Coconut Milk Kefir “Yogurt”

April 25, 2012 in Categories: , , by

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I have been making my own coconut milk Kefir for quite a while now.  But recently, I began to crave the thicker creamier consistency of yogurt.  So, I did some experimenting.  Coconut milk yogurt is very easy to make (almost as easy as coconut milk kefir, but perhaps not quite so forgiving).  Empty a can of full-fat Coconut Milk (or equivalent volume of homemade coconut milk) into a 1 pint mason jar.  Heat to 115F (that is exactly 1 minute with my microwave).  Many recipes suggest heating to 180F first and then letting it cool to 115, which I don’t bother doing because I’m either using freshly made coconut milk which is still warm or canned Coconut Milk.  Next, add 1 Tbsp of store-bought coconut milk yogurt (I used plain So Delicious coconut milk yogurt that I bought at Whole Foods).  You could also use a non-dairy yogurt starter or a spoon of regular yogurt.  Either way, for future batches, just use 1 Tbsp of the previously made batch of yogurt.  Place in a warm place for 8-24 hours (I put mine into my oven, off but with the oven light on, ideally it should incubate between 105F-112F;  you can also use crock-pots, food dehydrators or yogurt makers).  It produced a lovely tasting sour yogurt.  However, much to my dismay, coconut milk yogurt does not thicken on its own(it doesn’t have the right proteins).

Every recipe I found online either used thickeners or suggested straining the yogurt afterward.  So, once again, I experimented.  I tried thickening with Pectin, but didn’t like the fact that I had to add honey or sugar to the coconut milk in order for this to work (even with pectin designed for no sugar added applications) and pectin without added preservatives are hard to find.  Also, I felt that it changed the taste (maybe it was the preservatives).  I tried thickening with Gelatin (I actually like the idea of adding those great gelatin amino acids to my food), but really disliked the texture it created (more like jello than yogurt).  Last, I tried straining my homemade yogurt through a folded piece of Cheesecloth.  Success!  The result is creamy yogurty goodness.  But, then I got thinking.  Given all the extra work it is to make yogurt compared to the kefir I was already culturing, couldn’t I just strain the kefir?  The answer was yes!  Plus, kefir is richer in diverse probiotics compared to yogurt, so it’s even better for you.  Best of all, using kefir as a starting point compared to yogurt is much more fool proof and controllable. (I have tried to give you enough details here to culture yogurt instead of kefir if you happen to have yogurt starter or a yogurt maker in your home that you are dying to use.  The staining steps are the same.)

I bought my starter Kefir Grains from amazon (you also might be able to find them in your local health food store).  Following the directions from the manufacturer and from Mark’s Daily Apple, I initially got my kefir grains going with organic whole cow’s milk.  They grew in a glass mason jar in ½ cup of milk and a folded piece of cheesecloth held over the top with the ring part of the lid (an elastic band and a piece of paper towel or coffee filter work too).  I changed the grains by pouring the milk through a metal sieve and then dumping the Kefir Grains into a clean glass jar with fresh milk.  I changed the milk daily for 5 consecutive days and then I just dumped those little kefir grains into half a can of Coconut Milk and let them go for 48 hours.  It worked!  The result was a sour, tangy, and very pleasant beverage which I liked to pour over a bowl of fresh berries.  Initially I used light coconut milk (it’s just so temptingly cheap at Trader Joe’s but it really can’t compete with full-fat coconut milk so I don’t buy it anymore).  I enjoyed the beverage even more when I moved to homemade coconut milk or full-fat canned coconut milk.  And my kefir grains started growing much faster once I started growing them in the full-fat milk.  My grains have more than quadrupled in size since I bought them about three months ago (I now have some dormant kefir grains sitting in cow’s milk in my fridge) and they can ferment a can of coconut milk to the very sour that I enjoy in 24 hours or 2 cans in 48 hours (I like to do the latter since it’s less work).  Please note that if you want to make yogurt without the use of thickeners like pectin or gelatin, you need the fat content of either homemade or full-fat canned coconut milk to get that creamy texture.

