How To: Make and Use Yogurt

yogurt homemadeOn Saturday, April 25th, the Monadnock Food Co-op managed to be at two places at once for two different events! There was the amazing Monadnock Earth Day Festival next to the downtown store, and the first ever How To Festival held at the Keene Senior Center and Keene Public Library. This event was open to the public and focused on workshops to learn new crafts and skills. The Monadnock Food Co-op hosted a How to Make and Use Yogurt workshop at the Senior Center, lead by Registered Dietitian, Erica Frank.

Erica focused on making:

Found in numerous cultures around the world with myriad names, yogurt is made in the same basic manner no matter where you find it. Making yogurt is very simple: heat up some milk, let the milk cool down, add a culture to the milk, and let the milk mixture sit to allow the cultures to ferment the milk, producing a thick, tart product.

Long touted for its health benefits, yogurt provides beneficial vitamins and minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium, which are all important in bone health. Another compound found in yogurt results from the fermenting, or culturing process, which produces beneficial bacteria called probiotics.

Probiotics are naturally present in everyone’s digestive system and are necessary for good gut health. Yogurt has been shown to improve the gut health of those who have had compromised guts-such as in cases of antibiotic use that are known to not only kill off bad bacteria, but the good ones too. Yogurt helps re-establish the presence of good bacteria and can decrease the common occurrence of diarrhea that can come with antibiotic use.   Other benefits yogurt is believed to have include:

  • Helping to strengthen the immune system through good gut health
  • Preventing osteoporosis
  • Lowering blood pressure: Studies have shown that a diet that inlcudes 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy results in lowered blood pressure, possibly due to the potassium, magnesium, and calcium minerals.

Another benefit of yogurt is that people who can not tolerate most dairy products, due to issues digesting lactose (the sugar naturally found in milk), can usually tolerate yogurt. This is because the bacteria produced in the fermentation process naturally digest lactose and therefore help our guts digest the sugar that causes discomfort to so many.

Tips for buying yogurt:

  • Make sure the container states that there are live and active cultures in order to get the health benefits of the bacteria.
  • Look for yogurt made with added Vitamin D, as this is an important vitamin that is not found in many foods. It is commonly added to milk and other dairy products to increase the support to bone health provided by calcium and magnesium.
  • Avoid yogurt with a lot of added sugar. Yogurt will always contain natural sugar from lactose, but manufacturers often add a lot of sugar to increase flavor, especially in non-fat yogurts, since the fat that would usually provide flavor has been removed.

Cheers to Good Food!

McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking, the Science and Lore of the Kitchen. 2004.