Sunday, 19 October 2008

What's in yogurt?

Have I already talked about my love for yogurts? I am not too sure.

One of the great things about France are supermarkets. I know it may sound strange and doesn't really match my love for local, small shops but supermarkets are great for the yogurt lovers. You know how much French people like their food and how food is almost a "religion" for us. I remember when I was young, one of the highlights of my week was to go to the supermarket with my mum to do the weekly courses (shopping). It always bored her (it still does) but for me it was a great moment especially since I didn't have to pay for anything!

Now when I go back to a French supermarket I have to make my way to their yogurt shelves. Absolutely amazing! For the yogurt lovers, this is heaven! So many choices, types and brands to choose from... mousses, thick, creamy, low fat, flan, fruity, chocolate.......; this page wouldn't fit all of them.

One of the reasons why I love yogurts is simple: they are good for you.
First, they are a great source of Calcium and therefore essential to both children and adults, especially those with Osteoporosis problems. Then, they can be eaten by most lactose-intolerant people. This is because the fermentation process and the cultures used to set the milk into yogurt make the yogurt more digestible than milk.

Natural plain yogurts often have a dominant taste; you know, the one that gives you a strange face, "une grimace" as we would say in French. Without going into to much detail (Wikipedia will explain it better than me), the slight sour taste comes from the fermentation process. Without this step, milk on its own cannot make yogurt. What it needs is the addition of bacteria (cultures) which are usually a minimum of 2 (Streptococcus salivarius and Lactobacillus delbrueckii) (I know they look out if this world so don't bother remembering them! ) Once these funny named cultures are added, the milk is left to ferment under a constant temperature for about 10 hours. During this time the bacteria will release lactic acid which will cause the milk to set and become yogurt. By transforming lactose into lactic acid, the bacteria make yogurt more digestible to those who are lactose-intolerant.

In conclusion, don't be scared of eating yogurt. If you like them plain but you're not a big fan of its sour taste, mix it with jam or honey. If you really love them but are easily bored with what is on the British market, you've got 2 choices:
1. Go to a French supermarket, fill a big refrigerated van with yogurts and bring everything home.
2. Be patient while I experiment and post new yogurt recipes on my blog. Once posted you can have a go at making them.

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