Q. I’m looking for new ways to prepare yogurt. I’ve had it in smoothies and topped it with honey, jam, and granola. I’m running out of ideas on how to eat yogurt. It’s far from being my favorite food, but I know yogurt is healthy, so I want to include more of it in my diet. I’m not sure if anyone has done this before, but can you microwave yogurt? Will this enhance the flavor, or just leave a mess in my microwave? Will it somehow contaminate the yogurt and make it unsafe to eat?
A. Good for you for wanting to find more ways to eat yogurt! There are many health benefits to eating this wholesome dairy product. Yogurt contains many vitamins and minerals, protein, potassium, and calcium. You also might be glad to know that it’s relatively low in calories. Also, yogurt contains cultures that create lactic acid and probiotics, which help protect bones and teeth, prevent digestive problems, and ward off yeast infections.
Let’s get back to your question, which is an interesting one. You’re not the first person who’s wondered about or tried microwaving their yogurt. There are others, however, who can’t imagine ever doing this. Can you microwave yogurt? The best answer is a “yes, but…” response.
On the one hand, microwaving yogurt is technically safe. Eating yogurt that’s been heated won’t make you sick. It doesn’t matter whether you heat it in the microwave or over the stove.
On the other hand, if you microwave yogurt for very long, its physical make-up won’t be the same. That’s because heating kills the healthy bacteria. Yogurt is indeed both heated and cooled during production. Still, if it’s heated above 130 degrees F (54.4 degrees C), the healthy bacteria will die. Also, yogurt will curdle when it’s exposed to enough heat, which can render it visually unappealing. The result is that your yogurt won’t taste or look the same.
If you’re looking to eat yogurt to be healthy, you probably don’t want to microwave it, especially if you don’t want to kill all those cultures that are good for you.
If you really want to eat microwaved yogurt, and you don’t mind it being curdled, then go ahead. Besides, yogurt also curdles if left in the refrigerator for too long. In either case, you can stir the yogurt to mix it back together, as long as it hasn’t clumped up too much or smells bad. In fact, some parents microwave yogurt if they’re feeling it to a baby.
If you decide to use a microwave, use a few precautions. If the yogurt is still in its plastic container, pour it into a ceramic or glass bowl. Warm the yogurt for about 10 seconds and then stir. Depending on the microwave, you might get away with another 10 seconds or so before killing too many bacteria. The main thing is to keep the yogurt from boiling and curdling. Use a low setting if your microwave has one.
There are alternatives to microwaving. For instance, you can just leave the yogurt out at room temperature for about 20 minutes. You also can put a sealed container of yogurt in a hot-water bath to warm it up; a glass or ceramic container works best. If none of these alternatives work for you, just add a little bit of warm water to the yogurt itself. Regardless of how you serve yogurt, always make sure you stir it before serving or eating.