What is Yogurt and Its Nutrition? How To Use It In Cooking?
Yogurt is one of the most popular dishes and ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine because of its silky and creamy texture with its natural sourness. You can see it in many recipes such as pasta sauce, Indian vegetarian stew or cheesecake, and panna cotta.
So, how can this ingredient be so versatile? Can yogurt be bad for our health as well? Let’s find out everything you need to know about yogurt now!
What Is Yogurt
Yogurt is a tasty and versatile ingredient for cooking and serving. Although there are different types of yogurt, they have a similar manufacturing process.
Originally, yogurt is made with cow’s milk. The maker will heat the milk and add certain bacteria to let it ferment. This process allows yogurt to achieve a certain consistency and tangy flavor that we love.
At first, the yogurt maker will have to separate the milk into skim and cream. Then, they will remove the liquid content from the milk to achieve the desired thickness consistency. Stabilizers such as pectin or milk powder will be added at this step to enhance the texture of the yogurt.
Why Does Yogurt Have A Sour Taste? Or Why Does Yogurt Taste Sharp?
The sour and sharp taste of yogurt is due to the two required bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus. These bacteria play an important role in the yogurt manufacturing process as they initiate the lactose fermentation leading to the creation of lactic acid.
When the lactic acid and pH rate increase, the yogurt will form a soft gel alongside the signature sour and tangy taste.
After three to four hours of resting, the manufacturer can add more sweeteners or processed fruits to decrease the yogurt’s acidic flavor. Yogurt Health Benefits, Risks, And Nutrition
As you have learned the yogurt manufacturing process, it is easy to understand why they are so tasty and beneficial to our health; however, if yogurt can also contain certain harmful effects if you don’t know how to use it properly.
What Are The Types Of Yogurt?
Since the Neolithic period, yogurt or yoghurt has been used in many cuisines in the world. Because of its long history, it has developed to different types of yogurt as well.
Greek yogurt is super creamy and thick, with the highest protein content than others. This Greece-originated yogurt often appears in Mediterranean recipes due to the thicker concentration of protein, leading to higher heat endurance than dessert yogurt.
Therefore, greek yogurt is mostly used in cooking. When comparing Greek yogurt vs mayo, you can find many similarities between these two ingredients. There are different versions of Greek yogurt in low fat, non-fat or full fat.
Low Fat, Reduced-Fat, Or Non-Fat Yogurt
This type of yogurt is one of the healthiest yogurts for vegetarians and vegans due to the low percentage of dairy milk. For the low-fat, it contains only two percentages of milk. With non-fat or low-fat yogurt, they can also substitute dairy milk with skim milk, such as almond milk.
Another type of plain yogurt that has high protein content is skyr. This is an Icelandic yogurt that requires four more milk percentages than the regular yogurt type. Therefore, the result is a dense and creamy yogurt but milder taste than Greek yogurt.
Kefir is a type of fermented yogurt for drinking directly. With a thin consistency and high probiotics, it is super healthy for children and adults to drink daily. Due to the fermentation process, Kefir has a sour and tart taste.
This is the most common yogurt that you can find in the market. This flavored yogurt has a smooth texture and sour taste. It is also sweeter than other yogurt types due to its higher lactose content. You can drink or serve it as a dessert alone.
Yogurt Health Benefits and Nutritions
Before getting to know the health benefits and risks of yogurt, let’s find out the nutrients of yogurt. In a plain, whole milk yogurt contains:
- 4,5% of protein with 80% of casein and 20% of liquid whey.
- 4,2% of fat content.
- 12.7% of sugar.
- 88% of water and certain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12, Calcium, phosphorus, and riboflavin.
However, the nutrition facts can vary depending on the yogurt types and brands. For instance, Smari yogurt nutrition can have 18% of protein, 4% of total fat, and 4% of carbohydrate.
Yogurt Health Benefits
With high nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and probiotic cultures, unsweetened yogurt is known to be highly beneficial to our health. Here are the benefits of yogurt consumption in our diet:
Due to a great amount of protein, unflavored yogurt can help to boost your energy expenditure, leading to a better metabolism. It also improves the production of hormones, which can signal when you’re full. This is a great advantage when you need to control your weight.
Furthermore, some low-fat or non-fat yogurt is a great protein source for your diet if you’re looking for ways to lose weight.
The second high content in yogurt is probiotics, good bacteria. Some probiotics are proven to boost your immune health and reduce inflammation, such as viral infections to guts diseases.
Some yogurts containing Bifidobacteria can also improve your digestive issues, reduce bloating, stool frequency, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Calcium, potassium, and phosphorus in natural yogurt are great for strengthening bone health and preventing osteoporosis, which weakens the bone among elders.
Yogurt Health Risks
Although it is evident that yogurt is good for our health, it is not for everyone. Here are the health risks that yogurt can cause if you don’t use it properly:
Yogurt is a lactose-based product. Therefore, people with lactose intolerance are warned to avoid the consumption of yogurt due to the adverse effects of yogurt.
Lactose intolerance is when your body cannot digest lactose, common in milk and other dairy foods. The adverse effects of yogurt can cause the person diarrhea, bloating stomach, stomach ache, and cramps, sick feelings.
Yogurt consumption is restricted if you’re allergic to milk, casein, and whey. Milk allergy is one of the most common food allergies among children. The allergic reaction will happen right when the person consumes milk that can range from mild (vomiting, wheezing, hives) to severe cases (anaphylaxis).
Lastly, some yogurt can have a high percentage of artificial flavors and sugar. This can lead to higher blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, higher risk of cancer, diabetes, and obesity if you consume an extreme amount of yogurt daily.
