Sunday, May 25, 2008

I Finally Met a Yogurt I Didn't Like

Since the start of YoBlog, I have had the opportunity to connect with others who share an affection for the sweet yet tangy treat. Some are new acquaintances - like Giselle, one of the most friendly and efficient check-out artists at Whole Foods, who is also a yogurt admirer. Many are old friends - like Damien who shares my fondness for the flavor maple. And a few are family.

A Family Affair

Yogurt is one of my mother-in-law Bonnie's favorite foods. So, when we trekked out to her house to celebrate Mother's Day, YoBlog was forefront in my thoughts.

You need to understand that Bonnie is a creative, venturous, and skilled chef. Enthusiasm coupled with culinary curiosity and an innovative spirit inspire Bonnie to create her favorite foods. She's not satisfied to have samosas in India or empanadas in Latin America. She wants to have them in her own kitchen, at her own table. Yogurt is no exception.

Eager to tell Bonnie about the blog and suggest an article on her homemade yogurt technique, I brought up YoBlog immediately. As Bonnie and I talked about all the possibilities, she mentioned an attempt at homemade yogurt made earlier in the week.

She opened the refrigerator, pulled out a 32-ounce container, and removed the lid, revealing a mountain of yogurt made from goat's milk. Apparently, Bonnie had to add gelatin to the yogurt after it didn't congeal properly with rennet. So the texture was weird: think yogurt meets Jell-O. The taste, though, was intriguing. Extremely tart and sour, the yogurt had a hint of sweetness similar to goat cheese.

Go Go Goat Yogurt

This reminded me of Redwood Hill Farm, a California farm and creamery that produces goat cheese and yogurt. Inspired by Bonnie's experiment, I picked up their plain and strawberry yogurts at the Whole Foods, each $1.99. Vanilla is also available, as well as blueberry, cranberry-orange, and apricot-mango.

I chose to start with the plain. I approached it with interest and skepticism. The yogurt had the typical tangy smell and its texture smoothed as I stirred the yogurt. Much thinner than skyr or Greek yogurt, the yogurt ran off my spoon some. As I brought the spoon to my mouth, I expected a creamy balance between tart and sour and sweet.

My immediate thought: yuck.

The taste: goat cheese gone bad. Why I was surprised is a mystery. The tang that makes yogurt yogurt is in other foods the striking sign of spoil. Add the tang of yogurt to goat cheese and rancid is the word that comes to my mind. Actually, yuck was the word:

After two or three spoonfuls, I threw the cup of plain away.

A Second Chance

Since America is the land of second chances, I decided to give the strawberry a try, after I drank two or three cups of water to cleanse my pallet.

Like the plain, the strawberry had the typical scent and textu
re of yogurt. The fruit was on the bottom; I swirled the strawberries and sweet goo into the yogurt, and their sugariness shone through and mitigated some of the tang.

My first spoonful of the strawberry was better than the plain. The berries competed with the taste of cheese in the yogurt for the attention of my taste buds.

The sweet goo reminded me of the Smucker's-like stuff you find at the bottom of many yogurts. I took a look at the ingredients. Next to Siggi's, no awards for simplicity here: honey, strawberries, water, apple juice concentrate, natural flavors, pectin, locust bean gum, vegetable juice, and citric acid.

In a way, the strawberry was like a goat cheese dessert with berries and honey. I wanted to like it and I almost did. Ultimately, though, sweetness is no mask for a funky and offensive taste. I ate about half of the strawberry.

Cut the Cheese

So, I finally found a yogurt I didn't like. That said, if you like your yogurt cheesy, I recommend you try the goat yogurt from Redwood Hill Farm. Let us know what you think!


Joyce's Cutie said...

Sounds gross. My favorite yogurt by far is Wallaby Organic. It's a delicious, more liquidy take on yogurt by the Aussies (or so says the marketing).

Anonymous said...

@Joyce - A few of us are fans on Wallaby's, and I'm planning an article on the Aussie yogurt, but I haven't figured out the angle yet. Any suggestions or thoughts are appreciated!

I do love their maple yogurt. Yummy!

Giselle said...

I love goat cheese, but anything else with "goat" in it just dosnt do it for me lol

bonnie said...

Scarrie, it was fun reading your entry about my goatie jello! Actually, I was surprised that the goat milk I bought for it and the resulting product was as mild in earthiness- no more than tart/tangy!- as it was. When the kids were babies and first being weaned from nursing, I started them on goat milk (supposed to be less allergenic than cow milk) which I bought at a local farm. Wow! This milk smelled and tasted like the the floor of a loaded stall would if you had the ill fortune to taste such a thing. I do love goat cheese but anticipated that any goat milk I could get would be stinky, but I guess there is lots of variability. The thinness of the resulting yogurt, though, must have something else to do with the qualities in goat milk. What, I wonder?