Cooking with Yogurt

Yogurt is an extremely versatile ingredient that imparts creaminess and tang to both sweet and savory dishes. Let’s explore the best ways to use it, how to make it and its various health benefits.

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Characterized by its tart flavor and creamy texture, yogurt is an ingredient that, when used correctly, can be a wonderful asset to the home cook.

WHAT IS YOGURT?

Yogurt (also spelled “yoghurt”) is essentially fermented milk—milk that's heated and then combined with two types of live bacteria. While bacteria might not sound appetizing, it’s the good kind – the kind that promotes gut health! While the most common type of milk used to make yogurt is cow’s milk, water buffalo, goats, camels and yaks are also used to produce yogurt. 

In the last decade, plant-based yogurt has become a huge industry. These yogurts are made using soy, rice or nut milks and are suitable for people with lactose intolerance or those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. 

Yogurt is characterized but its sour or tart flavor and creamy texture. Sweeteners, both natural and artificial can be used to offset its somewhat bitter taste. For example. Mixing yogurt with peanut butter makes a delicious sweet spread. 

Using yogurt in place of much heavier, higher fat ingredients – like sour cream and buttermilk – is a game changer!

A VERSATILE INGREDIENT

Yogurt makes a quick, easy breakfast food, either flavored or plain and sweetened with honey and berries. Just don’t stop there! Yogurt is great for so much more than breakfast. Using yogurt in place of much heavier, higher fat ingredients – like sour cream and buttermilk – is a game changer! Not only is it a great way to cut fat and calories, but it imparts a creaminess and tang to everything from baked goods to salad dressings and dips. One of the most popular dips in the world happens to be yogurt-based – tzatziki, of course! Beloved in Greek cuisine and beyond, the combination of cucumbers, fresh herbs, lemon juice and garlic blend perfectly with yogurt to make an unforgettable sauce for potatoes, pork, or simply pita bread. Another beloved yogurt-based condiment is raita, a popular Indian offering that works as a kind of spice extinguisher when served alongside fiery curries. 

One of the most popular dips in the world happens to be yogurt-based – tzatziki, of course!

MAKING YOUR OWN

Technically, the only equipment you need to make your own yogurt is a heavy pot with a lid, but this can be a challenging task since it is crucial that the temperature remains consistent throughout the process. Appliances like the Instant Pot make it easier, as they have a yogurt making function. An Instant Pot is a fail-proof way to make yogurt, since it acts as an incubator for the yogurt, keeping it at a constant warm temperature for several hours. The only other items you'll require are a digital thermometer, starter culture and dairy milk of your choice. If you like a thick ‘Greek’ style yogurt, then you will require cheesecloth as well. Then, you simply press a few buttons, check on it occasionally, and you’ve got yourself a delicious, versatile ingredient that can be used several recipes. The best part is that you can make up to a gallon of yogurt in an Instant Pot and it lasts for almost two weeks in the fridge. Just keep in mind that it will get thinner and tangier the longer you store it for.

AND IT'S HEALTHY!

Need more reasons to love yogurt? It happens to be packed with protein and vitamins, and is a wonderful immunity booster. Specifically, yogurt is rich in potassium and Vitamin B. Many studies have shown that yogurt is especially helpful for the kidneys and stomach, preventing ulcers from forming, for example. 

*Note This article is purely informational. Anyone who is thinking of altering their diet should consult a medical professional.