I’m really into yoghurt but I choose not to eat much dairy. I love the vegan coconut yoghurts out there on the market, but they are really very pricey, prone to going bad too quickly, and usually are sweetened with agave, which is just a fructose overload, or stevia which gives my mouth the complete heebie jeebies.
So I decided to bite the bullet and make my own. Making your own is a truly guerilla thing to do, anyway.
Coconut milk doesn’t thicken like dairy does, so I did a lot of looking around various recipes on the net for a thickener- many used kudzu or tapioca for thickening, but I wanted something less likely to go lumpy. Lumpy yoghurt doesn’t appeal, somehow. So I chose agar agar flakes as the thickener -which have the added benefit of being a rich source of calcium and potassium (plus a little iron).
High quality gelatine could be substituted for the agar, but I wouldn’t know how as I don’t use it, so please don’t ask me for advice on that one. 🙂 You could use canned coconut cream, but damn that stuff is nowhere near as good as the home made stuff, has a weird after taste- plus it often is packaged in BPA lined tins, and you can make your own for pennies- keep it on hand in the freezer as it doesn’t keep for long .
The resulting recipe is somewhat laborious, but that never stopped me. Ever. Someone who gets up every day and jumps around on a sticky mat for an hour or three is not going to be put off by such things.
If you are time poor, just buy the store bought stuff for 4 times the price, it’s good- but not nearly as good as the home made version.
a high powered blender ( thermomix is perfect)
a nut milk bag
a wide mouthed thermos or thermoserver
( note to thermomix people- this recipe uses the older model and a thermoserver. Apparently you can make yoghurt straight in the bowl of the new model, but as that would put my thermie out of bounds for 8 hours I don’t much like the idea of it anyway. With the thermoserver you also get a nice long culturing time- greater benefits- without the use of electricity.
a thermometer that records low levels of heat
an esky ( Australian for coolbox ) or thick insulated, zip up shopping bag
probiotic powder of at least 45 million live cultures per 3 gm dose (tiny, powerful buggers )
Clean, filtered water ( I use my Nikken Pi Mag water for everything we consume including cooking pasta etc- I sell them if you are in the market for the best, purifying, alkalising water filter ever )
two clean towels and a ‘lacka band ( Aussie for elastic band ) or peg.
350gms of flaked or shredded coconut, organic and additive free
( you could make your own from coconut flesh just to make it that much more time consuming, but I can’t get organic fresh mature coconuts very often so am denied that privilege )
800ml of filtered water
100gm of melted coconut oil- extra virgin is best
2 tbsp agar agar flakes
a little under 1 tsp probiotic powder- with acidophilus, thermophilius, etc, nice and fresh is best.
1-2 tblsp organic maple syrup- or rice syrup if anxious about fructose ( don’t use honey, its natural bacterial components may mess with the system.)
1 TB is plenty, you may like to try the yoghurt once set and then add more sweetener when adding the vanilla, before blending or whipping.
1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla essence ( optional )
In your high powered blender, blitz the hell out of the coconut flakes until fine. Add the water and blend on high until absolutely thrashed- in the Thermomix this takes one minute, perhaps a fair bit longer in other machines. It needs to be as fine as it is going to get.
Strain through a nut milk bag and squeeeeeeeze every last drop out with your hands.
(You can re- blitz this pulp in water to make a much thinner coconut milk to add to soups, smoothies , green drinks, etc )
Put the coconut milk in a bowl sitting in a pot of warm- hot water to warm it very, very lightly to 37 degrees Celcius ( OR- ideally- put back in a clean Thermomix bowl if you are lucky enough to have one, and warm for 5 mins at 37 degrees, speed 5)
Slowly, slowly add the melted coconut oil, whilst the milk is warming- mixing well with a whisk if heating in a bowl over water, blending at speed 8 for 30 seconds if heating with a Thermomix.
Use 750 ml of the thick coconut cream style milk, place in a thick based saucepan or your Thermomix. You’ll have a little left over to add to something special- it’s a thick coconut cream, but not having emulsifiers it separates a bit in the fridge.
Sprinkle the agar flakes over the top and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring constantly ( speed 4, @ 90 degrees in Thermomix )
Leave to cool naturally, uncovered ( don’t speed up the process ) until 37 degrees again- this will take an hour or two.
Add maple or rice syrup and the probiotic powder and mix very well with your whisk. ( speed 7 for a few seconds in thermomix ) Over doing the amount probiotics in the hope of making it work or better for you is not advised. Probiotics as with any fermentation agent need room to move. You can add more later if you like.
Pour the mix into pre warmed thermos or thermoserver ( pre-warmed with warm filtered water, not hot or boiling)
Wrap in two teatowels, one with the opening at the top, the other with the opening underneath, seal with a rubber band or peg or something clever, and gently place in an esky or insulated bag, sealing in the heat.
Place in a warmish room- not hot- which stays at a fairly constant temperature.
Try not to forget it is there.
In at least 5 and up to 12 hours , remove thermos from esky, check it has set. ( if not your agar is old, use the mix in smoothies instead – this has never happened to me however )
Place in the fridge for a few hours, then remove and blend again in your blender, first adding 1/2 teaspoon of organic vanilla essence, and checking the sweetness is to your liking. If you are using a thermomix, whip with the butterfly for the creamiest and most wonderful texture. If you think the yoghurt looks too thick, add a very little coconut milk before whipping. You may have been a little heavy handed with the agar agar.
You can also add more acidophilus powder now if you want to get even more friendly gut flora into your tummy.
Pour or spoon most of it into a glass container with a lid or a couple of jars, saving a bit to eat straight away. Place jars in fridge.
It’s quite rich and you may find you can’t eat nearly as much as dairy yoghurt. The agar agar makes it very filling and acts as an appetite suppressant- for better or for worse ( who wants their damn appetite suppressed??)
( I have no idea of the calories involved per gram/ serving, as I don’t believe in calorie counting, but it’s rich, like a dessert really )
Use a clean spoon each time you slip a mouthful in as you pass the fridge to ensure it keeps for a week or two.
I eat about a 1/4 cup post practice with my outrageously good coconut/sprouted buckwheat/macadamia/sour cherry granola- but that’s another lengthy (process and) post.