Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The DIY yogurt experiment

Everyone likes yogurt, even us vegans. Especially when it's made of coconut milk (yum yum yum yum yum!)

But I get sick of paying a lot of money for it all the time, and besides, they stopped selling coconut yogurt in this town--probably because everyone else was sick of paying a lot of money, too.
So I decided to try to make my own. I have NO IDEA if it's going to come out well. But I hope it does cause how cool would that be?

I'm making it in a crock pot. (Who knew we had a crock pot? Not me.)

2 cans coconut milk plus 1/2 can of water
about 1/2 cup already-made yogurt (I used Silk soy yogurt)
lots of time and patience

Time for an adventure? Here we go:
1. Pour the cans of coconut milk into the crock pot. You may be surprised at how much fat there is floating at the top of the can. Like, you'll have a hard time pouring it until you break it up and mix it around a little--that much fat. (Who ever said being vegan was healthy? Ha ha.)

2. Stir the coconut milk around a little to break up the clumps of fat. At this point I added a little bit of water, because it seemed really thick. I added about half a can.

3. Heat the coconut milk on low. Theoretically it's supposed to come to about 180 F to sterilize it, but guess what? It came out of a can so I'm gonna bet it doesn't have too many microbes in it, that's the point of canning. (But if it doesn't work out I'm gonna be embarrassed at my impatience!)

4. Once it reaches 110 F, it's time to turn off the crock pot, unplug it, and add your starter. My starter is plain old soy yogurt--I'm using Silk brand. It's important that you use a kind of yogurt that has live active cultures. You could certainly use a packaged yogurt starter, but I'm very low-tech. Also, if you have pre-packaged yogurt starter you probably don't need me telling you how to make yogurt, right? Cause I'm making this up as I go along.

5. Sorry, I got sidetracked. Where were we? Whisk in the yogurt (I used a spoon, my whisk is broken!) and then put the cover back on the crock pot. Wrap the whole thing in clean towels or something to keep it insulated and warm. I didn't have too many clean towels, so I wrapped it in a flannel sheet. Toasty toasty.

6. Check up on it after 8 hours or so. Hopefully, it will taste like yogurt, and not just like a big pot of coconut milk!

7. I checked my yogurt after 10 hours (the next morning) and it did indeed taste like yogurt--hooray! But it also didn't have a very satisfying texture; it had barely thickened at all. I even tried thickening some of it with agar and corn starch, but I wasn't pleased with the result. I've heard that it gets easier the more batches of yogurt you make. Next time I'm going to try culturing it in a sterilized glass mason jar instead of in the crock pot, and see if that works any better. For now I'm putting it in lots of tasty smoothies! And if I eventually perfect the yogurt recipe, I will definitely post it.

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