Do fermented foods spoil? How long does yogurt last? If you are perplexed by all this, read on to learn more about the shelf life of yogurt.
A brief History
It is easy to take everyday food items like yogurt for granted. However, are you aware that it has a rich history behind it?
For thousands of years, yogurt has formed a crucial element in the human diet.
Yogurt and cheese are few of the foods considered to be ‘accidental discoveries’.
Their history stems from how ancient merchants and homestead owners used to knowingly or unknowingly store milk. They utilized animal stomachs as storage containers for milk. Digestive juices present in the stomachs would curdle the milk, resulting in numerous curdled milk byproducts.
Yogurt consumption traditions varied immensely in each region. Some would add spices like cinnamon and mustard seeds. Others simply enjoyed it with the timeless honey.
The name yogurt has its root in Turkish dialect, where it is derived from ‘yogurmak’. This simply means to thicken.
Interestingly, yogurt production was mainly done for subsistence use, not for commercial purposes.
Yogurt commercialization evolved later, at the turn of the 20th century. This was as a result of the discovery of cultures – lactobacillus bulgaricus bacteria by a Bulgarian microbiologist.
Nowadays, other common types of bacteria used in yogurt include: streptococcus thermophilus; Bifidobacterium; lactococcus; bifidus regularis; enterococcus faecium; lactobacillus plantarum and saccharomyces boulardii.
Factors to Consider in the Different Types of Yogurt
Yogurt has heaped massive popularity among consumers. In recent decades, this creamy deliciousness has undergone texture, flavor and brand metamorphosis.
Nowadays, dairy isles are bombarded with a sea of yogurt products. Trying to make sense of all the types here is an impossible feat.
Nonetheless, certain factors come in handy when choosing which yogurt to buy.
When shopping, always take the time to read through the ingredients used. When it comes to fat content, you are likely to find yogurt made from the following:
- Non-fat. This is commonly known as fat free or skimmed milk
- Low-fat. This has a 1% fat content.
- Reduced-fat milk with 2%
- Whole milk contains the highest fat content of 3.5%
Type of milk used
Whereas we are used to cow’s milk, there are plenty of other milk-producing animals. As such, it is not unusual to find yogurt made from goat’s, sheep’s, buffalo’s as well as camel’s milk.
Non-dairy alternatives (lactose free)
Dairy-free diets have been all the rage, especially among health conscious purists. Non-dairy alternatives are also appropriate for those with lactose intolerance.
In light of this, you are bound to find yogurt brands utilizing milk extracted from seeds or nuts. These include: almond, soy, rice, oats, coconut, cashew, hemp and flax milk.
Such options are touted for their low-fat content, besides being choke-full of vitamins, proteins and minerals.
There are a plethora of flavors and sweeteners used to appeal to different taste buds. From vanilla to strawberry to maple to lemon to chocolate, all the flavors under the sun find their way into yogurts.
These flavors are obtained either from artificial food coloring or from real foods.
How thick or thin yogurt is, majorly depends on how many times it was strained.
For instance, Greek yogurt owes its signature creaminess and thickness to straining. This process separates the watery whey from the thick curd.
On this note, you can find drinkable yogurt like kefir, which is runny and thin. Similarly, there are spoon-able yogurt types.
Preservatives and fortified nutrients used
Commercially made type has added preservatives. These are used to prolong the shelf life to minimize wastage.
Apart from preservatives, vitamins and minerals are added for nutritional value.
Nutritional and Health Benefits of Yogurt
Homemade or natural yogurt is believed to offer healthier benefits than commercial ones. The addition of artificial flavors, sweeteners and preservatives counteract the healthy advantages it offers.
However, this food is still one of the richest sources of calcium. The bacteria present are also beneficial for the gut.
Nutritionally, yogurt contains the following:
A single cup provides you with half of your daily calcium needs. Calcium is necessary for proper bone and teeth growth.
These are the live bacteria and cultures. Probiotics are touted for their disease-fighting properties. They are also known as good bacteria which improve gut health, reduce bad cholesterol (LDL), fight off allergies and boost your immune system.
Yogurt is rich in vitamin B6, which aids in food metabolism. It also facilitates proper functioning of the central nervous system. This food is also fortified with vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption. It also helps in boosting heart health and fight off depression.
Yogurt is popular for inducing satiety. This is due to the high protein levels. As such, it is appropriate for weigh management and enhancing energy in body.
Trace minerals like potassium, cobalamin, phosphorous and magnesium
All these minerals serve vital roles in the body. They support chemical and biological processes like cell and tissue growth, intracellular fluid balance, nerve and muscle functions as well as food metabolism.
High water content
Unstrained variety has very high water content – about 88%. Consuming foods with high water content is beneficial for keeping your body well hydrated. It also facilitates numerous organ and cell functions, enhances blood circulation and aids in toxin eradication.
Shelf Life of Yogurt – homemade, commercially bought
Despite containing bacteria and live culture, yogurt does have an expiry date.
These live bacteria mitigate mold growth, giving the yogurt a fairly moderate shelf life. However, when the cultures die off, mold can start to grow.
In order to maximize the shelf life, it is imperative to have effective storage conditions.
For instance, always refrigerate opened cartons or bottles. Keep the cartons or containers always closed to prevent entry of contaminants.
You can also freeze extra cartons. On that note, the shelf life of yogurt also varies.
For instance, refrigerated plain type lasts longer than one with fruit or chocolate chunks. Plain one keeps well for up to 2 weeks while yogurt with fruits starts to deteriorate after 10 days.
Low or reduced fat variety also keeps well, for up to 2 weeks. On the other hand, drinkable type remains in good condition for 10 days.
Homemade yogurt also keeps well, as long as you have followed the required production steps. Well refrigerated one has a shelf life of up to 2 weeks. Additionally, well frozen one keeps well for 2 months.
Some of the most obvious spoilage pointers are:
- Mold growth. Discard immediately.
- Off- odor. Since you already know how a particular brand tastes like, any off-odor is a cause for alarm.
- Discoloration is another obvious spoilage indicator.
How long does yogurt last? Does it go bad? The answer is yes. In as much as it has live cultures which prevent mould, it will start to spoil as soon as the cultures die off.