One thing I really can’t cope without is dairy. Not being able to have milk in my tea is the thing that drives me to breaking point during a 30 day challenge, I love having butter in my scrambled eggs and I just don’t want to hold back on the cheese. I do try not to go crazy (which is where this recipe comes in), but usually fail! However, for those of you have a bit more self control than me in this area, this might just help you. It tastes different to normal (ie cow) yogurt: it still has that yogurty tang flavour but it’s a lot creamier and tastes less acidic, and you still get a strong coconut flavour through it. It’s also a lot richer, so you typically won’t eat as much.
Commercially produced coconut yogurt is out there in the form of Coyo, which you can track down in a number of organic or health food shops. I love it (especially the mango one), but unfortunately it’s really really pricey so I can’t justify buying it too frequently. Making your own also gives you a bit more control over flavour and texture.
The actual process of making yogurt is pretty much the same regardless of the milk you’re using – sterilise your milk, allow to cool, add cultures, incubate. It sounds a bit scary, but in reality it’s minimal effort and doesn’t require any specialist equipment. In fact, it’s so easy that my lovely boyfriend said he wasn’t too impressed at me for making it because he saw the process and it was so simple – he said if I wanted him to be impressed I should have closed the door and made exciting kitchen noises for a few hours to create the illusion of complexity.
A final note – tasty milk + tasty starter = tasty yogurt. Don’t skimp too much on the ingredients!
You need… (makes about 800ml yogurt)
- 2 x 400ml cans coconut milk
- 3 tbsp natural yogurt with live cultures in. If you don’t want to eat dairy you can buy yogurt cultures all over the internet, but personally I don’t care, and suffer from the winning combination of laziness and impatience that requires ingredients to be readily available in my local supermarket. For future batches you can use your previously made coconut yogurt as a starter, so your dairy component will decrease over time.
- 1 tbsp arrowroot to thicken. If you’re using dairy milk you won’t need this, but coconut needs a bit of a boost in this department. I’ve heard of people using gelatine instead to achieve this.
- A saucepan, a spoon and a mug.
- A couple of jars or containers that will hold about 800ml of liquid that you can close properly
- A thermometer. Any kind will do, as long as it goes up to 110C. Personally I go for my sugar thermometer, but I’m currently eyeing up probe ones on Amazon. You could possibly do without one if you skipped the sterilising step and just tested it with your finger (you are 37C and you want your milk to be about 45C – it should feel slightly warm)
- Something you can use to maintain a steady 40C temperature for 12-18 hours. I use my Wonderbag, but you can also use:
- A thermos – just pour it straight in and decant into jars afterwards. I remember my dad using this method when I was little!
- A cool bag or box with towels wrapped around the jars. Some people seem to like putting warm water in the cool box to do the same job.
- Your oven, if it has a light only or defrost setting. Again, wrap a tea towel around your jars before you put them in.
- An airing cupboard.
- A slow cooker. I’ve not tried this but the internet seems to think it’s a good idea.
- A fancy yogurt making contraption. Seems a little excessive though.
Step 1: Sterilise. Put your milk into a saucepan and gently heat until it reaches about 85C – hot but not boiling. Stir regularly. This step kills any bad bacteria to prevent it from messing with your friendly yogurt making bacteria. Allow to cool to 45C. If you’re feeling impatient at this point you could dunk your saucepan in an ice bath, otherwise make sure you check the temperature frequently.
Step 2: Add your cultures. Put a couple of tbsp of the milk into a mug, add in your yogurt/cultures and arrowroot and mix well. Pour back in to the pan of milk and give another mix.
Step 3: Incubate. Pour the milk into your jars, and incubate for 12-18 hours using your chosen method. A longer incubation means a more “yogurty” flavour, so you might want to play around with future batches a bit to find your favourite. Don’t disturb your yogurt while it’s incubating!
When it’s time to come out, all you have to do is transfer to the fridge for a few hours to stop the cultures from doing anything else and to make it thicken up a bit…. and then you’re done! if you fancy a more greek style yogurt, strain it using a sieve and a couple of layers of cheesecloth.
A few troubleshooting bits and pieces:
If it’s really thin:
- Really really thin? Like still coconut milk thin? No coming back from this one I’m afraid. Either your cultures were dead to begin with or died along the way. Try again with a different starter and make sure you don’t add it when the milk is too hot (they’ll burn and die) or to cold (they won’t get started). Also check your incubation method isn’t too hot or cold.
- Try adding a bit more arrowroot/thickener of choice to the next batch.
- Strain it – pour it into a sieve lined with some cheesecloth and leave it until some of the liquid has dripped through. The internet tells me you can drink said liquid as coconut water.
If it splits (ie there are liquid and lumps of yogurt):
- Stir it back together. I said this was simple…
- If it’s at the bottom (like in my photo) – spoon the top bits off and chuck the liquid when you get there.
- Strain it (as above)
If it’s got pink or black furry bits on it… throw it away. They’re not the friendly type of bacteria!