Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Recipe from the Coconut Files: Coconut Yogurt

I'm on quite the coconut kick lately...using the flour to make muffins, using the milk to make ice pops and YOGURT! Thought I would start sharing my creations. But first a caution - recently, coconut has been added to the "tree nut" list. It has been found that some people who cannot tolerate tree nuts due to an allergy or sensitivity might not be able to tolerate coconut. I'm tree nut sensitive - so far, I have not experienced any symptoms, but I'm aware that I cannot eat it every day and must rotate it into my diet so as to decrease the risk of developing symptoms.

Why go through the trouble of making homemade yogurt? 1. It's more economical - when I was buying Stonyfield Farms organic plain yogurt, I would pay about $10 for 8 servings. When I would make cow's milk yogurt, it would cost about $2 for 8 servings. Coconut milk comes in around $6 for 8 servings. 2. It is a greener option - you are recycling less packaging. 3. You can rotate what type of yogurt you are making/eating - soy, coconut, hemp... 4. You can let it sit longer (16 - 24 hours) to cultivate as much helpful bacteria as possible, whereas commercial yogurts only cultivate for about 10 hours.

I was skeptical, but this has become my favorite non-dairy yogurt alternative! It definitely has a wonderful coconut flavor with just a hint of the yogurty-sour taste. I don't add sweetener, and I find the flavor to be great. My husband reluctantly tried it and also liked it. It made a delicious topping for our Arepas last week. On to the yogurt experiment...

Ingredients for eight - 3/4 C servings:
4 cans of coconut milk (full fat, baby!)
2 T tapioca starch or tapioca flour
1 - 2 T yogurt starter (I used soy yogurt)

1. It is best to sterilize anything that will touch the yogurt mixture (sauce pan, thermometer, soup ladle, measuring cup, measuring spoon, yogurt containers) either by putting it in the dishwasher or using boiling water. This will ensure that you are only cultivating the good bacteria that you want!
2. Poor the coconut milk into a sauce pan. Using a whisk, completely dissolve the tapioca starch into the coconut milk, making sure there are no lumps.
3. Heat the mixture over low-medium heat (stirring occasionally) until it reaches 180 degrees - the yogurt thermometer that comes with a yogurt maker already has this nicely marked out. Be sure that the thermometer isn't touching the bottom of the pan.
4. Take off the heat and cool to 110 degrees.
5. Add the yogurt starter and stir well.
6. Pour into containers (I use a soup ladle to pour the mixture into a glass measuring cup and then pour it into the containers) and set the Yogurt Maker* to 16 - 24 hours (the longer you can go, the more beneficial bacteria will develop!).
7. At this point, it will look thick, but not as thick as we would like, so it's important to refrigerate at least 4 hours before eating.
* There is a way to make yogurt without a Yogurt Maker. Click here for some ideas. If you try these, let me know how they go!

Check out how thick this turns out!

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