Probiotic Coconut Yogurt: Plain or Chocolate!

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breakfast / dairy free / dairy free option / dessert / egg free / egg free option / favourites / fermented / gluten free / gluten free option / grain free / lunch / nut free / snack / sweet / vegan / vegan option / vegetarian / vegetarian option

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Have you tried making coconut yogurt but haven’t had much luck? I get questions from a large number of people about the secrets to making a consistently good coconut yogurt that is tangy and thick and that doesn’t separate. My method is EASY and I get a perfect batch every time. You don’t need any fancy equipment and you don’t even need to have probiotic capsules on hand. This method uses leftover coconut yogurt which you can find in the supermarket for a lot less than a bottle of probiotic capsules (thank-you Hannah from the Facebook fermentation group for that bit of advice!). I have also included the probiotic capsules in the method too incase you have those on hand and prefer to use those. Also, please feel free to share any tips and tricks in the comments, as well as any other brands of coconut cream that you have had good and consistent success with. Knowledge is power and I am a firm believer in sharing it freely!

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All coconut creams and milks are not created equal. Some brands have added thickeners, emulsifiers and fillers while others have minimal ingredients in them. There are a few things to consider when buying coconut cream and I can give you three recommendations for brands available in New Zealand. Ayam Premium Coconut Cream, Kara UHT Coconut Cream (in the Tetra Pak), or Trade Aid Coconut MILK (sorry, no photo of the can) are three coconut products that work very well for coconut yogurt. There are a few pros and cons to each. I have also used Pams and Fia Fia brand in the past, but I found they had a funny aftertaste which was more than a little unpleasant.

AYAM – This produces the thickest yogurt (so thick it is like cream cheese). It is 100% pure coconut kernel extract and comes in an easy open tin. The flavour is beautiful. One of the cons is that it is possibly harder to find for some. As well,  at around $2.50-$3.50 per 270ml can it is the most expensive option.

TRADE AID – This coconut milk (which is the same as a cream) also produces a very thick yogurt and has minimal ingredients. I also like that it is a fair trade item and is also in a tin that can be recycled. It is slightly less expensive than the Ayam brand. One con is that, again, it can be harder to find for some.

KARA – This coconut cream is the easiest to find and is by far the best price point. It produces a lovely coconut yogurt but isn’t as thick as the previous two. However, in NZ we cannot recycle Tetra Paks and it has to go in the bin (or you can use it as a mould when making homemade soap!). This coconut cream also has more thickeners and emulsifiers than the other two, which is not ideal for some people.

There is some confusion as to whether a thickener needs to be added (such as xanthan or guar gum, or even tapioca and potato starch) to get a thick yogurt, but in my experience, I have never added anything to thicken it and I can stand a spoon up in the yogurt once it has fermented and then set in the fridge. I also try to avoid xanthan and guar gum as they can be an irritant to the gut. 

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Some of the common problems encountered when making coconut yogurt and what may have gone wrong:

  • It separated – this can be from overheating or over fermenting. Using an Easiyo is a classic way to overheat and get separation. With tweaking, this method can work, but I like minimal equipment in my kitchen so only use a jar on the bench top with nothing else. One tip I have for this method is to make sure your coconut cream mixture is at room temperature and only add HOT not boiling water to the Easiyo, or you may find that your mixture has separated a few hours later.
  • Separating can also occur when using a coconut cream which has water added to it. The water separates during fermentation and also as the cream rises to the top.
  • Using too many probiotics can also cause separation (4 billion microorgaisms per cup of coconut cream is a good amount – check your package for this info)
  • The coconut cream didn’t ferment – the probiotics are likely too old or dead, which also means they aren’t doing anything for your guts if you are taking them daily. This is a great way to test them!
  • The yogurt is tangy but didn’t thicken – I have found this comes down to the brand and ingredients/quality of the coconut cream, which is why I am only suggesting these three brands which I have made succesful coconut yogurt from many, many times over the past few years.

