The first time I made coconut yogurt was about 13 years ago. Back then, my friend Ty and I would order yogurt starter cultures online (for a whopping $30 plus $20 overnight shipping!) and they were all dairy based. We’d culture a batch of yogurt using coconut milk and our dairy starter. Then we would have to take a few Tablespoons from that first batch of yogurt (discarding the rest!), and then use that to culture yet another batch of coconut yogurt, to create a virtually-dairy-free coconut yogurt. It was delicious–but it was expensive and time consuming!

If we did this weekly (taking a few Tablespoons of our current yogurt and adding it to a new can of coconut milk) we could repeat this process again and again, producing delicious coconut yogurt. But I was in my early 20’s and the responsibility of “feeding” my coconut culture must have been too much, as it often “died” and I’d have to be willing to shell out another $50 and a few days time before I could re-create my treat.

Fast forward a decade. EVERYONE is on the coconut bandwagon now! I was sure that I could walk into Whole Foods and grab a dairy free starter culture and was surprised to find this wasn’t so. I asked around to all my trusted sources: “Have you ever cultured your own coconut yogurt?” and got the identical response from them all: “I’ve been wanting to! If you figure it out please let me know”.

A little poking around on the internet and some fun experimentation in my kitchen and I am happy to report that I have my delicious dairy free coconut yogurt back in my life! And this time, it costs just a few dollars and is 100% dairy free. Needless to say, I am so excited to share this with you all!!

You will need 3 basic ingredients that many of you already have at home.  I will also list some variations I’ve tried for you more adventurous types!


Basic Coconut Yogurt Recipe

13.5 oz can of full-fat coconut milk*
Probiotics *
Glass mason jar with lid

Method:

  1. Set your oven to approximately 100-110 degrees. There are a few options for doing this. My oven has a “bread proofing” setting which is a steady 100 degree temperature. Couldn’t be more simple.  I’ve also read that simply turning the oven light on in many ovens (with the door closed) creates about 100 degree temperature inside. You’d want to test this out with a thermometer before you proceed (my mom’s oven never reached 100 degrees, while my oven light turns off automatically once the door is shut!). Other people may own a dehydrator or a toaster oven that can be set low to between 100-110 degrees.  Believe it or not, this is the hardest step! Once you find your warm cozy “home” for your yogurt, the rest is even easier.
  2. In a glass mason jar, combine the can of coconut milk and your probiotic starter completely with a spoon. It is advisable to use a mason jar and spoon that was either boiled or run through a hot dishwasher, as we would like to culture only good bacteria 🙂
  3. Tighten the lid on your mason jar and place in the center rack of your heated oven and do not open the oven door for 24 hours.
  4. After 24 hours open your yogurt and give it a stir (with a clean spoon again!). You should hear it “pop” when you open the lid and it will bubble/foam a bit, and then you will know that your yogurt cultured!
  5. Set it in the fridge until cooled and thickened (preferably overnight) and then enjoy!

The basic recipe makes a very thin yogurt. We personally love it drizzled over berries or added to a fruit smoothie for some “tang”. If you desire a thicker yogurt, it takes a bit more effort but we think it’s well worth it.  Below is the variation I have made for thicker yogurt:


Thicker Coconut Yogurt Recipe

2 (13.5 oz)cans of full-fat coconut milk*
Probiotic*
Glass mason jar with lid

Method:

  1. Place the two cans of coconut milk (without shaking!) in the fridge for several hours-at least 6. This will cause the coconut milk to separate: the coconut cream will rise to the top, the coconut water will be at the bottom. You will be using ONLY the coconut cream (we put the discarded coconut water in another glass jar in our fridge and use it in smoothies).
  2. Set your oven to approximately 100-110 degrees. There are a few options for doing this. My oven has a “bread proofing” setting which is a steady 100 degree temperature.  Couldn’t be more simple.  I’ve also read that simply turning the oven light on in many ovens (with the door closed) creates about 100 degree temperature inside. You’d want to test this out with a thermometer before you proceed (my mom’s oven never reached 100 degrees, while my oven light turns off automatically once the door is shut!). Other people may own a dehydrator or a toaster oven that can be set low to between 100-110 degrees.  Believe it or not, this is the hardest step! Once you find your warm cozy “home” for your yogurt, the rest is even easier.
  3. In a glass mason jar, add the coconut cream ONLY from both cans of coconut milk. The cream will be cold and thick and you will be unable to thoroughly combine your probiotic into it. I simply set the mason jar with the coconut cream in the heated oven for 20 minutes. This should warm it just enough that you can then combine the coconut cream and your probiotic starter completely. It is advisable to use a mason jar and spoon that was either boiled or run through a hot dishwasher, as we would like to culture only good bacteria 🙂
  4. Tighten the lid on your mason jar and place in the center rack of your heated oven and do not open the oven door for 24 hours.
  5. After 24 hours open your yogurt and give it a stir (with a clean spoon again!). You should hear it “pop” when you open the lid and it will bubble/foam a bit, and then you will know that your yogurt cultured!
  6. Set it in the fridge until cooled and thickened (preferably overnight) and then enjoy!

This yogurt will appear thin after the 24 hours and will greatly thicken in the fridge overnight. This variation will make a yogurt with a very similar consistency to dairy-based yogurts.


Notes

  1. For Coconut Milk, I like the Native Forest Brand. The cans are BPA free and I found that for my thicker method this brand separates better. At some stores, you can now find cans of Coconut Cream (to be used for my thicker method).
  1. To use probiotics to culture your yogurt, you have several options. We have experimented with the following in our house and they have worked beautifully:

You can probably use any probiotic powder you have on-hand and I imagine this is a good way to test the “viability” or “alive-ness” of your current probiotic!

  1. The yogurt has only its natural sweetness (which is minimal). You can add a touch of honey, stevia, agave, maple syrup or even pure vanilla extract for flavor. I personally like its natural sweet and tart flavor, but my 5-yr old takes hers drizzled with a touch of agave.
  1. I have never used a batch of this yogurt to culture another batch. Because of the simplicity of this recipe, I would personally just start each time from scratch.
  1. This gets gobbled up so quickly at our house that I am not sure of how long a batch will last in the fridge. My guess would be between 1-2 weeks time. As always with food, when in doubt, toss it out!

Please let me know what you try and what works for you.

I hope your family enjoys as much as ours does 🙂 !

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About Debbie Steinbock, HHC

After years of being told that she had an "incurable" chronic health condition, Debbie turned to her diet to help her understand her disease, restore her body, and regain control of her health. Her personal journey has given her the knowledge and compassion necessary to help her clients take an active role in their own healing. Since starting her practice in 2000, Debbie has successfully helped hundreds of people across the country to improve their diet, enhance their current state of health, and eliminate a variety of health conditions.

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