We are committed to bringing you a wide range of probiotic yogurt making solutions. Mastering Dr William Davis’s homemade yogurt made with the probiotic ‘Lactobacillus Reuteri’ has been no easy feat. The problem is, these bacteria are not like traditional yogurt starter cultures and they will not thicken dairy milk. So it’s not you!
We empathise with your failed attempts (we’ve had plenty too btw) and acknowledge your commitment to getting this damn yogurt to work! Like you, we’re impressed by the science. We want our customers to be able to reap the health benefits attributed to these 2 unique Lactobacillus Reuteri species.
If you’re new to this conversation, we’ve written an earlier blog post on Lactobacillus Reuteri here. It comes with a step by step recipe and images on ‘How to make L. Reuteri yogurt’ with cow’s milk in a Luvele yogurt maker. The good news is – we’ve now developed a dairy free version!
The Luvele kitchen has continued to experiment with Dr Davis’s homemade probiotic L Reuteri yogurt formula and developed a plant-based, coconut milk recipe that is awesome tasting and very simple to make.
Coconuts are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Both the flesh and coconut water have medicinal properties that are antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic and antioxidant. When blended, the deliciously white, creamy texture, natural sweetness and high saturated fat content produce a powerful, plant-based milk that is one of the best and healthiest mediums to inoculate and grow probiotic bacteria.
First up, it matters which coconut milk product you choose. It’s highly frustrating, but every brand of coconut milk (or cream) will produce different consistencies and textures. You’ll need to read the ingredients list. Many varieties of both coconut milk and cream contain stabilisers and gelling agents that may interfere with the yogurt culturing process. Common additives are guar gum or carrageenan. We recommend you source a brand that lists ‘coconut pulp’ or ‘coconut extract’ as it’s one and only ingredient.
You must also avoid coconut milk and cream that contain coconut oil. You may be familiar with this in canned coconut products. In cooler weather, the coconut oil sets as a hard layer of fat at the top. This coconut oil will similarly set hard on top of your yogurt once refrigerated, and although it’s not bad for you, it adds an unpleasant texture to the yogurt. Unfortunately, the percentage of coconut oil in milk and cream products is never specified in the ingredients list. Apart from the brands we have trialled and recommend, it’s a matter of experimentation. If you end up with a solidified layer of coconut oil on top, it’s won’t ruin your yogurt. Lift it off rather than try to stir it through.
We have had success with all of these brands. For image references we have linked to Amazon, but the products may be available in grocery stores near you or available elsewhere online. Feel free to try one product (as we have) or a combination. Some readers find using a combination of coconut cream and milk lends creamier results.
AROY D canned coconut milk, available from Asian grocers globally (not organic and not BPA free)
AROY D canned coconut cream, available from Asian grocers globally (not organic)
AROY D coconut cream (tetra pack), available from Asian grocers globally (not organic)
THRIVE MARKET organic coconut milk, available in the USA only
TRADER JOE'S organic canned coconut cream, available in the USA or shipping via Amazon
HONEST TO GOODNESS organic coconut milk, sold in Australia here.
BIONA organic coconut milk, sold locally in the UK or globally online.
Please email us with brands that you’ve discover work well.
Coconut milk (or cream) doesn’t have the same protein, sugar, and fat structure as animal milk, so it behaves very differently when inoculated with a starter culture or probiotic. In order to get that familiar yogurt texture, the coconut mixture has to be thickened with an additive. The Luvele kitchen has perfected several thickening methods for plant-based milk, and to give you the confidence to start making L Reuteri coconut yogurt, here is our agar agar thickening method in detail.
Agar is a plant-based, gel-like substance derived from red algae that is an ideal vegan substitute for gelatin. It is high in fibre and boosts manganese, magnesium, folate and iron. It’s also reported to help improve digestive health, aid in weight loss and keep your blood sugar stable.
Fine agar powder is best, but you may need to experiment until you achieve your preferred consistency. Use the amount specified as a guide and then adjust with further batches. Agar must be heated to 190⁰F (87⁰C) and held at that temperature for 5 minutes to activate.
In traditional dairy milk yogurt, the bacteria in starter culture thrive on the sugar (lactose) content, naturally found in milk. The bacteria populating L Reuteri coconut yogurt must have something to feed on to allow the culturing process to take place. One teaspoon of white sugar or one tablespoon of pasteurised honey is enough to kick start fermentation. Raw honey may have an antibiotic effect and is therefore not suitable for making yogurt.
