Fermentation Basics: Using Yogurt

Brent Pottenger writes:

In place of mayonnaise, my brother started using plain yogurt to make tuna salad. In the process, he learned, “For some reason, the tuna tastes better after sitting in the refrigerator for a day or two.” Tuna salad made with yogurt is tolerable when freshly made, but it definitely gets much better as it ages.

Now, when I make smoothies, I blend the fruit and the yogurt, then I let the smoothie sit for some hours, minimally, before I drink it.

8 Replies to “Fermentation Basics: Using Yogurt”

  1. Tom, good point. I have often wondered why leftovers taste better. I used to think that during the first meal you learned the flavor-calorie association. But maybe it is simply fermentation. If so, leftovers should taste better even if you didn’t taste them originally. That is, they should taste better on Tuesday whether or not you tasted them on Monday.

  2. There’s no way that tuna sitting in the fridge for 2 days or a smoothie left out for a few hours will have any significant amount of bacteria. Seth, please check out some microbiology before you make these statements. The tuna is sterile in the can and needs to be seeded with bacteria – the right kind, hopefully, assuming that one knows what that is – and left at 37 Celsius for quite some time before you’d find the billions needed for your thesis. Likewise the smoothie will have minimal bacteria when prepared plus everything is cold to begin with presumably. Leftovers at refrigerator temperature will not breed bacteria in a day or 2; that’s why they invented refrigerators.

  3. Dennis, many people take several hours to put leftovers away — a difference that suggests another test: Do the leftovers taste better if they are left out longer before being refrigerated?

  4. Seth, maybe. In any case I realize my comment sounds rather harsh – my apologies. It’s just that with your idea regarding fermented food, you’re not distinguishing between bacterial species, which surely would be important, and numbers, likewise. For instance, you mentioned wine in other posts – most of the microbes there will be fungi, not even in the same kingdom as bacteria; yogurt will have lactobacilli, rotten meat probably a combination of gram pos and neg, and so on.

    Also, leftovers are going from a completely sterile state due to cooking – where’s the bacteria coming from?

  5. Dennis, the human immune system is sensitive to many things much different than bacteria — viruses, for example. So the type of bacteria is unlikely to matter. As for the sterile cooked food, bacteria come from the air. Think of sourdough, supposedly easier to make in the San Francisco Bay Area than other places because of the air. It’s also possible I’m wrong, that leftovers taste so good for some other reason. But since it is a huge effect by scientific standards — how much better leftovers taste — and mysterious, it is certainly worth study.

  6. I want to echo Dennis’ comment. Of the two forms of fermentations, saccharolytic and proteolytic, only the former is recognized as beneficial while the latter is pathogenic. It is certainly worth study to prevent “attribute substitution”.
    Cooks know that food – braised or confit dishes in particular, tastes much better after given sometime for flavor to commingle so there is an alternative explanation.

  7. JohnN, proteolytic fermentation is “pathogenic”? What do you mean by that? And what do you base that on? I have been unable to figure out what you are saying. I managed to find that some venoms contain proteolytic enzymes but not more than that. I agree that meat fermentation is more dangerous than fermentation of milk and other sugar-containing foods.

Comments are closed.