Food History is a resource for anybody interested in food history. Articles exploring various issues of food history will be featured regularly. Learning food history means that cultural study which involves multidisciplinary approaches from economics, sociology and demography, and even literature.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

History of Yoghurt

History of Yoghurt
Fermentation of yoghurt is one of the oldest methods practiced by human beings in order to transform milk into products. There is evidence of cultured milk products being produced as food for at least 4,500 years. The exact origin of making fermented milk could be date from some 10000 – 15000 years ago. It might dates back to pre-Biblical times, and Moses reputedly partook of it on his way to promised Land. The earliest yoghurts were probably spontaneously fermented by wild bacteria living on the goat skin bags carried by the Bulgars (or Hunno-Bulgars), a nomadic people who began migrating into Europe in the second century AD and eventually settled in the Balkans at the end of the seventh century.

Archaeological evidence shows that some civilians were well advanced in agriculture and husbandry methods, and in the production of fermented milks such as yoghurt (for example the Sumerians and Babylonians, the Pharos and Indians).

The belief in its beneficial influence on human health and nutrition has existed in many civilizations. The use of yoghurt by mediaeval Turks is recorded in the books Diwan Lughat al-Turk by Mahmud Kashgari and Kutadgu Bilig by Yusuf Has Hajib written in the eleventh century. In both texts the word "yoghurt" is mentioned in different sections and its use by nomadic Turks is described. The first account of a European encounter with yoghurt occurs in French clinical history: King Francois I suffering from an intestinal complaint which no French doctor could cure. His ally Suleiman the Magnificent sent a Jewish doctor from Constantinople, who allegedly cured the patient with yoghurt. The doctor arrived on foot with flock of sheep and cured his royal client, but refused to divulge the secret of his concoctions. It is likely, however, that the origin of yoghurt was from Middle East after domestication of milk producing animals began, around 9000 B.C.

The Russian biologist Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov co-winner of 1908 Nobel Prize had an unproven hypothesis that regular consumption of yoghurt was responsible for the unusually long lifespans of Bulgarian peasants. Believing Lactobacillus to be essential for good health, Mechnikov worked to popularise yoghurt as a foodstuff throughout Europe. It fell to a Sephardic Jewish entrepreneur named Isaac Carasso to industrialize the production of yoghurt.
History of Yoghurt