Yogurt is made by fermenting milk which has been heated and pasteurized. The fermentation of milk is done by using lactic bacteria starters which are known as 'cultures'. Two types of bacteria are used for fermenting milk to produce yogurt and they are lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus. These bacteria or 'cultures' convert the lactose in the milk to lactic acid which makes the milk viscous and thick. This is known as yogurt and it has a subtle tangy flavor.
Although cow's milk is generally used for making yogurt, more exotic varieties of yogurt are made with sheep's milk, goat's milk and even camel and yak's milk. When different varieties of milk are used for making yogurt, the texture and the flavor of the yogurt also varies. There are different types of yogurt available and the flavor and consistency of yogurt differs according to the fermentation technique used.
Different Types of Yogurt
Plain yogurt is regular yogurt that is made by fermenting pasteurized milk. It does not contain added sugar or flavoring to enhance its flavors. It has a silky and smooth consistency, and is not too thick or custard like. It has a natural tart flavor and it is used in the preparation of many dishes.
Fruit yogurt is simply plain yogurt in which one or many types of fruit have been incorporated. Generally fresh and pureed fruits are added to make such yogurt and it is one of the most popular yogurt among consumers. But the downside of such fruit flavored yogurt is that it contains high amounts of sugar and calories as compared to regular yogurt, and as such is not an ideal choice of yogurt for people who are watching their weight.
Swiss Style or Custard Yogurt
This type of yogurt has a custard like almost puddingy consistency. It is available in both plain and flavored form. To stabilize the consistency of Swiss style yogurt, a stabilizer like gelatin, pectin or agar is used in it. It is also more creamy than regular yogurt.
Frozen yogurt is a kind of soft ice cream that is consumed as an alternative to regular ice cream. Because of the freezing process, most of the live and beneficial bacteria in the yogurt is destroyed. Most manufacturers who make frozen yogurt, market it as low fat and low sugar. But you need to check the labels before you buy frozen yogurt as an alternative to ice cream. In most cases, frozen yogurt contains as much sugar and milk fat as regular ice cream.
European Style Yogurt
European style yogurt is characterized by its smooth and creamy texture. This type of yogurt is made by pouring warm cultured milk in a big vat which is then stirred periodically with a long ladle. This mixture is then poured into cups and consumed. Sometimes fruits and other flavorings are added into the vat of cultured milk to make flavored European style yogurt.
Greek yogurt is a very thick yogurt that is made by removing the whey from the yogurt by a straining process. It is a very smooth yogurt that has a thicker consistency than plain yogurt and is used in cooking many Mediterranean dishes. Because excess water or moisture is strained from this type of yogurt, Greek yogurt has higher amount of butterfat than plain yogurt. You might like to know about Greek yogurt vs regular yogurt.
Low-fat yogurt, which is a favorite among the calorie and health conscious people, is made from skimmed milk or reduced fat milk. Low fat yogurt can be both plain or flavored. It contains around 0.5-2% milk fat compared to 3-5% milk fat contained in regular yogurt.
Soy yogurt is a non-dairy yogurt that is made by fermenting soy milk which is obtained from soy beans. For vegans who do not have any dairy products, soy yogurt is an excellent alternative. Although soy milk does not contain lactose sugar, it contains other sugars such as stachyose and raffinose which breaks down during the fermentation process, producing yogurt.
Yogurt contains high levels of vitamins, calcium, iodine, and potassium, which are required for the proper functioning of the body. It also an excellent source of protein. Whichever kind of yogurt you choose, try to incorporate at least three to four servings of yogurt per week in your diet.