1. Why should I buy White Mountain Foods yogurt?
White Mountain Foods yogurt is a traditional, immune system supporting, staple food product. Its versatility in the kitchen is legendary and delighted in by many with ancient cultural ties to yogurt. Many of our customers become addicted to it simply because it makes them feel good. They eat it with granola, fruit, or their favorite sweetener; as a cold soup, on rice, lamb or beef dishes, made into low cal dips and spreads or in stuffed peppers or smoothies. It also has one of the highest probiotic counts in the industry. Suggested by many doctors for their patients with digestive or yeast problems, our yogurt is truly medicinal. Because of a 24-hour fermentation process, most people that are lactose intolerant can eat our yogurt.
2. What makes your yogurt Bulgarian?
The Bulgarians have been making and eating yogurt for millennia. Many Eastern European peoples are descendants of nomads who lived on the fermented milk of their domesticated animals. The Bulgarians were known for their longevity, and studies have suggested their robust health was due to regular consumption of yogurt. Bulgarian yogurt became popular as one of the original health foods in the early 20th century due to these studies. The beneficial bacteria found in the Bulgarians’ traditional yogurt carry their name, L. Bulgaricus. These same beneficial bacteria are the foundation of our yogurt. The use of traditional methods of inoculation, fermentation, and storage in glass containers produce a yogurt virtually identical to the Bulgarian yogurt of Eastern Europe and many traditional yogurts from around the world, including Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Mediterranean region.
3. Why is White Mountain Foods yogurt so tart?
The high level of beneficial bacteria, combined with the lengthy incubation period, gives our yogurt its signature tartness. During fermentation, bacteria consume lactose in the milk and produce lactic acid—hence, the acidic flavor. The modern yogurt industry has altered traditional yogurt to obtain a more marketable taste and consistency. Mild yogurt, coupled with added sweeteners, stabilizers, and thickeners, has become the norm. Most commercial yogurts are more like a pudding or ice cream-like dessert and not like a staple food product.
4. How long does the yogurt keep once I open it?
Because our yogurt is fermented for twenty-four hours, the resulting dense probiotic content increases its shelf life to sixty-three days. For best results, consume before its expiration date and within seven days of opening.
5. Why does yogurt keep longer than milk?
Our yogurt is made from pasteurized milk inoculated with several strains of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) and then fermented for twenty-four hours. This traditional process allows the beneficial bacteria cultures to consume all the available food and fill all the available space so that it is difficult for spoilage-causing bacteria to gain any foothold in the product. The resulting high acidic value of our yogurt makes it difficult for such bacteria to survive, and it also produces the traditional tart flavor of our Bulgarian yogurt.
6. I opened a jar of yogurt and it was runny. Why is that?
We do not add thickeners (such as dried milk solids) or stabilizers (such as gums or pectin) to our yogurts. These ingredients are used by other manufacturers to make artificially thickened, consistent yogurt, allowing them to mask poorly-made products with low probiotic counts. Our nonfat yogurt is generally thinner because there is less fat to help the yogurt congeal. If you are not satisfied, please return the product to the store for an exchange or refund. Yogurt can become thin or runny at any time of year, resulting from under-incubation, rough handling during shipping, or storage temperatures. One hundred percent natural, additive-free yogurt is going to be runny when compared to artificially thickened yogurt. Our yogurt’s temperature, fat content, and amount and type of culture all contribute to its consistency. If the product is thicker than liquid milk, then it is yogurt, and it will provide the consumer all the benefits of its live culture.
7. Can you freeze yogurt?
Yogurt freezes fairly well, and the cold temperatures will not kill the beneficial bacteria. The consistency will change somewhat upon thawing
8. How do I use your yogurt?
Some of the more popular ways to use our yogurt is with breakfast granolas and fruits or blended with your favorite ingredients to make tasty smoothies. To get the most benefit from the high probiotics and other nutritional content, we advise using our yogurt the same way old-world cultures traditionally used the yogurt: as a daily dietary staple. Many recipes utilize the rich, ethnic flavor of Bulgarian yogurt for both entrees and side dishes.
Of course, many prefer to just eat our yogurt straight out of the jar. Who can argue with that?
9. Do you package your yogurt in anything larger than quarts?
We package a one-gallon container of yogurt. If your local store does not stock gallons, ask them if they can order some from their distributor for you.
10. Why isn’t your yogurt sold in my store?
Our yogurt is placed in stores primarily by customer request. If your local store does not carry White Mountain Foods’ Bulgarian yogurt, ask a store manager to stock it. You can use our store locator feature for more information on the outlets and distributors in your area that may already sell our products or contact us about local availability.
11. Is your yogurt probiotic? (“Probiotic” means it stimulates beneficial bacteria growth.)
Yes, our yogurt helps several different species of beneficial bacteria repopulate intestinal tracts. These bacteria colonies aid with proper food digestion.
