package free: coconut yogurt

Coconut yogurt

Coconut yogurt was something that took me FOREVER to master.  I was using Minimalist Baker’s recipe to start out with (which is JUST coconut milk and probiotics), but I could never get it right.  It would always end up too thin, and the flavor of the canned coconut milk tasted kind of “tinny” to me (I tried over 10 times and even the exact milk and probiotic she used).  Then one of you lovely readers told me about Miyoko’s recipe for vegan soy yogurt- she blends with cashews for thickness, creaminess and depth of flavor.  I did that with my coconut milk and OMG!  100% success and perfection.  My favorite 2 brands of canned coco milk: Field Day and 365 organic (the Whole Foods generic store brand).   Check out my instagram for a whole story highlights reel showing the variety!  One of you lovely readers told me you subbed pumpkin seeds for the cashews and it turned out great, too.  Another person said they used fresh young coconut meat and macadamias and that worked well too!

I use this coconut yogurt mainly for burcha breakfasts, kids snacks (with a little spoon of jam), and easy crema/sour cream.  Simply whisk some yogurt with a little lime zest, salt, and optional garlic with enough water to thin to your desired consistency.  Add a little cucumber, garlic and dill for a great tzatziki.  This makes the perfect dollop for curries, mujaradda, grain bowls, pureed soups, enchiladas, beans, tacos, you name it.  The kids enjoy a scoop with homemade chia jam and fresh fruit + sprouted crunchy buckwheat.

vegan bowl breakfast coconut yogurt

the yogurt with fruit and crunchy seeds

The most important thing about this recipe is using the highest quality probiotics you can afford.  If you already have store bought live culture yogurt in your fridge, you can also use a few tablespoons of that to start it instead of probiotics.  What I’ve been doing to prolong my probiotics is saving a few tablespoons of my last batch to culture my new batch.  I used this 90 billion count probiotic from a friend who kindly shared a few capsules from her bottle for me to try.  I’ve made about 5 subsequent batches now from the resulting original yogurt, which is about as many as you can get from it before you need to start with a new batch adding fresh probiotics.  I’ll probably buy a different one next, but stick within the 90 billion + count.  Healthforce has a good looking one in glass with a metal cap.

probiotic

The first time I tried with a lower count probiotic from my store and it did not work, but I tried again with extra capsules and it was good, but not as good as the 90 billion count.  Sometimes stores also sell non dairy yogurt starters, and you can use that, too.  If, for some reason, yours doesn’t set up properly and is thin, don’t toss- save to add to smoothies, freeze in ice cubes to use later, or drink it!

UPDATED to note:  I have gotten so many mixed reviews for this.  Some of you with beautiful results and some of you that it didn’t work for.  Make sure you use the cashews, make sure that it’s blended SUPER smooth, make sure your probiotics are active, and keep experimenting with it.  Fermentation is more of an art than a science and so many factors affect it- temperature, humidity, probiotic to name a few.

simple coconut yogurt (yields about 2 cups) 

ingredients:

1 can of full fat coconut milk OR 1.75 cups fresh homemade thick coconut milk

1/4 cup cashew pieces, soaked in hot water for a few hours- if you have a vita mix you can just soak about 15 minutes (update: I skip the soaking now)

2 high quality probiotic capsules

method:

Blend the coconut milk and the drained, soaked cashews in a blender until totally smooth.  The milk should get a little warm from this process.  Make sure it is not too hot or it will kill the probiotics.  Empty the probiotic capsules into the blender (just the powder inside) and blend for a second or two just to combine.

Pour into a clean jar, making sure to leave at least 2 inches of space in case of expansion.  Cover with a clean cloth napkin or kitchen towel and secure with a rubber band.

yogurt zero waste coconut

plain on the left and turmeric chili on the right

Leave out on the counter, away from direct light, in a preferably warmer place in the house- this will help it culture best.  After 24 hours, check the taste and texture.  My husband and kids prefers it at this stage, its mild and lightly tangy, like a regular store yogurt.  If you like how it tastes now, simply put a lid on it and refrigerate!  It will thicken more as it cools.  I like it with a little more tang, so I let mine culture another few hours, which results in a sour, slightly funky taste which I really like!