Basic Coconut Cream Yogurt

  • Servings: Makes around 500mls
  • Print

This recipe can easily be double or tripled for a larger batch of coconut cream yogurt.

400-540mls of coconut cream of one of the above mentioned brands (Ayam Premium, Trade Aid Coconut Milk or Kara UHT)

2 TBLS probiotic coconut cream yogurt (good quality store-bought or a previous batch)

OR 3-4 probiotic capsules (4 billion microorganisms approx per cup of coconut cream- check package for this info – I have had good luck with Bio Kult brand probiotics)

Method:

  1. Shake the can(s) or carton of unopened coconut cream well. Open and place into a clean glass jar. Place 2 TBLS of probiotic coconut cream yogurt OR 3-4 probiotic capsules  into the coconut cream and stir well. Screw on the lid and leave the coconut cream to ferment in a warm spot or on the kitchen bench out of direct sunlight. If left in a warm spot it will ferment more quickly and usually takes between 12-24 hours to develop a nice tang. If left on the kitchen bench it can take 24-72 hours to ferment fully. It should thicken up a little and you may see little tiny air bubbles on the sides, which is a good sign of active lactic acid bacteria.
  2. Open the jar and test it every 12-24 hours until you like the tanginess/flavour. It will also continue to get a little more tangy in the fridge.
  3. Place it into the fridge and allow it to chill completely before eating it. It will thicken up more once chilled.

Consume within about 7-10 days.

Chocolate Coconut Cream Yogurt

  • Servings: Makes around 500mls
  • Print

This recipe can easily be double for a larger batch of coconut cream yogurt.

400-540mls of coconut cream of one of the above mentioned brands (Ayam Premium, Trade Aid Coconut Milk or Kara UHT)

1 TBLS honey

60 grams of good quality dark chocolate – chopped into small pieces

2 TBLS probiotic coconut cream yogurt (good quality store-bought or a previous batch)

OR 3-4 probiotic capsules (4 billion microorganisms approx per cup of coconut cream – check package for this info – I have had good luck with Bio Kult brand probiotics)

Method:

  1. Place chopped dark chocolate into a mixing bowl. In a saucepan, combine coconut cream and honey and slowly bring to a simmer over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as the coconut cream begins to show signs of simmering, remove it from the heat and pour it over the chocolate in the mixing bowl. Swirl the mixing bowl gently a couple of times and then leave the mixture to soften and melt undisturbed for 3-5 minutes.
  2. With a whisk, gently move the mixture around. Once you can see that the chocolate is melting and swirling into the coconut cream, whisk it in a circular motion a bit more vigorously. Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is totally melted and evenly mixed into the cream. It should look a bit like chocolate sauce. Cover the mixture with a tea towel and allow it to cool to about 40 degrees (if you dip your pinky finger into the mix it should feel warm, but not at all hot).
  3. Once the coconut cream & chocolate mixture is warm to the touch, add the 2 TBLS coconut yogurt OR probiotic capsules and mix well. Screw on the lid and leave the coconut cream to ferment in a warm spot or on the kitchen bench out of direct sunlight. If left in a warm spot it will ferment more quickly and usually takes between 12-24 hours to develop a nice tang. If left on the kitchen bench it can take 24-72 hours to ferment fully. It should thicken up a little and you may see little tiny air bubbles on the sides, which is a good sign of active lactic acid bacteria.
  4. Open the jar and test it every 12-24 hours until you like the tanginess/flavour. It will also continue to get a little more tangy in the fridge.
  5. Place it into the fridge and allow it to chill completely before eating it. It will thicken up more once chilled.

Consume within 7-10 days

The Author

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

41 Comments

  1. Meredith Gallagher says

    Thanks for such a comprehensive post! So far I’ve never had any success with coconut yogurt but I’ll give it another go after reading this.

