Just a few months ago, another plant-based friend and I were in the middle of an unofficial game of (faux) chicken: Who would be the first to cave and buy The Coconut Cult's vegan yogurt? We both follow our fair share of wellness influencers on Instagram, and after suddenly seeing this coconut-based yogurt all over our feeds, we were curious. The one caveat: A single 16-ounce jar costs a cool $25. On principle, it seemed too steep to even give it a try. (Plus, both of us worried aloud that it might be so good that buying a single jar could give way to a very expensive yogurt addiction.)
This particular story ends with me ruining the standoff for the both of us—and justifying the cost in more ways than one. After seeing one of the aforementioned influencers (Bleubird's James Kicinski-McCoy, to be specific) reveal how she re-fermented the remains of her Coconut Cult to create a second batch of yogurt on her Instagram stories, I immediately went out to my local health food store and purchased a jar. It seemed like a win-win—not only would I finally be able to see what all the fuss is about, but I'd also get to graduate from DIY kombucha to the next level of homegrown probiotics. (Have I been living in L.A. for too long?)
It's pretty telling that several weeks later, The Coconut Cult is now part of my daily routine—and my friend is hooked too.
Okay, but why is it so expensive?
This is the part where I admit that it was easy to scoff at the high price tag without investigating the reason behind it; to assume that it this fancy vegan yogurt was yet another byproduct of the mass commodification of the wellness industry. ($25 yoga classes and $12 smoothies, anyone?)
After actually obtaining a jar, however, I learned that The Coconut Cult is meant to be seen less as a non–dairy yogurt alternative and more as a high-quality probiotic that happens to have a delightfully creamy consistency. A serving size is just two tablespoons, which contains 25 billion probiotics alone. And that's how I take it: Two spoonfuls before my smoothie every morning or occasionally as a delicious garnish on top of a granola bowl or chia pudding.
I haven't taken a standalone probiotic supplement in some time since I a) enjoy a lot of fermented foods on a regular basis and b) am laughably bad at remembering to take vitamins on a daily basis. But immediately after I began consuming that first jar of The Coconut Cult, I noticed a change in my digestion and the persistent bloating that had been plaguing me since the holidays. And because it tastes delicious—the closest thing to actual yogurt I've tried in seven years of being dairy-free—I have no problem remembering to take it as soon as I wake up.
Still, quality or not, $25 is a lot of cash to spend every couple of weeks if you're on a budget. And that's why I now swear by a deceptively easy DIY to make each jar last twice as long.
How to get two batches of yogurt for the price of one
It's really simple: You'll just need a can of (preferably organic) full-fat coconut milk and any probiotic supplement. (I swear by Moon Juice's Probiotics, $38, since it's a readymade powder and lasts me a long time.)
First, it's important not to finish your jar of The Coconut Cult entirely—you'll need a few tablespoons left at the bottom in order to use some of those same probiotics for the next batch. So once you're down to the remains, fill up the rest of the jar with full-fat coconut milk, leaving an inch of space at the top. Empty two capsules of your probiotic supplement to help feed the bacteria (I use a teaspoon of my Moon Juice powder). Mix it well with a wooden spoon—metal can harm the bacteria.
Put the metal lid somewhere safe—you'll need it again once your yogurt is done. Cover the jar with a clean cloth or T-shirt (I use the same muslin cloths I use to wash my face), secure it with a rubber band, and place the jar in a sunny window. After 48 hours, cover the jar with its original lid and put it in the fridge.
After a few hours in the refrigerator, the (now-fermented) coconut milk should firm up again. Stir it again if necessary, and give it a taste. Enjoy your first batch of homemade yogurt—and the best part? I've been able to repeat this process for a third batch. (After that, you're better off repurchasing the original jar to ensure you're still getting the quality dose of probiotics you paid for in the first place.)
But aside from the thriftiness of it all, I love that this DIY is also a lesson in sustainability—not to mention that investing just a little extra time means that I get to feel even more balanced and healthy on a daily basis. To me, this kind of payoff is what makes wellness so empowering. Sometimes I just need a little reminder of that fact—even if that reminder is yogurt.