Barb Hodgens
Barb Hodgens

Barb Hodgens loves to cook with alternative, healthy whole food ingredients, with a focus on gut health. Barb has overcome her own gut health issues through healthy eating. Share your ideas, comments and photos at the end of this post :)

Tapioca thickened coconut yogurt

THE PERFECT VEGAN COCONUT YOGURT RECIPE.

Tapioca flour (also known as tapioca starch) is a type of starch extract that’s derived from the vegetable called the cassava root. Although it is almost pure starch and nutritionally void, it is a popular gluten free and grain free flour and baking additive. Compared to other gluten-free flours, tapioca flour retains more water and that makes it an ideal binding and thickening agent. 

Tapioca is the most common thickening agent used in commercial coconut yogurts today and for good reason. With its fine texture and mild, slightly sweet taste, it is a virtually undetectable thickening additive. It’s also vegan and has zero fat and sugar.  

Unfortunately, coconut yogurt thickened with tapioca flour is temperamental. The gelling agent within this starchy flour is heat sensitive and requires a watchful eye. You need a thermometer and wire whisk for a guaranteed smooth and thick finish to your homemade coconut yogurt. Follow the heating instructions below and you won’t go wrong.

Tapioca thickened coconut yogurt

DO NOT OVERHEAT

It is essential that the combined coconut milk and tapioca flour are heated to only 140⁰F/ 60⁰C. At 140⁰F/ 60⁰C the texture of the coconut milk begins to change consistency, but it will not have congealed or thickened. Turn the heat off while it is still runny. If you have cooked with tapioca flour in the past it may feel counter intuitive to turn the heat off at this point because you know that cooking further would thicken the coconut milk (to an ideal yogurt consistency), however heating above 150⁰F will result in the coconut milk yogurt returning to a runny state after fermentation. 

Do not judge the consistency of your coconut yogurt from what it looks like before it has been fermented in the yogurt maker. The 24-hour incubation continues to activate the tapioca and thicken it further. It is not until after the yogurt has chilled that it will be thick and creamy.

NOTE: If you do accidentally overheat the milk, don’t panic. There is absolutely no harm in eating (or drinking) this yogurt. It is still a fermented food packed with all the gut-loving goodness of a thicker ‘successful’ version! 

Tapioca thickened coconut yogurt

WHISK CONTINUOUSLY

To ensure that the tapioca doesn’t develop lumps while it is being heated, it is best to gently and continuously whisk the mixture as it heats. This is especially necessary above 120⁰F.

CONSISTENCY

Homemade coconut yogurt thickened with tapioca will not separate after it has chilled in the fridge. This is great news for those who have struggled with too much coconut water or coconut water separating from the milk in the past. Don’t expect your yogurt to taste or look exactly the same as the tapioca thickened store-bought varieties you are used too. Also, every brand of coconut milk varies in colour and taste. We recommend you experiment and find the brand you like the most.

For more on thickening non-dairy yogurt and the other methods we recommend click here.

Tapioca thickened coconut yogurt

HOW MUCH TAPIOCA?

A safe rule of thumb is to add 1 heaped tablespoon of tapioca flour per 400ml can of coconut milk. 

WHAT KIND OF COCONUT MILK SHOULD I USE?

When choosing coconut milk, always choose a brand that has only coconut listed in the ingredients – because coconut milk naturally separates, many have thickeners added. 

FEED THE BACTERIA SUGAR

In traditional dairy milk yogurt, the bacteria in starter culture thrive on the sugar (lactose) content, naturally found in milk. The bacteria populating your coconut yogurt must have something to feed on to allow the culturing process to take place. One teaspoon of 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.

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Tapioca thickened coconut yogurt
Tapioca thickened coconut yogurt

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Tapioca thickened coconut yogurt
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