Last modified: 21 November 2019
Greek yogurt is a very interesting product that showed up recently in our grocery stores. Even fat-free, it remains smooth, in contrast to other types of yogurt. So, we don’t need gelatin or thickening agents to obtain this consistency. Why? The Greek process is responsible for this nice texture and its high protein content.
The Greek method!
The traditional technique is to add a culture of active bacteria to the milk and then to let it drain until it remains no liquid. This liquid, called the whey, is eliminated and only the solid part is preserved. This process requires three times more milk but produces twice as much protein in yogurt. Its texture is thicker without more fat. Even at 0%, it keeps this consistency.
Different types of milk for different yogurts
It should not be confused with the real Greek yogurt made traditionally with sheep’s milk. The milk composition used will determine the type of Greek yogurt. Cow’s milk will give a Greek yogurt more rich in solid components and its texture will be creamier. The type of cow’s milk (whole, partly skimmed or skimmed) will give a more or less high-fat product. So skim milk produces a yogurt with 0% fat. For some brands of yogurt, cream is added to obtain a higher fat percentage.
More or less calcium according to the method
The calcium percentage will differ from one brand to the other. Another method exists; it’s called ultrafiltration. In this method, milk is forced through membranes that retain the protein and the calcium when most of the water is eliminated before the yogourt process start. The whey containing some of the calcium is removed in the traditional method.
Bacterial cultures are responsible for transforming milk into yogurt. How? The process of transformation is called lactic fermentation. Primary bacteria, Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, use the lactose (milk sugar) to produce lactic acid, which acidifies the milk culture. This acidification alters the structure of the milk proteins that coagulate. A change in texture is visible and a solid product appears. This fermentation releases also other products that contribute to the characteristic flavour of the yogurt. Other types of bacteria can give a lactic fermentation. However, US law requires all yogurts to contain these two primary bacteria (though others may be added as probiotic cultures), There is, however, a standard in Quebec, and because so much yogurt is made in that province this standard has become the de facto Canadian standard. In a regulation under the Quebec Food Products Act, yogurt must have the same bacteria set out in the National Dairy Code. France and some European countries require that only 2 strains of bacteria named above can be used.
Not all the same!
According to the magazine “Protégez-vous” (September 2012), only 45% of the tested products meet the criteria. The best: IOGO-Greko 2%. In this case, the process used is ultrafiltration. The composition of the yogurt should be considered carefully.when we buy it. It should contain only 2 or 3 ingredients: milk, bacterial cultures and sometimes cream.
According to Canada’s Food Guide, a portion of yogurt should be 175 g or ¾ cup. A portion must not contain more than 12 g of sugar. This value corresponds to the lactose or natural sugar in milk for a nature product. For those containing fruit, we should add fructose (natural fruit sugar). The exceedance of this value indicates that the yogurt contains added sugar. However, the list of ingredients should list the presence of this type of sugar. Saturated fat must not exceed 3 g and the quantity of calcium must be at least 230-250 mg.
An excellent health choice
In conclusion, Greek yogurt is an excellent health choice. If you want to reduce the fat content in your dips, spreads, or cakes, you can substitute sour cream or cream cheese spread in your recipes by Greek yogurt. If you want to eat a sweeter yogurt, you can always choose a nature one and add honey or fruits.