What is Yogurt? Learn about its History

What is Yogurt? Learn about its History

The process of fermenting food has accompanied humanity for thousands of years. This is the case with yogurt, which history dates back to Mesopotamian times!

But how has yogurt become so popular around the world? When did it start being manufactured on a large scale? We will see these and other curious facts about yogurt in this article. Let's go!

What is Yogurt?

To understand when it all started, you need to know: what is yogurt?

Yogurt is the result of the fermentation of milk (usually cow's milk) by bacteria that consume lactose (milk sugar) and generate lactic acid. The result of this process is the creamy and slightly acidic food we know.

Knowing this is critical for us to understand that, most likely, yogurt appeared by accident – and, probably, in different parts of the world at the same time, since it is present in almost all cultures on the planet.

Although there are clues that yogurt was consumed in Mesopotamia more than 5,000 years ago, its origin is more closely linked to the region we now know as Turkey.

It is believed that goat herders in the Anatolian region stored milk in bags made from the animals' skin. The milk then reacted with the bacteria present in the bags and fermented, forming yogurt. In fact, documents show that as early as the 11th century BC, yogurt was consumed by Turkish nomads.

But, as we mentioned, yogurt is part of the diet of many peoples, and we cannot point to a precise origin. There are reports of yogurt consumption in Ancient Greece, in Genghis Khan's Mongolia, and also in texts from India and China.

Regardless of where yogurt may have originated, there is a logical explanation for the fame it has gained around the world: the fermentation process helps preserve milk – remember: the refrigerators did not exist!

The action of those benign bacteria generates a natural acidity that slows down the proliferation of bacteria harmful to our health. Thus, yogurt lasts longer, which made it better to carry on long trips.

And it didn't take long for them to discover the health benefits of yogurt as well. There are reports that, around 1540, King François I of France was treated with yogurt to cure intestinal problems.

How did yogurt become the product we know today?

It wasn't until the beginning of the 20th century that scientists actually discovered what yogurt is. Around 1900, in Bulgaria, Stamen Grigorov identified one of the bacteria present in yogurt, which was named Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

At about the same time, Russian Ilya Mechnikov discovered that there was another bacterium that participated in the process of transforming milk into yogurt: Streptococcus thermophilus.

Together, these two species of bacteria consume the sugar present in milk and generate the so-called lactic acid. This substance is responsible for the acidic taste of yogurt and for many of the benefits it brings to our health.

After these discoveries and because of how good it is for health, yogurt was even found in pharmacies! However, the mass manufacturing process began a little later, in the 1920s, with a company called Danone.

That's right! Founded in France, Danone was the company responsible for the industrialization of yogurt and its spread throughout the world, which was strengthened after the opening of a factory in the United States in the 1940s.

How is yogurt made today?

Since then, yogurt has changed little. According to the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), “Yogurt is the food produced by culturing one or more of the basic dairy ingredients (…) with a characterizing bacterial culture that contains the lactic acid-producing bacteria, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus”.

But is that all? Yes! That's why it's so easy to make yogurt at home. In addition to being practical, it is an excellent way to have healthier food, without preservatives and other chemical additives used in the industry.

The process is simple:

As we have seen, yogurt is nothing more than milk fermented by bacteria. So all you need is quality milk and a starter culture like Top Therm's.

You just need to mix both ingredients and leave the mixture to ferment in an environment with constant temperature for a few hours. You'll have homemade and natural yogurt, without additives, and much healthier.

Remembering that yogurt:

  • It is rich in calcium;
  • It has a lot of protein;
  • Helps improve immunity;
  • It's good for the guts;
  • And much more!

Do you want to know more? Read our other articles:

  • 7 benefits of probiotics
  • How to make your own homemade yogurt
  • Plain Yogurt or Greek Yogurt: How to Choose?

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