Yoghurt & yogurt

Yogurt is one of the most popular fermented milk products worldwide and has gained widespread consumer acceptance as a healthy food. It provides an array of nutrients in significant amounts, in relation to its energy and fat content.

Yoghurt is the preferred spelling in the main varieties of English from outside North America. Yogurt is preferred in American and Canadian English.

Yogurt is a fermented milk product that contains the characteristic bacterial cultures Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. All yogurt must contain at least 8.25% solids not fat. Full fat yogurt must contain not less than 3.25% milk fat, low-fat yogurt not more than 2% milk fat, and nonfat yogurt less than 0.5% milk.

The two styles of yogurt commonly found in the grocery store are set type yogurt and Swiss style yogurt. Set type yogurt is when the yogurt is packaged with the fruit on the bottom of the cup and the yogurt on top. Swiss style yogurt is when the fruit is blended into the yogurt prior to packaging.

The main ingredient in yogurt is milk. The type of milk used depends on the type of yogurt – whole milk for full fat yogurt, low-fat milk for low-fat yogurt, and skim milk for nonfat yogurt. Other dairy ingredients are allowed in yogurt to adjust the composition, such as cream to adjust the fat content, and nonfat dry milk to adjust the solids content. The solids content of yogurt is often adjusted above the 8.25% minimum to provide a better body and texture to the finished yogurt.

Stabilizers may also be used in yogurt to improve the body and texture by increasing firmness, preventing separation of the whey (syneresis), and helping to keep the fruit uniformly mixed in the yogurt. Stabilizers used in yogurt are alginates (carageenan), gelatins, gums (locust bean, guar), pectins, and starch.

Sweeteners, flavors and fruit preparations are used in yogurt to provide variety to the consumer. A list of permissible sweeteners for yogurt is found in the CFR.

Bacterial Cultures

The main (starter) cultures in yogurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. The function of the starter cultures is to ferment lactose (milk sugar) to produce lactic acid. The increase in lactic acid decreases pH and causes the milk to clot, or form the soft gel that is characteristic of yogurt. The fermentation of lactose also produces the flavor compounds that are characteristic of yogurt. Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are the only 2 cultures required by law (CFR) to be present in yogurt.

Other bacterial cultures, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus subsp. casei, and Bifido-bacteria may be added to yogurt as probiotic cultures. Probiotic cultures benefit human health by improving lactose digestion, gastrointestinal function, and stimulating the immune system.