I have to admit, this post has been sitting in our draft folder since December. I hope you can still find imported persimmons in select grocery stores at this time of year, or feel free to substitute a fruit of your choice.
On our daily walk to the school bus we pass a persimmon tree. At first the boys thought they were mini-pumpkins, or oranges, but now they can pronounce "persimmon" with ease, and one has even requested a persimmon tree for his birthday. I wouldn't let them pick the fruit, and was too shy to knock on my neighbours' door and ask if we could have some. I now regret this decision as I see the frost-covered persimmons rotting on the tree. However, I was as curious as the boys about what they tasted like, so I bought some the next time I was at our local produce store.
Well now that the persimmon lesson is done, let's move on to yogurt. I used to make yogurt on a regular basis back when I had more time (and fewer children) on my hands. A friend pointed out that per volume yogurt is as expensive as ice cream and often not that much healthier. When you make your own you can adjust the sugar and fat content to your own dietary needs and the main cost is the cost of the milk.
Because my family is not used to eating plain yogurt I usually make a vanilla yogurt recipe which contains 1/3 cup sweetener per litre (4 cups) of milk. I am no nutritionist, but by my calculations this is still less sugar than is found in most sweetened yogurt. Then, when I'm on a roll and making yogurt weekly then I will ease off on sugar amounts each week to help our taste buds adjust. I have had best yogurt results using whole milk. It results in the thickest, creamiest texture. The higher fat content doesn't bother me because it's mainly the kids that eat it. Hubby and I just have to make sure we enjoy it in moderation.
I had never tried a fruit-at-the bottom style yogurt, but wanted to see what persimmons would taste like in yogurt. The recipe I am giving you is flexible. Either you can try just my vanilla yogurt, or the fruit-at-the bottom yogurt with persimmon. You could even set the cooked persimmons aside and add them after the yogurt is set as a topping.
This may be a bit excessive, but I happen to own three yogurt makers. Two were bought at garage sales for $2 each and one was a gift from my parents. However, you don't need to run out and buy a yogurt maker to make yogurt. Here is a link from the blog "Salad in a Jar" which lists at least 6 different methods of incubating yogurt without a yogurt maker.
Cut persimmon in half and scoop out pulp. Roughly chop and place in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes, mashing as it cooks. When softened, remove to cool. Scoop 1-2 Tbsp of puree into your jars before filling with warm milk mixture and incubating.
1 litre whole milk
1/3 cup honey or sugar
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 heaping tablespoon plain yogurt (containing no gelatine)*
Before starting, sterilize the following in boiling water for 30 seconds: jars for incubating yogurt, a whisk, a spatula, tongs, a funnel, a ladle, a candy thermometer (obviously just the metal tip), the measuring spoons/cups you will use to measure ingredients. Place sterilized tools on a clean tea towel to dry. I use the pot which will later be used to cook the milk to sterilize, and I use the tongs to dip each item in the boiling water.
Whisking constantly, heat milk over medium heat until it nearly boils (185 degrees F). This will kill any bad bacteria in the milk. Cool milk to 115-105 degrees F. This can be done quickly by placing the pot in ice water in the sink and continuing to whisk. 110 degrees is the ideal temperature for yogurt bacteria to grow. Now is the time to add the sugar and vanilla. Whisk until dissolved, then add the plain yogurt and stir just until mixed in. The yogurt provides the starter bacteria which will grow throughout the incubation process.
Pour your mixture into clean jars (or jars with puree at the bottom) and incubate using a yogurt maker or one of the methods listed in this link (same link as above).
*If you think you'll be making yogurt again you can freeze 1-tablespoon portions of plain yogurt in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. Remove a cube from the freezer on the day you plan to make yogurt and allow it to thaw completely before using.