Straining coconut milk kefir is very easy.  If you don’t want to invest in a Yogurt Cheese Strainer or a Kefir Cheese Strainer, you can simply use a clean linen tea towel, a square of muslin or about 12-14 layers of Cheesecloth lining a metal sieve.  All of them work.  What does not work is a nut-milk bag or a paint straining bag because the weave is just too big.  I have typically been using cheesecloth but just ordered myself a Yogurt Cheese Strainer, which I’m very excited about because it will be more sustainable.  When my kefir is ready (you can test simply by tasting it and see if it’s yummy), I first pour the culture through a metal sieve to catch the kefir grains for the next batch (if I have alot of curd, I gently push it through the metal strainer with a rubber spatula to separate out the kefir grains).  Then I pour the kefir sans grains into whatever straining method I am using suspended over a bowl to catch the whey.  I then place it in the fridge (if you strain at room temperature, it will continue to get more sour and end up more like a fresh cheese than a yogurt).  It takes 1-12 hours to drain enough of the whey to make the thick, creamy yogurt that I prefer, depending on exactly what strainer I’m using (linen takes the longest, close to 24 hours with canned coconut milk, and cheesecloth takes less time, 1-2 hours with homemade coconut milk) and depending on whether I’m using canned Coconut Milk (takes longer due to the guar gum content) or homemade coconut milk (separates more easily, sometimes the curd is so thick you can even skip the straining step, see note at bottom of recipe).  When it’s done, I use the whey for smoothies and scrape that yogurt into a jar and store in the fridge until I’m ready to eat it.

What I like about making yogurt this way is that, even though it takes a couple of days to make, it’s actually very little work.  It’s nearly fool-proof since kefir is so easy to grow.  And it’s completely controllable.  You can culture your kefir for as little as 6 hours or as much as 48 (or even 72!) depending on how sour you like it.  You can strain a little of the whey out or alot depending on how thick you want your yogurt.  I sometimes even strain my yogurt overnight because even if I strain too much whey and end up with cream cheese consistency instead of yogurt consistency, I can always just stir a little of the whey back in until it’s as thick as I want it!  What I love most about this yogurt is that there are no additives (especially if you use homemade coconut milk or a guar gum-free canned Coconut Milk) and no added sugar!  And once you have plain yogurt, you can flavor it any way you want!  Feel free to experiment with other methods out there (I like the recipes from here and here).  Really, coconut milk yogurt is pretty easy to make no matter how you do it.  But, this way is by far my favorite.  So, if you don’t have enough details to get started already, here is my recipe:

Coconut Milk Kefir Yogurt



1.    Place room temperature coconut milk into a glass jar.  Add kefir grains.  Cover with paper towel or cheesecloth secured with the ring of a mason jar lid or an elastic band.
2.    Let the kefir grains do their thing for 24-48 hours (tasting periodically to see if the culture has reached your desired sourness).
3.    Strain the kefir culture through a metal strainer.  Place the strained kefir grains into fresh milk to start the next culture.
4.    Line a metal sieve, colander or funnel with 12-14 layer thick cheesecloth (alternately you could use a yogurt cheese bag, a kefir strainer, a piece of muslin cloth or a clean linen tea towel).  Place sieve over a medium-sized bowl to catch the whey.
5.    Pour strained kefir culture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and place the entire bowl and sieve into the refrigerator.  After 1 hour, check the liquid in the bottom of the bowl and make sure that it is mostly clear (it will have a little opaque white swirling around in it, but it should look alot like the liquidy whey from the top of a yogurt container).  If it isn’t clear, dump it back into the cheese cloth and add another few layers of cheese cloth or a second nut-milk bag or even a coffee filter to strain out the whey.
6.    Check how thick your yogurt is after about 4 hours.  It will take anywhere between 4-24 hours to strain enough whey to have thick, creamy yogurt consistency (you can actually continue straining to make a fresh kefir cheese, although if you are going to attempt this, it’s better to strain at room temperature).  Once the desired consistency is reached, scrape the yogurt into a bowl or container for storage and discard the whey (or better yet, use for another purpose).  The yield is approximately 1 cup of yogurt for 1 can of coconut milk.
7.    Enjoy the yogurt plain (maybe with some berries or paleo granola) or flavor with honey, vanilla and/or pureed fruit.  To make a lovely vanilla yogurt, add 1 Tbsp honey and 1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla extract.  For fruit yogurts, I typically add ¼ cup pureed fresh or frozen fruit to 1 cup of yogurt.  Stir to incorporate and enjoy!

Note on straining kefir when using homemade coconut milk:  The curd/fat layer of my kefir can be so solid when I use homemade coconut milk that the straining step can be avoided.  Instead, I carefully spoon the thick top layer into my metal sieve, and push the curd through to separate out my Kefir Grains for the next batch.  If the curd is really thick, I might even thin a bit with the whey that naturally separates out to the bottom (I always save this whey for smoothies).  If the yogurt has a bit of a curdled texture (this can happen in a cooler kitchen), a quick blend in a blender will smooth it out.  So, not only is homemade kefir “yogurt” cheaper and better tasting when made with homemade coconut milk, but it’s easier too!

Coconut Milk Kefir Yogurt 2


I’ve been making my own coconut milk kefir for a while and recently tried using full fat coconut milk with guar gum. Normally guar gum gives me a tummy ache and I order full fat coconut milk without additives. However, I tried fermenting the full fat coconut milk with guar gum and was pleasantly surprised to find that my tummy was happy with the resulting coconut kefir.

