Friday, August 31, 2007

Old Chatham Sheep's Milk Yogurt, Ginger - Minireview

You can find the backstory and all that in my previous post about Old Chatham Sheep's Milk Yogurt, Maple flavor. Here's the skinny (or the fat?) on the ginger flavor:

Nutrition: Per 6 ounces, 150 calories, 12 grams sugar, and 4 grams saturated fat. That's 1 gram less sat fat and 1 gram more sugar than the maple variety. Also, it’s gluten-free.

Well, how is it? Same delicious creamy, mild white yogurt, this time interspersed with many tiny chunks of ginger. The ingredients list says "crystallized" ginger, but these bits were crunchier than that word would normally lead me to expect, more like eating raw ginger.

I'm not a ginger fanatic by any stretch, but I loved this yogurt. It seemed like a perfect combination of flavors--whoever thought of putting ginger in yogurt is some kind of genius. And how many yogurts leave you feeling confident of your fresh breath after eating them?

Ingredient notes: Once again, super short and sweet: Pasteurized Sheep's Milk, crystallized ginger, and four yogurt cultures. I guess that any added sugar comes from the "crystallized" part of the ginger?

Price: $2.19 cents per 6-ounce cup. If (like me before I tried this stuff), you can't imagine how that could possibly be worth it, well...just give it a try.

The bottom line: I love the original flavor, the minimal ingredients and lack of added sugar, and the one less gram of saturated fat makes me feel slightly less unhealthy devouring it. Still, the price is a roadblock.


Old Chatham Sheephearding Company Sheep's Milk Yogurt, Ginger:
taste: 5; texture: 3; flavor novelty: 1; sugar: 2; free of thickeners/preservatives: 2; naturally sweetened: 1; processing/earth-/animal-friendliness: 1

TOTAL = 15

Link: Old Chatham Sheephearding Company.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ricera Rice Yogurt

One-word verdict: Barf. (Trust me, it accurately describes the color and the textures of this stuff, and the taste is not far behind.)

The backstory: I noticed a new brand on the Whole Foods yogurt shelves recently--Ricera, a yogurt made from rice. Interesting! I thought. A quick look at the long ingredients list and high sugar and calorie count, however, told me that this was probably not the yogurt for me. But when it went on sale this week, I picked up a cup of the peach flavor in the name of research.

Nutrition: For a yogurt that's so low in fat, the calorie count is pretty high, thanks to a lot of carbohydrates (42 grams total carbs in a 6-ounce cup). Per 6 ounces of the peach flavor, you get 190 calories, 25 grams sugar, and 0 grams saturated fat (1 gram total fat). This also includes 3 grams fiber, which is nice, but only 3 grams protein, which is significantly less than you'll find in most dairy and soy yogurts.

The cup proudly announces that it's nondairy, and a tiny icon communicates that it's kosher, but I had to go to the company's website for confirmation that it's gluten-free (it is). That a rice-based product clearly geared toward the allergy market wouldn't make sure to put this information on the cup baffled me, but soon I realized it's the least of their problems...

Well, how is it? I needn't have worried about the calories, because I couldn't bring myself to finish it.

Upon removing the foil lid, I was accosted by a substance of a pukey brown color that smelled mildly fermented. The texture was slightly thicker than applesauce and gritty, interspersed with chunks of rice and maybe small pieces of peach (it was hard to tell).

The taste could also only be described as "fermented," with a bitter aftertaste and, at times, a hint of generic peach flavor. This, combined with the muddy color and gloppy, baby-food-like texture, made for a pretty disgusting "yogurt"-eating experience.

Where's it made? The product is "Distributed" by Ricer Foods in Middletown, California--2,907 miles from NYC.

Ingredient notes: To complement its nasty taste and uninspiring nutritional profile, Ricera has the longest ingredients list I've ever seen on a yogurt-like product. We start with "Organic Oryzalife," a patented blend of water, organic brown rice, and rice protein, followed by organic evaporated cane juice (sweetener) and organic peaches. After that starts the slew of (organic!) thickeners, flavorants, and preservatives, including tapioca starch, tapioca syrup, inulin, locust bean gum, natural flavors, agar, citric acid, pectin, and annatto. Yeesh! Also in the mix are salt, several vitamins and minerals, and four yogurt cultures.

I've said before that alternative yogurts usually need some extra ingredients to help them attain the texture of dairy yogurt, and I stand by that...but this seems excessive.

Processing/Earth-/Animal-friendliness: The container is your standard #5 plastic with a foil lid. To Ricera's credit, most of their ingredients are organic (where did they find that organic locust bean gum?), though with such a long ingredients list you have to assume that components of this yogurt are being trucked in from far and wide.

