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Yoghurt has its day

From hipster cafes that make their own cultured yoghurts, to Michelin-starred restaurants that demand only the freshest they can lay their hands on, yoghurt is having a bit of a moment.
Thick-set Greek-style yoghurts have been gaining more and more attention for their versatility in breakfasts, brunches and dessert plates. Now the go-to bedfellow of granola, strained yoghurts add creaminess and texture without dominating the flavour profile of dishes. Whether it’s drizzled with honey and fresh fruit, or bolstered with a house-made compote, it’s an ingredient propping up breakfast cafes across the UK.
But it runs much deeper than that. While the media and lifestyle gurus that live through their Instagram followers have been promoting lean, low fat dining and slew of ideological diets, cream and heavy sauces are being transformed by utilising yoghurt instead.
And it’s not always dairy either, across the pond, there’s a growing market focusing on almond milk yoghurts as well as those made from coconut and oat milks as well. This diversity of yoghurt offers chefs a new arsenal of subtle flavours, a way of delivering familiar textures without the need for rich, lactose heavy thickeners.
Kefir, the cultured milk drink, is fast gaining popularity and promotes healthy bacteria in the process. Being used as the base for smoothies from trendy juice bars, this hippy sounding culture is also being used to give depth and life into sourdough based breads as well as being used as a buttermilk substitute in recipe such as American style pancakes.
Yet yoghurt has not always been so widely enjoyed. For years it’s been the staple of the home fridge and school lunchboxes. It’s only in recent years that ‘grown up yoghurts’ have elevated from the fruit corner yoghurt pot, into swanky high-end one pot servings that carry a price tag that exceeds Munch Bunch ten times.
There’s also something else happening in this yoghurt uprising – acidity levels are also on the incline, making them even more suitable for marinating meats and creating savoury sauces.
And savoury yoghurts. Yep, they’re quite a trend in their own right now too. Blue Hill Farm in New York were in the news very recently with its range of vegetable flavoured yoghurts, something that’s beginning to be seen on our fair shores too. Whether it’s earthy beetroot being used to add flavour, carrots and butternut squash, or the slightly more controversial tomato – fruit better watch its back.
Veg saint Yotam Ottolenghi has been touting the benefits of dowsing vegetables in yoghurt for a while, and this Middle Eastern influence is also coming by way of a long line of other chefs and cookbook authors such as Sabrina Ghayour.
So whether you’re looking to throw some house made frozen yoghurt in among your ice creams and sorbets, or considering infusing foraged herbs in some kefir for some fancy quenelle garnishes, this ingredient is seriously going places in 2017.