Yogurt powder is often used in the commercial and domestic preparations of a variety of yogurt-based foods, desserts, snacks, sauces, and other yogurt products. Cooking with yogurt powder is convenient as it has a longer shelf life than fresh yogurt, with good solubility. It can be mixed in both hot and cold liquids, and, in both cases, it enhances the texture and flavor of the food products. It also has good binding properties which make it an appropriate replacement for any starches, stabilizers and gums that would normally have been needed. It is possible to buy yogurt powder in most food stores and malls; the powders will usually come with the designations of non-fat, dehydrated or cultured.
To make yogurt powder in the traditional way, the fat is first removed from milk and then bacterial cultures of Lactobacilli or Bifidobacteria are added to the non-fat milk; in addition, lactic acid, food flavors and whey powder may also be added to the milk. The bacteria-laden milk is set aside until it reaches a required pH; this can range between four and five. The next step is to dehydrate the milk, and, to do this, the milk tray is covered with a waxed paper sheet and placed in a dehydrator or an oven for several hours; if using an oven, the door needs to be kept ajar to prevent the yogurt from cooking and to allow an outlet for the moisture that is released. The yogurt powder that is formed is usually off-white or pale yellow in color, and, depending on the ingredients that were used, it will have a protein content ranging between 22% and 36%.
Along with the protein content, yogurt is also rich in calcium. This means that, apart from the matter of convenience, cooking or baking with yogurt powder makes for healthy eating; even people who cannot tolerate lactose can usually eat yogurt without any trouble. One reason that yogurt is so easy to digest may be the pro-biotic bacteria that are used in its preparation; pro-biotic means that they are beneficial bacteria and assist the intestinal tract with the digestion process, and also boost the immune system.
Given this, yogurt-based foods can be found in many world cuisines. There are scores of interesting and tasty recipes that make use of yogurt, either in the fresh or powder form. In the case of yogurt powder, it may help to look for a low-fat version; this generally contains more vitamins than the completely non-fat powder.