I can’t think of a time where I had so much trouble with a recipe. I set out, months ago, to make a truly vegan yogurt, and I have failed so many times, I’ve lost count.
I was determined, though, to make it work, and I finally, finally, after much research and tweaking, got the formula right.
I love my yogurt maker, and I use it all the time. Currently, my favourite recipe is to take a litre of half-and-half (10% fat,) mix in a packet of Yogourmet (which I buy from the Gourmet Warehouse–I’ve also seen it at Whole Foods), and set it for 8 hours. At the end, I have the world’s easiest, dreamiest, creamiest yogurt, which I consume in smoothies, or with chia and granola for breakfast.
As I’ve shared previously, I have Candida, which means I’m supposed to stay away from sugar and yeast (ha!), and I’m supposed to eat fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchee, kombacha (not gonna happen), miso and sauerkraut. I also take a daily probiotic supplement.
Even if you don’t have Candida, eating fermented foods is a really important thing to integrate into your diet. Live bacterial cultures in our gut have so many benefits–they support your immune system to help you from getting sick, they help you to digest better, may help to heal allergies, and are great for your.. uh, plumbing (urinary tract).
If you’re a vegan, or lactose-intolerant, you don’t eat yogurt, as it’s made from dairy. There certainly are dairy-free yogurts out there made of nut milks, but they may not be completely dairy-free, as the live cultures used to make the yogurt may contain dairy.
But if you are lactose-intolerant or vegan, and you miss yogurt, I’m going to show you how to make your own for a whole lot cheaper than you can buy in the store.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- coconut milk (cans, or you can make your own)
- probiotic supplement capsules (vegan option if you choose)
- a candy thermometer
- a yogurt maker (or you can try one of these methods)
When I make regular yogurt, I don’t use any thickener, like cornstarch or gelatin (which are two popular ones). The natural fat in the yogourt, the cultures, and the slow cooking time naturally thicken the yogourt. I’ll sometimes strain it after if I need a really thick yogurt. But when it comes to coconut milk yogurt, you have to thicken it. Otherwise, it’ll basically come out the same consistency it went in. You could use cornstarch, but gelatin is not an option here, as it’s made from boiling the bones of animals. Agar does a very similar job to gelatin, except that it’s made from seaweed, so it’s a good vegan/vegetarian substitute.
So… after much, much, much experimenting, I finally got it down. Here you go…
Coconut Yogurt (vegan/vegetarian/lactose free)
(for each can of coconut milk–it’s not a lot, you’ll probably want to double the recipe)
- coconut milk (1 can or 375-400 ml homemade)
- 4 tsp agar (add 1-2 more if you like it a thicker, Greek-yogurt like consistency)
- 1 probiotic supplement capsule
- Remove 1/4 cup of coconut milk from the can, and place it in a small bowl. Add the agar to the coconut milk, and stir well, until it is all incorporated, and not lumpy.
- In a small-medium saucepan, heat the rest of the coconut milk to 165 degrees F.
- Once it reaches 165 degrees, remove it from the heat. Whisk in the reserved coconut milk that’s been thickened with the agar. Whisk well until the mixture is smooth. Allow to stand and cool until the temperature reads 110 degrees F.
- Crack open the probiotic capsule and add its contents to the yogurt (you can’t add it when the yogurt is hotter, as the heat will kill off the live bacteria). Mix well to incorporate.
- Place the yogurt in your yogurt maker, and set the timer for 8 hours. Or try one of these methods if you don’t have a yogurt maker.
- When the yogurt is done, it will look watery. Give it a good stir, and put it in the fridge overnight, where it will thicken to the desired consistency.
- You can now sweeten the yogurt, if you wish, by adding fruit, honey, or maple syrup.