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You Can Do That with Yogurt?

Grow bacteria colonies, create yogurt ravioli, even make your own top-secret recipe for delicious homemade yogurt. Head into the kitchen for some tasty food science fun!

Yogurt ravioli
With the Spherification kit from the Science Buddies Store, students can turn yogurt into self-contained yogurt ravioli. Experiment with the variables involved, or just make some to eat for a fun kitchen chemistry treat!

Step into my kitchen on a hot summer afternoon, and you are likely to hear the roar of the food processor. Plain yogurt and frozen fruit are all we need to create a delicious, cooling treat so thick and creamy that a spoon will stand up in it! The kids love the taste, and I love the fact that this healthy snack provides so many good nutrients.

Bacteria That Are Good for You

Do you know how liquid milk turns into something you can eat with a spoon? Bacteria are the culprits. They consume milk's lactose (milk sugars) and produce lactic acid. This process is called bacterial fermentation.

Perhaps it doesn't sound very appetizing to eat something made from bacteria. After all, grown-ups are always telling kids to wash their hands to get rid of bacteria, right? But some bacteria, known as probiotics, are helpful to humans, and that's exactly the type of bacteria in your yogurt. So, grab a spoon and enjoy!

Playing with Your Food

Yogurt is not only delicious and good for you, but also thick with opportunities for fun kitchen science. Check out these microbiology and food science projects for a yogurt-themed science exploration at home:

  • Abracadabra! Transforming Yogurt into "Ravioli": Explore the technique of reverse spherification and magically turn yogurt into little sealed ravioli-like pouches that you can eat with your fingers! The process of making your own ravioli is easy. (Using a kit from the Science Buddies Store, you can also make your own juice balls!)
  • Yogurt Cultures: Why buy yogurt at the store when you can make your own? Experiment with different types of (safe and healthy!) bacteria to see how it changes the type of yogurt you create.
  • The Art and Science of Making Yummy Yogurt*: Besides bacteria, what other variables can affect your homemade yogurt? Play with cooking temperature, cooking time, or another step in the process or recipe. How can you make the most delicious yogurt?
  • Is That Really Bacteria Living in My Yogurt?: "Live cultures" is a claim you see on lots of yogurt packaging. But how can you know that living, healthy bacteria are really in that plastic cup? Using a variety of yogurts, see what happens when you attempt to grow your own bacteria!

So now the cat is out of the bag—bacteria are the secret to making great yogurt. Yes, it sounds a little weird, but sometimes weird is good!


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