Warming to an alternative culture

Coconut yoghurt. Photo: Hilary Rowley
Coconut yoghurt. Photo: Hilary Rowley
It turns out those big planet-saving dietary changes can have unforeseen implications, writes Hilary Rowley. 

Oh no, what have I done?

I gave up eating dairy products without considering the full consequences of my actions.

What will I put on crackers? How can I even eat crackers when I gave up eating grain as well? And most importantly, how can I slather my hot, hot, taste-bud-burning, favourite curry with a bit of cooling smoothness without a big spoon full of yoghurt?

Coconut yoghurt is the answer.

However, it is all very well buying coconut yoghurt, except that it is super expensive.

We have been making our own dairy yoghurt for years, cutting a whole lot of plastic containers out of the consumption loop, and it is really cheap to make, so I had to have a go at making coconut yoghurt at home.

I did some serious research. I asked my big sister and was given a recipe she uses, but which didn’t work for me and I had to twice eat really runny yoghurty-flavoured coconut milk.

I finally had some success after reading that probiotics do better if they have some glucose to feed on when working on non-dairy milks. So I added a dessert spoon of glucose powder and left my yoghurt in the hot water cupboard next to an un-lagged pipe.

It took three days, but I finally got something resembling yoghurt, though not as thick as the store-bought stuff.

After a couple of days in the fridge it thickened up even more and could be termed a total success.

Take a can of coconut cream, a bit warmer than room temperature (leave it in your hot water cupboard or sit it in a pot of warm water).

If you can, use Pacific Island coconut cream to support our Pacific neighbours.

Shake it well and pour into a jar.

Mix in 2 teaspoons of probiotics. You can empty probiotic capsules supplied by health food shops, or buy special sachets of probiotics that are specific for working on non-dairy milks

These can come from brewing shops, or health food shops.

Add 1 dessert spoon of glucose powder.

Lightly cover your jar with a clean cloth and a rubber band.

Place the jar in a warm place for two or three days, 38degC is optimum. When you see it has produced some whey at the bottom of the jar, you know you are on the right track. Then refrigerate and your yoghurt will firm up and will be good enough to eat.

It is possible to make your yoghurt in those white plastic thermal yoghurt makers, but it will take at least two days and that means the water will have to be replaced with a new hot batch every eight hours.

If your yoghurt does not thicken, at least it is still edible and can be used on cereal, and has only cost little more than a can of coconut cream, not an arm and a leg (or a miserable cow’s life, or a clean river).

Reducing dairy is known to reduce inflammation, which can cause and worsen arthritis, so that arm or leg you are saving is the real deal. You are saving your future mobility (and some money).

Hilary Rowley is a frugal, foraging foodie from Waitati. Each week in this column, one of a panel of writers addresses issues of sustainability.


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