Friday, April 27, 2012

Creamy-Dreamy, Thick and Rich Homemade Coconut-Oat Milk Yogurt

About a year ago, I had an urgent craving for plain, whole milk yogurt.  I remember making a special trip to Whole Foods right before they closed; the craving was so intense that I just couldn't wait until the next day. I took it home and blissfully devoured it. The next day, I fed one tiny spoonful of that yogurt to Abiline, saw her entire body immediately break out in an angry, red rash, and that was it---that was my last carton of yogurt, ever.  Since then, I have not craved dairy yogurt; I have found that once you stop eating dairy and get it out of your system, your body no longer wants it.

I started making my own non-dairy yogurt last summer since I wasn't happy with the price and very sweet flavor of So Delicious coconut milk yogurt.  I have posted two yogurt recipes on my blog, which the kids and I have really enjoyed, but the texture was never thick like dairy yogurt, never quite what I wanted.  I had been using xantham gum (before I knew it was corn-derived) to thicken the yogurt, as I had not had success with agar or various starches. Then it occurred to me this week, "Why don't I try combining agar powder AND tapioca starch?" So simple.  So awesome. This is the real deal: non-dairy yogurt, as thick and creamy as that whole milk yogurt I once adored.


Equipment needed: medium-large sized pot, candy thermometer, large glass jar with lid and crockpot or a yogurt maker

1 can full-fat coconut milk
2 cups homemade oat milk (instructions below)
2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
1 heaping tsp. agar powder
2 Tbsp. already prepared plain yogurt, either store-bought or from your last batch of homemade
***Update! I just found this non-dairy yogurt starter at Whole Foods, and it worked great!

Notes on ingredients:
-I use homemade oat milk because I want to make this more economical.  I would think that you could use two cups of your favorite non-dairy milk in place of the oat milk, but I am not sure that you would get the exact same results. In my experience, if you want your yogurt to be tart, just be sure that the non-dairy milk you use does not have any added sugars.
-I use tapioca starch because it is more affordable than arrowroot, and my son is allergic to corn, so cornstarch is out. I do not know if another starch would yield the same results as the tapioca starch.  


1. To make the oat milk, soak 1/2 cup steel cut oats (can use gluten-free, of course) in 2 cups of filtered water overnight. In the morning, pour the oats and water into your blender and blend for about a minute. Then strain the milk through a fine mesh sieve, squeezing the oat pulp as you go to get all of the creamy good stuff out.  (I use the oat pulp in pancakes, muffins, etc.)

2. Pour the oat milk back into the blender along with the coconut milk, agar, and tapioca starch. Blend until thoroughly combined.  Place the milk mixture into your pot and clip the candy thermometer to the side of the pot so that it is touching the milk, not the bottom of the pan.  Heat the mixture over high heat until the thermometer reaches 185 degrees. This kills all of the bacteria that you don't want to culture.  Be sure to watch it so that it doesn't boil over.

3. At this point, take the already prepared yogurt that you will use as a starter culture out of the fridge. If you are using your crock-pot, warm it up to 115. Take the pot off the heat and let the mixture cool until it reaches between 120 and 115 degrees. Once the milk is the right temperature, stir in the starter culture yogurt and do one of the following so that the yogurt stays at 120-115 degrees for the full incubation period: 1) place the mixture in a glass jar with the lid just placed on top, not screwed on, and place it in the pre-heated crock-pot with the crock-pot lid on and a towel wrapped around the jar; or 2) pour the mixture into your yogurt maker. (I think it is worthwhile to just spend $30 on the yogurt maker; it reliably maintains the temperature with no fuss.) Allow the yogurt to incubate for 8-10 hours. The longer it sits, the tarter it gets!

4. Once the yogurt is done, place it in the fridge for a few hours to cool down. It will become very thick and almost solid. To get the desired texture, place the cold yogurt in a food processor (preferred) or blender and just blend for a few seconds to smooth it out.  I like the yogurt just plain and tart, but if you want it sweeter, I think the best way is to just add a bit of stevia or maple syrup and a bit of vanilla or to swirl your favorite all-fruit jam into individual servings. If you add a bunch of liquid sweetener or fruit, this will water down the creaminess of the yogurt; it will still be good, but just not as thick.

This recipe is linked to Allergy-Friendly Lunchbox Love, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays ,Whole Foods Wednesdays, Wellness Weekend and Allergy-Friendly Friday.



37 comments:

  1. I am going to have to give this a try. It is hard to find a decent "healthy" yogurt in the stores.

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    1. I know--I love making my own yogurt because you can control the amount of sweetener, and you know exactly what is in it. I hope you enjoy it!

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  2. I am so trying this! I have not found any commercial non dairy yogurts that I love, so I've been looking into making my own.

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    1. Please give it a go; I was hesitant to make my own yogurt at first--thought it would be too much work--but it is really quite easy, and I just love this recipe. Please let me know how you like it!

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  3. I'm definitely trying this! I havent' experimented with agar powder yet; this sounds like the perfect solution for non-dairy yogurt.

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    1. I hope you try it and love it. I just made some tonight; it's like dessert for me--I just can't stop eating it.

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  4. Just wondering what to do if you don't already have 2tbsp of already prepared yogurt. Did you use the So Delicious coconut milk yogurt?

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    1. Yes, for my first batch, I just used 2 Tbsp. of plain So Delicious.

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  5. Hi, I've juste discovered your blog via pinterest and just wanted to say : "whaouh" (I don't know if you can say that in english). I really have to try this yogurt recipe since my son is allergic to dairy and corn (and also egg, nuts, chocolate...) and he don't like the taste ofsoy yogurt.
    And I just add your blog feed to my reader. Thanks for the great job you do in your blog !

