Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Yogurt Chronicle, Part III

After making yogurt and experimenting with some basic flavorings, I've decided to take more of the advice of my yogurt-making instructions to flavor it in new and exciting ways.

My first try was with raspberry jam; the suggestion was 1 tablespoon per cup of yogurt, and 2 tablespoons for my 2 cups ended up being about right.  This is the best one I've tried so far--the jam was both sweet enough to overcome the tartness of the yogurt and had a tasty flavor.  It mixed into the yogurt more easily than the honey did, and you can see from the picture that the whole thing took on a pinkish (if not exactly homogeneous) shade.

One odd thing I noticed was that the instructions suggested sugar-free jam.  That didn't make sense to me, because ahead of any flavoring, the first thing this yogurt needs is sweetness.  Maybe it has something to do with the fermentation process, but in the fridge, that should be slow enough not to matter.  I ignored the suggestion and used sugar-full jam, and it turned out great.

Next up was apricot jam.  I'd never had apricot yogurt, but because yogurt works with pretty much any fruit, I figured it couldn't be too bad.  Again, I had some consistency issues--the apricot jam was much more of a solid gel texture than the much runnier raspberry jam, but where I got sufficient apricot flavor, it was really good too.  There weren't any over-apricotty bites, so I think if I try a flavoring with this texture again, I'll just add more of it.

My most recent effort was vanilla extract.  It's a little tough to make out, but there's a subtle brownish swirl in the picture.  This was nowhere as sweet as I wanted it to be--which makes perfect sense, considering vanilla extract is basically an aromatic bitter.  To its credit, the instructions sheet did list vanilla as a "flavor" instead of a "sweetener," so I think the better way to go is to add vanilla along with some sort of sweetener.

What have I learned so far?  Combination sweetener-flavors are more effective than either alone; the more liquid an additive is, the better texture the yogurt ends up with; and if anything, lean toward more flavoring/sweetening than is suggested.

What's on board next?  Smaller batches of more "out-there" flavors (any suggestions?).  And, eventually, frozen yogurt!