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  2. Can’t wait to try this! Can you use coconut cream that has been refrigerated? I have a uht carton opened yesterday in the fridge. Would it be too cold?

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    • You can heat it up in a saucepan first and then make sure it is about 40 degrees C before adding the coconut yogurt or probiotics. And if a carton has been opened for a few days, I heat it up to just a simmer and then turn it off and cool to 38-40° C to kill any potential bacteria that may have grown over the few days in the fridge. I hope it works well for you 🙂

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    • I’ve heard of a few failed attempts only with Ceres, but have never tried it myself using this method. If you feel like trying it out, please share your results! I’ve hear Little Bare brand makes the best but not sure how available it is yet and I’m not sure if it’s organic.

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    • Upon opening a can of Ceres brand, I can fairly confidently say that it would not work well for coconut yogurt. It is very thin and watery and looks like it would split badly. I’ve decided to make this tin into chia breakfast pudding instead.

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  3. What brand of coconut yogurt would you recommend using? I’m pretty sure the probiotics I bought last week are duds (Healtheries Probiotica P3). I haven’t been able to afford to get my usual ones for a few months now since all my money goes towards my rapidly growing puppy, so I want to try it with store bought yogurt instead 🙂

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    • Ayam Premium coconut cream is still my favourite for a really thick and creamy yogurt. But Trade Aid coconut milk also makes a lovely thick yogurt. The Kara UHT in the Tetra Pak also works. It’s not as thick but still creates a lovely product. But check to make sure the ingredients on the Kara brand are okay for you. The previous two are a healthier choice but more expensive. Little Bare Brand also makes a lovely thick yogurt. I’ve also heard Macro brand works, but I haven’t tried that myself. Definitely don’t go with Ceres, as it doesn’t work at all.

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  4. Thanks for that, but my question was actually about what store bought yogurt to use with the coconut cream? 🙂

    I did try it with Trident Coconut Cream and Healtheries probiotics, but it didn’t work – I’m not sure whether the cream or the probiotics were to blame.

    I’m planning on getting the Ayam cream tomorrow since I have a few spare dollars this week, just wasn’t sure which brand of yogurt to use as the starter.

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    • Any commercial coconut yogurt that has probiotics in the ingredients should work. Raglan, Cathedral Cove, Doctor’s Choice or the Coyo. I’m unfamiliar with other brands, but I reckon any with probiotics listed will work well.

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      • Just wanted to give a quick update. I decided to give my probiotics another chance.. and it turned out perfectly with the Ayam cream… will definitely be making this again. Thanks for the recipe 😀

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      • Oh hurray! I’m so pleased it worked!! The Ayam is delicious. Super thick. Little Bare Brand is also AMAZING should you be able to access that brand. It’s mainly in Nelson & Blenheim. Thanks so much for giving an update. I’m really pleased it worked out for you! 😃

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  5. Billie says

    Hey 🙂 thanks for your recipe! Excited to try it got all the stuff but realised I don’t have a glass jar big enough:( would plastic work?

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  6. Cathy says

    Thank you for this post. I have tried making coconut yoghurt with Ayam brand before and it was a dismal failure. When I open any of my Ayam tins there is a very solid component and a more creamy portion, even after shaking it. Is there anything I should be doing to make it a more consistent texture across all of the tin? When I tried to make the yoghurt it started with big chunks (despite trying to break them up) and finished the same way. No other instructions I’ve seen for making coconut yoghurt mention this issue but it’s always the same for me. Any ideas?

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  7. Alana Hawke says

    Hi Bonnie, I just put my first batch on and can’t wait to see how it turns out. I also have a big jar of your kimchi fermenting away. We tasted it last night and Evelyn (my 5-year-old) couldn’t get enough of it. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  8. Rebecca says

    Hi Bonnie
    Thank you for these instructions 😊
    Just wondering if you can just keep 2tablespoons each batch to add to the next, or do you need to add fresh store bought yoghurt for each batch? Thanks.

