could even freeze it into ice cubes to make instant ice creams. FAR from failed result!
A couple of questions answered before we kick off
1. If I can’t do / don’t want to do dairy, do I need to replace the yoghurt at all?
I’m not here to force you, but I’m kind of going to say yes. Cultured foods are imperative in our modern world devoid of bacteria (good or bad!). Culturing is going to help ensure your gut is populated with loads of good soldiers. These lil’ guys are going to keep the bad soldiers in check and out numbered – the ones who are pathogenic and constantly trying to invade. By keeping our guts well populated with the good guys, we protect our immune system – 80% of which is powered by the gut. We also support our brain health with the ever increasing proof that there is a very strong connection between the health of our mental state and the state of our gut health. I NEVER cease to be amazed at how intertwined our body systems are. For so long we all saw specialists for certain parts of the body when really, we should never have stopped looking at things holistically.
2. Can I vary your recipe?
I’d say no. Substituting anything specified below and I can’t guarantee you will get culturing or a setting. Feel free to experiment of course. That’s how I arrived at this method myself.
3. Don’t I need special equipment like a yoghurt maker to make yoghurt?
Nope. You can of course buy a yoghurt maker if you’re worried about the precariousness of ovens being left ajar and on for a long time though.(there’s a good one with glass jars that is reasonable on ebay here) I do strongly suggest a food thermometer however if you’re not going to get a yoghurt maker, so you can easily monitor your yoghurt the first couple of batches and find out what that perfect 41-45C temp is like at your house – For me it was oven on 80C with door ajar and yoghurt 2/3 of way forward on the rack shelf… The thermometer is what helped me ensure I found that sweet spot and nailed the culturing temperature.
4. Isn’t coconut full of saturated fats?
Yes. AND turns out that’s a really, really good thing for many people. Retired CSIRO scientist and honorary research fellow at the University of Queensland, Mike Foale, says the Heart Foundation has got it wrong. Foale has been studying the coconut palm for more than four decades and believes coconut is a superfood. “There is both scientific and abundant anecdotal evidence of great health benefits, including increased energy, weight loss, natural antibiotic activity and insulin stabilisation,” Foale says. It’s comprised mainly of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that our body uses super easily for energy, thus increasing our metabolism and reducing the amount of fats stored, as is done with long chain. It’s magic for feeling fuller longer, diminishing wrinkles (especially those little feathery ones). It’s also packed with immune building lauric acid – just like a mummy’s breast milk – so it’s a powerful tool in your kit for fighting nasties. Lastly, culturing the coconut cream enhances your body’s ability to process fat efficiently and so cultured foods and fatty foods are wonderful partners when it comes to maximising nutrient absorption and efficient digestion. Love that. Welcome aboard the fat train. The healthy fat train. It’s a delicious place to be.
5. Can’t I use coconut milk instead of coconut cream?
NO! You’re paying for a watered down product. Water it down yourself as I’ve done in this recipe to ensure it’s not stodgy or chalky like commercial coconut yoghurts often are, I’ve made the first step a water step.
Let’s make yoghurt!
What you’ll need
A l litre glass container with glass lid as I have, pictured. Pyrex is perfect or a glass flip top lid style of jar where you just take the rubber out for the incubation time and pop loose lid on jar for that phase.
A food thermometer
600ml coconut cream (I like Ayam best as there are zero additives / thickeners to begin with. Having said that I have used Spiral Organic with 0.5% guar gum and that’s worked well too.)
1 1/3 cups of filtered, chlorine free water (chlorine inhibits bacteria and is a massive no no in fermentation land)
2 tablespoons rice malt, maple, coconut syrup, rapidura or panela (don’t skip the sugar. It’s the bacteria’s food and you will get a more successful culture with it and a negligible sugar result in the end)
1 vanilla pod or teaspoon vanilla paste or powder (Do not mix until AFTER culturing is complete)
3 tablespoons tapioca flour
1 teaspoon agar agar or 1.5 teaspoons grass fed beef gelatin
40 billion worth of bacteria from probiotic capsules or powder (the more strains in there the better!) OR 2 teaspoons of yoghurt starter culture from your local health shop OR 1/2 cup of coconut yoghurt to get the culture going and growing.
