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Mar 1, 2009 05:51 AM

Gelatin in yogurt

why oh why do so many yogurts have this ? particularly the lower fat varieties. I get that it's for texture or to hold it together, but isn't there better alternatives ? Lately i've seen former favorites now having this show on their ingredient list, which means their brand is now off my list. Oddly it was the cheapest variety yesterday that managed to find gelatin-free. Happily it's not too bad. I'm also sticking with yogurt drinks of late.

I love the real deal when it comes to yogurt, but sometimes especially if i'm trying to shed a few pounds, i like the lower fat / sugar varieties.

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  1. i buy astro balkan-style for those light days
    liberté méditerranée for heavy days

    both are gelatine-free and lovely

    5 Replies
    1. re: dumpycactus

      liberte is the best...I could eat the lemon variety til it came out my ears.
      i'm not sure if i've ever seen the astro balkan style, but i'm almost certain I checked the astro and it had gelatin.

        1. re: im_nomad

          I missed this post before, but you've answered your own question right here.

          Since you are in Canada, you can get Liberté Méditerranée. You will not find better yogurt than this. Just strain it to make it thicker - let it drip through cloth or a coffee filter - there's no actual work to do. Leave it out of the fridge for a day to make it tangier if you like. It really is that easy.

          For lower fat, just use a lower fat version of Liberté - it comes in many BF levels from 10% down to zero. You can also use Western brand (same company as Liberté), which I like slightly better in the 3.2% - 0% BF range.

          If the NoName yogurt is actually gelatin free, it might even be the Western product. (Western makes Loblaw's double cream.) Just compare the kosher certifications on the carton. On Western products, this is a circle with "C.O.R. 89" written inside. If NoName has identical ingredients, the same nutritional profile, and the C.O.R. 89 stamp, it is Western yogurt. I'm going to check this out myself.

          1. re: embee

            no name has cornstarch though...

        2. re: dumpycactus

          I highly recommend the astro balkan-style yoghurt as well, it's nice and thick and tangy and should be gelatin free unless they changed it recently. Also, the western and liberte yoghurts are also very good.

        3. gelatin gives the yogurt a more pudding-like or custardy texture. that's why so many brands aren't kosher.

          1. Real yogurt does not need gelatin, or any other additive. It's used to compensate for missing textural qualities in a product due to inferior ingredients and/or excessive processing. Even lowfat yogurts can be made without additives if the producer cares about product quality.

            Not being an expert on yogurt manufacture, I think UHT whipping cream may present a reasonable analogy. UHT "whipping" cream doesn't whip. The added chemicals make it possible to whip the stuff anyway.

            9 Replies
            1. re: embee

              Have you ever made your own yogurt? How thick was it? How stable?

              1. re: paulj

                I have made my own yogurt. However, I've always used commercial yogurt to start it - most often Liberte or Western (Canadian brands). Thickness and stability have varied, but it generally gets thicker and tangier with time and can always be thickened further by draining it. UHT dairy products don't work well.

                If you can buy good yogurt, in a style you like, where you live, this is only worth doing for fun.

                1. re: paulj

                  There are a lot of threads dealing with homemade yogurt. I make about four liters every 10 days or so. Because I use whole milk and under-diluted whole powdered milk and because i let the yogurt go on for about 12 hours, I get very thick yogurt. Thicker than anything you can buy. In my experience, it does not matter much which yogurt you start with so long as it is real, plain yogurt with nothing added.

                2. re: embee

                  I have to disagree with your statement about UHT cream. I have UHT cream from Ireland that is 38% fat, nothing added, and whips just fine. I have 25% UHT cream from India, nothing added, that does not whip because the fat is too low, but when I add melted butter, it whips up just fine. Again, neither of these list any thing besides cream on the ingredients.

                  If by "chemicals" you mean the various thickeners and stabilizers that are added to the ultra-pastuerized cream in the grocery store, ice creams, and yogurts, I think you are painting an inaccurate picture. Guar gum, carageenan, agar agar, pectin and the like are all plant based, natural products. Yes they have been processed and it is fair to question the necessity, but calling them chemicals suggests that they are made in a laboratory and are not derived from anything that exists in nature. Are they really necessary? Probably not, they are just stabilizers. Are they harmful or artificial? No.

