Commercial production of yogurt involves brief-as-possible fermentation time, addition of blending/emulsifying ingredients to generate smoothness and better mouthfeel, as well as manipulations to suit consumer preference, no matter how misguided such as low- or non-fat and the addition of high-fructose corn syrup- or sugar-sweetened sweeteners and fruits.
Fermentation time is a major chokehold on commercial production. Imagine that your cookie factory requires 36 hours to manufacture a batch of cookies, rather than, say, 30 minutes—this would pose a major holdup in production. For this reason, yogurt manufacturers use as brief a fermentation time as possible, typically no more than 12 hours, stopping as soon as some level of thickness and pH of 4.5 is achieved (as lactose is fermented to lactic acid). But, given the issue of bacterial doubling time in yogurt making in which the greatest increase in probiotic bacterial counts occurs towards the end of fermentation, not the first few hours, the longer you ferment (before allowing contaminating organisms such as fungi to emerge), the higher the counts of probiotic bacteria.
Modern methods of manufacturing yogurt therefore mean that:
- Fermentation time is kept as brief as possible, severely limiting probiotic bacterial counts, typically tens to hundreds of million CFUs (colony-forming units or number of bacteria)
- The 10-fold less lactic acid of a 4.5 pH created via fermentation leads to less denaturation (breakdown) of casein protein
- No prebiotic fibers that nourish proliferating bacterial strains are added, as this would require extended fermentation times to exhaust added fibers
- Manipulations to suit modern consumer preferences are made: reduced fat, added garbage sweeteners or other ingredients, mixing and emulsifying agents added
When we make yogurt, we therefore extend fermentation time to 36 hours and feed microorganisms with prebiotic fibers, efforts that yield bacterial counts in the tens to hundreds of billions, not the few millions of conventional yogurt. We also get to pick the species and strains of bacteria used to ferment, not just the Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus and a handful of others typically used that do indeed provide modest probiotic benefits, but not the sort of enormous outsize benefits that we can pick and choose such as through our Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938/ATCC PTA 6475 yogurt that boosts oxytocin levels and thereby yields breathtaking benefits such as accelerated healing and an explosion in dermal collagen that smooths skin wrinkles.
Our extended fermentation time also achieves a pH of 3.5 or less (10-fold more acidic than a pH of 4.5), meaning there is more complete denaturation of the immunogenic sequences of the casein beta A1 protein, while also yielding greater tartness (from increased lactic acid). Our super-duper extended fermentation times and use of prebiotic fibers means that we don’t have to add, say, carrageenan or locust bean gum to improve mixability, mouthfeel, or thickness, as our efforts yield a naturally thick and rich end-result. (You can further improve on thickness and mouthfeel by straining the end-result in cheesecloth to remove the liquid whey, also.)
In short, the yogurt you make with these added efforts, not taking fermentation shortcuts, not adding unwanted ingredients, yields an end-result that is far superior in health benefits and taste to the products you buy in groceries. If you desire the probiotic benefits of yogurt and the added benefits of choosing specific bacterial strains like L reuteri, then making it yourself is a far better way than the convenience of store-bought products made with use of shortcuts.
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