I believe guar gum is a prebiotic so I suspect the kefir must break it down. I’m also hoping the kefir will populate my gut with the bacteria strains that break it down so maybe eating unfermented coconut milk with guar gum won’t bother my tummy any more. Here’s hoping! I wonder if anyone else has experience with this?

Thank you! Iv’e been looking for a good recipe! I currently make raw milk kefir (cow milk) for my husband and son. I am allergic to cow’s milk. If I rinse some of my grains under water before trying this recipe do you think it will then be safe for me to use those grains for the coconut milk? Thanks so much ;)

Stainless steel is the only metal allowed. I’ve used a stainless steel mesh strainer for my raw milk kefir for years without any problems.

So I am dairy intolerant. All parts of dairy…so I’m wondering if I can use the milk kefir grains? Is it at all possible to make this recipe with water kefir grains?

You can easily make yogurt with water kefir – it’s my preferred method. Just add (surplus) grains to coconut milk. Leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours (taste every now and then to get an idea and to find your preferential level of acidity/sourness. Then put in fridge if you want it cold. You can just eat it with the grains or strain it. You now have very active coconut milk yogurt and you can use it as a starter and keep it going; or you can repeat the method anytime. I sometimes add a bit of sugar for the grains to have a feast. You can also add coconut oil if you want it fatter. With this as a base you can quickly make differently flavoured yogurts – with differing degrees of fermentation, for different palates – by adding for example kefir fermented and blended pear – smooth – or any other kind of fruit or maybe avocado to make it even fatter. And so on. It’s part of the usual breakfast we offer our guests.

I’ve been making kefir (both dairy and coconut) for a couple of months now and have decided to go Paleo and was worried about my wee grains starving if not put back into dairy milk to “recover”. Have you had any issues with your kefir grains when used solely in coconut milk?

Not sure what happened but I just wasted a quart of homemade coconut milk. I used to make goat milk kefir religiously, so I’m familiar with the process. Took kefir grains that gelled a quart of organic cow’s milk solid in 24hrs (proves they’re active), rinsed them in filtered water since I’m still on strict AIP & followed the instructions above. Ended up with a disgusting sour watery “milk” & a layer of sour coconut fat, nothing remotely resembling yoghurt. I’d really love some “yoghurt” – any suggestions?

Sarah’s link in the original article is to milk kefir grains, which is what I have. I’d like to know why mine failed so miserably, since others have succeeded with the milk kefir grains. If anyone has any ideas, I’d appreciate it.

There are many factors involved in a SCOBY’s good life. Rinsing them without regenerating them in their favourite sugar environment doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. Rinsing is sometimes recommended if grains are unhappy – in the case of water kefir grains they might for instance become slimy due to too acidic an environment – and followed by regeneration where you change the water every day and throw away their produce until they are back in business. You rinsed your grains – bad idea. It’s just like if you took loads of antibiotics: it kills all your good bacteria. Don’t rinse:

Since you want to avoid the milk – presumably the casein – just use water kefir grains, since they have none of that.

Thanks so much for the detailed response, it was just what I needed. Water kefir never worked well for me — too much residual sugar for my pre-diabetes — but the linked article suggested rinsing in the target milk when changing milks, so I will try that.

Again, thanks for taking the time to response with more details.

Most welcome. With regard to water kefir:

If you have sugar residues, then you just need to ferment more.

This is what I do:

Primary fermentation in sugar solution: 24 h. Then strain and discard surplus grains – usually, if they are in good sugar, they will double.

Then I perform an intermediary fermentation in a large bowl either with surplus grains (so that this stage does not put too much of a strain on your grains and wear them out over time) or without them for another 24-48 hours. During this stage you can ferment “any”thing in the liquid you like – both to give taste to the kefir liquid and to break down sugars in for example fruit, so that you can get the good stuff of, say, fruit without or with much less sugars. (I leave fruit floating in there for about 24 hours, then take them out and make fruit smoothies.) The intermediary fermentation is completed when you are satisfied with the sugar content – once it tastes more like vinegar than pop, sugars are gone. Finally, a secondary fermentation in a pressure bottle with a swing top will give you a carbonated drink with whatever taste you added during intermediary fermentation.

When I am satisfied with the intermediary fermentation, I add about one tablespoonfull of honey per pint of liquid, stir in well, then pour into bottles and close the top. Now the fermentation will continue and the honey added will be converted into the good stuff you want and produce a fizzy drink without sugar in 24-48 hours. Lasts for weeks, if nor more, in fridge.