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    1. Thanks so much, Titi! I hope your son loves the yogurt like my kids do. We like to to blend it with some blueberries and a touch of maple syrup and/or stevia.

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  6. This recipe sounds great but I have a few questions. The gluten-free oats I bought are quick cooking oats, can they be used in place of steel cut oats? What does the agar powder do? What would be the result of making the yogurt without it? If it is for thickening could one increase the tapioca flour?

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    1. Yes, I have made oat milk using oatmeal as well, so that should be fine. The agar powder is a vegetarian version of gelatin, so yes, it is a strong thickener. I really prefer the yogurt with the agar, but I have used 3 Tbsp. tapioca starch when I didn't have any agar on hand. It's not as thick, but it worked. If you are not allergic to corn, then adding a bit of xantham gum after the yogurt is done can also help thicken it up.

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    2. To specify: add the xantham gum and yogurt to your food processor and blend; it won't work if just stirred in.

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  7. My friends, family, and I thank you. Thanks to this post we enjoy yogurt again. One of my friends missed yogurt so much she almost cried when she tried this recipe (most of us haven't had dairy yogurt in years). Thanks for your work!
    PS Let me know if you have any inspirations on how to use Xantham Gum

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    1. Thank you, Connor--that made my week! I am so glad you all enjoyed the yogurt! I have had success using 3 Tbsp. tapioca starch before culturing the yogurt (leaving out the agar) and then adding 1/2-1 tsp. xantham gum when you blend the yogurt after it is done culturing. That also makes for a good consistency.

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  8. Hello! I would like to do this kind of yogurt, but my baby daugther is alergic to dairy and soya... so I really don't have a plain yogurt with the bacteria culture! In Portugal I only buy yogurts of cows milk or of soya! If I do your recipe without the 2 tablespoons of yogurt it will result? Another question: substitute the tapioca starch for rice flour would be a good idea or not? Thanks for your help!

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    1. No, you need the starter. In the US we have rice and coconut milk yogurt available, so that is what I have used for my first batch of homemade. You could use vegan probiotic capsules as a starter instead. I know these are available online, although I'm not sure about availability in Portugal or shipping there. Sorry! Also, not sure about rice flour, but you could certainly try!

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  9. Hi! I'm really excited to try this yogurt recipe!! Have you ever estimated how much it costs per quart to make your own? Also, how many times can you culture a new batch using a homemade batch as the starter (before you have to use store bought or probiotic, etc again)? Thanks!!

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    1. The cost varies depending on how much you pay for coconut milk, but I usually get mine on sale for less than $2, so the whole thing would cost a bit more than $2. You can keep using starter from your last batch of yogurt indefinitely; you never have to buy store-bought yogurt again as long as you always remember to reserve a few Tbsp. of your own for the next batch.

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  10. Where do you buy your agar powder? it's SO expensive everywhere I've looked?! And congrats on baby #3!!!

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    1. It is reasonably priced at luckyvitamin.com. I usually do a big order from there 2 or 3 times a year of various stuff that is overpriced at the local markets (coconut sugar, extracts, chia seeds, etc.)

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  11. Oh my this looks amazing! I wonder if I could do almond milk instead of oat milk..... Thanks so much for your recipe.

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    1. I would think so, but I would recommend unsweetened. Please let me know how it turns out!

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    2. I use unsweetened almond milk, and it works beautifully. I've also used cashew milk, which makes it REALLY creamy.

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  12. I have been using this recipe for a few months now, and I just want to send you a big thank you. I've missed yogurt so much, and this recipe is awesome. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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    1. Hooray! I am so glad to hear it, Chelsea!

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  13. Do you know if I could modify this recipe and use just the oat milk I don't like the coconut taste to yogurt made with coconut milk...?

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  14. I have a question about the homemade starter. I began making soy yogurt (my first attempt at almond yogurt was disgusting....) a few weeks ago after I purchased a yogurt maker. I'm excited to try your versions of the yogurt blending in the agar after the yogurt has been made. My previous attempts (after googling about it) were for recipes adding it before putting it in the yogurt maker. One time it worked great and the next time it created a displeasing gelatin texture. So my question: I've read that the homemade yogurt must be consumed within 7-10 days. If you reserve the amount of homemade yogurt, how long is that 'starter' good for? Does it 'go bad' or only get better after more time? Thanks!!

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    1. Actually, in my recipe I add the agar before incubating the yogurt. It does come out with a gelatin texture, but then if you pulse it in the food processor, that goes away.

      As for the starter, in my experience, it will go bad. I usually use mine weekly, so I don't run into that problem, but I do recall waiting more than two weeks once, and it was yucky.

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  15. Thanks for responding! In your soy yogurts in previous recipes, you added the thickener after the yogurt was made, right? I tried the one recipe with strawberry jam and xanthum gum blending it afterwards and it was DELICIOUS! I read somewhere else that the starter can be frozen. Do you have any experience with that? Wouldn't that kill the cultures?

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Yes, I did add the xantham gum afterwards in my other recipe :o) You know, that may work, since the cultures supposedly stay active in frozen yogurt that you buy at the store! Thanks--I hadn't thought of that.

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  16. I just made the basic vanilla recipe and it was so delicious!!! Even my picky little girl liked it! Yay! I'm so thrilled. Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes!

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  17. Has anyone tried this recipe with lite coconut milk? That's all I have on hand and I'm eager to give my new yogurt maker a try today. :)

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  18. I was wondering about your new found starter culture....do you have to buy new each time? Or can you use some of the old to start the new????

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    1. You do not have to buy new each time; you can just save a few tablespoons of your last batch of yogurt and use that as the starter for the next batch. However, it is nice that if you forget to save some yogurt, you can just use a new packet of starter.

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  19. Hi do you think I could do all oat milk? Sister isn't a big fan of coconut milk and nut milks are out of the question

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