Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cultured Fruity Goodness ... Homemade Yogurt

Recently, a friend of mine gave me a yogurt starter. Here in the Land of the Dairy Deprived, that's a pretty cool gift. I've been playing with making yogurt since. Three batches already. Really very simple, yet so satisfying.

There's something about the tang of a good yogurt that can't be matched by anything else. I think that's why I like it. I like really yeasty bread, too. Pattern?

My only problem? Matching the texture that I grew up with. In a way, I'm being stubborn. Here I am in the rural Philippines trying to match the texture of commercial yogurt mass-produced in the States.

I figure it this way: why not try to produce what you want? Why give up easily? It only took me three days of experimentation to get very close. By the next batch or two, I'll have it down.

Oh my, now that I have yogurt, I can make frozen yogurt. Yum. And, I can make some simply great sweet baked goods. I find it very satisfying to have ingredients available to me ... and to have made them myself.

Ingredients
  • 1.5 liters water
  • Full-cream powdered milk (enough to make 2 liters)
  • Plain gelatin powder (enough to make 1/2 liter)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt starter
  • Fruit with syrup
Procedure

Wisk together the water, gelatin powder, and powdered milk. Put them over medium heat and bring up to about 180F (80C). This is to kill anything that might be living in the water or the pot. You don't want anything to interfere with the growth of your yogurt culture.

Once up to temperature, take the mixture off the heat and let cool to room temperature. Actually, don't let it cool to room temperature. Let it cool to 85F - 100F (30C - 40C). Here in the Philippines, that's room temperature. Elsewhere, maybe not. For getting bread to rise and making yogurt, the heat here is pretty convenient. No searching for a "warm spot" in the kitchen. It's all warm.

Add the yogurt starter and mix thoroughly. Cover and let sit for about eight hours. This should set up nicely. It will get stronger as the yogurt culture grows and takes over the milk.

Once the culture has grown nicely, move the pot to a fridge. This will effectively stop the growth process. You don't want it to grow further. Yogurt gets rather pungent and not-at-all pleasant if you do. And, this isn't a blue cheese "yes, this smells funny but ho-boy this cheese is great"-style pungent ... it's a simply a "what in the name of All That Is Holy and Good ... this is disgusting"-style pungent.

Not many folks like plain yogurt (I like it, but I'm not exactly what one would call ... um, normal). So, I mixed in some fruit.

I made three different kinds. Strawberry, blueberry, and mango. Strawberries and blueberries aren't native here. So, they were from a can. About 1/2 cup of fruit mixture for each cup of yogurt.

For the mango, I just made a simple fruit reduction (2 cups diced mango, 1/2 cup white sugar, cook slowly to reduce). Mixed this into the yogurt at the same ratio as above (2 parts yogurt to 1 part fruit mixture).

Test Results

Primary Test Group: Mixed results. Those that grew up with yogurt, in other words ... the Americans, really loved it. The Filipinos either thought it was merely OK or really didn't like the yogurt. The Filipinos liked the mango flavor better than the strawberry or blueberry (no shock there, a familiar flavor).

Potential Improvements

Maybe a little thicker. The consistency now is much like Yoplait (commercially available in the United States). I like this very much. Others aren't so keen on it.

Potential Variations

Want to explore other fruits that are available. Also, might try adding cocoa powder to make chocolate yogurt. My son has asked for that.

Conclusions

Definite winner! So much better than store bought yogurt from back home. I'm looking forward to adding this to cakes and trying out a few others things with it, too.

I have to remember to make a little yogurt twice a week. Don't want my starter to get to strange or die out. This gives me an excuse to use it.

5 comments:

Divya said...

Homemade yogurt! Yum! Very interesting. I am pretty new to your blog and you have some good stuff in there.
I really enjoyed reading. And will try the yogurt sometime :)

Divya

James said...

Thank you very much!

Definitely try making yogurt at home. Unless you're pressed for time, you will NOT go back to store-bought yogurt.

Natasha said...

Homemade yogurt is divine! It reminds me of my childhood - my grandma used to make it.
Homemade fruit yogurt is even better!

James said...

I agree, Natasha! So very much better!

Anonymous said...

Check out our page on Facebook - Specialty Food Concepts - we carry yogurt makers and starters at affordable rates =)