Pronunciation: [YOH-gert]

A dairy product that's the result of milk that has fermented and coagulated because it's been invaded by friendly bacteria. This can be accomplished naturally by keeping the milk at about 110°F for several hours. The end result is a creamy-textured yogurt with an astringent, slightly tart taste. Yogurt-making is thought to have been originated by nomadic Balkan tribes thousands of years ago, probably first by accident and then as a means of preserving milk. Today, yogurt is made commercially in carefully controlled environments and the requisite bacteria (usually Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus) are added to the milk. Though yogurt can be made from the milk of many animals, cow's milk is the most commonly used. There are a variety of commercial yogurts now produced. Plain yogurt is made from whole milk, lowfat or nonfat milk without additional flavoring ingredients. Flavored yogurt has sugar and either artificial flavorings or natural fruit (or both) added. Some flavored yogurts contain gelatin or stabilizers for a thicker texture. Fruit-flavored yogurts can either have the fruit on the bottom (to be mixed in by the consumer) or be already stirred — in which case they're referred to as Swiss-style. Frozen yogurt — which resembles soft-serve ice cream in texture — has become very popular and competes head-to-head in some markets with ice cream. The health benefits of yogurt have long been touted. It is certainly a good source of B vitamins, protein and calcium and is much more digestible than fresh milk. It's also said to keep the intestinal system populated with good bacteria and therefore in healthy condition. These benefits, however, are thought to be lost when yogurt is frozen, which destroys most of the beneficial bacteria.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Win Chobani Greek Yogurt!

We’re giving away five Chobani (6 oz.) coupons to 25 lucky, randomly-selected commenters.

Greek Yogurt Contenders

Here are the major players that may take on Greek yogurt as the next big thing in the dairy aisle.

How to Make Yogurt

How to Make Yogurt: A Step-by-Step Guide

Frozen Yogurt: Is it Healthy?

Making healthy choices isn’t always easy. In this new series we’re diving into some seemingly better-for-you foods to explore – is it really healthy? To fire things up for the summer - is cool and creamy frozen yogurt a healthy pick?

Taste Test: Frozen Yogurt

We've been searching for a lighter alternative to ice cream for the hot summer days. For this taste test, we tried five popular brands. I definitely found some faves that I'm bringing home to the family.

Katie's Healthy Bites: Loving Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt's texture tastes like a decadent dessert, but no need to stress, this dairy favorite is actually healthy for you.

16 More Reasons to Heart Greek Yogurt

Yes, Greek yogurt makes an awesome breakfast, a fabulous snack and a protein-packed dessert. But this yogurt is capable of so much more!

3 Savory Spins on Greek Yogurt

Take your yogurt to the next level of savory goodness.

How to Choose a Healthy Yogurt

These days, you can’t miss the yogurt aisle. Markets now have 2, 3 or more cases designated to this creamy delight. But with so many choices, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and confused on which is healthiest.

Taste Test: Nonfat Greek Yogurt

When we did our vanilla yogurt taste test a few weeks back, everyone asked about Greek yogurt. We shopped for the brands our Facebook fans asked for – find out how they stacked up.