Freezing yogurt is an effective way to extend its shelf life. However, the probiotics in yogurt are extremely sensitive to temperatures, leaving some to wonder if freezing will kill the live cultures.
Freezing yogurt may kill off some of the probiotics while preserving the rest of them. The live cultures that are retained go into a dormant state once exposed to freezing temperatures and will awaken when they are exposed to 99°F - 130°F (37°C-54°C) temperatures.
There are other things to understand about freezing yogurt and the live probiotics in it. Read on below to learn more.
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Does Freezing Yogurt Kill the Probiotics?
The live bacteria in regular yogurt and Greek yogurt are thermophilic by nature, which means that they can only survive when kept in optimal conditions otherwise they could die. In this case, you could still eat the yogurt but would not be able to get any of the health benefits offered by the probiotics.
The ideal temperatures for yogurt are between 99°F - 130°F (37°C-54°C), though they can survive in a freezer for up to two months as long as it has been stored in an air-tight container. This is because the live cultures become dormant and will not carry out any metabolic activities. Once the yogurt has been thawed, the once-dormant cultures in regular and Greek yogurt will become active again.
You can avoid killing off more live cultures in the thawing process by doing it slowly; place it in the refrigerator first after the freezer, then into room temperature.
What Causes the Live Cultures in Yogurt To Be Killed Off?
When regular and Greek yogurt has not been stored properly, or they have been exposed to improper conditions, these can cause the probiotics to die.
- Storing yogurt in temperatures above 130°F (54°C)
- Keeping yogurt in the side shelf of the refrigerator, exposing it to constant temperature changes whenever you open and close the door
Avoid these conditions and ensure to keep yogurt in temperatures between 99°F - 130°F (37°C-54°C) to retain as much live bacteria as possible.
Regular and Greek yogurt can be safely frozen for up to 2 months in an airtight container. This may cause some probiotics to be killed off, though most of them will be preserved.