Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to this! We had a birthday party last weekend (ds turned 5! He's so excited.). And then I knew I was going to make another go at it this week, so I waited until I saw (and tasted) the results.
I've only had one batch that didn't separate, so I think that's just going to happen. This last batch I added a teaspoon of gelatin to 1 quart, and that made it a bit thicker, and there's less separation. I think that was a good outcome. Plus, I was able to let it go longer, which can only mean more good bacteria in it. Here's what I do. I mix 1 1/2 cans of coconut milk (21 oz.) and 11 oz. water. I heat it up to 110 degrees (the one time I tried not heating it up there was actually more separation, and it must take awhile to get the milk to temp in the maker). Then I add 1 1/2 Tbs. agave nectar, so the bacteria have something to eat (again, I don't know if it's necessary, but I haven't had the inclination to experiment with that). Then I add the yogurt starter and pour it into a quart mason jar. This last time I added 1 tsp. gelatin, too, before the starter (just pour a little of the warm milk into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it, then add to the rest of the milk). I then put it in my new Salton yogurt maker. I checked it at 7 1/2 hours, and it had already separated, so I let go until 9 or 10 hours, and then we went to bed so I took it out, stirred it, and put it in the fridge. Stirring definitely helped -- there's less separation than when I took it out of the yogurt maker. I never tried stirring it without the gelatin, but it probably wouldn't have helped. Anyway, this was my best batch yet (they've all been good
About the cost of the yogurt starter. I know it's expensive, but it makes a lot of batches. I figured out the cost per quart of yogurt (and I think I included shipping costs, but can't remember for sure) and it came out to $0.37 per quart. That's not so bad. The coconut milk is the expense of this yogurt. And from what I've heard, using yogurt as a starter only works for awhile, and then you need a new batch made from a powdered starter. But don't quote me on that, since I have no experience with that personally. Maybe someone else will have info on that.