During the intermediary fermentation I commonly add blended, fresh turmeric and ginger and whole fruits. Good tastes, higher bioavailability of medicinal herbs/roots etc. You can also add green tea, or coffee – just experiment – during this stage with no risk of killing your grains or wear them out over time, since you keep your main grains exclusively in the 24h primary fermentation in sugar solution: nice and clean, safe and sugar free.

I learned years ago NEVER to rinse your grains, ANY grains, in water. Always just rinse them in milk. Some people have no problems, but for a solid process just keep them in milk, rinse them in milk, and every few batches make a batch in milk. I have tried all % of milks and organic whole is the one that works the best consistently. good luck

What a great article. Can I make this type of “yogurt” with Water Kefir Grains – it says in your article you used Milk Grains from Cows Milk

So I just got water kefir grains and they’re in a pouch of starter liquid. Do I put the grains and liquid in to the coconut milk or just the grains?

I would suggest that you put the water kefir grains in sugar water – organic, raw rapadura/panela is best choice – for 12 hours. Approx. 1/3 cup per litre. Then change the sugar water (discard of the old liquid) and let them go for about 24 hours. This is a measure to counter the post-traumatic stress disorder that shipping entails. If they reproduce – i.e. multiply – you know that they are kefiring properly *and* you now have your own grains to use for whatever, including making yogurt with coconut milk. If you throw them straight into the coconut milk you might end up without reusable grains. If you keep your basic grains separate from coconut milk (and fruit juice, fish and meat and the thousand other things you can ferment with the help of these extremely versatile grains), then you always have a source of surplus grains to kill in other environments, such as the coconut milk. If you produce surplus grain in pure sugar water, you do not have to fish them out of the yogurt, but can eat them along with the rest. It is good practice to change the sugar water every 12-24 hours at room temp., while in the fridge you need to change them only every 5-7 days or so. And of course you have water kefir to drink or give away,

Wow! I love the detail that you put into the instructions. Any chance that there might be a video to follow. It seems a little daunting – although, I suspect it is probably easier that I expect. Also, is there a paleo friendly store bought kefir that is available? I am following the autoimmune paleo diet so I need to steer clear of certain things a bit more strictly. Great information. Thanks so much for sharing all your knowledge.

I recently made my first batch of coconut yogurt using vegan yogurt culture and my yogurt maker. I added gelatin and achieved a nice thick yogurt. However, I too love the tangy flavor of kefir, so the idea of using kefir grains is wonderful. I use canned whole fat yogurt. Any suggestions on how to blend a separated can of milk without heating it before adding the kefir grains?

Good morning

I would like to know if your products are halal certified?

If your company products have halal certification may I please have a copy of your halal certificate or at least a list of your halal products.

Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Leone Gruessing

My husband has Ulcerative Colitis. He has been on AIP for over a year now and has seen a great difference. He has always been lactose intolerant but could handle custard and yogurt. Since being AIP he occasionally has cow milk yogurt and recently we have been making Kefir with cows milk. He has not had any noticeable reactions to it. But what is your take on someone with UC consuming the cow milk versions?

Like many, I am also very intersted to hear if you’ve had any reactions using the dairy cow grains. Cultures for Health has recipies for culturing coconut milk with water kefir grains for a “100% dairy free option”, but they also tout milk keefir being so much better than water kefir, so I would love to use milk kefir grains. I am just concerned I’ll have a reaction to it since it’s not “completely dairy free”. Has your daughter tried eating it? She has such severe reactions to dairy that I would feel confident that if she could eat it, then I could. Thanks Sarah!

So I’m not sure what I did wrong? I used milk kefir grains and a can of no additive full fat coconut milk. I fermented to taste (happens in less than 12 hrs with our summer heat right now). Strained my grains out, too the liquid, strained the whey off for a few hours. Got a beautiful creamy and smooth yogurt consistency with lovely tang. wanted it for brekky this morning so put it in the fridge last night. When I took it out of the fridge today it was rock solid, like butter! I didn’t actually strain off that much whey, but it was a nice thick yogurt last night. Do I need to not strain the whey off at all? Ended up microwaving it for about 20sec to get it soft enough to stir and break down, but it lost its creaminess, had a curdled texture. I just mixed in some CADA so it was fine, but I’m a bit disappointed it did that. Any recommendations for the next batch? I’m gonna try not straining at all and just straight to the fridge with the coconut kefir…

Hi Paleomom,

1. can you please tell me how much water kefir grains I should add to the yogurt?
2. is it imperative to store in a sterilised jar? i have fido jars but unsure of how to sterilise due to metal and rubber parts
3. can i use left over yogurt as a starter for next batch?
4. as i will be using water kefir grains, should i NOT strain them as they will not be fermenting water, or now how would i store these grains after straining from yogurt?
5. i have read other versions and they talk about adding sugar to the yogurt to keep the grains fed/ alive

I look forward to your reply!!

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