12. How much yogurt do I have to eat to get the health benefits of the live bacteria?
The amount of yogurt necessary to obtain healthy intestinal flora is going to vary from person to person. The Dairy Council of California suggests 3.5 cups a day. They arrived at the 3.5 cups figure by calculating how many live cultures are commonly present in a given amount of yogurt and subtracting from that what would be lost during passage through the stomach. Our yogurt has many times the culture count of most yogurts so you would probably not have to eat as much.
13. What does the beneficial bacteria in yogurt do when you eat it?
Our digestive tracts depend on several strains of live, beneficial bacteria to function properly. The bacteria help break down food, making nutrients more available for absorption through the intestinal walls. These nutrients fight infestation from potentially harmful bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. Beneficial bacteria counts can greatly decline as we age, consume antibiotics, undergo chemotherapy, etc. Eating yogurt—or any cultured product—repopulates the beneficial bacteria in our systems. Yogurt can help protect us from invasions by other illness-causing microorganisms and makes nutrients in all the food we eat more available to our bodies.
14. Can I eat your yogurt as is or is it to be used as a starter only?
Our yogurt is meant to be eaten as is, right out of the jar. Due to its high level of live, beneficial bacteria it can also be used as a starter for home yogurt making.
15. I have celiac disease or Crohn's disease, is your yogurt OK to eat?
Our yogurt is gluten free and incubated over a twenty-four hour period. We do not add any milk solids or other compounds to our yogurt; we only use milk and culture. The culture is grown on a dairy product base. For those consumers who are sensitive even to the amino acid components of gluten, our cows’ milk contains an average of 2 milligrams of free glutamates per 100 grams.
16. I tried making yogurt with your yogurt, but it didn’t work. What happened?
Making good yogurt is a balancing act that requires the right culture, temperature, and incubation period.”. The closer your starter yogurt is to its “Purchase By” date, the fewer active bacteria it has. Older yogurt still has plenty of beneficial bacteria that aid digestion, but it may take larger amounts to properly inoculate milk to produce yogurt. We suggest adding one-half to three-quarters of a cup of our yogurt to one gallon of milk. For best results, add the yogurt starter to milk that is 109 degrees F. If the milk is any hotter, the culture will die. If the milk is 105 degrees F or cooler, the culture will be sluggish and may not make yogurt. If you heat a gallon of milk to 109 degrees, add the culture, wrap the gallon container in a towel, and leave it in a warm place overnight, the temperature should stay about right for proper incubation.
For smaller batches, you are going to need some kind of heat source. A good electric yogurt maker is the easiest way. If your end result is too runny, you had either too little culture or too little heat during incubation. If too much separation occurs (curds & whey), then you had too much culture and/or an excessive incubation temperature.
17. What does the beneficial bacteria (live culture) do to milk to turn it into yogurt?
Beneficial bacteria basically predigest milk for us, making it much easier for our digestive tracts to absorb the nutrients in milk. When bacteria are introduced to warm milk, they do what any other living thing does: feed, multiply, and produce by-products. The bacteria feed on milk sugar (lactose), converting it to lactic acid and thereby making milk accessible to those who have difficulty digesting lactose. Lactic acid helps break down milk proteins and other nutrients, making them easier to process. Lactic acid also has an astringent preservative effect on the body after consumption.
18. How much lactose (a sugar naturally found in milk) is left in your yogurt?
Typically, our yogurt has 5 grams of lactose per 1-cup serving. A 1-cup serving of whole milk normally has about 12 grams of lactose. According to scientific studies, yogurt cultures expend about 30% of the lactose naturally found in milk. This aspect, along with the helpful benefits of the live cultures in the digestive system, makes yogurt more digestible by lactose-intolerant people. However, the study did not take into consideration variable inoculation temperatures, fermentation temperatures, and fermentation duration. We ferment our yogurt over a 24-hour period. This is much longer than the industry standard. If there were no remaining lactose in the yogurt, however, the cultures would become inactive or die, as that is their main source of energy.
19. What is the difference between bacteria and culture?
“Culture” is a word that marketing departments decided to use instead of “bacteria” on labels and in advertising. There are good and bad bacteria, so “culture” is a safer word to use in a description of a food product. There is no difference; “culture” is “bacteria” on a yogurt label.
20. Do you pasteurize your yogurt?
Our yogurt is never pasteurized. The milk we use to make our yogurt is pasteurized, by law, before the yogurt culture is added. The main consumers of milk and milk products are the very young and the very old, the two segments of the population that are the most susceptible to food born pathogens. The federal government requires pasteurization to ensure that these milk products do not transfer harmful bacteria to consumers.
21. Why don't you use raw milk to make your yogurt?
In Texas and most other states, it is illegal to produce dairy products for retail sale using raw milk. Retailers must pasteurize all milk before selling it or manufacturing it into other milk products.
22. Is your yogurt organic?
We offer a certified organic Bulgarian yogurt in 32oz and 16oz sizes, both with whole and nonfat milk varieties.