What to do (Thermomix modification for first steps is at the bottom)
Boil a cup of water and add the agar agar / gelatin and simmer for 4-5 mins or until agar agar cannot be seen.
Mix your tapioca and 1/3 cup water along with your sweetener of choice (Do NOT use stevia. The good bacteria needs some sugar of some form to take hold and grow. The sweet stuff is what it eats to grow. There is a very negligible amount left at the end of the process.
Add the tapioca mix to the saucepan and it will almost instantly turn into a ghost busters reminiscent goopy goop of goopiness, that you should whisk constantly for a minute or two and then…
Add your coconut cream and heat until you just see a couple of bubbles start to pop up. Keep stir continuously until you get there.
Now, turn heat off and pop saucepan by the window until the heat comes down to 45C. This will take about 40 minutes so off you pop for a nice relaxing epsom salt bath or meditation – kids? what kids ?!
Once you get it back down to 45C approx (do not panic if a couple of degrees cooler or hotter) is the time to introduce your culture of choice. It’s also the time to preheat your oven as low as it goes. Mine is gas and 80C is it.
Sprinkle either the powders or plop the yoghurt in and whisk like a crazy person to combine well.
Now pour out into your culturing receptacle, that should be well washed and dry (no need to disinfect especially. Just soap will do)
Pop into your very low temp oven, with the door ajar and your jar / pyrex in the middle depth of the tray. OR pop into your yoghurt maker and set the timer and ignore the rest of these steps)
Test the temperature in 10 minutes to make sure it hasn’t shot up. If it has, move the yoghurt closer to the ajar oven door where it will be cooler. Test again after 10 minutes.
Once you know it has settled at around 45C or a couple of degrees lower, you can leave it be for around 8 hours – not less. So, ideally this is a morning project that you then leave during the day.
Lastly, simply take out of the oven and pop into the fridge to set as it cools – It will be liquidy at this point. Do not panic about that.Now is the time that you can mix in vanilla bean paste, powder or bean for a delicious vanilla flavour infusion by the next morning.
This is what you will awake to from your sweet slumber! 600ml of delicious yoghurt that costs around $5, not $15 for the equivalent store bought amount.
For a big family, make a double batch and you’re done for the week. Add it to smoothies, instant ice creams, serve with curries with a little grated cucumber and mint in it, my breakfast crunch from my book available on Amazon or serve as a delicious breakky bowl as pictured below.
How long will it last? 1 week
How many serves is this? 8-12 depending on how big your serving size is at your house
Remember, the first time is the time consuming time! Be patient with yourself in learning the technique that first time. I check over recipes a million times pacing around the kitchen the first time I make anything. Yes, it’s true! If the whole oven fiddling step bothers you, the “set and forget” 8 hour timer on a yoghurt maker will be something you should invest in. You’ll make your money back after 5 batches, with the price difference in commercial coconut yogurt. Definitely worth it!
NOW, I want a promise of tagging and sharing your efforts because this is clever stuff! Here in the comments, on instagram tagging me @Alexx_Stuart or #alexxstuart or just pop your pic up on the facebook wall. Let’s inspire others to see how easy it is once you get the hang of it!
Real Food. Happy Bodies.
p.s Got a Thermomix? Here’s that low down
For the first step TM 100C for 4-5 minutes speed 1, with the agar / H2O.
Then add the tapioca, sugar and do 2 minutes speed 2, 100C.
Then add the coconut cream and do another 2 minutes speed 2, 100C.
Then, let it cool in the thermomix to 50C
Then add the powder / yoghurt from last batch and blend speed 6, 5 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl.
Then pour into your receptacles with lids and follow the oven / yoghurt maker step. I’d say the TM would take up too much power on for 8 hours and there’s no 45C setting. Feel free to try, but I haven’t done it 100% in the thermomix.
Source: coconut oil facts sourced from Body and Soul article
p.p.s Are there other ways that you can make coconut yoghurt?
There are many ways to make it. I’ve tried eskis or benchtop but it sadly hasn’t worked for me or at least not the way I wanted it, with that luscious thick result. Two recipes on the interwebs are two talented lasses Lesh from Mindful Foodie and Alisha from Naughty Naturopath Mum - the latter being a ‘cheats’ yoghurt if you’re time poor and live in a warm climate, where this works a treat.