Fermented milks

What are fermented milks?

Fermented milks are a traditional food created as a means of preserving fresh animal milk (e.g.: cow, goat, sheep, mare, buffalo, camel or yak). Yoghurt is the most well known and popular variety of fermented milk, widely consumed throughout the world. Fermented milk is characterised as a milk product that has been fermented through the action of different bacteria and /or yeast.

Prepared from pasteurised raw - whole, partly skimmed or skimmed - milk or milk products, specific bacteria and/or yeasts are added and proceed to multiply, converting milk sugar (lactose) into organic acids. This acidity coagulates the milk proteins, thus modifying the original milk texture, producing a fermented milk.

Fermented milks are defined by the Codex Alimentarius (Codex Standard 243-2003).

Types of fermented milks

The many varieties of fermented milks from around the world which are distinguished by the type and specificity of the microorganisms used for fermentation. These different cultures are what define the unique properties of each fermented milk, including its consistency, texture, taste, aroma and the particular health benefits they confer.

Yoghurt: The "king of fermented milks" is by far yoghurt, which represents the biggest segment in terms of market share and sales volume. Yoghurt is characterised by the presence of two particular lactic acid bacteria: Lactobacillus delbruekii subsp bulgaricus and Streptococcus salvarius subsp. thermophilus. Known for its high nutritional qualities and many health benefits, it is the oldest example of a probiotic food.

Alternate Yoghurt culture: Symbiotic cultures of Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus species.

Kefir is a traditional fermented milk drink originally from the Caucasus region which is made with kefir grains as starter culture. Kefir grains constitute both lactose fermenting yeasts (Kluyveromyces marxianus) and non-lactose-fermenting yeasts (Saccharomyces unisporus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces exiguus).

Koumiss from central Asia is effervescent, slightly acrid and contains alcohol made from yeasts. Traditionally it is made from mare's milk and contains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Kluyveromyces marxianus.

Dahi from India is a type of set yoghurt made from cow or buffalo milks which contains L.lactis subsp. lactis, S. salivarius subsp. thermophilus, L.delbreukii subsp. Bulgaricus. The same kind of product is widely appraciated in the Middle East under the name of Leben.

Langfil, typically found in parts of northern Sweden is similar to cultured buttermilk, but much more viscous and characterised by string-like filaments. Among the different bacteria present is the S. lactis longi, which gives this fermented milk its unique texture.

These are just some of the... 400 varieties of fermented milks from around the world!

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