During fermentation, coconut milk does not thicken like dairy yoghurt. So, unless you want a drinkable coconut yogurt, an additive is essential. With the addition of one super, gut-loving ingredient, the steps are virtually the same as the dairy variety and just as easy. See below for the step by step YouTube recipe video.
Gelatin is an animal derived product rich in cell healing amino acids that strengthen the gut lining and therefore lowers inflammation - it's truly the perfect gut-loving thickener. Don’t use any old gelatin though, quality matters. We recommend a premium quality powdered gelatin.
(For a vegan alternative, agar agar works just as well, see the end of this post for instructions). Or click over to our Tapioca thickened coconut yogurt.
When choosing coconut milk, choose additive free and organic and watch out for BPA (an industrial chemical used in plastic). Like almost all canned foods, there is usually toxic BPA in the lining of canned coconut milk. We have had great results with 'Honest to Goodness' coconut milk but there are other organic coconut milk brands that work just as well.
A quick word of warning; coconut milk a la natural won’t behave! Straight from the yogurt maker your homemade coconut yoghurt may not look like the consistent, smooth and bright-white, store-bought varieties. Good quality, organic coconut milk will separate, even after fermentation. When refrigerated and left to set, coconut cream will rise to the top and separate from the coconut water. (see the picture below) Don't panic - there is nothing wrong! Depending on the brand of coconut milk you use, the water may be yellowish and you might even get a fine layer of solid coconut oil right on top of the cream. No problem - you can lift this off after it has chilled and whip the layers together!
You will need a yoghurt starter culture to introduce the fermentation of bacteria to your coconut milk. Use the amount of starter culture indicated on the packet. A good multi-strain probiotic or the contents of a capsule may also be used. Here is a list of yogurt starter cultures. For more on probiotics click over to 24 hour yogurt Vs a probiotic pill.
In traditional dairy milk yoghurt, the bacteria in starter culture thrive on the sugar (lactose) content, naturally found in milk. The bacteria populating your coconut yoghurt must have something to feed on to allow the culturing process to take place. One teaspoon of sugar or one tablespoon of pasteurised honey is enough to kick start fermentation. Raw honey may have an antibiotic effect and is therefore not suitable for making yogurt.
Thoroughly wash or sterilize your yoghurt container, whisk and other utensils with boiling water.
Substitute gelatin for 1 teaspoon of agar agar. Gently heat the coconut milk to 190⁰F (87⁰C) and hold the temperature for 10 minutes. Do not boil. Watch it closely; coconut milk heats faster than regular milk. Remove from the heat and then cover and let cool to below 108° F (42° C) before adding your starter culture.