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What are All the Dairy Products Under the Sun?
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Yogurt is a milk product that has been fermented and allowed to coagulate. Of all the foods you mention, it is probably the most universally available, having shown up first in Asia before spreading to most of the rest of the world. In various cultures, yogurt may be made from the milk of cows, sheep, goats, camels, water buffaloes, and yaks. The plain yogurt found in the US and Britain is mostly made from cow’s milk and is fairly bland. A yak’s-milk yogurt used in an American or British recipe would probably be a bit strong. Sour cream can also stand in for yogurt in many recipes, and vice versa.

Fromage frais is a creamy soft cheese made with whole or skimmed milk and cream. It has the consistency of another product available in the US, cream cheese, but with fewer calories and less cholesterol. Where available, low-fat cream cheese is an acceptable substitute for fromage blanc. You may have to do a little exploring in your country to find a mild, soft, white, fresh cheese that you can use for cooking.

Fromage blanc has the consistency of sour cream. It comes in three fat levels — 40%, 20%, and 0%.The two versions with fat can be added to hot liquids to make a sauce that will not curdle. Fromage blanc can be whipped with an immersion blender for increased volume. Chefs at the fancy French spas have elevated the use of fromage blanc to an art form, since it is low in calories and high in creamy flavor.

Oh, and that buttermilk? It used to be the liquid left over when cream was churned to butter. Nowadays, it’s another commercially made product, in which bacteria is introduced to lowfat milk, causing it to thicken and producing a tangy flavor.

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