                  It is reasonable that vegetarians or the kosher would not want gelatin in their yogurt. Surely there are kosher brands, or brands with non-pork skin derived thickeners like pectin or vegetable gums, or with no additional thickeners at all.

                  1. re: babette feasts

                    Spot on, thank you, well said! Please keep all of us informed as to your future - stay in Bhutan or return to who knows where?

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      My pleasure.

                      As for me, 119 more days on my contract then I have to either 1) find a job somewhere else in the world or 2) convince myself to stay here some months more until I find that next job. Both are looking equally difficult these days. Does Colombia need pastry chefs? I'd love to work with chocolate at the source.

                      1. re: babette feasts

                        Friends of mine have the best coffee place here - fair trade specialty organics, super high quality, roasted on the premises. They serve some food and better pastries ... let me ask.

                    2. re: babette feasts

                      I don't think we really disagree. Perhaps I should have said "additives", since everything we eat comprises "chemicals".

                      I didn't say anywhere that these additives are harmful. Perhaps you are thinking of someone else's post. Yes, the items you list are of natural origin and are not known to be harmful. They certainly aren't derived from petrochemicals. Some are processed further in labs; some aren't.

                      (I've seen lists of texturizing agents used in "molecular gastronomy". Some may have started life as seaweeds, but the end products have spent plenty of processing time in a lab. While derived from natural sources, they certainly don't end up as something I think of as "natural". An analogy might be aspirin tablets vs. willow bark tea.)

                      I certainly can't dispute your experience with UHT processed liquid dairy products. I can only relate, as you do, personal experience. Mine is different from yours. When it comes to whipping cream, additive free UHT cream (not sold any more in Canada as far as I know) either didn't whip at all or took forever to whip badly. I believe it was 35%.

                      Today I can buy, at retail, just one brand of 35% cream that is not UHT processed and has no additives.

                      There are many brands of UHT whipping cream in the stores, all of which have different additive formulas, all of which whip, and all of which taste different. Given our milk marketing system, different brands may very well be derived from common sources of bulk milk.

                      My experience has been that the non UHT brand whips faster and higher. There is no question that, to my palate (blind tasting) it tastes better. It also spoils within a few days of its "best before" date.

                      One UHT brand tastes better than the others (at least to me) and also spoils much faster than the others. I don't know whether these characteristics are connected.

                      Many of the UHT whipping creams have a best before date months after they were processed. Some keep for weeks after opening and, if unopened, for many months beyond their best before date.

                      I did NOT declare these to be bad. While I prefer the less processed brand, I tend to buy it mainly when I will immediately use it up.

                      I also never said that stabilizing agents are bad. Some of the best premium ice creams contain stabilizing agents.

                      I've also run into ice creams where the "milk ingredients" have either melted or sublimated, leaving a solid gummy matrix. Yuk.

                      Breyer's recently changed their "all natural" vanilla ice cream formula. The original version, sans additives was thin, aerated (100% overrun), and sometimes icy, but had a pure vanilla taste. The new version is creamy, tastes richer - and seems less aerated - than it really is, and doesn't develop ice crystals. It is also slightly gummy and no longer tastes of pure vanilla. Some may prefer this version, but I don't buy it any more.

                      Which brings me to the specific topic of this thread. My emphasis was that, at least in Canada, gelatin free yogurts and other cultured milk products are widely available. Most happen to be kosher, though that's a different issue. (I only mentioned this in the context of using kosher certifications to ID the maker of a no name product.)

                      Unlike the situation with ice creams, the additive free versions universally taste better. Perhaps this is because, with these products, the additives are used to compensate (not wholly successfully) for elements that aren't there.

                      In any event, an interesting post. Just different experiences along the way.

                      1. re: embee

                        "UHT "whipping" cream doesn't whip. The added chemicals make it possible to whip the stuff anyway."

                        I think we need to be careful about blanket statements and word choice.

                        If in your experience UHT cream does sometimes whip, why say it doesn't? Why not say it has whipped poorly for you? OK, so that takes a little longer and doesn't seem necessary and it is easy to believe that each of us has an experience representative of a larger truth. Black-and-white statements irk me because they are rarely100% true, that's all. 35% fat is the low end of the spectrum of whipability, so poor whipping with 35% UHT cream may have had more to do with the fat than the pasteurization.

