26 May 2009

Product Review: Straus Plain Whole Milk Yogurt

I was first introduced to Straus Organic Yogurt at the Harmony Frozen Yogurt shop in San Carlos, which exclusively sells the Straus brand. The frozen yogurt there is delicious, with a natural tart flavor.

The other day, while shopping for meatloaf ingredients, I was faced with choosing a brand of plain yogurt to add to the meat mix. I know it's a marketing thing, but it really dismayed me to find 99% of the yogurts for sale to be labeled either low fat or nonfat. I also know that the many fruit flavors are what first popularized yogurt in the U.S. (R.I.P. Daniel Carasso, founder of the Dannon/Danone #1 international brand, who popularized U.S. yogurt consumption in the 1940s, recently passed away at age 103), which is why most yogurts are flavored as such, but I was seeking the plain flavor for my meatloaf.

So, as I was considering the handful of brands among the larger containers of plain flavored yogurt, many of them organic, I was pleased to find European Style Straus Family Creamery Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt. It was a little bit more expensive than the other brands, but around the same cost if I bought individual servings worth of competing brands.

The yogurt did just fine in my meatloaf, which was a hit at the potluck party, but that was hardly the test of the yogurt's quality.

Since I had plenty of leftover yogurt, for two consecutive days, my breakfast consisted of a nice big bowl of Straus Plain Whole Milk Yogurt, mixed with a spoonful of strawberry preserves, and a crunchy Nature Valley Oats & Honey Granola Bar crumbled, all stirred together. It was fantastic. The yogurt was thick and creamy, tart and fresh, with great mouthfeel. The crunch from the granola and the sweet note of the strawberries rounded off the flavors. It was far more satisfying than any little prepackaged cup of fruity lowfat yogurt.

The last of the remaining yogurt in the container, I added to some spicy Indian curry chicken with potatoes, served over rice. In no way am I any sort of expert with Indian food, but I've eaten it enough times in California, Singapore, and London, to know that yogurt is a common condiment and flavor component in the cuisine. Again, the thick, tart, creamy goodness of the yogurt held its own very well against the heat and complex flavors of the curry. Of all the curries from around the world, my favorite is Indian curry, especially with thick, creamy yogurt.

Thumbs up.