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Beyond Brown Cow

2 minute read
Sora Song

The renowned Greek physician Galen wrote about the beneficial health effects of yogurt back in the 2nd century A.D. It took nearly 1,800 years before Americans turned it into a health-food staple. While such old standbys as Dannon and Yoplait continue to feed most of the yogurt demand, offbeat yogurts–many of them made from different kinds of milk–have been popping up on gourmet and health-food store shelves. One longtime favorite of yogurt aficionados–the Greek-made Total, which has both cow’s-milk and sheep’s-milk varieties–was introduced in New York City ethnic groceries in 2000; sales have since doubled, and the yogurt has just been introduced in supermarkets nationwide.

We gathered a group of yogurt lovers to test some of the specialty brands that are trying to wean consumers off cow’s milk. Here’s what we found:

SHEEP’S MILK Compared with standard cow’s-milk yogurts, we thought sheep’s-milk yogurt was thin. Old Chatham Sheepherding Company’s full-fat plain yogurt was not very creamy–it tasted almost watery–and had a sharp, tangy flavor.

SOY MILK The soy-based yogurts we tried–Whole Soy and Silk, in plain and vanilla flavors–were chalky, gritty and sour, with a chemical aftertaste. You might go for them, but a typical reaction from one of our testers was “awful.”

GOAT’S MILK Can be hard to find because it’s a seasonal product. And we had a tough time locating the plain variety; it’s usually flavored with vanilla, maple syrup or fruit. It is lower in fat than cow’s-milk or sheep’s-milk yogurt–and it tastes like it. Redwood Hill Farm’s vanilla-flavored yogurt was the best of the lot: it had a smooth, light texture but was excessively sweet.

COW’S MILK We discovered the old standbys are still best. The low-fat (2%) version of cow’s-milk Total was creamy and cheesy, with a strong, Brie-like taste–in general, yummy. We found Dannon’s low-fat yogurt pretty good–smooth with a mild, inoffensive taste. But if you don’t care about calories or fat, our overall favorite was Brown Cow’s Cream Top whole-milk yogurt. It was thick and creamy, with a full, tangy–but not too sharp–flavor. As one tester put it: “perfect.”

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