Save money while giving yourself maximum flavor flexibility by making your own yogurt. Homemade yogurt is substantially less expensive than buying commercial yogurts and the process is surprisingly easy. In addition to being able to reap the nutritional benefits of eating yogurt by making it yourself, you also open the door to nearly endless ways to customize the flavor. Everything from the base you use to the ingredients you mix into it alters the way homemade yogurt tastes.
Changing the Base
The type of milk and yogurt culture has direct impact on the yogurt’s flavor. Although cow’s milk is among the most common animal milks used, goat and sheep milk also work. Sheep milk tends to have sweeter flavor, while goat milk has typically has a similar, creamy flavor that can taste slightly off unless it’s fresh. Nondairy milks such as coconut, almond or soy also work, each with its own flavor. If you decide to use dairy-free milk, alter the recipe by adding more sugar, thickening agents such as tapioca starch and extra time for the culturing process. Similarly, using a different type of yogurt cultures or starters can affect the flavor since the bacteria in the culture has different properties and interact differently with milk proteins.
Timing is Everything
After the yogurt has fermented for 10 to 12 hours, transfer it to a container and chill it for roughly 3 hours to let it thicken. Letting it ferment longer and storing it in the refrigerator for a few days yields yogurt with a tangier flavor. Timing is a critical factor in the tartness of your yogurt. If you prefer to eat mild, creamy yogurt that doesn’t have the characteristic tang of most commercial yogurts, eat it within one day of completing the culturing process.
Sweetening the Pot
Adding sweetness to your homemade yogurt complements and changes the flavor, depending on the sweetener that you choose. Since you’re making the yogurt, you’re also in complete control of the type and amount of sweeteners used in your dish. Options include granulated sugar, calorie-free sweeteners such as stevia, maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, fruit juice or jam. Additionally, baking extracts and flavorings such as almond, chocolate, coconut or vanilla can also alter the taste of your yogurt, giving you a myriad of flavor options.
Mixing It Up
Any sweet or savory item you choose to mix into your yogurt affects the overall taste. Keep it sweet by adding fresh fruit such as peaches, apples, berries, pineapple or mango. Switch it up and talk a walk on the savory side by mixing in cucumber, lemon juice, garlic and mint to make a tzatziki-inspired dip or sauce. Other savory mix-ins include kimchi, curry, or truffles. Additional options include fresh herbs such as lavender, thyme or basic or spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom.