Yogurt is simply food made by fermenting milk using bacteria known as yogurt cultures. The fermentation turns lactose in the milk into lactic acid, which acts on milk protein to give yogurt its texture and characteristic tart flavor.
Cow’s milk is commonly used in yogurt production because of its availability. Other types of milk used include milk from water buffalo, goats, ewes, mares, camels, and yaks. Raw milk, pasteurized milk, or homogenized milk may be used and each gives different results.
The first traces of yogurt were between 10 000 and 5 000 BCE in the Neolithic period where herdsmen in the Middle East used animal gut to store and transport milk. The intestinal enzymes in the gut got in contact with the milk making it to curdle and sour, hence the first yogurt.
These changes observed later paved way for the preservation of dairy products for a relatively long period as it is today. Yogurt spread to Western Europe in the 16th century and was first sold in pharmacies as a treatment for severe diarrhea.
Later in the 20th century, we saw the commercialization of yogurt until today; yogurt is considered a healthy food and is part of many diets around the world
What is the nutritional value of yogurt?
100 g (3.5 oz) of yogurt contain;
- 406 calories
- 3.98 g of carbohydrates
- 4.0 g of sugar
- 5.0 g of fat
- 9.0 g of protein
- The minerals include; 100 mg of calcium, 135mg of phosphorous, 141 mg of potassium, 11 mg of magnesium, and 35 mg of sodium
- Vitamins such as B2, B12,
How to make yogurt at home
Making yogurt may not be hard as some people out there think. You don’t need special yogurt cultures or fancy incubating equipment. Once you learn how to make your own yogurt, you will never go back to a grocery store for yogurt.
Not only does it save you grocery money, but homemade yogurt puts you in control of what you eat. You be in charge of the ingredients to use and above all, choose quality but not quantity.
This helps you to overcome added sugars, artificial color, and flavor, sweeteners, and filters which are common with grocery-bought yogurts.
Follow the simple recipe below and learn how to make yogurt at home.
8 cups whole milk
1/2 cup of commercial yogurt with active yogurt cultures
Oven or saucepan with a lid
Small measuring cup
- Heat the milk in a Dutch oven to right below boiling, about 200°F. Stir the milk as it heats to make sure the bottom doesn’t scorch and the milk doesn’t boil over.
- Cool the milk until it is about 112°F to 115°F and stir the milk occasionally so that skin does not form
- Measure off a cup of warm milk into a bowl, add the yogurt and whisk until the yogurt is dissolved in the milk.
- Add the thinned yogurt to the warm milk to inoculate the milk with the yogurt culture.
- Place the whole pot in a Dutch oven to incubate at a fairly consistent temperature (around 110°F).
- Give the yogurt at least 4 hours or the whole night to set. Here, time may depend on the cultures used, the temperature of the yogurt, and the yogurt preferences. It becomes thicker and more tart if given more time.
- Once the yogurt has set to your preference, get it out of the oven. In case of watery whey, drain it off or whisk it back into the yogurt before transferring to containers.
- Transfer the yogurt to storage containers, cover, and refrigerate. It can last for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Is homemade yogurt healthy?
Although yogurt is considered a nutritious snack, many variables affect the quality of store-bought yogurt products.
First, poor-quality milk is used to produce most commercial yogurts. They use Holstein milk that has the lowest fat and protein content as compared to milk from Brown Swiss, Guernsey, and Jersey cows.
Store-bought yogurts contain artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners (including artificial sweeteners), and thickeners such as pectin. All these feed the disease-causing microbes. But good yogurt is only full-fat grass-fed raw milk and live probiotic cultures.
Third, it is very likely that store-bought yogurt is laced with GE corn and/or soy. Healthy yogurt should be organic and made from milk provided by grass-fed cows
Having said that, homemade yogurt gives you the freedom to reduce artificial ingredients, eliminate added sugars and filters, and above all use quality ingredients like real fruit, whole milk, and honey to increase nutrients. This makes homemade yogurt healthier than store-bought yogurt.
Can homemade yogurt be dangerous?
The real problem with homemade yogurt is hygiene. Since our families do not have a sterile environment, the process of making yogurt is liable to contamination by bacteria. This may also lead to the mutation of the lactic acid bacteria, leading to a change in flavor, taste, and even a decrease in fermentation performance.
Contamination leads to the development of harmful bacteria that in turn may cause diseases hence affecting our health.
Factory yogurt vs homemade which is better?
Just like we discussed above, homemade yogurt is much better than a factory or commercial yogurt. Apart from the satisfaction you get by making the product yourself, homemade yogurt is much cheaper to make and puts you at the center or in control of the ingredients to use.
You can choose to use the best quality, organic and grass-fed whole milk and even raw milk rather than milk from improperly fed and treated cows. Also, fermenting your yogurt long enough removes all the lactose, a type of sugar that is problematic.
Most factory or store-bought yogurts come with added sugar, artificial ingredients, and fillers. Many only contain a marginal amount of probiotics. Therefore grocery store yogurt may not benefit your health as much as you think.
Is yogurt good for weight loss?
The answer to this question is yes, yogurt can help weight loss due to the following aspects.
Yogurt is a good source of protein. Research shows that protein can improve your metabolism, hence burning more calories throughout the day. Protein also keeps you feeling full for a long. This promotes weight loss by limiting food intake.
Although calcium is mainly for teeth and bone health, research has shown that calcium can improve the thermogenesis process which further improves your metabolism. Therefore the calcium content in yogurt also helps weight loss in addition to promoting healthy bones and teeth.
The unpasteurized yogurts have good bacteria or probiotics such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. These help to improve your gut health. Proper digestion and a healthy gut are linked with weight loss.
Learn other weight loss-friendly foods here.
Other health benefits of yogurt
Yogurt has existed for many years and considered one of the healthy foods. It’s nutrient-dense and eating it regularly definitely boosts many aspects of your health.
The health benefits of yogurt include;
1. Bone health
Yogurt is a good source of calcium which is good for strong bones and teeth. Yogurt will strengthen and maintain your bone density. For people at risk of osteoporosis, a cup of yogurt daily is healthy for you.
2. Faster workout recovery
Protein and carbohydrate in yogurt help to repair muscles and give the body energy after a workout. Having a cup of yogurt 60 minutes after your workout releases amino acids that help repair muscles.
3. Controls blood pressure
Salt is the main cause of high blood pressure and other serious health complications such as kidney disease. Potassium present in yogurt helps to offset excess sodium and its side effects.
4. Boosts immunity
The good bacteria in yogurt build our immune system and help to lower the chances of contracting various illnesses.
5. Good for the digestive system
Probiotics in yogurt such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus, lessen the uncomfortable symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a common disorder that affects the colon
Yogurt is one of the healthiest foods to be included in your diet. However, store-bought yogurt contains added sugar, sweeteners, fillers, and artificial colors that are harmful to our health.
Making your own yogurt at home using the steps we have described above saves you from the dangers that come with commercial yogurts.
However, homemade yogurts require proper hygiene. You need a sterile environment since the process involves the use of bacteria. Contamination or development of harmful bacteria puts you at risk of diseases.
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