About a year ago, I took my son off of cow’s dairy in order to help reduce the inflammation in his body that was/is creating asthma. Goat dairy does not seem to produce the same response, so we first tried goat yogurt. Yeah, not so much. Since fresh, raw goat milk is only available for a short season and still hard to get your hands on, making it at home, as I had done for our regular yogurt, was not an option. Since I rarely buy prepackaged, single-serving foods, it had escaped my notice that there is now a coconut yogurt on the shelves. My kids, however, did notice, so we got some to try. I could not bring myself to buy the fruity ones because of their high sugar content, so we opted for the plain. My sweet son LOVED it and gobbled it down. C and I had a more restrained opinion which vacillated between “gross” and “edible in an emergency”. Clearly though, if a child is eating an unsweetened yogurt that others don’t even find palatable, that’s something to look at. In this interim between cow’s dairy yogurt and coconut yogurt, I had been feeding the kids powdered probiotics in honey. Lately I’ve been trying to find all of our needed supplements in a food-based form to stay closer to whole foods. So, returning to making my own yogurt seemed like a good place to start.
I like this version of the yogurt, but I do find the tapioca starch noticeable. I’ve reduced the amount as much as I can and still get a nicely set yogurt, but the texture doesn’t bother anyone else. I also feel that the $1.89 charged for the teensy coconut yogurts to be RIDONCULOUS! So, know that you will save quite a bit of money by making your own. If you are not a jar-hoarder like I am, you might have to buy some small ones, but that will pay off in the long run.
I looked at many recipes and settled on this one as my starting point. It didn’t quite yield for me those creamy looking results, so as I always do, I tinkered with it to make it mine.
- I was excited that the recipe used homemade coconut milk. However, I tried it as she described twice and the yogurt was not creamy enough. I have high creamy standards given that I used to add extra powdered milk to my yogurt process to yield a super-creamy result, so it could just be my standards. I found the best results using a cardboard aseptic coconut milk and the second-best (coconut milk) results using canned. The aseptic package is creamier and has no “canned” taste, so I recommend that if you have access to it.
- I have made this with homemade almond milk and it was also delicious. I would rate this version #2, a little higher than the canned coconut milk.
- I always try to simplify recipes as much as possible, so I did try throwing this all together without really cooking it (fail), not heating the milk with starch (fail) and not really boiling the agar (fail). So please know that even though you use two pots and two whisks, this really is the simplest, most foolproof way to do it. I’ve had good success a solid 3 times in a row using these steps and ingredients exactly. This is one such fail where the agar layer separated from the coconut milk. Still eaten, trust me.
- I have not tried re-culturing the yogurt from commercially prepared yogurt. There are different kinds of yogurt cultures and I am not sure this would work. I am in the business of getting the MOST probiotics per serving, so I use a fresh starter every time.
Coconut or Almond Milk Yogurt
1 quart aseptic coconut milk, homemade almond milk or canned coconut milk (or any mix of)
1 teaspoon powdered agar (not advocating this website, just want you to know what I’m talking about here)
1 1/2 Tablespoons tapioca starch
2 Tablespoons sugar or maple syrup
1 packet of Cultures for Health vegan yogurt starter
7 half-pint jars, filled with warm water (this keeps your optimum temperature)
yogurt maker, dehydrator, oven with pilot light or warming pad
This is the aseptic coconut milk I use.
Using one medium saucepan and one very small saucepan, put approximately 1/2C milk into the small saucepan. I do not dirty a measuring cup for this, but eyeball it. Add about 1/2 Cup of water so that after boiling, you still end up with a quart of liquid.
1 teaspoon agar powder
Agar is available powdered, flaked or in sticks. If at all possible, you want powdered because it is most easily measured which means you will get consistent results. If you cannot obtain powdered, find a conversion chart online or powder it in your coffee grinder first.)
Sprinkle the powdered agar over the milk in the small saucepan and turn it on low. Let the agar soften for a few minutes and then boil it for at least five minutes while you prepare the rest of the milk. Whisk it every minute or so with an appropriately tiny whisk.
1 1/2 Tablespoons tapioca starch
Add the tapioca starch to the milk in the larger saucepan and whisk to incorporate. Heat over low to medium heat until you feel the texture of the milk change. The milk won’t look terribly different, but it becomes a little more velvety. Be careful to whisk the edges of the saucepan or your milk will be very thick there and you might get lumps. Remove from heat once you have felt it slightly thicken.
By now, your agar mix will be ready too. Pour all the contents of the agar saucepan into the larger saucepan. Whisk it all together very thoroughly. Add your sugar source. Do not skip adding this minimal amount of sugar because your bacteria need something to eat. Now, you can take the temp (it will probably be about 145 degrees) and let it sit, checking back every 5 minutes or so until it is 110 degrees, or you can set your saucepan in a larger bowl of ice water and it will take about 2. Literally, so be quite ready to proceed before you do this.
**I realized in retrospect that perhaps this is why one batch of my yogurt came out lumpy – the agar set too quickly. So, if you are in a terrible hurry, I suggest pouring the milk mixture into a cool bowl. This will take away all that residual heat from the saucepan and help it to cool more quickly.
When the milk mix is 110 degrees, sprinkle your packet of cultures pver the top and whisk well. Pour the yogurt mixture into your jars and keep warm at 110 degrees by using either a yogurt maker, dehydrator, oven with a pilot light or warming pad for about 8 hours. Unlike dairy yogurt, you will not be able to tell that the yogurt is “Set” because your “Set” is coming from the tapioca starch and agar. Once the yogurt is cool, it will firm and the texture of ours is like a very lovely perfectly whipped cream. Refrigerate the yogurt. I haven’t had any last more than a week, so I can’t testify to whether it will last longer, but it probably will. This yogurt will seem hard when you look at it, but just mix it up with a spoon and it will smooth out.
We like to top ours here with a spoonful of homemade jam or the freshest berries of the week. Enjoy!