                        I think for most people, when talking about food, speaking of added 'chemicals' conjures an inherently negative connotation. When you think of chemical food additives, do you think pesticides, artificial colors, malamine contamination, or do you think fruit extracts, natural flavors and stabilizers? Sure, everything is chemistry and everything does come from nature at some point, but in common usage chemicals are generally considered man-made and unhealthy. You did not say those additives were bad, my argument was with calling them 'chemicals' and all of the negative connotations that often go along with the word, which I don't think apply to natural additives.

                  2. Fage 0% - all the way! Slightly sour and sweet but still rich, it's perfect on its own, with fruits, or as a replacement for sour cream. There's a whole thread on the praises of this essential refrigerator item.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: alwayscooking

                      we don't have Fage around these parts.

                      1. re: im_nomad



                        I'm not sure where you are - it can often be found in health food stores.

                        1. re: im_nomad

                          Nope, none here either. No health food stores either.

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            Is that why you make yours or does the home made taste better than what I can buy?

                            1. re: alwayscooking

                              Unfortunately, I've not tried I tried Fage. I really like homemade because it is sharp, not sweet, and is thick. I'd be too much of a cheapskate to buy expensive stuff (in place of making it at home) even if it were as good. But I have no choice here: make my own or eat thin, sweet, rather flavorless stuff for quite a bit of dough - Colombian Pesos in this case.

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                Thanks for the quick answer. Fage is as you describe your yogurt so, while it is expensive, I'll stay with it (although not ever having made yogurt, I may now try it once). Wish I could send you a case!

                          2. re: im_nomad

                            It might help if you specified 'these parts' - New Brunswick, Canada, right?

                            Otherwise you will keep getting recommendations for brands with limited distribution in the USA.

                            Is there anything in your markets that is labeled 'Greek style'?

                        2. the thread seems to have gone off into the realm of home-made yogurts.....which would be pretty much the same as the "real deal" I mentioned above...

                          it's all good....but i'm kinda more interested in finding the lower fat / sugar varieties that are gelatin free....

                          i guess i'm looking for more yogurt-ish stuff, rather than the real deal right now.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: im_nomad

                            If you can't find Fage, look for Chobani or Oikos. Both are tart and tangy yogurts without gelatin.

                            I'm pretty sure Axelrod yogurt doesn't have gelatin. Also, many store brand yogurts are gelatin-free.

                            1. re: cheesecake17

                              Like alwayscooking, I was curious as to where im_nomad is located. A quick check reveals Canada as home. Guess it now depends on the availability of Fage, Chobani, and Oikos in Canada.

                            2. re: im_nomad

                              if you want low sugar just buy plain and flavor it yourself. It is cheaper to make your own yogurt, couldn't be easier, and you control the fat content by the milk you use. But if you prefer to buy it, buy the lowest fat plain variety you can find with no additives. You can flavor it with jams, jellies, sweetener of your choice from honey to agave nectar to artificial non-nutritive sweeteners, fresh fruit, vanilla, oh the list goes on and on.

                              1. re: janniecooks

                                that's the problem, plain or no plain, it's got gelatin. The cheap no-name brand (which I will now stick to until they decide to change it), had no gelatin and still has a nice texture, just as thick or thicker than some others.

                                While I love to cook and make things in general, i'm thinking that home made yogurt would end up being a forgotten refridgerator science experiment for me. Especially if i'm having trouble getting back on track with the eating, and effort tends to dissuade me (aka lazy moments)

                                1. re: im_nomad

                                  I certainly understand opting for the convenience of store-bought yogurt. There are always trade-offs. Really, is the amount of fat in full-fat yogurt so great? Have you tried Stonyfield Farms whole-milk cream-on-top plain yogurt? Until I discovered Fage I was committed to Stonyfield Farms; it's a fine yogurt and I often use it as my starter if i finished all the homemade stuff. Both brands have no additives. If you want to avoid added gelatin, starch, carrageenan and so forth in your yogurt you're going to have accept full-fat yogurt; don't fear the fat.

                                  1. re: janniecooks

                                    <If you want to avoid added gelatin, starch, carrageenan and so forth in your yogurt you're going to have accept full-fat yogurt; don't fear the fat.>

                                    Not true. Fage Total 0% contains only skim milk & yogurt cultures. As you know ('cause you've had it), it's a thick, strained yogurt.