If you've ever wandered the dairy aisle of the grocery store and seen a product labeled "French-style yogurt," you might think it's a culinary gimmick. This real type of yogurt comes from France where it's classically made in small batches, mostly in glass jars, and with only a few ingredients. You won't find true French yogurt fat-free. This dessert-like dish is creamy, rich, and decadent.
What Is French-Style Yogurt?
With so many types of yogurt on the market, French yogurt stands out for its purity of ingredients, richness, and how it's made. Instead of letting the ingredients and cultures mingle in a large vat and then portioning off, this method, called post-set, has each serving made in its own container. That means the ingredients, such as whole milk, sugar, yogurt cultures, and optional fruit and flavorings, get put in jars to set until it's ready to eat.
Overall, this made-to-order style of small-batch yogurt isn't too far off from other yogurts. They all use whole milk and live cultures and set in warm, moist surroundings. You'll taste a mild difference and since each jar is made individually, there could be little nuances here and there.
What to Do With French-Style Yogurt
Eat and use this yogurt any way you would a sweet, creamy dairy ingredient. That means dish it up for breakfast with some fruit or granola. Serve a bowl of it with chocolate chips for dessert in lieu of ice cream. As a snack food, you can dive into a little pot for a high-protein nibble, dipping pretzel sticks or a banana into the yogurt for even more sustenance. Use plain French-style yogurt to top fruit salad. Drizzle a bowl of it with honey and add a handful of almonds for a healthy and sweet treat.
What Does French-Style Yogurt Taste Like?
There's a mild tang to this thick yogurt, but mostly it's just slightly sweet and creamy. So creamy in fact, you may feel like you're eating ice cream instead. The sugar levels of French-style yogurt depend on what is in it. A plain yogurt won't go beyond the aforementioned description, but once you put pureed mango, chopped strawberry, or a dash of vanilla into the mix, it becomes a great vehicle for making those ingredients stand out in a dessert-like way.
French-Style Yogurt Recipes
To concoct French-style yogurt yourself, you make yogurt with the normal methods but let the mixture incubate in individual jars or containers. These recipes will help you get started and give you some ideas of what to do with it after creation:
Where to Buy French-Style Yogurt
The first commercial brand of French yogurt to hit the United States came about in 1981 under the name Yoplait. Today we see this yogurt all over the grocery aisle shelves, though it has evolved into something much different from what they eat in Paris. That's why Yoplait (which now is mainly owned by General Mills) launched Oui in 2017, the company's more authentic take on French-style yogurt that you can find right next to all the other big-name yogurts at most major grocery stores. You can also make it yourself or find a local person who is making French-style yogurt.
All yogurt should be refrigerated. With French-style yogurt, you don't have to keep a cover on it since it's so fatty, but it doesn't hurt to keep it protected so that it doesn't absorb the flavors in your refrigerator. Homemade yogurt can last weeks while sealed and up to two weeks after opening. Store-bought yogurt is good until the expiration date and maybe a few days after.
Nutrition and Benefits
One of the best things French-style yogurt has going for it comes in the form of live active cultures, those gut-fixing bacteria that can really help keep the stomach in good health. Yogurt also contains plenty of calcium and protein.
Though there seem to be a lot of yogurts on the market—Icelandic, Australian, Greek—French yogurt is not the exact same thing. It does prove pretty close though, but in simple terms, this style isn't strained, uses less than 10 ingredients, isn't fat-free, and has to be made in a small batches, often just cup-sized.