Homemade Coconut & Tapioca Yogurt

Making homemade yogurt was always quick and easy when I lived in Brazil.

Sure, the constant heat helps the bacteria’s job. You leave milk sitting out on the kitchen table overnight and you’ll have fresh yogurt (or at least a thick layer of curd) the following morning.

My parents taught me this easy task of yogurt making. No yogurt maker necessary. I few drops of lemon juice in the milk and it begins to curd right in front of your eyes (well, not that fast, but you get the gist).

Coming to New Zealand has taught me many things: to have a monthly budget, to be more proactive, to live far far away form everyone I had ever known and loved and still survive. But most importantly: it has taught me patience.

Patience is a virtue. Good on those who have it! I can’t say I am the most patient person I know, but I am getting pretty good at it.

Patience comes handy when you’re cooking. Unless you’re into buying 5-minute noodles from the shop, cooking (baking as well) takes time, persistence and patience. You make mistakes, start over again and again until you perfect that dish. Use friends and partners as Guinea pigs 😄

Patience is also important when making…

Yogurt! Especially coconut yogurt.

Before giving up on dairy completely, I did try to make my own yogurt the simplest and easiest way that my parents taught me: by buying a milk bottle from a local shop, adding a few drops of lemon juice to it and leaving the milk sitting out of the fridge overnight.

Nothing happened… Two days, three days later… still nothing.

Turns out that all the process that milk goes through before it is sold at shops here kill all the bacteria, including the good ones (Ultra Pasteurized (UP) Milk –  much of the milk in the grocery stores, unfortunately, is ultra-pasteurized which means it is heated up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 1 second. All natural organisms in the milk, including those that are beneficial, are killed with this treatment.).

The milk takes about a week to go sour. Then that’s all it does: it goes sour. A very thin layer of curd forms, but even full milk isn’t “fat” enough to create a thick curd on the top that we could use to make yogurt, or cheese etc.

It’s a great thing in Brazil that we have the choice to buy different grades of milk, that vary according to the treatment (whether pasteurization or not) that the milk undergoes. I might be wrong, but I believe there are three grades: A, B and C.

C being nearly raw milk. That’s the kind of milk my parents buy when they want to make yogurt and cheese.

You still find places here in New Zealand where you can get raw milk straight from the source. However, food safety legislation has been changing and that is making buying raw milk harder for consumers.

But I’m not here to discuss New Zealand’s food safety legislation! Nor am I here to talk about real milk yogurt! Today’s recipe is coconut yogurt. 

The reason I talked about patience earlier was because here in New Zealand, especially down here in the South Island where temperatures are low most of the year and quite mild in the summer, I needed to buy a yogurt maker to try to speed up the process. I tried making coconut yogurt without a yogurt maker last year and it took over a week for the coconut cream to go sour enough to be called “yogurt”.

So, last week I bought the yogurt maker and a can of full coconut cream (not the low fat one!).

I added a few drops of lemon juice.

I also added 1/2 cup of tapioca pearls and two tablespoons of chia seed.

Then placed the cup in the yogurt maker with hot water – as per instructions.


And three days later (still quite a long time for me, but better than over a week of waiting like the first time)…

Coconut & tapioca yogurt with frozen berries.

Why chia seeds?

For those who don’t know that (and I have only recently found out about it myself!), heat makes chia seeds produce a type of gum that can be used to replace eggs in baking, for example.

Plus, chia seeds are among the so-called super-food. They are rich in antioxidants, fiber, iron and calcium. They are an excellent source of Omega-3 (perfect for vegetarians and vegans). See: Chia seeds: health benefits and recipe tips.

In the case of my coconut yogurt, I used this property to help thicken the yogurt and to make it more nutrient+fiber rich.

Tapioca pearls too???

Tapioca pearls also help thicken the yogurt, but my choice of adding tapioca was simply because I love the feel of those little soft pearls in my mouth.

To sweeten the yogurt, I use honey, but you can use any sweetener of your choice.

Add some frozen berries or slices of fresh fruit (something more to the sweet side like red apples, golden kiwi fruit) or even raisins.

And enjoy!

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