Ten things you may not know about yogurt

yogurt with berries
Photo borrowed from Cooking Light

I miss the yogurt sold in Europe. Less sweet, it makes this creamy, healthy, cultured milk less dessert and more breakfast. I’m generally not a fan of sweet (wine notwithstanding), probably stemming from my years as a pastry chef. After I left the restaurant business, I didn’t eat chocolate for two years. Tragic, huh? (I recovered nicely though, albeit to the bittersweet realm.)

So I was psyched when thicker, plain Greek yogurt started appearing at grocery stores. I like the rich consistency, the higher protein and how decadent it tastes when mixed with a slight drip of honey and some fresh, seasonal fruit. But I didn’t know all these yogurt facts until I read the August edition of Cooking Light Magazine (a subscriber for over 15 years). Just had to share.

1) Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, the two bacteria required by FDA standards for yogurt, are added to a warm milk bath, where they proceed to ferment and coagulate into a semisolid, producing tangy lactic acid along the way. Manufacturers can add other probiotics, like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium, but they’re not required or regulated.

2) May the Whey be with you. Don’t pour off the clear liquid on top of the yogurt, stir it in. It contains a little protein and tart flavor.

live cultures seal on yogurt3) Look for the seal. Established by the National Yogurt Association, the seal (at left) indicates that the manufacturer promises the yogurt contains at least 100 million active starter cultures per gram. Not FDA-policed, though.

4) Watch for shifty verbiage. Some yogurts are heat-treated after fermentation, neutralizing the good-for-you bacteria. So the FDA mandates that these yogurts be labeled “heat-treated after culturing.” If not treated, the package should say “active yogurt cultures,” “living yogurt cultures,” or “contains active cultures.”

5) DIY Greek. Thicker, Greek-style yogurt can be created by draining off some of the whey in plain, natural yogurt. Start by spooning plain, nonfat or low-fat yogurt into a fine-mesh steel strainer lined with a paper tower or coffee filter. Then, place the strainer in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

6) Lactose, Smactose. People with mild lactose intolerance can usually tolerate yogurt because the live active cultures break down much of it into glucose and galactose, easily digestible  sugars.

7) Frozen “yogurt” vs. frozen yogurt. Frozen yogurt isn’t regulated by the FDA, meaning the scoop in your cone could be made entirely from yogurt—or could be ice cream with a little yogurt stirred in. The Live & Active Cultures seal signals the manufacturer’s assurance that it is, actually, yogurt.

Read the rest on CookingLight.com

Look for the seal.
Established by the National Yogurt Association, the seal (shown here) indicates that the manufacturer is promising that the yogurt contains at least 100 million active starter cultures per gram when manufactured. It’s not FDA-policed, though.

One Comment

  1. Nice work.

    Something you didn’t say is that a lot of the things marketed as “yogurt” in the grocery (actually MOST) contains yogurt as a minor ingredient and has many other things, like gelatin and lots of long-word chemical fillers. I find this more often in yogurt marked “low fat”.


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