Yogurt is a popular food that you can find in every supermarket. However, with the increasing number of brands that produce and sell this product, it’s difficult to know whether the yogurt you buy is authentic or not!
This article will guide you through what yogurt is, how to recognize if the yogurt you buy is pure, and what substitutes you can find in the store.
Let’s dive in!
What is yogurt?
The best explanation to the question “What exactly is yogurt?” is “Fermented milk.” Some people associate the word “fermented” with something expired. But trust me, this is not the case for yogurt.
Two types of live probiotic lactic bacteria (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles) are used to help the milk to ferment fast and to change its consistency (from liquid to creamy) and its taste (from “milky” to sweet-sour).
Lactobacillus bulgaricus adds a sour taste to the yogurt, and Streptococcus thermophiles adds sweetness. So when you taste different kinds of yogurt, you will be able to tell which one of the two bacteria have higher content in the different yogurt products.
There are many different types of yogurts (a special part of this blog post is dedicated to this topic, so keep reading). They mainly differ in the type of milk, fat percentage, consistency, flavor.
But where does original yogurt come from?
Contrary to all speculations that yogurt originates from Greece, it`s home country is Bulgaria. Even the name of one of the fermenting bacteria (Lactobacillus bulgaricus) suggests that this is yogurt`s country of origin. So if you by any chance find “Bulgarian yogurt” in the supermarket, do not hesitate to try it! This is the real thing!
How to recognize high quality yogurt?
- When you open a new package of yogurt and scoop one spoon of the content out, the formed dimple should gradually fill up with water.
- The real yogurt expires 72 hours after you open it (you will sense strong smell).
- The real yogurt is more sour than sweet.
- Check the package. In the ingredients list, you should only see “Milk” and “Fermenting bacteria.” Nothing else.
There are many yogurt products on the market, which contain dry milk, antioxidants, added sugar, aroma, and others. But they may not be as high quality as we wish them to be, and may not give us the benefits that real yogurt provides us with (like supporting digestion and gut health).
*The fat percentage of the yogurt can vary, depending on the brand. The authentic yogurt can be with all kinds of fat percentage: 2% fat, 4% fat, and so on. However, in most of the yogurts which are with 0% fat, there are added sugars (sugars are used to thicken the consistency). The brands try to trick you that 0% means healthier, and instead: it is not really true, as at the end you eat excessive amounts of sugar.
Nowadays, the yogurt modifications and its alternatives are countless. Every brand tries to adapt its product to different customer groups, by adding new flavors, new types of milk, they change the percentage of fat content, and so on. If you find the original taste of yogurt to be boring, you have endless options to choose from! Here are some of them:
- Greek yogurt: it has a thicker consistency, as its water content has been drained. Because of that, it is very suitable for cooking, making smoothies, salad dressings, etc.
- Goat/sheep milk yogurt: those yogurts have a thicker consistency, because of their high-fat percentage. Also, they have a stronger taste and smell, and not everybody likes them. *However, I find the sheep yogurt breakfast super delicious, and at the end of this blog post, we have a recipe for you*
- Flavored yogurt: it usually contains sugar or sweetener. Often, fruit particles, aromas, and flavors are added. I do not buy such kinds of yogurts, but prefer to flavor my own yogurt at home. This way, I know that there are no artificial additives and preservatives.
If you are allergic to lactose, follow a vegan diet, or simply don`t like to eat regular yogurt, the following dairy-free yogurt alternatives are for you:
- Soy yogurt: instead of regular milk, soy milk is used. If no artificial thickeners are added, the consistency is more creamy-to-liquid. It has a slight taste, which is not unpleasant. You can find many flavored soy yogurt modifications on the market.
- Almond yogurt: this one is very rich in fiber, as it is produced with almond milk. The consistency is similar to the regular yogurt, and again, many flavored options are available.
- Coconut yogurt: coconut milk is used instead of regular milk. It has thicker texture (similar to heavy cream) and slight coconut taste. It is usually difficult to find coconut yogurt without added sugars, as it is often being sweetened to make the taste even better.
- Kefir: this is probably the most healthy yogurt alternative. It is not dairy-free, but it is suitable for lactose intolerant people, as it does not contain any lactic acid. To understand why check our blog post dedicated to Kefir.