The great History of Yogurt
Yogurt is a very ancient food. The first traces of it have been found between 10 000 and 5 000 BCE in the Neolithic period. It has gone down in the history of human nutrition as a traditional product. It enables milk to be preserved and also has numerous health benefits.
According to some historical texts, yogurt is believed to have been eaten as far back as 10,000 to 5,000BC. It’s probable that the earliest yogurt was made by accident in Mesopotamia around 5,000 BC, when milk-producing animals were first domesticated. By 2,000bc it is estimated that about half of the human population was accustomed to eating dairy products.
Milk from different animals (goats, sheep, cows) has been consumed by humans for at least the last 10 000 years (link with yogurt). The oldest traces of milking by humans is dated at 8500 BC (in Africa and the Middle-East) and milking is closely linked with the domestication of animals by humans. Yogurt originally became popular as a way of fermenting dairy milk to preserve it.
Yogurt’s roots are old…
Yogurt has been a staple in Arabic, Turkish, Indian and Russian cuisine for centuries. It is generally agreed among historians that yogurt and other fermented milk products were discovered accidentally as a result of milk being stored by primitive methods in warm climates.
It has been reported that yogurt has been used as a beauty product (skin cleanser/moisturizer) since 2,000bc.
For thousands of years, yogurt has been an indispensable food on Turkish tables. Medieval Turkish writers have often referred to yogurt as being a type of health food and it is known to have been a staple in the Byzantine diet. The word yogurt may have originated from theTurkish word “Yogurmak” meaning to curdle or to thicken. Today it may be spelled as yoghurt, or yogourt, with yogurt being the common American spelling.
The French King, Francois I, is reputed throughout history to have been cured of a mysterious intestinal ailment by a doctor, who fed him yogurt. After his recovery, the doctor left Constantinople, taking with him the trade secret.
Yogurt is believed to originate in the area of the Tigris-Euprhates Rivers. Travelers are thought to have introduced it to other parts of the world. Middle-Eastern immigrants are believed to have first introduced yogurt into the Americas in the 17th century.
There is folklore linking yogurt consumption to longevity. In fact, people in Bulgaria had a longer than average lifespan and it many locals believe that this is due to the large quantities of cultured milk products that they consume. At the end of the nineteenth century, Elie Metchnikoff, a Russian scientist who worked at the Pasteur Institute, Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1908, published his theories about the potential benefits of yogurt.
The first large-scale production of yogurt is attributed to Isaac Carasso, the founder of Danone, in 1919 in Barcelona.