For most of us, dairy plays a vital part in our everyday life – from being a tasty treat to a key player in a balanced diet. The process of buying dairy is simple, but, the journey that these products go on to get to the shelf is a little more complex.
As dairy experts, we understand that customers are becoming increasingly aware of the food they’re consuming, its nutritional value and any processing it’s gone through. As with all our bulk cultured products there is a manufacturing system in place that produces the delicious end result. Here at Meadow Foods, we thought that we would explain the science (although it’s not as daunting as it sounds!) behind our bulk cultured products so that those who buy and supply and those who consume know exactly how our value added bulk dairy ingredients are produced.
Manufactured in our recently expanded Peterborough and Holme on Spalding Moor factory, our cultured products range includes natural, bio and Greek yoghurt, fromage frais, sour cream, crème fraiche and buttermilk.
All products have to go through a specific process called ‘fermenting’ to become ‘cultured’. Fermentation is a term that describes the growth of microorganisms, often lactic acid bacteria, which is then combined with fresh milk. Although the term ‘bacteria’ may sound unnerving, the process is completely safe for human consumption and practiced internationally. By controlling the fermentation, different products can be created, with benefits including; increasing shelf life, enhanced taste and improved digestibility.
Delicious as a light dessert or even as a morning meal, yoghurt is created through bacteria being added to heated, pasteurised, homogenised milk. The milk is then stored at a specific temperature in order to optimise the environment in which the bacteria converts lactose to lactic acid. This thickens the milk and adds the distinct taste that we know as yoghurt. After being cooled, manufacturers, including ourselves, are able to then flavour the yoghurt according to our customer’s needs.
Made from fresh cream, sour cream is made when the lactic acid sours and thickens the product, with rennet added where more thickness is needed. Our sour cream is produced with half the fat of whipping cream and is simply made from cream and bacterial culture.
Although slightly acidic in taste, crème fraiche boasts a smooth, rich texture. Made using a similar method to sour cream, although with a higher range of fat contents (approximately 18 -30%), it is versatile and can also be added to soups, desserts or dips. If our word wasn’t enough to assure you of the tastiness of our crème fraiche, we’re extremely proud to say that it was recently crowned Gold at the International Cheese Awards at the Nantwich Show, beating over 5000 other dairy products.
Buttermilk, like the other cultured products, requires a bacteria culture, but this is added to a pasteurised and sweet milk. The milk then ferments for 12-14 hours at a low temperature, before salt, stabilisers and sugar are added to the mix if necessary.
So there you have it, the science behind cultured products! Although a similar method is used for each, small differences significantly affect the type of end product that will be produced.
Our cultured products are used as ingredients by food manufacturers in a wide range of products, from dips and sauces, to ready meals and sweet treats. Each product is tailored to the individual client, depending on what their desirable end flavour and functionality is. To find out more about our cultured products and science behind them, click here.