Fresh Cultured coconut yogurt is a delicious and healthy alternative to dairy yogurt. The full-bodied texture and sweet flavor are similar to Greek-style yogurt and can be used in smoothies Raspberry Blush Yogurt Smoothie, in parfaits Black Forest Cherry On Top Yogurt Parfait, and even for a cake Black and Blue Berry Freezer Yogurt Cream Cake. In fact it can be used in any recipe calling for yogurt. Of course, it’s brilliant on its own. So what makes coconut yogurt so fabulous? For one thing it contains fresh coconut meat and über nutritional probiotics.
Once considered a food to avoid because of its fat content, coconut is now one of the most sought after foods in the world….and for good reason. It’s loaded with amino acids, healthy fats, antioxidants, electrolytes, aids in weight loss, and can even lower cholesterol. Aside from the many health benefits, coconut is a great substitute for those with lactose-intolerance and/or individuals wanting to reduce or avoid animal products.
Culturing is especially helpful because it removes the naturally occurring sugars while increasing enzyme activity and the amount of friendly bacteria. It also makes nutrients more bio-available and increases their potency.
This recipe is really easy to make and only requires a few ingredients: fresh coconut meat, coconut water or water, probiotic powder and optional lemon juice. You don’t need yogurt cultures or even a yogurt maker although you can use one if you want.
Once you have the ingredients you simply add them to a blender and blend until smooth. It will whip up to a creamy thick mixture that can be cultured using any one of the methods listed below. When ready, you will have thick delicious cultured probiotic-rich raw coconut yogurt that can be used just like dairy yogurt. You can also recycle a bit from each batch to use for the next batch making it even easier and more cost-effective to reproduce.
I hope you enjoy this delicious and versatile yogurt, and make it a healthy habit in your life. It’s certainly a sweet addiction in mine.
This recipe is dairy and nut-free, and serves 2 – 4 persons.
Cultured Coconut Yogurt
- Make sure your bowl, tools, and appliances are clean and free of harmful bacteria. To be safe, wash and rinse with hot or boiling water prior to use.
- If using soft mushy young coconut meat, you may need to increase the number of coconuts you use. Two medium sized coconuts is usually sufficient if their meat is firm however it may take up to 4 coconuts if the meat is very soft and too moist. You can also reduce or eliminate the amount of added water if it’s too soft.
- Adjust the added liquid as needed for blending, keeping it as low as possible for thicker yogurt.
- The probiotic powder is added at the end of the blending cycle because the microflora in the probiotics can be compromised with too much blending.
- The more probiotic powder you use, the “fluffier” and thicker your yogurt will be. Since I also use lemon juice I keep the amount to 1/4 tsp. however feel free to increase that amount of not using the lemon juice and/or for thicker yogurt.
- Make sure you blend the yogurt just until very smooth or you can risk the temperature exceeding 118 degrees and/or aerating it. High heat also compromises the bacteria count in the probiotics.
- I culture my yogurt for 3 1/2 hours because that’s how I personally like it. It’s not as tart, retains a bit of the natural sweetness, is creamy, and still loaded with probiotics. For more cultured or intense flavor, simply incubate longer (up to 7 hours). The longer you incubate the more pungent the flavor will be. Keep in mind that the coconut yogurt continues to culture (although much more slowly) during storage. I suggest experimenting and taste-testing to see which length of time works best for you.
- You can sweeten your yogurt once completed. When using the yogurt in recipes, adjust the sweetness accordingly.
- Outside factors such as room temperature and humidity can affect the culturing process and length of time. You may want to make adjustments for your specific circumstances.
- Check your yogurt periodically to make sure it’s still looks fresh. Any change in appearance during cultivation and afterwards could mean it’s become contaminated. If so, it should be discarded*.
- If your yogurt develops a “skin” during incubation, simply stir it back into the yogurt once completed or re-blend until smooth.
- Remember to reserve 3 Tbsp of yogurt for the next batch. You can do this with any subsequent batch. This eliminates the need for probiotics and helps offset the cost of reproducing.
Methods for Incubation
To make cultured yogurt you need some type of incubation system that can maintain a temperature of approximately 110 – 115 degrees. This provides an environment for the friendly bacteria to flourish while preserving the naturally occurring enzymes and nutrients. I personally don’t use a yogurt maker because the temperature exceeds 115 degrees however feel free to use one if you want.
Here are some methods of incubation I’ve used with success. They are listed in order of preference. Each form of incubation yields a slightly different taste and texture although they are all very similar.
#1 Dehydrating in a dehydrator – The method I use the most. The results have been the most consistent although they can vary slightly according to external temperatures and humidity.
Place inside a tray dehydrator. Dehydrate at 1115 degrees for 3 1/2 – 7 hours. Length of time depends on how cultured and “sour” you want the yogurt to be.
#2 Placing in a warm dark area – An easy method if you don’t mind waiting. Results can vary depending on external temperatures and humidity.
Place in a dark warm area where the yogurt will not be disturbed. Leave to culture for 12-24 hours or even longer, depending on how cultured or “sour” you want the yogurt to be.
#3 Using a warm oven – I used this method exclusively for several years before I purchased a tray dehydrator. Takes some extra time and the results can vary depending on external temperatures and humidity.
Warm the oven for a few minutes until the temperature reaches around 115°F, then turn it off, keeping the light on to maintain warmth. Place yogurt on the middle rack and close the oven door. Make sure the oven temperature is no less than 100 degrees and does not exceed 118 degrees during incubation. Leave to culture for 12-24 hours, depending on how cultured or “sour” you want the yogurt to be. Do not use the oven during this time.
#4 Using hot water and a warm dark area – Requires a bit of patience and dedicated attention to make sure the water stays warm during the incubation process. Results can vary depending on external temperatures and humidity and consistency of warm water.
Place in a large bowl filled with very warm water (not less than 100 degrees and not exceeding 118 degrees). Make sure the water is no higher than 1 – 2 inches from the top of the jar or the top of the yogurt. Cover the bowl and jar with a large dark cloth or towel. Place in an undisturbed warmer area. As the water in the bowl cools, carefully remove the yogurt container, dispose of the cool water and place the yogurt jar back into the large bowl. Add warm water to the same level suggested, then cover and let culture. Repeat this process until the culturing cycle is complete, checking the yogurt periodically.
- 1 pound of firm coconut meat (about 2 packed cups)
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (optional, depending on how “sour” you want it)
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp probiotic powder or 1 – 2 probiotic capsules
- Add all ingredients except probiotic powder and lemon (and coconut oil if using) to a blender and blend until silky smooth, stopping periodically to scrape down the sides. This can take up to a minute.
- Add the probiotic powder and lemon (and coconut oil if using) and blend again until well incorporated.
- Transfer to a clean 2 – 4 quart glass bowl or ceramic bowl or mason jar.
- Cover with a thin towel or cloth completely tucking in underneath if using a bowl. Seal with a rubber band around the rim if using a jar.
- Incubate using one of the methods above.
- Once completed, cover and seal your yogurt and chill for at least one hour before serving for best results.
- Don’t forget to reserve a small amount (2 Tbsp) for your next batch.
- Store refrigerated up to 4 days and frozen up to 2 months.
- Yields about 2 cups.
*The finished cultured yogurt needs to be white in color when completed before consuming. If it turns purple or pink for any reason that mean’s it’s spoiled and needs to be discarded. I have personally never experienced this but if you do, the coconut yogurt cannot be used.