Cow’s milk has been gone from our diet so long that living without it is easy. If goat feta or chèvre is on hand, there’s nothing much to miss … mostly … except yogurt. Plain, live culture yogurt used to be one of my favourite foods, not to mention an easy way to get more probiotics into daily eating.

I have looked at yogurt alternatives in the grocery store. The containers are small, the prices are high. Could I make it myself? The answer is yes, easily. Probiotic capsules provide the initial fermentation but after that my yogurt grows using starter from the previous batch.

Here is the method that has been successful for me. 

Use a 4oo ml can of full-fat, organic coconut milk. Shake the can before you open it. If necessary, empty the can into a blender and blend for a few seconds, just long enough to recombine the fat and the coconut water. You only need to do this if the fat has risen to the top and solidified.

To make the first batch, put the coconut milk into a 1 quart jar and empty the contents of three high quality probiotic capsules into it. Be sure the probiotic does not contain any prebiotics. Stir well. Cover the jar with cheesecloth and leave it on the counter for 24 to 48 hours. I mark the level on the outside of the jar so I can see how much it has risen. The longer it sits, the more sour it will get.

When you like the taste, replace the cheesecloth with the jar lid and refrigerate. It will keep well for up to seven days, although it never stays in our kitchen that long. As you use it, always keep 1/4 cup as a starter for the next batch. You only need to use commercial probiotic capsules the first time.

Once my yogurt-making routine was established, I found that the new batch was often ready within twelve hours. Beware of using too small a jar, or letting it sit at room temperature for too long. I’ve had a few uprisings that surprised me. It’s an idea to sit the jar on a plate so you don’t lose any if it overflows while you are sleeping.

A new batch of coconut milk and starter. It will be yogurt within a day.

Chilled coconut yogurt is thick and creamy, but gets runnier as it warms to room temperature. It’s delicious plain or with fresh fruit, although it has lots of potential for creativity as well. Here are two of my favourite fancy ways to use it.

Herbed Dip

Scoop out 1/2 cup of yogurt into a small bowl. Add your choice of fresh chopped herb leaves (parsley, cilantro and dill are tasty) and 1/3 teaspoon of a hot pepper salt of your choice. Stir well and refrigerate until ready to use. Amazing with fresh veggies!

Fresh Apple Cream

Make one serving or several. For each serving:

Put 1/2 cup of yogurt in a mixing bowl. Sweeten to taste with pure stevia or monkfruit.
Dice a quarter to half a cored red apple, leaving on the skin. Stir into the yogurt.
Chop 5 or 6 soaked and dried walnut halves. Stir in.
Stir in 2 rounded tablespoons of shredded, unsweetened coconut.

Spoon into serving dishes and serve immediately or refrigerate so the yogurt stays firm.