Yogurt is basically a form of curdled milk much like sour cream and creme fraiche, but with less fat. Yogurt is created when bacteria in the milk ferments and coagulates to thicken the milk to a creamy texture, adding a tangy, slightly astringent flavor. In commercial manufacturing, the friendly bacteria is added, but if you were to heat fresh milk and keep it at about 100 F for a few hours, it would naturally turn to yogurt in the comfort of your own home.
Types of Yogurt
There are several types of yogurt. Traditional yogurt can be made with cream or milk, Greek yogurt, also called strained yogurt and Icelandic yogurt. Yogurt can be made from any variety of mammal milk but is most often made from cow, buffalo or goat milk. It can also be made from coconut, soy and almond milk. Kefir is an alcoholic version of yogurt originally made from fermented camel milk but now made from cow milk. Available in some natural food stores, kefir has an alcohol content of about 2.5%. The best simple recipe for homemade yogurt adds maple syrup and pure vanilla extract to plain yogurt for a tasty, yet clean flavor.
Different Levels of Fat in Yogurt
There are several types of yogurt with differing fat levels readily available in the market. All types of yogurt can be found in regular, low-fat and non-fat so you can choose your fat content. Plain yogurt is generally made from cow milk and is unflavored and unsweetened. Flavored yogurt generally has fruit or flavoring added, along with plenty of sugar. The sugar is added not only for sweetness but to aid in preserving the fruit. Frozen yogurt is the yogurt version of soft ice cream. It is generally stabilized by the addition of gelatin when made at home.
Nutritional Benefits of Homemade Yogurt
Homemade yogurt doesn't have any of the artificial flavors, colors, and processed sugars that many yogurt brands add to lengthen the shelf life of their products. Homemade yogurt also contains no preservatives, which is easier on your digestive system and healthier for you. You can make your own yogurt with a mason jar and a warm place in your kitchen or get a yogurt maker, that also doubles as a frozen yogurt maker, in some cases.
More about Yogurt and Yogurt Recipes:
Below find cooking tips for making your own yogurt as well as recipes for varying flavors of yogurt that run the gamut from simple to complex. You'll also find information on the shelf life of yogurt and the best ways to store it over time. For more tips and information click one or more of the links below: