Koo Koo For Coconuts

It’s official- I do hereby declare 2009 the year of the coconut! This tropical trend has swept vegans everywhere off their feet, eliciting a near fanatical response every time it pops up somewhere new. Of course, it seems to be making cameo appearances in cutting-edge products on a practically daily basis, making up the base for everything from ice cream to yogurt… And now, to kefir.

Those crazy scientists at Turtle Mountain are on a roll, unveiling delight after delight- And all with coconut milk as the star. This particular beverage was something completely new to me, but in fact, it’s been around for centuries as a dairy product. Essentially a fermented milk drink, Kefir is generally described as a tangy milkshake. Supposedly very beneficial to digestion, it also comes with a whole laundry list of theoretical health benefits as well. What I wanted to know, however, was how it tastes! Happily, those same crazy scientists are also very generous, and sent me a few samples so that I could find out.

Hoping to get a baseline for what this drink would be like, I opted to try the Original flavor first. Casually taking a quick sip, I stopped short once the kefir hit my taste buds- Man, is this stuff tart! Much more “tangy” than I had expected and in fact downright sour, I would not recommend drinking this plain. That’s not to say that it’s bad, though, as I found that it made a fantastic “buttermilk” substitute in baking, and a wonderful addition to fruit smoothies. Only faintly coconut-y, the flavor is not too intrusive here, and just a pleasant undertone.

Taking a more cautious sip of the Vanilla kefir, I was happy to find that this perfectly smooth and white beverage was quite drinkable indeed. Just barely sweetened, it’s enough to take that “bite” out of this flavor. Very similar to a thin, drinkable yogurt, it’s a great drink to have as part of a meal on the go, or a nice, light snack.

Finally, the one I was most curious about: Strawberry. This pale, pastel-pink liquid, flecked with real strawberry seeds, smelled strongly of fresh berries from the moment I popped off the lid. Although the flavor is actually much more mild that the scent might suggest, it’s also far tangier than your typical berry-based drink. Hardly sweet at all, this is no kid’s juice box affair in the least. Although I wasn’t crazy about it initially, the flavor did grow on me, and it became even more tasty when blended with more whole strawberries.

Kefir itself is a very unique sort of beverage, as I’ve come to learn, and while I’ve never had the “real” thing, I think that this coconut version is very true to that original model.

[Written for Go Dairy Free]

35 thoughts on “Koo Koo For Coconuts

  1. Ugh, I am SO curious about all of these coconut milk products but alas, they seem to be unveiled in the U.S. much earlier than in Canada. Hopefully they come soon, these look great and I am quite intrigued by kefir.

  2. I like your idea of blending it with more strawberries!
    I’ve had the WildWood probiotic drinks, but they weren’t too tart. I’d like to try these!

  3. I was curious about these as I’ve never had dairy kefir. I’m not sure if I’ll ever try them, but they seem like a good grab-and-go lunch if needed. Oh, and I love that you have deemed the original flavor to be a good buttermilk substitute!

  4. This is a great review! I was nervous about trying Kefir products, but now that I’ve heard first hand from someone who’s tried them, I’ll check them out. Thanks!

  5. Oh Hannah, can you believe that I can’t find nothing with coconut here in Dublin? I’m looking for the coconut milk for months to try some recipes and nothing… I think I will have to ask somebody in other countries to buy and send to me :(

  6. Great review! I’m a fan of both Turtle Mountain and Kefir, so it stands to reason that I should try out the company’s newest product. I use Kefir for soaking oats overnight… the resulting “Swiss Oats” are delicious!

  7. I’d love to try that! I wish there were more coconut based products available over here.
    Lovely pictures by the way. I especially like the halved coconuts in the background.

  8. Although I’ve been vegetarian most of my life, and have never been big on dairy, I’m quite new to the vegan lifestyle. I’m intrigued by this new “discovery” of the wonders of coconut! I have had home-made kefir in the past and I can attest to it’s health benefits (but man, is it sour!!) I’m curious as to the science behind this coconut kefir as I understood that the kefir bacteria fed on lactose?

    1. I can’t speak as to the specific science, but I do know that you can culture coconut milk with kefir grains. They only last for about six months before you have to swap them out. TM can’t be pursuing this route given the chances for cross contamination (and scale issues). I would suspect that TM uses a powdered culture like the powdered versions you can find at the HFS to culture theirs I suspect in much the same way any large scale company makes yogurt.

      I must have a taste for fermented goodies because we enjoy kefir (both homemade and the TM Unsweetened) straight up. My almost 2 yo became very possessive of the bottle of kefir in the fridge and took serious offense if anyone had any.

  9. Hey girl, be careful with the saturated fat in coconut. I was adding it to my oatmeal every morning for 2 weeks and I gained 5 pounds…nothing else about my diet had changed except adding dried unsweetened coconut! I looked at the label and 3 TBSP. of coconut has 43% of your daily limit for saturated fat! I feel like anything plant-based is good for you, so it’s okay to eat coconut occasionally, but not daily.

  10. Great review as always. I always hear so much buzz about Kefir but am really not that knowledgable. It sounds like the flavored versions would be a good way to ease myself in and I also really like Lauren’s suggestion of using it to soak oats in for swiss oatmeal. Yum.

  11. I agree–the year of the coconut, indeed! Your photos make all three look tantalizing, but I think the strawberry sounds wonderful (especially with added berries)!

  12. Kefir’s one of those things that Poles drink for all the health benefits but a coconut milk version? That kind of blows my mind!

  13. Hannah, we just made our first vegan cheese cake using your recipe! I’ll blog tomorrow about it because right now it’s on the oven :D

  14. Those look like nice, refreshing drinks and it’s nice to know that you can use the plain instead of buttermilk. I like dairy kefir well enough but the coconut based one sounds great!

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