The Truth About Fermented Dairy Foods

Fermentation is a natural process that transforms foods. Natural fermentation allows you to create entirely new drinks and dishes – fermented food. Its main component is probiotics, the healthy living organisms. They can be in an active stage for several days when stored properly.

Did I bring valuable something from the store?

Therefore, when you bring store-bought yogurt or kefir, you have to understand that probiotics are not in there. The main components of these products are stabilizers and preservatives. The benefits of fermented dairy products will be only if you cook them at home without chemically aggressive elements.

So, dairy products prepared by milk fermentation (as in yogurt) or combined with yeast fermentation (as in kefir) are called fermented dairy foods. Fermented dairy foods is a collective term for products such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, sour cream, whey, clabber, ryazhanka (Ukrainian dairy product made out of baked milk), some types of cheeses, filmjolk (Scandinavian sour milk), ymer (Dutch dairy product), koumiss (dairy product out of mare’s milk).

What happens to milk during fermentation?

Milk begins fermenting due to a starter culture that converts lactose into lactic acid, depending on the type of bacteria, carbon dioxide, acetic acid, diacetyl, acetaldehyde, and other substances formed during fermentation. It is they who give the products their specific fresh taste and aroma. During the fermentation of kefir and koumiss, microorganisms also release ethyl alcohol.

Most likely, the Bedouin were the first who receive fermented milk. The milk turned sour and thickened under the influence of certain microorganisms. Fortunately, the bacteria turned out to be harmless, acid-forming type and did not produce any toxins. Thus, they found an excellent way to preserve milk. This fermentation of lactose into lactic acid has such a conservative effect on the milk.

The low pH of fermented milk slows down the growth of putrefactive and other harmful microorganisms, thus extending the product’s shelf life.

Why are so many people afraid to eat dairy products?

The digestive system of some people lacks the enzyme lactase. As a result, lactose was not broken down into simple types of sugars during digestion. These people can consume regular milk only in minimal quantities or refuse milk entirely. People got so scared that they were afraid to eat absolutely all types of dairy products. However, they still can consume fermented dairy food because bacterial enzymes have already partially broken down lactose.

Thanks to numerous studies, we have learned a lot of amazing information that contradicts the generally accepted “truths.” For example, the authors of a large-scale review, published recently in the American scientific journal Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that “high consumption of saturated fat does not affect the development of coronary heart disease.”  After all, baseless fears, paradoxically, can provoke an increase in the consumption of more dangerous foods.

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