Monday, March 26, 2012

Yogurt Part 1: The Yogurty-Like Substance

It all started as a 2-Euro culinary experiment.  I'm fascinated by the idea of creating things from scratch that we normally wouldn't imagine.  Bread, for example, is a staple that most people wouldn't make at home.  Yogurt is another one.

I know I said in my last post that I generally avoid dairy, there is one extremely notable exception.  Yogurt.  I.  Love.  Yogurt.  It is super super delicious, nutritious, and has lots of simple and fancy applications.  Plain with muesli, fruit, honey, or jam.  Mixed into baked goods as a substitute for sour cream.  Served as a substitute for sour cream on potatoes, chilli, or in dip.  You get the point -yogurt is a wonder-food.

But it's a little weird in Germany...

 Given my love of yogurt, you can imagine my joy at discovering how affordable German yogurt is.  You can buy a large 1-serving container for 35 cents!  A week's worth from a cheaper store will set you back less than 3 Euros.  You can get Activia and some very flavored yogurts that are very similar to the yogurt stateside, but the vast majority is distinctly German.  Most yogurts here have a tangy sour-creamy taste very different from yogurt in the US.  I prefer whole-milk yogurt (like Fage in the US) which is a little more expensive.  I realized that the cost of making my own whole-milk, unhomogenized, organic yogurt would be pretty cheap (less than 2 Euros a week).  So I went to the store, bought old-fashioned milk in a brown bottle, and a container of organic plain yogurt (the REWE one on the right).

But it didn't say anything about live, active cultures.  Which, uh, you kinda need to make yogurt.  Since NONE of the yogurts said anything about live, active cultures, I just assumed that everyone knew about them and there was no reason to put it on the package.  I googled.  And discovered the truth.

The offending yogurt (and all other yogurts with the designation "mild," which make up almost all of the yogurts on the market) is not yogurt.  It's a yogurty-like product without any of the cultures that make real yogurt so healthy.  Instead, it's made with gelatin and other substances.  "Mild" is required to be present on the container so as not to mislead people into thinking it's real yogurt.  The same way that Kraft slices are "cheese-food" and not cheese.  So off to the natural food store I went, assuming that they would carry it.  Sorta.  There was ONE container in that whole store that said "live, active cultures."  All the others were "mild" or "goat's milk."  It's the one on the left with the ABCs. 

So my 2-Euro experiment turned into a 4-Euro experiment, but after all this, I think making my own just might be better AND cheaper.  Stay tuned for part II.

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