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  9. Margi Mitcalfe says

    Hi! Thanks a lot! Yesterday I used the Kara tin I had in the cupboard with my probiotics. The yogurt is thin-ish, very tangy and tasty, but has a pink film on top. I used an Easiyo plastic container and the Easiyo yogurt thermos thing. Any ideas? Yes, I was still game enough to have a little taste…do you think it’s bad bacteria?

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    • I’m so sorry for not replying to this sooner! Without seeing the yogurt I’m not certain what it might be, but pinkish layer on top can be a specific bacterium that likes to grow on damp places and often found on yogurt, dairy or hummus that has gone off. I personally will always throw anything suspicious out and try again, making sure to clean everything very well. A good ferment shouldn’t allow any bad bacteria to proliferate, so if you have questionable growth of a possible bacteria or fungi the ferment may not have been ideal and I would definitely throw away.

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  10. Sylvia Reynolds says

    Hi Bonnie. Happy New Year. Keen to get in contact with you but not getting replies to my texts. Can you email or text me please? Sylvia

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  11. Pablo Donadio says

    Hi, Ive been having trouble with fermentation, the yougurt “grows” (seems as it fills with small bubbles), out of the jar. What might be happening?

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    • Thanks for your comment. This happens to a few other people I know. The bubbles are a sign of vigorous fermentation. You could try adding much less starter or fewer probiotics. Which method are you using, the starter yogurt or probiotic capsules?

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  12. Sarah Gambitsis says

    Hi there, I’m trying to find the right ingredients to produce a coconut yoghurt that tastes creamy and delicious like Cathedral Cove coconut yoghurt. So far I’ve tried using Kara coconut cream (I used their tinned product) and my second attempt has been with Fairtrade coconut milk. I’ve used Inner Health plus probiotic capsules, heating the milk on the stovetop and then adding the contents of the probiotic capsules and putting the mixture in the EasyYo. For the second batch I also added gelatine. The Fairtrade was definitely better than the Kara brand but still tasted like coconut cream you’d add to a curry and not the delectable coconut yoghurt you’d eat by itself. Any suggestions on brands? Where would I source Ayam?

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    • Hi Sarah, thanks for your comment. Was it the Trade Aid brand you used? I’ve had good luck with that one. Ayam can be found at Moore Wilsons and some New World supermarkets (depending on where you are). Little Bare brand pure coconut can be purchased online https://littlebare.net/shop/. That is the best one I’ve used. The Kara in the tetrapak creates a nice texture too but not as thick. The timing is key in getting a good texture and this is something that will vary between households and between the type and amount of probiotic used. So it might be a little trial and error to find what type of coconut cream/milk works best with your probiotics and home environment. I don’t use an easiyo. I find the bench top is sufficient to ferment and it doesn’t tend to over ferment either as I can catch it before that happens. If it over ferments it generally looks a bit separated or gritty and can sometimes be fizzy and too sour.

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  13. ayam has always been my go-to for coconut cream so i’m happy it’s been mentioned as a favourite here! i also happen to have bio-kult capsules on hand. when you’ve previously used a combo of the ayam can +biokult did you use 3, or 4 capsules? kindly -michelle

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    • Hey Michelle! I’ve used 3 capsules of the bio kult for a can of the ayam. It thickens up heaps more once in the fridge, so just leave it to sit until you can see bubbles under the surface on the sides of the jar and it has a slight tang. 🙂

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      • m says

        hi bonnie, i’ve made yoghurt following your method twice now and both times it has turned out perfect! thank you for sharing this 🙂

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  14. Michele Brown says

    If using the Ayam can do I put in fridge first to set to then take off water before making yogurt or do you just shake can as is then add probiotics or tablespoons of bought probiotic coconut yoghurt?

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      • Michele Brown says

        Thank you very much! I tried the Kara tetrapak and that worked well just thought I’d try the ayam as it has no thickeners or additives😊

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