How To Use Yogurt In Cooking
1. Dressing And Dipping Sauce
If you like the tangy taste of sour cream and crème Fraiche, you will fall in love with the whipped yogurt without cream version of dipping sauce. The sour flavor and thick texture of yogurt go well with herbs, cucumber, garlic, jalapeno, or cilantro.
The melting taste of the sauce on your tongue combined with the chips’ crispy is definitely a must-try recipe. You can also use the same sauce on your favorite salad as dressing. Just pour some vinegar or water to thin out the texture, and you can enjoy a sweet and sour salad dish.
If you want to enhance your favorite almond snack, you can cover it with yogurt as well. Here is a simple yogurt covered almond recipe:
2. Yogurt Covered Almond Recipe
- 2 ounces of yogurt
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- One tablespoon of butter
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 8 ounces of nuts
How to do it
1. Put a saucepan on medium heat and add yogurt, salt, sugar inside. Stir constantly until the mixture is boiled.
2. Remove the saucepan and put in butter and vanilla.
3. Put in the almonds and stir well.
4. Allow the mixture to cool down, then pour it onto wax paper.
3. Soup Ingredient
Cold soups such as gazpacho would be so tasty with the creamy texture of a small amount of yogurt. Guacamole, buttermilk, and yogurt is a great combination for chilled soup if you need a new flavor to the classic recipe.
4. Marinating Meat
Yogurt is amazing for marinating meat because it can break down the enzymes in the red meat and add moisture due to the calcium component in yogurt. You can also use yogurt to coat chicken for deep-frying.
Because of the tangy flavor, which is similar to sour cream, yogurt can be a good substitute for cream sauce over steaks or roasts. Combining the hot and meaty with the cool and refreshing flavor of yogurt can be an interesting tasting experience.
5. Smoothie Enhancer
What can go wrong with a creamy version of smoothie? With the tangy flavor and creamy texture, you can decrease the bitter taste of herbs or vegetables in your diet smoothie. The non-fat yogurt also adds more protein and probiotics without disrupting your diet.
If you’re looking for how to make yogurt less sour, you can try putting in some slices of ripe fruit or dark chocolate to mask the sourness.
How To Store Yogurt
Yogurt is such a flexible ingredient that improves many cooking recipes. From salads to main dishes, you can always use yogurt to give them a refreshing flavor. Thus, it is necessary to store it properly so you can reuse it more in the future.
Here are how to store yogurt:
1. Pour the yogurt in an airtight container or freezer bag in order to prevent other odors from influencing the original taste. Make sure to seal it tight or close the lid completely.
2. You can store the yogurt in the fridge or in the freezer. So, how long can opened yogurt last in the fridge? Or in the freezer?
Keep in your fridge if you tend to use it daily or within a week, as the shelf life of yogurt can last up to seven to 14 days in the refrigerator.
If you only use it for a special yogurt recipe, it is best to freeze it. You can store it in a freezer bag or break it down into an ice-cube tray. The frozen yogurt will last up to two months. When you keep it in your fridge, it is important to learn these tips not to ruin your storage process.
To keep yogurt fresh, it is better to keep it at a location with cool and consistent temperature like at the back of your fridge. While at the door of the fridge can be further away from the cooling breeze and move more due to opening and closing movement. This can affect the yogurt texture and reduce the yogurt shelf life.
Another thing you should keep in mind is cross-contamination. Yes! Even in storage, your yogurt can be contaminated by bacteria if you’re not careful. This can happen when you want to take an amount of yogurt out of the container by scooping it out.
Make sure when you scoop, the spoon must be clean so no bacteria can enter directly into your yogurt. It is also for keeping the taste of yogurt intact.
1. What Is Pectin In Yogurt?
Pectin is a gelling agent that can be found in fruits and vegetables. It is similar to gelatin which can bond itself when heated. In the making of yogurt, this component provides a stronger consistency for yogurt texture. It can also boost the shelf life and reduce the fat in yogurt as low-fat products can have a runny and thin texture.
Pectin is an ideal component for producing low-calorie yogurts as it contains no calories.
Once the yogurt has been thickened, the manufacturer will heat the milk to eliminate harmful bacteria by pasteurizing the milk at 185 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes and 203 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. At this high temperature, the protein whey content is denatured to form a stable gel that keeps the water intact during storage.
In addition, the worker also enhances the smooth texture by homogenizing the milk at around 2000 to 2500 psi.
Once there are no harmful bacteria in the yogurt, they will bring it to a cool temperature which is 108 degrees Fahrenheit, to create a good habitat for the yogurt culture to grow.
According to the CFR law, these active cultures are usually good bacteria such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, which are required in yogurt production. Other probiotic bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus subsp. casein and Bifidobacteria are extra components that are beneficial to the consumer’s health.
After mixing them, the milk is cooled at the same temperature until its pH reaches 4.5. This brings out the characteristic of the yogurt, which is sour and tangy with a thick texture.
2. Can I Have Coconut Yogurt Whole30?
We all want to have a healthy diet while on the whole30 program. However, there are certain things that you cannot eat during the program, such as added sugar, alcohol, grains, or dairy products.
In coconut yogurt, there are many compatible ingredients for the whole30 program except added sugar. Therefore, you can consume it but with a moderate amount.
Yogurt is important to our daily consumption because of its nutrition and benefits. It can be a form of dessert and also an ingredient in many cooking recipes. With this post, you can understand more about how yogurt is made and what nutrition it brings to our daily meals.