Price: I picked a 6-ounce cup up at Whole Foods on sale for $1 today, and I have to say I don't remember what the regular price is. I'll assume about $1.20. But trust me, even if it cost 20 cents you wouldn't catch me eating another cup of this dreck.

The bottom line: It tastes gross, it's high in sugar, and it doesn't exactly pass the "eat only food with a short list of ingredients you can pronounce" test. I commend the company for apparently being one of the only ones out there trying to cater to those hard-up yogurt lovers who are intolerant of both dairy and soy, but I think this product is going to need some serious rejiggering of its formula if it's going to score any repeat customers.


Ricera Rice Yogurt, Organic Peach:
taste: 0; texture: 0; sat fat: 2; naturally sweetened: 1; processing/earth-/animal-friendliness: 1


Link: Ricera Rice Yogurt.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Old Chatham Sheepherding Company Sheep's Milk Yogurt

Yes, the YogBlog is back!

One-word verdict: Creamylicious!

The backstory: I've had the buffalogurt, I've had the goatgurt. Of course I've been wanting to try the sheepgurt. It's just so damn expensive...I finally picked up a cup this week on sale, and it was still the most expensive cup of yogurt I've ever bought!

Nutrition: Old Chatham informs you right on the cup that, although their sheepgurt is full-fat, it contains the "same calories or less than many low fat cow's milk yogurts." And this is true, mostly because this stuff appears to be naturally low in sugar and they don't add to. Per 6 ounces of the maple flavor, you get 160 calories, 11 grams sugar, and 5 grams saturated fat (eep). Also, it’s gluten-free.

Well, how is it? The yogurt is white and has a lovely, naturally creamy texture (thanks, no doubt, to the ample fat content). It's not quite as thin as European-style yogurt, but not also certainly not in the "sculptable" texture category like Fage or Woodstock yogurt.

The taste is mildly tangy with a hint of maple syrup--I thought it was delicious. Not too sweet at all, but perfectly palatable. Also, I couldn't really detect anything particularly "sheepy" about it, though I'm not sure what I should have been looking out for; suffice it to say that it is not as readily identifiable as an "alternative" yogurt as both goat-cheese-reminiscent goat yogurts I have tried.

Ronnybrook makes a maple-flavored cow's milk yogurt, and if you've tried that you may have some idea of what this sheepgurt was like, although I much preferred the sheepgurt--it was less sour and had a smoother texture.

Where's it made? Old Chatham, New York--a mere 138 miles from NYC.

Ingredient notes: Old Chatham has the ideal short ingredients list for a yogurt: Pasteurized Sheep's Milk, Pure Maple Syrup, and four yogurt cultures. That's it. No preservatives, thickeners, additional sweeteners...nada. Which is always wonderful.

Processing/Earth-/Animal-friendliness: The container is your standard #5 plastic with a foil lid. The cup makes the following claims: "All natural ingredients" (duh), and "Our farm is organically managed." Wanting to know more about what that second claim meant, I visited the company's website, which has a long list of health and nutrition claims for your reading pleasure, including the following: "There is nothing added: 100% pure sheep’s milk from healthy, nurtured animals grazing on the farm’s 600 organically managed pastures in Old Chatham, located in the agriculturally rich Hudson Valley of New York." They also state that the sheep are not given hormones or routine antibiotics and "are fed grain and grass grown on our farm’s 600 acres of organically managed fields and pastures."

So, not entirely grass-fed or probably even entirely organic, but overall it still sounds pretty good.

Price: And now, the product's downfall. The regular price at Whole Foods is a whopping $2.19 cents per 6-ounce cup! I got it on sale for $1.99 (which is the same price as a cup of Fage since WF increased it), but that still counts as the most I've ever paid for a single-serve yogurt. Sigh--I feel like for that price I could buy my own sheep. If anyone has noticed it at other outlets for cheaper, let me know, OK?

The bottom line: On the one hand, the lovely taste and texture, fact that it's locally manufactured, and the perfectly spare ingredients list makes me want to eat this yogurt every day. On the other hand, the pretty high level of saturated fat and crazy expensive price seems to ensure that this will only be an occasional treat for me. Alas. I'm still looking forward to trying the ginger flavor (yes, ginger yogurt!) when it's back in stock...


Old Chatham Sheephearding Company Sheep's Milk Yogurt, Maple:
taste: 5; texture: 3; sugar: 2; free of thickeners/preservatives: 2; naturally sweetened: 1; processing/earth-/animal-friendliness: 1

TOTAL = 14

Link: Old Chatham Sheephearding Company.