Types of Yogurt

Yogurt is made with a lactic-fermenting process which creates the distinctive tart flavor and makes yogurt thick and creamy. Yogurt can be made with cream or milk with varying amounts of fat. The amount of fat in the starting culture is part of what determines which variety of yogurt is made. Another difference is the other ingredients such as fruit or gelatin that are added during the fermentation process.

Yogurt is generally cultured with the lactic bacterias Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus which are added to pasteurized, homogenized milk and heated to increase the bacterial activity. These bacteria convert the milk sugars (lactose) into lactic acid. There are three main styles of yogurt and many minor varieties available.

Balkan style yogurt is poured into containers and allowed to ferment in the containers without stirring. This yogurt is very thick and is the type often used in traditional Middle Eastern recipes.

Swiss style yogurt is made in a large batch all fermented together and cooled before adding to containers. Swiss style yogurt is often flavored or sweetened and it also often has fruit added. It is thinner than Balkan yogurt and can be used in dessert recipes.

Greek yogurt, also called Mediterranean style yogurt, is made by straining our the water from milk prior to fermenting or straining off the whey after fermenting. This type of yogurt is very thick and has a higher protein content than other yogurts. Because of the thick texture, Greek yogurt is the best option for recipes that call for cooking the yogurt as it tends not to separate.

Both Balkan and Greek style yogurts are made with high milk fat content. Swiss style yogurt can be made from either whole, low fat, or non-fat milk. Whole milk yogurt contains 3.25% milk fat, low fat yogurt contains between .5% and 2% milkfat, while non-fat yogurt contains less than .5% milkfat.

Fruit on the bottom is a type of Swiss style yogurt where the fruit is not mixed prior to packaging, but poured in the bottom prior to adding the sweetened yogurt. This type of yogurt is also called sundae style yogurt because it can be poured out of the container with the plain yogurt on the bottom and the fruit on the top.

Probiotic yogurt, which has recently had a huge surge in popularity, has other cultures in addition to Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These additional bacteria are useful in preventing and treating many intestinal conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, C. Diff (Clostridium difficile), and intestinal flora imbalance caused by the use of antibiotics.

Prebiotic yogurt contains substances called fructooligosaccharides, like inulin, in addition to live probiotic cultures. These ingredients help the body to keep the probiotic bacteria alive where they can reproduce in the intestine.

Enriched yogurts have also become more common. These yogurts contain added vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and other healthy ingredients such as fiber, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Kefir is a yogurt drink made with traditional cultures that also has yeast added to it. The added yeast adds an extra tang to the flavor and has additional health benefits. Frozen yogurt is generally not considered a true yogurt because it is not typically made with live cultures.

<< How to Make Yogurt | Cooking with Yogurt >>

Resources:

Dairy Goodness: Types of Yogurt
About Yogurt: Yogurt Varieties

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