Probiotics (good bacteria) are essential to gut health, gastrointestinal complaints, our immunity, stabilizing allergic reactions, imperative post antibiotic therapy and the list goes on. Sources of natural probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, natto, tempeh, kombucha, kefir and yogurt. But what happens if you can’t eat dairy yogurt because you happen to be one of the millions of people including myself that can't tolerate dairy. The answer is coconut milk yogurt.
Benefits of coconut milk:
It is 100% dairy free and coconut milk is rich in a wide range of minerals and vitamins. It contains iron, selenium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, phosphorus and potassium. It also has the following important vitamins: C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6. Coconut milk is a good source of protein. It is a source of good fats such as medium chain fatty acids (caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12)), which is good saturated fat that is easily digestible and metabolized so it doesn’t contribute to fat storage. Lauric acid is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
Those with liver disease and diabetes should check with their physician before consuming large amounts of medium chain fatty acids as it increases ketones.
How to make coconut milk yogurt
Step 1: Choose the coconut milk
- Coconut milk yogurt can be made with canned, boxed, or homemade coconut milk. Choose a coconut milk with higher fat content. It will yield a thicker, more creamier and tastier yogurt.
Step 2: Choose the Thickening Agent
- Coconut milk yogurt will be thin and runny without a thickening agent. I recommend something natural such as arrowroot, agar agar, or tapioca starch. Gelatin may be used but know it is processed from animals.
- If using a thickening agent isn't an option but you still prefer thick yogurt, it is also possible to strain some of the liquid from the coconut milk yogurt by placing the finished yogurt in cheese cloth or a similar tight weave fabric and allow the mixture to hang over a bowl to drain some of the liquid resulting in thicker yogurt.
Step 3: Choose the Yogurt Starter
- The easiest way is to buy some organic coconut milk yogurt with live cultures at your natural health food store and add a 1-3 Tbsp to your coconut milk before fermentation.
- Another way is to use a 2-3 capsules or ¼ tsp of your high quality probiotics (high quality probiotics are found refrigerated).
- Thirdly, you can use a yogurt starter which are prepackaged cultures found on the internet.
Step 4: Make Yogurt
- 3-4 cups coconut milk (approximately two cans). BPA free coconut milk are Native Forest, Trader’s Joe, and Aroy-D (tetra-pak).
- Thickening Agent, choose one: 3 Tbsp tapioca starch, arrowroot, agar agar OR 1-2 tsp gelatin
- 1-2 Tbsp honey, maple syrup or coconut sap (needed as food for the good bacteria)
- Yogurt Starter, choose one: 3 Tbsp yogurt containing live active cultures purchased from the grocery store (ideally use an unflavored variety) OR 1/8 tsp yogurt starter OR 3 capsules or ¼ tsp of high quality probiotics
- Candy Thermometer
- Mason jars with lid and ring
- Stock pot large enough to cover your mason jars
- Spatula to scrape the pot
- Yogurt maker or Excalibur dehydrator
1) Sterilize mason jars and utensils in a large stock pot. Cover equipment with 1 inch of water. Boil for 10 minutes. This keeps bad bacteria from competing with good bacteria.
2) Add thickening agent to cold coconut milk and whisk to combine.
3) Heat the coconut milk to approximately 180°F using candy thermometer. Heating kills bad bacteria.
4) Take off burner and allow coconut milk to cool to 110°F. Add the honey at this time and whisk to combine.
5) Once the milk has reached 110° F, add the yogurt starter/yogurt with live active cultures/high quality probiotics and mix well to combine. Important to add at this time because if add probiotics when too hot, they will die and your yogurt will not ferment.
6) Pour into mason jars. Incubate the mixture at 108° to 112° for 8 to 24 hours in your Excalibur dehydrator or a yogurt maker.
- Please note, coconut milk generally takes a few hours longer to culture than when making yogurt with animal-based milk products. If a more sour yogurt is desired, use a longer culturing period.
7) Once the yogurt has set (solidified), allow the yogurt to cool for an hour or two until it reaches room temperature. Place the yogurt in the fridge for 6+ hours to halt the culturing process. The yogurt will also thicken further as it chills.
Step 5: Eat
I like to eat it plain or add some nuts of your liking, bee pollen, fresh berries, or what ever tickles your fancy. I add it to my green smoothies.