From Home Dairying to Home NON-Dairying: Making Coconut Milk Yogurt


We started our adventures in home dairying in 2004 with 2 newly freshened Toggenburg dairy goat does (much like the one pictured), named Cafe au Lait (which means “coffee w/ milk” in French) and her twin sister, Cocoa, and their 1 month old daughters Mocha and Vienna.  Within 2 months we were not only milking for goat milk but also making yogurt and both fresh and aged goat cheeses for cooking.

Fast-forward 7 years or so to when we realized we had a major problem with our son Charles and dairy products.  I began making “ice cream” with soy, almond or coconut milk and buying “Rice Shreds” mozzarella subsitute for family pizza night (it still had a little bit of casein, but it was the only thing close our local natural foods grocer could get his hands on for us… thus it was maybe a twice a month type treat to have pizza.)  Charles really wouldn’t eat yogurt and didn’t care for cheese except on pizza… so for a year and a half my stash of home dairying “cultures” (the bacteria used to create yogurt, cheese and other yummy things) sat unused in the back of the freezer waiting…

Anna was born also with a casein allergy issue, but at 6 months old I really felt we should introduce some probiotic foods into her diet, especially when the whole family came down sick with first RSV virus, then secondary bacterial upper respitory infections and everyone got put on antibiotics (they have their place in treatment of bacterial infection, but they wreak havoc on your digestive system, killing off beneficial “good bacteria” the body needs to properly digest foods.)  So I started researching “yogurts” I could make using some of the alternative plant-based “milk” products that are available.

After looking at a lot of recipes and combining several I thought would work best I came up with the following: (For the sake of simplicity, we will assume you have a yogurt maker device and know how to incubate yogurt in it.  If you don’t have such a device and don’t know how to make yogurt with improvised tools, please search the Good Eats archives on, Alton Brown did several good episodes on this topic.)

Coconut Yogurt Base

2 cans of coconut milk (full fat is best)

1 envelope Knox gelatin

1 pkt of yogurt culture (some good sources are and New England Cheese Making)

Upto 3 TBSP Stevia in the Raw or Raw Sugar to taste (optional, to make this “savory” yogurt base for dips and such omit sweetner and proceed as directed)

Open both cans of coconut milk.  Pour the 1st one into a mid-sized mixing bowl or 4 cup pyrex measuring cup (leaving plenty of room to add the other can of coconut milk later and stir it well). On top of the room temperature coconut milk in the bowl,  sprinkle the dry Knox gelatin and allow to bloom for at least 5 minutes.  Pour the second can of coconut milk into a saucepan (add your sweetener if using) and heat this to a boil stirring constantly to prevent scorching the  coconut milk.    Pour the hot coconut milk into the cool coconut milk slowly while stirring.  Stir until the gelatin completely disovles.  Allow to cool on the counter top (cover with foil or plastic wrap if you like) back to almost room temp (between 70 and 0 degrees F).

At this point the gelatin may have cuased it to thicken somewhat.  Gently stir in the pakcet of yogurt culture with a plastic or wooden spoon (do not use metal, as it can react with the culture and the milk and prevent your yogurt from setting).  Pour the coconut milk blend into a very clean 1 quart wide mouth canning jar fitted with a plastic “storage” lid.  Place your jar of yogurt into your yogurt maker and follow the manufacturers directions, incubating your yogurt at approx 110 degrees F for 8 to 12 hours depending on how tangy you like your yogurt… the longer it cultures the more tangy it becomes.  It may not look like it will “set”, this is why we added the gelatin (we all know jello sets up in the fridge when it cools, coconut milk also thickens up when refridgerated to a point… together, when this yogurt is refridgerated it thickens up into a beautiful custard-like consistancy… think Yoplait’s custard type yogurt).

You can combine the yogurt with fresh or pureed fruit and vegetable combinations to your heart’s desire and serve as you would any flavored yogurt for breakfast, snacks or dessert.  Savory yogurt you can combine with your favorite herbs and seasonings to make delicious dips for veggies, chips etc or as a sauce on fish, poultry or game meats.  A favorite use in our house is to set the yogurt out to warm for an hour or so and use it as a buttermilk substitute in our favorite gluten-free/dairy-free pancake or waffle recipes.


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