Giving up dairy doesn’t mean you have to give up delicious, creamy, probiotic-rich yogurt. Making homemade yogurt is simple, inexpensive and involves minimal tools. Not only will you skip all the weird additives in commercial dairy-free yogurt, the taste of homemade is beyond compare. Seriously, what’s the deal with all these gag-worthy, sickly sweet concoctions lining store shelves? You may as well eat a candy bar.
Yogurt is one of those super simple, yet often overlooked foods that can easily be made at home. All you need is milk, a starter culture and a thickening agent if you like it super thick. Once you have your base you can go to town tricking out your ferment with savory or sweet add-ins, to your tastes and without all the junk.
Like your yogurt nice and thick?
The problem with making non-dairy yogurt is that the bacteria need to feed on the sugars in the milk in order to multiply. Dairy milk is much higher in sugar than most non-dairy milks (12g compared to just 4g in coconut milk). To help the fermentation process, you can add a bit of maple syrup (honey actually has antimicrobial properties, so maple is a better choice).
Adding a thickener also helps create a thicker yogurt. I tested both arrowroot starch for a vegan option and grass-fed gelatin for a non-vegan version. The gelatin version turned out much thicker, similar to Greek yogurt while the arrowroot version had a smoother consistency similar to kefir. They are both delicious!
Your Belly is Teaming with Life
Our gut microbiome is a wondrous and seemingly mysterious thing. The microbes in and on our bodies outnumber our cells 10 to 1, which means that you are literally more bacteria than person! A little creepy but also kinda’ cool, right? We couldn’t survive without these little guys and nurturing them is part of taking care of ourselves.
Regularly eating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt can:
- promote regular bowl movements;
- enhance immune function (in fact, 70% of the immune system is located in the gut);
- help regulate blood sugar;
- improve digestion;
- prevent and help treat gastrointestinal, vaginal and urinary tract infections;
- help treat high cholesterol;
- aid in absorption of minerals and the manufacture of vitamin K and some B vitamins, just to name a few.
You’ve probably heard about good bacteria and bad bacteria, but the reality is that we need both to be in balance for optimal health. Unfortunately, modern life has waged a war against our little buddies (good and bad): the overuse of antibiotics, antacids, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive stress and even long-term use of oral contraceptives all affect the numbers and balance of the microbiome.
The good news is eating probiotic-rich fermented foods is an excellent way to foster a good balance of microbes in your digestive tract. Yogurt is just one of many foods: kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir are all popular examples of probiotic-rich foods. (Be careful though, store-bought ferments can be loaded with extra sugar and are often pasteurized, killing all the bacteria within.)
Another way to foster a healthy gut is to feed your little guys plenty of non-digestible carbohydrates—also called pre-biotics—found in raw fruits and veggies, legumes and whole grains.
What are your favorite homemade ferments or what ferments would you like to learn to make from scratch?
Share in the comments below!
- 2 cans of full fat coconut milk (check the label for BPA-free cans)
- 2 probiotic capsules (I used a 50 billion CFU/capsule probiotic)
- 2 tsp grass-fed gelatin (thicker, non-vegan) OR 3 tsp arrowroot starch (thinner, vegan version)
- 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
- Whisk to coconut milk in a pan until you have a smooth consistency. Spoon out about ¼ cup of milk into a small bowl and set aside. Heat the remaining milk over medium heat to about 180 º F or just below boiling. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Meanwhile, add the gelatin or arrowroot starch to the reserved milk, and whisk until very smooth. Break open the probiotic capsules, add them to the gelatin or starch mixture along with the sweetener and whisk until very smooth.
- Allow the milk to cool to 115º F. Add the thickened, reserved milk to the warm coconut milk. Stir well to combine.
- Pour the mixture into a very clean glass quart jar with a tight fitting lid. Cover and keep warm (105ºF – 115ºF) for about 24 hours. You can use a yogurt maker, dehydrator, proofer or even a cooler filled with warm water. Some people have had success keeping the jar in an oven with the light turned on, but I found that the heat from the light in my oven was not hot enough.
- After 24 hours, taste the yogurt with a clean spoon (it will be a bit thin still, this is normal). If you like the tanginess, give it a good stir (with a clean spoon) and place in the refrigerator for about 6-8 hours for it to firm up. This will halt the fermentation process. You can keep your ferment going until you like the flavor.
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Thank you for the recipe. I have been eating store bought coconut yogurt and enjoy the taste. I have a few questions. I take probiotics that have 12 billion cfu …is that enough for the yogurt? And how long will it last for in the fridge?
Give your 12b probiotic a try and let us know! You may need to ferment a bit longer. Keep in mind it will still be thin until chilling, but the taste should get more and more tangy. It should keep in the fridge for at about a week. Ours doesn’t last too long around here!
Yes! Thank you for this recipe! I’ve been wanting to make my own coconut yogurt for a long time. Now I know how! Plus, I love that you’ve experimented with different thickeners and provide options for the fermenting process. So helpful! I’m excited to start making my own coconut yogurt this weekend! Thanks again Sheena! Love your Stuff!
Awesome Madeline and thanks! Let me know how it goes!
Oh wow this is awesome! Thanks for explaining so much about the process. I feel really good about trying this out in the future after I get a cooking thermometer!
Thanks Grace! The thermometer I use was really inexpensive, purchased from a grocery store – nothing fancy. Good luck!