This will keep in the fridge about 2 weeks.

Et voila, homemade creamy coconut milk yogurt.  I haven’t tried with almond milk or soy milk, but let me know if you do!  I think it should still work but may not be as thick.

coconut yogurt thick easy vegan

 

 

package free: fermented hot sauce

fermented red Fresno Chile habanero hot sauce probiotic vegan

This year I’m trying to reduce my recycling and rely less often on store bought products in the interest of sustainability- and also just because its fun for me.  I already buy very little pre made foods- see package free: veggie broth , everything bagel spicepackage free: hummus, pickled onions + beets and sauerkraut. but certain things I just haven’t gotten around to DIY-ing: mustard (although I have a great recipe a friend on IG gifted me with), ketchup, mayo, and previously: hot sauce.

I love a good hot sauce to spice things up, and after I watched BA Brad make this amazing fermented hot sauce I just had to try it.  Turns out, it’s super easy, delicious, and cheap to make your own.  Plus I got all the ingredients sans packaging.  My husband even rescued some empty Tabasco and Cholula bottles from his work that were heading for the landfill.  I washed them out and they work perfectly for my own brew.  Zero waste win!

A note about fermenting:  some people are scared of fermenting, fearing botulism or food poisoning.  I’ve been fermenting for years and only had something go off on me once: a batch of kraut that grew mold on the top (I didn’t properly submerge it under the brine).  Not saying it can never happen, but just use common sense: use CLEAN hands, tools, and vessels when fermenting; discard anything that looks or smells bad.  WHEN IN DOUBT THROW IT OUT (compost it).

If something is off, it will smell terrible/skunky/strange/alcohol-y or have weird colors/textures.  If it smells delicious and tangy, its fine.  Use your common sense and you’ll be good.  If you’re unsure about something, you can send me a pic of it on instagram if you want!  Two really great books that go into depth on fermentation are Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation.  I found these at my library and they’re so interesting and helpful.

Chiles zero waste habanero red Fresno fermented

This recipe was written down from the verbal directions in this video which I highly recommend you watching….its not only hilarious, its super informative and shows you how to do it step by step.

BA brad’s fermented red chile hot sauce:

ingredients:

20 red fresno peppers

3 habanero peppers

3 dried hibiscus flowers (sometimes labeled flor de jamaica or in the tea section)-optional

4 mixed peppercorns (or just all black peppercorns)

4 cardamom pods (optional)

1 teaspoon Aleppo or Maras Biber chili flakes (optional but adds depth)

4 cloves of garlic

6 tablespoons kosher sea salt

6 tablespoons sugar

2 quarts of water

method:

Deseed the peppers- you can leave some seeds in, all of the seeds, or none of the seeds.  It will still be really spicy even without seeds from the habaneros.

In a large glass jar, add 1 quart of water and all the spices, salt, and sugar.  Put the lid on and shake it or stir it up until the sugar and salt dissolve.  Add in the peppers and the remaining quart of water.  Stir again gently.  Replace lid loosely (so a little air can escape still) and place jar in a dark spot (like a cupboard or closet).

The ideal temp to ferment in is 70-80 degrees.  Keep in mind that if its colder, your ferment will take longer, if its warmer, it will take less time.

Let ferment for 2 weeks and open jar daily or every other day to release gas. After 2 weeks, open jar and press on peppers with a wooden spoon quite firmly to release juices and break down cell walls a bit, and stir jar.  This is what my jar looked like after 2 weeks- bubbly but nothing crazy, smelling super savory and delicious.

Fermented Chile hot sauce garlic hibiscus

Let ferment another 2 weeks. Continue to open jar daily to release gas.  This is what my jar looked like at this point.  See that white waxy/filmy stuff?  Thats totally normal and fine- don’t get freaked out if you see this.  Its just natural yeasts from the chile skins.

Fermented Chile salt brine hot sauce zero waste

Strain the liquid, reserving it for later.  Remove whole spices if desired.  Add rest of jar into blender. Add half a cup of liquid from straining and blend smooth, adding more liquid as needed to attain desired consistency.  Bottle and enjoy!