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Yogourt, Yoghurt, Yogurt... Producing Fermented Milk

“Everything you draw is influenced. It’s like yogurt. You need a little bit to start the next batch.” ~ Sarnath Banerjee

Yogurt Parfait

Making high-protein food that tastes good and promotes gut health takes experience working with scale, knowledge of process, and food science in the dairy industry.  When manufacturing yogurt, companies begin with raw milk containing 4-5% milk fat. Depending on the scale, the farmer sells off their raw milk to the contracted producer, and they, in turn, pump the milk into the onsite silo storage tank. Eliminating air, sizing pumps and impellers for optimal agitation, and keeping the milk fresh for production.  

Most milk processing plants have the capability to produce butter, cream, milk, ice cream, cream cheese, milk powder, Kiefer, and yogurt.  Most plants are able to handle 25,000 gallons per day.  When milk arrives at the plant, past storage, it goes through a process where fat content is reduced - using a solids separator. Making yogurt begins with raw and fermented milk products, and the milk used should be antibiotic-free and good quality.


The Food Science Of Making Yogurt  

Heating ingredients to 195 degrees Fahrenheit, until they reach pasteurization, is part of the process flow. Then, adding sweeteners, proteins, and fruit by-products is important when considering raw yogurt-making materials. The processed milk is then pumped off for fat and solids content. The excess water and liquids evaporate from the tank to increase solids by adding concentrated milk of milk powder, which is tank-fermented until it becomes yogurt.

Taste and aromatics are important, and sweet lactose is balanced with salty flavors. When food scientists create recipes, they consider the type of milk product and livestock, the desired fat content, stabilizers, and emulsifiers. Yogurt culture preparation is a hygienic process, avoiding contamination and unwanted bacteria. They work with the plant manager to determine heat treatment and temperatures, and the batch processing is aligned to the strains of the starter used to ferment the by-product. They also work to create a homogenization plan, both heating and cooling the product. 


Pasteurization, Homogenization, & Fermentation

Using pasteurization when making yogurt requires heating milk to a high temperature, holding it there for a set amount of time, and allowing fat breakdown. Homogenizing a milk product is performed to break down solids using a viscous system, creating a balance with suspended solids - essentially allowing for uniformity in a product. High-pressure homogenizers are processed with intense force, reducing particle size - a typical system application in food production. 

Once heated and homogenized, the yogurt product is cooled to around 110 Degrees Fahrenheit to begin fermentation.  Culture is added, the cultures begin to work, and lactic acid is produced.  Lactic acid is used to determine when the yogurt is ready for consumption.

Raw Milk Tank

The Styles Of Yogurt

  • Set Yogurt - milk product fermented in a pot, giving it a firmer texture and quick fermentation time.

  • Stirred Yogurt - is run in large batch format - by a mixer - collated and stirred to achieve a creamy texture. 

  • Drinking Yogurt - is a broken-down form of yogurt, more fluid - made for drinking. 

  • Frozen Yogurt - is a dessert blend made with cultures in non-dairy and dairy form. 

  • Concentrated Yogurt - separating whey from fresh yogurt, creating a soft creamy product. 

  • Quarg or Quark - can be confused as soft ripened cheese, but it is a high-solids yogurt. 

  • Icelandic Skyr - is a vitamin-enriched yogurt, thick in consistency - it takes 4 cups of milk to make 1 cup of the yogurt.  

  • Whey-less yogurt - is an extra thick mixture, with more than 90% of the whey removed. 

  • Flavored yogurt - is a cultured yogurt infused with sugars, vanilla, and others. 

  • Fruited yogurt - in addition to flavoring, fruit nectar, and fruit bits are added to the yogurt mixture. 

  • Vegetable yogurts - are made from plant-based materials such as soy, almonds, rice, and others. 


Factors That Alter The Quality Of Yogurt

All raw milk products can be different; most dairy cooperatives have resources to measure hygiene and phage at the plant. Starter culture organisms can change the quality and quantity of fat.  For example, a full-fat yogurt doesn’t need the emulsifiers and support added to create that creamy texture if non-fat milk is used. Finally, the higher the dry content or matter in the yogurt, the more firm the yogurt becomes. 


Specialty Yogurt Companies  

  1. Strays Family Creamery 

  2. Clover Sonoma 

  3. Noosa 

  4. Siggi’s 

  5. Hawthorne ValleySeven Stars

  6. Radiance DairyButterworks

  7. SpringWood

  8. Berle Farm 

  9. Alexandre Family Farm 

  10. Kalona Super Natural 

  11. Stonyfield Farm 

  12. White Mountain 

  13. Maple Hill

  14. Trimona

  15. Nancy’s

  16. Green Valley Creamery

  17. Norr

  18. Bellwether Farms 

  19. Painterland Sisters 

  20. Liberte

  21. Wallaby

  22. Lifeway

Drinkable Yoghurt

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