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Dairy-Free Homemade Yogurt

MAKES 4 CUPS

Homemade yogurt will be thinner than commercial brands due to absence of gums, thickeners and stabilizers. The longer it ferments at room temperature (up to 12 hours), the thicker it gets. To thicken even more, add gelatin, pectin or agar, as instructed. You will need a yogurt maker for this recipe.

4  cups unsweetened coconut milk or lactose-free milk
1  tablespoon sugar or honey, more to taste
? teaspoon yogurt culture starter or 1 packet yogurt culture mix
2  teaspoons gelatin, pectin or agar powder combined with 4 teaspoons water, optional for     thickening

1. Heat milk in a saucepan (or microwave up to 1 minute) until temperature is at least 180 degrees. Do not boil.

2.  Cool milk to between 105 and 115 degrees. (To save time, place milk in the refrigerator for an hour.) Cooling is important as high temperatures kill yogurt culture. If milk forms a skin on top, remove it.  

3. Stir in sweetener until dissolved. Add culture and stir well.  

4. Pour yogurt into yogurt maker container. Cover, turn on machine, and let sit at least 8 or up to 12 hours, or leave it overnight. You can tell yogurt is ready when a thin layer of “water” about ¼ inch, appears on the top. Yogurt will continue to thicken as it cools.

5. For thicker yogurt, soften gelatin, pectin or agar powder in water. (This step is recommended if using coconut milk.)  When it thickens (about 30 seconds), microwave gelatin mixture for 10 seconds or until it becomes liquid. Stir into yogurt and refrigerate until chilled. If even thicker yogurt is desired, add more gelatin.
 
6. Transfer yogurt to a container, cover tightly and refrigerate.

Each cup contains 146 calories, 5g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 20mg cholesterol, 126mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 9g protein.

TIP For lactose-free milk, try Lactaid (lactaid.com) or Organic Valley (organicvalley.coop).

TIP No starter? Use 2 to 3 tablespoons from your last yogurt batch or from a store-bought brand that contains active yogurt cultures.

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