I’ve made homemade yogurt several times over the years, but never did so consistently. Lately, I’ve been eating a lot more yogurt in general, always store-bought, so I decided to start making yogurt at home instead – at $1.39 a serving, it adds up when you eat one or two servings a day. I figured I could easily make up the cost in a month or two given that I buy my dairy from Costco. I did use a commercial starter as I’ve found that simply using yogurt from the store can yield runny yogurt and iffy results. I heated my milk to 185 and kept it there for ten minutes. I also replaced a half cup of the milk with whipping cream as I like a creamier yogurt that’s like a dessert. You can just use whole milk, but anything with less fat will be runnier. You can also add some dried milk powder to help thicken it.
The one thing that was lacking was a sweet fruit topping. Every fruit-flavored yogurt recipe I’ve found uses jam, but I find it too sweet and the texture isn’t ideal. I wanted something more like what you find in fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts. Usually, a mixture of sugar, fruit, clear-jel (modified food starch), and maybe a few other things I’d rather not include in a homemade recipe.
You can use cornstarch in this recipe (amount given below), but it can become watery over time, so I prefer clear-jel. I used frozen strawberries here, but you could use fresh or practically any other berry – blueberries, blackberries, etc. if they are particularly juicy, you may want to use an extra half teaspoon of clear-jel or cornstarch.
Strawberry yogurt topping
2 cups strawberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup sugar (I like mine on the sweeter side, use less if you don’t)
2 1/2 teaspoons clear-jel (or 1 3/4 teaspoons cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water)
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice, optional
Chop berries if fresh. Place berries in saucepan and turn heat to low. Cook until berries begin to break down and release their juices. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine sugar and clear-jel. (If using cornstarch instead, add sugar to berries and mix cornstarch with the water, set aside). Once berries have broken down, mash with a potato masher and add clear-jel and sugar mixture (if using cornstarch, add the slurry). Cook for a few minutes until thickened. Cool slightly and taste. If berries aren’t tart enough, add the lemon juice. Adjust sweetness by adding more sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, while still quite warm. Refrigerate until cold, then serve on top of your favorite yogurt.
For my current batch of yogurt, I used the sweet yogurt culture from New England Cheesemaking and it’s pretty good. Not too tart, somewhat creamy. But even after heating my milk, adding a bit of heavy cream, and fermenting 10 hours, it’s not as thick as I would like. I may strain it slightly to make a thicker product more like Greek yogurt. I use the leftover whey the same way I would use buttermilk and it makes great pancakes, cakes, etc.