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Yogurt (UK: /ˈjɒɡərt/; US: /ˈjoʊɡərt/, from Turkish: yoğurt), also spelled yoghurt, yogourt or yoghourt, is a food produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. The bacteria used to make yogurt are known as yogurt cultures. Fermentation of sugars in the milk by these bacteria produces lactic acid, which acts on milk protein to give yogurt its texture and characteristic tart flavor. Cow's milk is commonly available worldwide and, as such, is the milk most commonly used to make yogurt. Milk from water buffalo, goats, ewes, mares, camels, yaks and plant milks are also used to produce yogurt. The milk used may be homogenized or not. It may be pasteurized or raw. Each type of milk produces substantially different results.
Yogurt is produced using a culture of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria. In addition, other lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are sometimes added during or after culturing yogurt. Some countries require yogurt to contain a specific amount of colony-forming units (CFU) of bacteria; in China, for example, the requirement for the number of lactobacillus bacteria is at least 1 million CFU per milliliter.
To produce yogurt, milk is first heated, usually to about 85 °C (185 °F), to denature the milk proteins so that they do not form curds. After heating, the milk is allowed to cool to about 45 °C (113 °F). The bacterial culture is mixed in, and that temperature of 45 °C is maintained for 4 to 12 hours to allow fermentation to occur.
In 2017, the average American ate 13.7 pounds of yogurt and that figure has been declining since 2014.
Sale of yogurt was down 3.4 percent over the 12 months ending in February 2019. The decline of Greek-style yogurt has allowed Icelandic style yogurt to gain a foothold in the United States with sales of the Icelandic style yogurt increasing 24 percent in 2018 to $173 million.
Yogurt (plain yogurt from whole milk) is 81% water, 9% protein, 5% fat, and 4% carbohydrates, including 4% sugars (table). A 100-gram amount provides 406 kilojoules (97 kcal) of dietary energy. As a proportion of the Daily Value (DV), a serving of yogurt is a rich source of vitamin B12 (31% DV) and riboflavin (23% DV), with moderate content of protein, phosphorus, and selenium (14 to 19% DV; table).
To offset its natural sourness, yogurt is also sold sweetened, sweetened and flavored or in containers with fruit or fruit jam on the bottom. The two styles of yogurt commonly found in the grocery store are set-style yogurt and Swiss-style yogurt. Set-style yogurt is poured into individual containers to set, while Swiss-style yogurt is stirred prior to packaging. Either may have fruit added to increase sweetness.
Lassi is a common Indian beverage made from stirred liquified yogurt that is either salted or sweetened with sugar commonly, less commonly honey and combined with fruit pulp to create flavored lassi. Consistency can vary widely, with urban and commercial lassis having uniform texture through being processed, whereas rural and rustic lassi has discernible curds or fruit pulp.
Large amounts of sugar – or other sweeteners for low-energy yogurts – are often used in commercial yogurt. Some yogurts contain added modified starch, pectin (found naturally in fruit) or gelatin to create thickness and creaminess. This type of yogurt may be marketed under the name Swiss-style, although it is unrelated to conventional Swiss yogurt. Some yogurts, often called "cream line", are made with whole milk which has not been homogenized so the cream rises to the top. In many countries, sweetened, flavored yogurt is common, typically sold in single-serving plastic cups. Common flavors may include vanilla, honey, and toffee, and various fruits. In the early 21st century, yogurt flavors inspired by desserts, such as chocolate or cheesecake, became common. There is concern about the health effects of sweetened yogurt due to its high sugar content, although research indicates that use of sugar in yogurt manufacturing has decreased since 2016 in response to WHO and government initiatives to combat obesity.
Yogurt is made by heating milk to a temperature that denaturates its proteins (scalding), essential for making yogurt, cooling it to a temperature that will not kill the live microorganisms that turn the milk into yogurt, inoculating certain bacteria (starter culture), usually Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, into the milk, and finally keeping it warm for several hours. The milk may be held at 85 °C (185 °F) for a few minutes, or boiled (giving a somewhat different result). It must be cooled to 50 °C (122 °F) or somewhat less, typically 40–46 °C (104–115 °F). Starter culture must then be mixed in well, and the mixture must be kept undisturbed and warm for some time, anywhere between 5 and 12 hours. Longer fermentation times produces a more acidic yogurt. The starter culture may be a small amount of live (not sterilized) existing yogurt or commercially available dried starter culture.
Milk with a higher concentration of solids than normal milk may be used; the higher solids content produces a firmer yogurt. Solids can be increased by adding dried milk. The yogurt-making process provides two significant barriers to pathogen growth, heat and acidity (low pH). Both are necessary to ensure a safe product. Acidity alone has been questioned by recent outbreaks of food poisoning by E. coli O157:H7 that is acid-tolerant. E. coli O157:H7 is easily destroyed by pasteurization (heating); the initial heating of the milk kills pathogens as well as denaturing proteins. The microorganisms that turn milk into yogurt can tolerate higher temperatures than most pathogens, so that a suitable temperature not only encourages the formation of yogurt, but inhibits pathogenic microorganisms. Once the yogurt has formed it can, if desired, be strained to reduce the whey content and thicken it.
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