By Charlyn Fargo
Buying yogurt these days can be a bit confusing. There’s all kinds of Greek yogurt, regular yogurt and now, French yogurt.
In July, Yoplait debuted a “French style yogurt” (called Oui). If you’re unclear on what a “French style yogurt” is, you’re not alone. According to the General Mills’ blog, it was introduced to the company by Brice LeRoy, an innovation product designer in the company’s dairy group who hails from western France. LeRoy grew up watching his mother make “pot-set” yogurt in his family’s kitchen, and the same traditional French method is used to craft Oui (It’s based on Yoplait’s Saveur d’Autrefois, which has been sold for years in France.).
This French method involves pouring the ingredients—whole milk, pure cane sugar, fruit and yogurt cultures—into individual glass pots and allowing the contents to set and culture for eight hours. Oui comes in glass jars instead of plastic, which supposedly helps the yogurt stabilize itself without added ingredients. (Note: cost is higher than other types – typically around $1.49 per unit.)
The glass also serves to establish Oui’s ties to the French countryside, giving evidence of authenticity. I found the glass compelling – it conveys an old-world feel (at least compared to plastic), and it can be recycled, almost like those baby jars of old.
The process for making French yogurt differs vastly from the U.S. standard for making yogurt, which involves culturing ingredients in large vats and then filling individual cups with fully prepared yogurt.
“It’s the simplest way to make yogurt, but it’s also the hardest to do at scale,” wrote Yoplait Director Doug Martin in the General Mills’ blog.
The result of the French method is a yogurt that is incredibly thick, but with a sweeter taste than the more tart Greek yogurt. Oui comes in eight flavors: strawberry, blueberry, black cherry, vanilla, coconut, lemon, peach and plain, and each is packaged in an individual glass pot.
Unfortunately, French style yogurt doesn’t pack nearly as much protein as its Greek yogurt competitors.
A 5-ounce container of Oui plain yogurt has 140 calories and 5 grams of protein, while a 5-ounce serving of Fage‘s plain, whole milk Greek yogurt has 136 calories and 13 grams of protein, and a 5.3-ounce container of Chobani‘s plain, whole milk Greek yogurt has 130 calories and 13 grams of protein. That’s almost three times as much protein in popular Greek yogurt brands than in the new Oui yogurt. Icelandic skyr yogurt, another Greek yogurt sold as Siggi’s, often has an even higher protein count, as the popular Siggi’s plain, whole milk skyr contains 144 calories and 16 grams of protein per 5-ounce serving.
I typically don’t pick up whole milk yogurt over low fat or no fat, but whole milk is the only way the French yogurt comes. For the more calorie conscious, I suggest sticking with Greek yogurt such as Oikos Triple Zero (which has 15 grams of protein, 7 grams of sugar and 6 grams of fiber from dried chicory root). Nutritionally, I don’t think you can beat that.
However, it’s nice to change things up sometime – for that a jar of French yogurt may be just the thing to try.