Yogurt is a cultured, fermented milk product made from cows, ewes or goats milk. Rainy Lanes offers different versions produced from cows milk.

The following is a guide to yogurt manufacture in the UK, but the principles involved may vary from company to company.

Fresh milk is homogenised (fat globules reduced to a uniform size by mechanical force) to distribute the fat evenly, producing a smoother and creamier end result. The homogenised milk may be pasteurised at 85°C to 95°C for 15 to 30 minutes, this process significantly reduces the bacterial content of the raw milk. It is then cooled and the starter culture is introduced.

The traditional yogurt culture is a mixture of two types of bacteria - Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. The taste of the finished yogurt depends on which strains of these bacteria are used. The quantity of starter added is normally between 0.5% and 2%, and the growth of each organism stimulates the other during the fermentation process.

After fermentation, the yogurt is cooled to around 5°C and packed.

There are three main types of yogurt:

Stirred yogurt, for which the processed milk base is inoculated with starter, fermented, then cooled.

Set yogurt, for which the processed milk base is inoculated with starter, then filled into the final container, fermented until it sets and reaches the desired acidity, then cooled.

Greek Style Yogurt is manufactured in the UK and differs from authentic Greek Yogurt only in so much as it is not "strained". Both offer a thick texture and creamy mouthfeel, with a hint of acidity. Greek Style Yogurt is enriched with cream and uses special cultures to increase its body and offer a distinctive flavour. It contains no other additives.

Yogurt is a wholesome, versatile product, that is rich in nutrients, containing protein, vitamins and minerals. It is particularly useful as a source of calcium - 150g contains as much calcium as a 1/3 of a pint of milk.

Yogurt is used in recipes to make dips, sauces, marinades and a wide range of desserts.

Low Fat Yogurt should contain not less than 0.5% and no more than 2% fat. This is achieved by using skimmed milk with a low fat content.

Bio Yogurt is a relatively new type of yogurt and is manufactured in the same way except that the starter cultures used contain Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus acidophilus, which results in a mild, less acidic product. It is reputed to aid digestion and promote good health.

With the exception of UHT or long life yogurts, all yogurt is live. “Live” means that the cultures are added after the milk has been heat treated to remove any bacteria. All yogurts sold by Rainy Lanes are live.