Discovering how to make coconut yoghurt was a very interesting journey...
I trialled making coconut yoghurt using tinned coconut milk and cream, fresh young coconut and also making my own milk from soaked, dried organic coconut. I discovered that using pure tinned coconut milk (no gums or thickeners on ingredients label) was unsuccessful as the fat floats to the top and the coconut water sinks to the bottom of the yoghurt. The same applied when I made my own milk.
The only way to prevent coconut milk from separating is either to add xanthum or guar gum, or buy a brand of milk that already has that in it. Alternatively, you can heat the milk and thicken with tapioca. Neither of these options appealed to me.
Luckily, I had great success with pure tinned coconut cream. There are loads of brands of coconut milk and cream on the market and this can make recipe writing challenging, as brand can potentially act completely differently giving varied results. The brand of coconut cream I used had 24g of fat per 100g. The level of fat in the cream is important, as the higher the fat content, the thicker the yoghurt will be. The fat content can vary from17% to 27%. I have trialled three brands of organic cream and the best one by far that gave an excellent result was the Nakula brand. Whilst the coconut cream yoghurt is delicious, being a cream means it is not exactly low in fat.
If you are looking for a lighter option that ticks every single box, then definitely try young coconut yoghurt. I have to admit I was quite reluctant to give it a go, as the thought of opening all those coconuts and scooping out the flesh seemed all too hard. But curiosity got the better of me and thank goodness it did. When I tasted the mixture before incubating, it was sublime and absolutely worth every minute of all that bashing and cracking. It actually only took an hour all up and I ended up with 1kg of yoghurt, which would last me well over a week. I was also very pleased to discover that I ended up with 1.25 litres of fresh coconut water left over. If you have never tried fresh coconut juice, you absolutely should. In my opinion it tastes nothing like the bottled variety. It is far, far sweeter with a much more pronounced coconut flavour. The $15 outlay for 5 coconuts yielded 1kg of yoghurt, as well as all the water, so it wasn’t that expensive after all and nowhere near as daunting as first expected. The recipe for young coconut yoghurt is in the WARM cookbook
Opening the coconuts to access the flesh is not hard once you know how. The most important thing is to have a really good, heavy, sharp chopping knife. As with tinned coconut variables, the amount of flesh and juice to be found inside drinking coconuts can also vary quite significantly. I used 5 coconuts and for me the yield was 600g (3½ cups).
My last trial was adding some melted coconut butter into the coconut cream, in the hope of making a luxuriant, thick yoghurt that could double up as cream to accompany desserts. It worked beautifully. Not only did it become very thick, but the flavour was sweet and rich, just like cream but slightly tart – not dissimilar to a crème fraiche.
RICH COCONUT VANILLA YOGHURT
VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE GRAIN-FREE | Makes approx 1kg
- 2 x 400ml tins coconut cream
- 2 x probiotic capsules
- 150g coconut butter
- 1 vanilla bean pod
Place coconut cream and coconut butter into a pot. Warm to 370C.
Split open the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and mix into the warm coconut cream. Remove from the heat & whisk in the probiotic powder.
Pour into sterilised jars and incubate as in previous recipe.
Refrigerate for 12 hours before eating to allow cream to thicken.