Dr Davis’s original dairy method specified 10 probiotic (BioGaia Gastrus) tablets be used to inoculate milk into yogurt. He also suggests saving a portion of the yogurt to re-inoculate the next jar of L Reuteri yogurt. Even with great care, there is always a risk that outside contaminates can interfere with homemade yogurt, whether dairy or plant-based. With coconut yogurt, we prefer not to reinoculated further batches at all and always use tablets as a starter culture. If you are familiar with BioGaia Gastrus probiotic tablets, you’ll know how expensive they are! We have experimented using fewer tablets and are excited to conclude that our coconut yogurt method is a success with only 3 tablets.
Using crushed BioGaia Gastrus tablets every time will:
Note – For this last reason, gelatin should not be used as a thickener and then used to re-inoculate another batch.
Because the unique water bath technology in our Luvele yogurt maker maintains the perfect temperature and environment for incubating bacteria, we have found that 24 hours is sufficient time for making L Reuteri coconut yogurt. (Dr Davis’s original dairy method recommends incubating for 36 hours.) Any more time in the maker and there may be the risk of air contaminates on the top of the coconut. We have also found that the top of the coconut mixture can dry out and turn yellow and brown if left in the maker for too long.
If you are new to making coconut yogurt, you may not fancy the look of your L Reuteri coconut yogurt when it comes out of the yogurt maker. Coconut yogurt will naturally separate into layers – cream at the top and coconut water at the bottom. With Agar in the mix the coconut yogurt may have set into small fragments, as if it has curdled. This is also normal. Place the jar in the fridge for at least 6 hours to set then whisk with a spoon or a stick blender until smooth and creamy. After blending, the yogurt will stay homogenised.
If you have not added enough agar powder and produced a thin coconut yogurt on your first attempt, rest assured, it is still a medicinal food and fine to consume. You can always add it to smoothies and get your daily burst of gut replenishing L Reuteri probiotics in a drink. Next time increase the amount of agar.
TASTE AND SMELL
Discard the coconut yogurt if it smells bad. Trust your nose, it should smell like coconut. It will also taste like coconut milk. The mandarin flavouring in the BioGaia Gastrus tablets gives a very pleasant sweet taste.
If the coconut yogurt fizzes when you take the blue lid off the glass jar or the contents has risen or expanded in the jar, it has gone off. We recommend discarding it. Sorry for your loss.
3 (400ml) cans of coconut milk (or a combination of milk and cream from the recommended)
2 teaspoons of agar agar powder
3 x BioGaia Gastrus probiotic tablets crushed
2 tablespoons inulin powder
1 teaspoon of white sugar or 1 tablespoon of pasteurised honey
1. Open the cans and pour the coconut milk/cream into a large saucepan.
2. Sprinkle the agar powder onto the coconut milk/cream and stir briefly.
3. Place the saucepan on the stove top and gently heat. Use a wire whisk to ensure the agar doesn’t settle and stick to the bottom of the saucepan.
4. Continue to heat the coconut milk to 190⁰F (87⁰C) and hold the temperature for 5 minutes to activate the agar.
5. Remove from the heat and let cool to below 108° F (42° C) before adding your starter culture. To speed it along, you can sit the saucepan in a sink full of cold water.
6. Crush the BioGaia Gastrus probiotic tablets in a mortar and pestle or on a hard surface.
7. Combine the inulin powder and a quarter cup of cooled coconut milk in a small bowl and stir to form a slurry.
8. Pour the cooled coconut milk into your yogurt making glass jar.
9. Add the inulin slurry, sugar or honey and crushed probiotic powder then stir with a whisk to combine.
10. Put the lid firmly on the glass yogurt jar and place into your yogurt maker.
11. Pour water slowly into the base. (The water must not be filled over the ‘tall line’ indicated on the inside wall of the maker). Then place the cover lid on top.
12. Use the digital control panel to set the temperature to 38° C, the time to 24 hours and then press ‘confirm’ to begin incubation.
13. When complete, the yogurt will be warm. The agar may have set the coconut mixture into small fragments or look as if it has curdled.
14. Place the jar in the fridge for at least 6 hours to set.
15. When chilled, whisk with a spoon or a stick blender until smooth and creamy.
16. Keep refrigerated.