23. Are your source cows treated with growth hormones?
As of October 1st, 2006 the milk we use for our all-natural yogurt is artificial growth hormone (rBST, rBGH) free. Our organic yogurt is also artificial hormone free.
24. How are you sure there are no artificial hormones in the milk?
There are no tests for artificial hormone content in milk because they so closely resemble natural hormones. For the milk we use in our Bulgarian yogurt , we have signed affidavits from the co-op and farmers pledging that they do not use artificial hormones. For our organic Bulgarian yogurt, our milk producers are inspected by organic certifiers who check the premises and processes for use of prohibited substances, including artificial hormones.
Lengthy conversations with dairy inspectors who know what local farmers are actually doing have convinced us that the practice of using artificial hormones has been dying off for years; it is just too expensive. The artificial hormones themselves are expensive, the increased appetite of the cow makes for higher feed costs, and the fact that the cow’s producing life is drastically reduced all have caused producers in our area to quit using them.
25. Does the milk you use contain antibiotics?
All milk processed in the United States is required to be tested for antibiotics, among other things, before being processed for consumption. If any antibiotics are found in the milk, the milk is destroyed.
26. Is your yogurt gluten free?
Yes, our Bulgarian yogurt is gluten free. This will be printed on our labels in the near future.
27. Is your yogurt certified kosher?
Our yogurts are not certified kosher. However, all our yogurt ingredients are produced in kosher certified facilities.
28. Do you use 100% grass-fed milk?
No, we do not have a sustainable certified 100% grass-fed supplier of milk who can provide the volume we need. As far as we know, there is no 100% grass-fed certifying organization that would ensure the milk we buy is in fact 100% grass-fed, so we don't make that claim. For our organic products, we use organic milk, which is certified a minimum of 120 days of pasture grazing. Two out of three of the farms that supply our organic milk claim they are 100% grass-fed. The only time the cattle are fed anything other than grass is during inclement or cold weather when the cattle can't graze or the grass won't grow.
Dairy cattle in general, organic and conventional, are fed as much hay and grass as possible, as it’s usually the cheapest feed available. Two out of thirty of our conventional milk producers use a grain mix as most of their cattle feed. The rest use a mixture of grass, hay (dry grass), and silage (wet cut grass) as their main feed source, and use “range cubes” (a grain mix that is like candy to cattle) as bait to get the cattle to come in for milking.
29. Do 100% grass-fed cows produce milk that is higher in omega-3 fatty acids?
Yes. Technically, 100% grass-fed cows do, on average, produce more of those types of fatty acids than cows who are not fed 100% grass. However, the difference is so minimal (4 mg EPA and DHA and 9 mg CLA) compared to the recommended daily dose, and the comparison is being performed on a product that is inherently low in those fatty acids, that we have to conclude that the whole grass-fed milk label is purely a marketing vehicle.
According to Marie Spano, RD, “Milk is not considered a major source of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, regardless of milk type” (1). The omega-3 content in a 100% grass fed sample and a conventional milk sample is:
Conventional milk sample (1 cup):
15 mg EPA and DHA (omega-3)
47 mg CLA
100% grass-fed sample (1 cup):
19 mg EPA and DHA (omega-3)
56 mg CLA
The American Heart Association (AHA) states that “taking about a gram a day (EPA and DHA) could reduce deaths from coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death by about 10 percent” (2). The AHA recommends 1,000 mg (1 gram) per day to support heart health. One would have to consume 3.25 gallons of milk a day to get the recommended EPA and DHA, and 1.1 gallons for CLA. Therefore, milk in general is not a good source for omega-3. On the other hand, a serving of wild salmon contains around 1,200mg of EPA and DHA, making it a great source of omega-3.
30. Do you use homogenized milk?
Yes. Milk is homogenized to make the fat content standardized. Otherwise, milk processors would be in violation of labeling laws due to the fluctuating fat content over the course of the year and across different breeds of cattle. Typical processing removes all the fat from the milk and adds it back in at a specific level depending on the desired fat content. Then the milk is homogenized (passed through a fine screen mesh) to keep the fat from separating out again on the shelf. The leftover fat is sold as butter.
31. Is there a way to make your packaging more environmentally sustainable?
The glass, plastic sleeve label and lid are all recyclable. The glass contains some recycled material and the label is made from 100% recycled plastic. We are required to use a plastic lid with a styro insert as there is currently no other type of lid (metal for example) available from a certified grade A manufacturer (the packaging has to be certified grade A as well as the milk).
A paper label, at first glance, appears more natural than the one we currently use. However, printed paper must be coated with several layers of plastic to stand up to condensation and the moisture in refrigerated cases. Plain paper is fine for dry goods but won’t work on refrigerated or frozen items. We are conscientious about keeping our packaging as environmentally sustainable as possible within the limitations of the various laws governing our industry and the aesthetic needs of our retailers.