Flavoring yogurt may seem like a simple thing to do. And if you add flavor through extracts and other means after the yogurt is made, it really is a simple thing to do. The challenge, of course, is to add flavor before the yogurt is cultured - for a number of reasons - it is easily distributed throughout the yogurt, for one. But because of the nature of the beast, or in this case, the beasties - the bacteria working in the culture to make the yogurt, things are not that simple.
Let's put it this way... when I started out making yogurt, one of our favorite flavors, almond, was an illusive flavor for us. I tried adding both vanilla extract (seemed to work ok) and then in a separate test, I added both vanilla and almond extract. This usually works with other cooking processes including making of bread pudding, use in milkshakes - but for some reason my test turned out simply awful.
In searching the web for alternatives, I found LorAnn flavor oils - to the rescue. Armed with almost $100 worth of all manner of flavors, my wife and I began testing a myriad of flavors. LorAnn Flavor Oils through Sugarcraft and also LorAnn Flavor Oils
What I have learned about using these flavor oils:
- It takes more oil than you would expect for many of the flavors. For example, "Cinnamon roll" could not be identified as such using 10 drops per pint so we will have to double that the next time we test. That being said, it did give the yogurt one heck of a great background taste, even though it was unrecognizable.
- Some of the oils are ok with a 10 drops per pint - like "Coconut." The taste was very recognizable and great.
- Some of the oils are similar to others and for most folks there is no need to buy both. For example, "Pina Colada" tastes the same to me as "Coconut," so why bother buying both? It all depends on what use you are putting it to.
Other ways of flavoring yogurt:
- Mix in jam after it has firmed. Or put jam or jelly in the bottom of the serving container just before you pour in the warm, cultured milk before adding to the yogurt maker.
- Use extracts - but be careful, while vanilla seems to work well, others may not. It is always wise to test a small sample before making a big batch of any flavored yogurt - especially if you have any questions about the flavoring method.
- Add flavored gelatin to the culture before you put it in the yogurt maker. You may want to just add some powder to the warm milk in the container you will be putting in your yogurt maker. There are several commercial gelatins available on the market today.
- Try flavored teas. Some teas - fruity teas, or coconut milk, or a vanilla pod, or a cinamon stick, even chocolate syrup can be used as a flavoring! Just make sure that whatever is in the flavoring doesn't kill the yogurt bacteria or it won't work well if at all.
- And speaking of flavored teas, rose hip tea or even one of the rooibos teas works well. And something like mint tea yogurt might just go well in some parfaits.
Why are you flavoring yogurt? Well you may do so for a number of reasons or combination of reasons:
- You may like a certain flavor and want your yogurt to taste that way. A simple enough reason, it would seem. But read on.
- You want the yogurt to have a flavor that complements another in a recipe. And example here might be using "Coconut" yogurt for a strawberry parfait. This, indeed might make the parfait more exotic to the taste.
- You might even want a series of different flavored yogurts - perhaps even colored differently to layer a yogurt-only parfait type dessert or even in a yogurt cup for a taste treat.
- Perhaps you need a flavor "point" in a dessert with angel food cake and yogurt, for example.
And what to do with our failed taste test yogurts?
- We have a quart and a half of butter rum yogurt - the sour tang just doesn't go with the flavor - so in brainstorming what to do with the buttered rum yogurt, we realized by searching on the f lavor we could find many uses for it in sauces, for baking fruit like apples and pears and for adding to cake mixes either in the mix instead of water or milk or for the sauce for the top. So that is how you can turn any failed experiements with your own flavors into sucesses!
And another long series of tests for us is soon to be a combination - what goes with what? And what can you mix with what to get something else great (hopefully).