I'm posting from Boston for most of this week since I'm traveling for work, so please bear with me as the posts may seem a bit more rushed or be a bit late.
Although I had made yogurt before, I've never made coconut yogurt. Since we had finished off our regular (cow milk) yogurt before leaving for SE Asia, I was thinking about switching over to coconut yogurt. Yogurt is a healthy, mildly fermented food that not only contains friendly bacteria, but it also increases the nutritional quality of the milk. I tried a few variations of this coconut yogurt, and my favorite version was made with canned coconut milk because it was much more creamy and flavorful than the carton of coconut milk. When you buy your coconut milk, make sure it's actually coconut milk and not coconut juice or coconut water.
Coconut water, also known as coconut juice, is a clear, naturally occurring liquid inside young coconuts. As the fruit matures, the coconut water is gradually replaced by the coconut meat and air. In fact, a very young coconut has very little meat, and the meat it does have is a very tender, almost a gel-like substance. Coconut milk is a sweet and milky white liquid derived from the meat of a mature coconut.
The rich creaminess of coconut yogurt just can't quite be beat. Then there's that slightly sweet hint of coconut, making plain coconut yogurt taste pleasant - even after a long culture time, allowing for more beneficial bacterial growth. Regular yogurt would be very tart with the same culture time. As easy as coconut yogurt is to make, you can easily save yourself loads of cash (at more than $2 a cup in a grocery store, assuming you can even find it) while maintaining control over what materials you put into your coconut yogurt.
Coconut Yogurt (printable version)
A slightly sweet and very creamy coconut yogurt that's easy to make.
Total time: 8-24
Yield: 1 quart
- 1 quart coconut milk (I'd recommend the kind you get in a can. The kind you can get in a carton also works, but I didn't find it to be as good. More importantly, make sure you get coconut milk and not coconut juice or coconut water. Also, don't get the light coconut milk. It's usually just regular coconut milk that's been watered down.)
- 2 tablespoons yogurt culture (You can just use store bought coconut yogurt or a bit of your previous batch.)
- 1-2 tablespoons honey or sugar (Optional - I found I got better results with a bit of added sweetener to feed the bacteria, but it still worked without added sweetner.)
- Take the starter culture out of the refrigerator and place it on the counter. (It tends to work better when the bacteria don't have to transition suddenly from the cold refrigerator to the warm coconut milk.)
- Heat the coconut milk to about 82°C (180°F). I usually set the slow cooker to a half hour, and then just check at the end to see if it's more than 82°C. You can mix in the honey/sugar either before or after heating. I usually just add it when I remember. :)
- Allow the coconut milk to cool down to about 40-45°C (104-113°F).
- Whisk the yogurt so that it breaks into lots of small pieces. You will want the yogurt to be more like a liquid and not set.
- Pour the yogurt into the milk, and mix well.The milk/yogurt mixture is your culture.
- Keep the culture warm (approximately about 40-45°C or 104-113°F). After 8-24 hours, the yogurt should be finished. I usually incubate mine for around 16 hours, but I wouldn't recommend going over 24 hours. It's one of those things where you just gotta test and see what you like. The longer and warmer the culture is kept, the more beneficial bacteria there will be (and the more tart the yogurt will be, although it's not as large an issue with coconut yogurt). When the yogurt is finished, it may have a separate layer of liquid - that is the whey, and it is normal. It might also not have much of that liquid - that's fine too. You can pour it off, mix it in, or use it for something else. I've been using mine lately for making smoothies since it is pretty nutritious. I've also been thinking about using it to make some ricotta cheese, but we'll see.
- Once the yogurt is finished, pour it into containers and store refrigerated.
What's your favorite kind or type of yogurt?