Yogurt Cooking Tips
As you can see in the variety of recipes on this website, yogurt can add a distinctive taste, a creamy texture, and a wonderful moistness to a wide assortment of dishes. The possibilities range from simple combinations of yogurt and fruit, to dishes made with homemade yogurt cheese. No matter what food you’re making, there are just a few tips and precautions to observe in cooking with yogurt:
- Yogurt can be used in dips and dressings—as a substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream in equal amounts—to reduce calories and fat.
- Yogurt is a useful addition to marinades; its high acidity helps tenderize meat.
- Yogurt can be used in place of sour cream or heavy cream in sauces and in stove-top recipes. However, never add yogurt directly to a boiling or extremely hot mixture—heating yogurt over 120° F destroys the beneficial bacteria. Instead, stir a few tablespoons of the hot food into the yogurt, warming it gradually. Then stir the warmed yogurt into the hot mixture. Add yogurt near the end of the cooking process.
- Cultured foods, such as yogurt, make for incredibly moist baked goods. While you will not get the health benefits of the bacteria, yogurt will still provide valuable nutrients such as calcium and protein. Using yogurt as a substitute for buttermilk, sour cream, or butter will also reduce the calories and fat. Freezing yogurt—which is called for in many dessert recipes—doesn’t harm the bacteria.
- Heating yogurt too rapidly can cause it to separate into curds and whey. You can avoid this unappetizing prospect by warming the yogurt at least to room temperature before adding it to hot mixtures, and by heating any yogurt mixture slowly, stirring constantly.
- To thicken sauces, add a little arrowroot or flour (1 or 2 tablespoons per cup of yogurt) mixed with cold water. If adding yogurt to your salad dressing, dip, or cold soup thins it out too much, simply chill the mixture for an hour or two to thicken it.
- Yogurt should be folded into other ingredients. Overstirring will surely thin it out! You will note exceptions to this rule in some recipes, where the mixture is meant to be thinner.
- Avoid using aluminum products when cooking with yogurt, as the acidity of yogurt can react negatively with aluminum.
So get ready to dig in! You’ll be amazed at the versatility of yogurt, and delighted with the results of cooking with this wonderful food.
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