Yogurt also often spelled yoghurt or yogourt made its way into western Europe from Turkey. It is made from milk, generally the milk of a cow, but technically it could be made from the milk of nearly any mammal. The process to make yogurt involves first heating the milk to about 80° C to kill off any unwanted bacteria, then cooling the mixture to about 45° C. Then introducing a specific bacteria which converts lactose into lactic acid (generally Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies bulgaricus and Streptococcus salivarius subspecies thermophilus).

Yogurt Cup

The health benefits of yogurt are many. Yogurt, with active cultures, has been shown in studies to kill bad stomach bacteria (including those causing ulcers) and introduce good bacteria. Yogurt is high in calcium which is good for bones and teeth. It can also help reduce cholesterol in the blood. Many people who are lactose intolerant can still eat yogurt.

The history of yogurt goes back to Neolithic times when animal herders stored milk in the intestines of cows. Bacteria found in the intestines worked on the milk to make yogurt. Genghis Khan believed yogurt promoted martial qualities and good health in his men and mandated it on the march. In the 1500s yogurt found its way into Europe and was recommended as both a medicine and a food. Commercial production began in Spain in the early 1900s with the Danone company.

Making yogurt at home can be an all day process. Special yogurt makers have been developed and are available in both kitchen stores and online. Even so, yogurt can be made with common kitchen implements. (Learn how to make homemade yogurt.)

There are a variety of yogurts available. Of course there are a vast array of flavors that are achieved by adding fruits and sometimes artificial flavors. These are generally sweetened. Differences in processes or the bacteria used can change the consistency of yogurt. For thicker yogurts try Turkish or Greek styles.

In most recipes containing yogurt, plain yogurt is used. When yogurt is cooked as in soups it loses some of its health benefit. Nevertheless, it is very serviceable in dips and spreads. It can also be embellished with macerated fruits and other toppings.

This brief overview merely scratches the surface of all there is to know about yogurt. For more details about yogurt simply click a link in the contents above or use the navbar found at the top of any page within this folio. To read through the information in the manner in which it was intended, use the "next page" links at the bottom of each page.

The History of Yogurt >>

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