The lovely Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler was our July Daring Cooks’ hostess and she asked us to create homemade yogurt in our own kitchens! No incubators needed, no expensive equipment or ingredients, just a few items and we had delicious yogurt for a fraction of the cost and a whole lot healthier than what you buy in the stores!
I have been wanting to make yogurt for a really long time. Like, a really, really long time.
So why haven't I?
Honestly? I have been scared.
Making yogurt is a relatively straightforward process, but there are a few specifics that are, well, important to the process. Most importantly, you need to be able to incubate your yogurt at a specific temperature for a few hours. Which is the part that has always scared me. I had no idea how to accomplish the steady temperature without a specific yogurt maker.
Cher was a fantastic hostess who really put so many of us at ease with her thorough and clear directions. Even I gathered the confidence to give it a shot!
With little man's allergies, regular yogurt is a no-go. In fact, regular yogurt was what led us to discover his allergies in the first place! We are so lucky to live in a time and place where non-dairy options are not only available, but varied. Our favorite non-dairy yogurt is coconut milk yogurt, with our go-to brand being So Delicious. It's tasty and healthy and the company has fantastic customer service. The biggest downfall, as with many specialty foods, is its price.
Which is what gave me my final push to try this challenge.
Using a combination of the coconut milk yogurt recipe that Cher provided in the challenge and this recipe that I found online, I got started.
The process is straightforward. Heat two cans of coconut milk to almost boiling...
...add a thickening agent (I used gelatin)...
...let the whole thing cool, then add a starter culture (for me, 1/4 cup of SO Delicious's plain yogurt with live, active cultures).
And then it is time to incubate! The reason why the milk mixture was cooled is because those live and active cultures are sensitive to heat - heat them too much and they die. And when making yogurt, you want them nice and warm so they thrive in your yogurt. If you kill them, it's not really yogurt. So the incubation time is intended to keep the whole mixture at that temperature for long enough to let that 1/4 cup of starter culture to spread to the entire mixture.
The method I chose is the one that Cher mentioned as her go-to method: the crock pot! I half-filled the crock pot with hot water and then set the heat to "warm." I let this sit the whole time I was preparing my yogurt mixture, then put my prepared jars of yogurt-mix right into the water bath to... incubate! I kept checking the temperature to make sure that this would hold correctly for the incubation time. In my case, I think "warm" ran a tad bit too hot (my target temperature was between 110 and 120 degrees), so I had to keep an eye on it, turning the machine off a few times during the process to make sure the water didn't get too hot.
I let my yogurt incubate for about 8 hours. Checking the yogurt right after, it was pretty thin...
But after a few hours in the refrigerator it came together perfectly!
It doesn't have quite the "tang" that I was expecting, so I do wonder if my incubation crock pot got too hot or something, hurting those cultures, but it's pretty close, so I was pretty happy!
I think it tastes just like the canned coconut milk that was used to make it... which is awesome for me, because I love that stuff. Little man prefers his with lots of honey drizzled on top.
To see the full challenge and its associated recipes, check it out here.
And to see the other delicious yogurts prepared in the kitchen this month, check them out here.
Coconut Milk Yogurt
(based on challenge recipes and The View From The Great Island)
2 cans coconut milk (full fat works best)
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup prepared coconut milk yogurt with live, active cultures (I used So Delicious)
Pour the coconut milk into a medium sauce pan. Over medium heat, carefully heat the mixture to 180 degrees.
Remove the pan from the heat.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the hot milk and whisk to combine.
Let the temperature of the milk mixture lower to 110 degrees.
Whisk in the yogurt.
Pour the yogurt mixture into jars and close well.
Incubate the jars in the method you find most comfortable (some people use a warm oven, you can use a yogurt maker if you have one, I used my crock pot - just make sure that your temperature is as close to 110 degrees as possible and as consistent as you can keep it). Incubate the yogurt for 5-8 hours.
Transfer jars to refrigerator to cool.
The yogurt should be good for about a week.