I posted a video on my Instagram story the other day when I was done fermenting my latest batch of coconut yogurt. I can't count on my hands how many people sent me a DM asking for the recipe, and so here we are.
In all honesty, I've been dreading writing this post. Of the many things I ferment on a weekly basis, coconut yogurt has the least consistent track record. Sometimes it turns out super thick and other times it's runny. Sometimes it's tangier than other times, sometimes it separates. Temperature, the natural microbes in your home, and ingredients all contribute to the wildness you can encounter when making yogurt (or anything fermented, that is). When it comes to fermentation, I kinda just know from experience when things need to be adjusted. So, accounting for all minor things that could be variables for someone else fermenting is nearly impossible.. bear with me and try to embrace the art of experimentation.
Notes Before Starting
Canned full fat coconut milk brings up some controversy, I know. Inconsistency of formula is seemingly an enormous problem for any brand. Another issue is that this is food coming from a can, so be wary of coconut milk cans with BPA and BPS linings. Foods in their whole from from nature are always optimal, but I don't eat enormous amounts of this stuff so I'm not real worried about it. Nor do I have access to fresh coconuts. Additionally, dairy free store-bought yogurt almost always has emulsifiers, thickeners, and sugar that you truly don't want to eat. Balance, friends.
The thickest yogurt is made from the coconut cream (the fat). With some cans of full fat coconut milk, you'll find separation between the cream and the water. If you're lucky enough to find a can like that, scoop out that cream and use the water for something else like a Cauliflower Spirulina Smoothie. Sometimes, you can refrigerate the full fat coconut milk and get it to separate. Sometimes, you can't. Again, it's inconsistent. What does stay consistent for me though is the brand I buy: Whole Foods 365 Organic, $1.99 per can.
To combat potential inconsistency, I usually buy 4+ cans at a time and bank on the fact that one if not more of them will successfully be separated or I'll be able to separate the coconut cream and water by refrigerating it for a few days.
Like many fermentation processes, you can use a "mother culture" from a batch of something that has already fermented to start a new one. To get the idea across, think about how sourdough bread and kombucha work. A bit of the old bacteria and yeast multiply when they're fed and essentially create babies. Because of this natural phenomenon, I've divided this recipe into two, the "from scratch" and the "next batch".
As for probiotic capsules used to start a batch, I can't stress enough that you should use a quality one. If you're taking these regularly anyway to nourish gut flora, invest in one that has guaranteed survivability and is well sourced. It's tempting to buy a cheap one for the sake of saving money, but there's no use if it doesn't do anything to positively impact your health.
2 cans full fat coconut milk*
150 billion CFUs from probiotic capsules
2 cans full fat coconut milk*
1/4 cup coconut yogurt from previous batch
50 billion CFUs from probiotic capsules
*if you don't get 2 cans that separate into cream and water, use 1 unseparated and 1 with just the cream. In total, aim for at least 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk/cream.
Get a clean, sterile jar. I don't use soap in this process as that can kill the bacteria in the yogurt if there's residue. Super hot water will do the trick. My favorite is the 26 oz. canning jar from Weck.
Grab a wooden spoon, and open up the probiotic capsules into your jar. Next, open up the cans of full fat coconut milk, scoop off the cream of at least 1 can. Stir vigorously until everything is incorporated.
Cover your jar with cheesecloth or a thin towel. Place it somewhere warm but out of direct sunlight. Check on it after 24 hours. Use a wooden spoon to taste. Ferment for another 24 - 48 hours until it's tangy to your liking. Refrigerate once you're done. It will thicken in the refrigerator.
A little bit of separation is normal especially in the summer. You can pour off the liquid or stir it in.
If the yogurt smells funky, alcoholic, or there is visible mold developing.. something has gone awry and you ought to start again.
In the summer, I have had it ferment fully to my liking in just 24 hours. In the winter, the sweet spot is usually 56 hours.
Use a wooden spoon when handling yogurt. Metal can be reactive and kill the cultures in what you're trying to ferment.
On the chance it’s too thick once refrigerated, thin with some filtered water.
Should things really not go well or you're totally perplexed, shoot me an email via the contact tab!