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Dairy products, types and  their nutritional value

Dairy products, types and their nutritional value

Dairy products are products that are produced mainly from fresh milk. Their production is done with the help of special enzymes, which cause the coagulation of the proteins it contains.
It is rich in vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, saturated fats, carbohydrates, but also in proteins of high biological value, which are the main structural component of the body and ensure its proper functioning and muscle growth.

Dairy products are yogurt, cheese, butter, ice cream and of course milk.


Yogurt is a dairy product, produced after the fermentation of milk, with special lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria are a combination of lactic bacillus (Lactobacillus bulgaricus) and a lactic streptococcus (Streptococcus thermophilus), which, acting together, cause the milk to coagulate and form the special taste characteristics of yogurt.
Bacteria should be abundant and alive in the final product, throughout its life, because their action is due to the beneficial properties of yogurt.

Yogurt is a very nutritious and digestible food, suitable for all ages and of course for all stages of development. It contains a high percentage of protein, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamins A, B2 and B12. The combination of all these ingredients contributes to the rapid growth of the body and the maintenance of human health.

The proteins in yogurt are of high biological value, while their quality is superior to milk. In fact, their amount, like that of calcium, is much higher than that of milk, because all the ingredients are contained in concentrated form. In particular, these proteins are more easily digested because they are more vulnerable to digestive enzymes.

In fact, yogurt is fermented several times, with the result that it is digested (by 93%) by the intestine much more easily than milk. The rich nutrients contained in yogurt and the relatively low calories, help fight obesity.

A cup of yogurt is equivalent to a full meal and can replace our dinner, especially if we pay attention to our diet or to lose weight.

There are two types of yogurt on the market.

  1. The traditional , ie the classic yogurt in plain trays or in clay, which is like what we make in our homes, with the skin on the yogurt and all the nutrients, and the European type, which exists in many species, such as cow’s, sheep’s, strained yogurt, with 2% fat, etc.
  2. Other European-type yogurts are those that are mixed with fruit, cereals, honey and other items, which are made from cow’s milk only.

The difference between European and Traditional yogurts, is that the European type of yogurt, exists in many types but with the addition of preservatives, which make it keep for a long time in the refrigerator. Traditional yogurt, on the other hand, lasts a few days in the fridge like other yogurts, but is fresh and without preservatives, like homemade .


Cheese is the product produced by draining milk gel and is one of the oldest and most valuable foods in the human diet, with enormous nutritional value. It is rich in protein, calcium, vitamins A and D, B-complex vitamin and phosphorus. The proteins it contains are broken down, due to the maturation of the cheese, as a result of which they are fully assimilated by the body, which makes it more digestible.

  • The types of cheese depending on the fat they contain are divided into:
    Lean cheeses   with less than 10% fat (mizithra, feta, kefalotyri)
    Moderate   from 10 – 50% fat (feta, parmesan, kefalotyri, gruyere
    Thick cheeses   with 50% – 85 % fat (manouri, kasseri, touloumotyri, roquefort).

The cheese should be stored at + 2 ° C to + 4 ° C in their original packaging (plastic bag or container). Once opened, they are best kept in a transparent film, foil or plastic food storage container, which helps retain their moisture. Cheeses with a strong smell, such as feta, should be stored in a separate container, so that the smell is not transferred to other foods.

After the cheeses are opened from their original packaging and left in the refrigerator for a few days, it is very likely that mold marks will be observed on their outer surface. This is due to the microorganisms called Eurotum fungi, which grow and form colored spots on their surface, commonly mold, while tarnishing their fat.

Although most forms of mold are harmless to the body, to be safer, remove with a knife about 2 cm from the surface of the cheese where mold is observed. Consume the rest of the cheese in a short time.

The deterioration of cheeses depends on their moisture content. The higher the humidity, the easier it is to damage. In general, the harder the cheese, the longer it lasts, so soft cheeses should be consumed shortly after purchase.

Hard cheeses are stored for one to two months, while softer cheeses are stored for one to three weeks after opening, if stored in an airtight container. Also, cheeses last longer when they are cut into pieces than when they are grated. However the cheeses are still maturing, no matter how well stored.

The cheese melts faster when it is cut into small pieces or grated. When adding cheese to boiling food, lower the heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. The strong fire hardens the cheese and turns it into fine fibers. When making cheese sauce, put the cheese at the end and stir until it starts to melt.


Butter is produced from fat, the cream that contains whole, non-homogenized milk, by the method of culmination, ie the agglomeration of fat pellets and the differentiation of its density from milk. Thus, the fat rises to the surface, collects and matures with the help of microorganisms (betacoccus citrovolus and betacoccus paracitrovolus). Alternatively, buttering is carried out by placing the milk in a special container and after sufficient beating (defrosting). Buttering is completed by heating the butter to a certain temperature to get its final shape. The butter before packaging is washed with cold water to clean the buttermilk.

Butter is a source of fat, rich in saturated fat and cholesterol. It also contains small amounts of lactose and proteins, vitamins and minerals. It has a high caloric value and its consumption offers the feeling of satiety.
Butter has been known since antiquity, especially in areas that did not have olive oil or other fatty options and was used to enrich their food.
Today it is used as such, as a spread and as an additive fat in cooking and confectionery.

Ice cream

Ice cream is equivalent to a second glass of milk and is classified as a safe food because it is stored and consumed frozen. The sandy texture that is often observed in ice cream, from the crystallization of lactose in milk, is not an alteration. The consumer must be careful with the ice creams that are packaged. Not to be deformed in terms of their shape but also not to have thawed and re-frozen. Ice creams from well-known companies are preferred so that we can be sure about the pasteurization of the raw material, milk.

Alternative foods for those who avoid dairy

People who suffer from bloating, indigestion, nausea and abdominal pain, after consuming dairy products, usually avoid their consumption, thus depriving their body of important nutrients.
At the same time, fanatical vegetarians, who do not consume any dairy products, lack equally significant amounts of nutrients that could be covered by milk and their derivatives.
Although no food can completely replace the dairy group, there are some foods that are very good sources of nutrients and can meet the basic needs and functions of our body.

These foods are:

  • Legumes, dried fruits, sesame, broccoli, and sardines (rich in calcium).
  • Dried fruits, avocados, bananas, tomatoes, peaches, eggs. (rich in potassium).
  • Meat, fish, mushrooms, eggs (rich in B vitamins).
  • Almond or rice milk.
  • Soy milk. Only prefer it if it has added calcium.
  • Orange juice, preferably fortified with calcium.

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