It’s so simple to culture your own yogurt! I still remember the first quivery spoonful from my first batch years ago. I enjoy making it in the early morning after I SIT.SIP.n.BE fully present. Or, sometimes I make it just before bed, instead, which makes for a very relaxing bed time routine. My coconut milk yogurt is AIP friendly (it has to be if I’m eating it!).
There is something very nurturing about the process of stirring, concocting this n’ that, filling jars, tightening lids and ‘tucking the jars into bed’ to culture away. Every time I set the jars on a heating pad under a wool “culturing sweater” I feel a little giddy… knowing there are magical things at work, changing and creating new probiotics on their own, and that the end result will be so good for me . . . joyful belly, indeed.
I’ve come up with a recipe that has the added benefits of gelatin and pea protein to make it more nutrient-dense . . . each single-serving jar of this yogurt has about 4 grams protein (protein is usually lacking in homemade coconut yogurt). And I’m including my optional flavor variations, which I created for their anti-inflammatory properties.
May your belly be welly. Enjoy!
2 cans coconut milk (with no preservatives, like this brand)
1 scoop unflavored pea protein powder (about 25 grams protein, like this brand)
1 TBL raw honey, or to taste (omit for plain yogurt)
pinch sea salt
1 capsule probiotic powder (I use this brand)
2 tsp unflavored gelatin; 1 tsp for less-firm consistency (Vital Protein brand or Great Lakes brand, “red”)
1/3 C cold water, or left-over cold chamomille tea from teapot
1 heating pad
1 thick wool sweater, child’s size works well
- Set out six half-pint jars on the countertop; set lids to the side.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, pour in the coconut milk, using a rubber scraper to scrape the extra creamy bits from the can’s lid to add to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer.
- While it is heating up pour the 1/3 cup water (or cold leftover herbal tea) into a wide-bottomed bowl. Sprinkle the 2 teaspoons gelatin over the water to bloom/soften, and set aside, covering with a plate to retain moisture.
- [Skip this step if you are making yogurt with no flavor variations]. Once the coconut milk is hot, add optional flavor variation herbs of your choice* and let steep, covered, for 20 minutes. After steeping, strain out any flavor solids (like cardamom pods).
- Remove yogurt from heat source and stir in softened gelatin, pea protein powder and salt (stir in honey after it has cooled a bit). I find a hand-held immersion blender works best to break up any clumps. Test the temperature of the warm mixture. Once it is at 110º, add the honey and probiotics (twist open a capsule of probiotic powder, pour in the powder), throwing the empty capsule shell away.
- Ladle the mixture into the six waiting jars. I use this funnel, to fill the jars (the same funnel recommended by Paleo Girl 99 on her blog–she’s very talented at making AIP Paleo cooking efficient and fun). I know the jars are equally filled when the liquid I’m pouring just touches the bottom of the funnel. Screw the lids on. Take note of the time of day so you know when you started culturing (thankfully, it’s not an exact science, but it’s kind of nice to know).
- Now for making your nest: Plug in the heating pad, set it on the counter and turn the heat to Low. Cluster your covered jars of yogurt in the middle of the heating pad. Place the sweater over and around the nest of jars by opening the bottom waist-opening of the sweater and setting it over the jars, much like a bird sitting on her nest. With what’s left of the sweater above the jars, flop it on top of the jars and wrap the arms of the sweater around the whole thing for a big hug. Leave the jars of yogurt magic to culture for at least 12 hours, more if you like it extra tangy. (Make it at night if you want it tangy, so that you can choose the next day when to stop culturing, say at the 18-hour mark).
- After culturing, tighten the lids again (they will have loosened a bit), shake the contents of each jar to mix in liquid that has separated, and refrigerate for several hours to set-up and become creamy!
My favorite is:
Cardamom Turmeric-Scented Yogurt
1/2 tsp turmeric powder, or 1 TBL finely grated turmeric root
6 cardamom pods and seeds, (crush open with side of chefs knife)
pinch of ground cardamom
3 grinds black pepper, fresh-ground
OTHER FLAVOR VARIATIONS in the works: fiddle around with the following suggestions, and let me know if you come up with a favorite Variation:
Herbs & Spices (Top 15 anti-inflammatory herbs and spices):
Ginger, turmeric, black pepper, basil, cardamom, chamomile, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, garlic, parsley, nutmeg, rosemary.
- Red: Beets, pomegranate molasses, cranberries
- Pink: Raspberries, strawberries, cherries, hibiscus, rose
- Orange: Carrot juice
- Yellow: Turmeric
- Green: Spinach (or other leafy greens), chlorella, liquid chlorophyll
- Blue: Some kind of herbal tea, such as blue Thai tea, which is also called Butterfly Pea Tea
- Purple: Blackberries
- Brown: Tea, coffee, cocoa powder
I’m toying with more new ideas. Here’s my list of them:
Lavender-Honey Yogurt. I tried making this with culinary lavender, and it was putrid. Not recommended.
Ginger-Raspberry (raspberry jam dollop after set)
Basil & peach plop on top
Sage and Lemon Zest
Chamomile glacé over honey yogurt (beef gelatin steeped in honeyed chamomile tea, and chilled in a layer over top)
Apple-Sage dollop over yogurt
Pinenut & Rosemary (not AIP friendly)