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A bowl of yogurt garnished with fruit and mint

Yogurt, yoghurt, or yoghourt (/ˈjoʊɡərt/ or /ˈjɒɡət/; from Turkish: yoğurt; other spellings listed below) is a food produced by bacterial fermentation of milk.

The bacteria used to make yogurt are known as "yogurt cultures". Fermentation of lactose by these bacteria produces lactic acid, which acts on milk protein to give yogurt its texture and characteristic tang. Worldwide, cow's milk, the protein of which is mainly casein, is most commonly used to make yogurt. Milk from water buffalo, goats, ewes, mares, camels, and yaks, however, is also used to produce yogurt in various parts of the world.

Dairy yogurt is produced using a culture of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria. In addition, other lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are also sometimes added during or after culturing yogurt. Some countries require yogurt to contain a certain amount of colony-forming units of microorganisms.

In Western culture, the milk is first heated to about 85 °C (185 °F) to denature the milk proteins so that they set together rather than form curds. In some places, such as parts of India and Bangladesh, curds are a desired component and milk is boiled. After heating, the milk is allowed to cool to about 45 °C (113 °F). The bacterial culture is added, and the temperature of 45 °C is maintained for 4 to 7 hours to allow fermentation.


The word is derived from Turkish: yoğurt, and is usually related to the verb yoğurmak: "to be curdled or coagulated; to thicken". or yuğur- "id" and the suffix -t. The letter ğ was traditionally rendered as "gh" in transliterations of Turkish prior to 1928. In older Turkish, the letter denoted a voiced velar fricative /ɣ/, but this sound is elided between back vowels in modern Turkish, in which the word is pronounced [joˈuɾt], or [joˈɰuɾt].

In English, there are several variations of the spelling of the word, including yogurt, yoghurt and to a lesser extent yoghourt, yogourt, yaghourt, yahourth, yoghurd, joghourt, and jogourt. In the United Kingdom and Australia, yogurt and yoghurt are both current, yogurt being used by the Australian and British dairy councils, and yoghourt is an uncommon alternative. In the United States, yogurt is the usual spelling and yoghurt a minor variant. In New Zealand, yoghurt is preferred by the New Zealand Oxford Dictionary. In Canada, yogurt is most common among English speakers although "yoghurt" is also used, but many brands use yogourt, since it is an acceptable spelling in both English and French, the official languages of Canada.

Historically there have also been cases of yogurt being spelt with a "J" instead of a "Y" (e.g. jogurt and joghurt) due to alternative transliteration methods. However, there has been a decline in these variations in English speaking countries, but in certain European countries it is still commonly spelt with a "J". Most people tend to spell in the manner shown on the packaging of the major brands in their country.

Whatever the spelling, the word is usually pronounced with a short o in England and Wales, with a long o in Scotland, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa.


Analysis of the L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus genome indicates that the bacterium may have originated on the surface of a plant. Milk may have become spontaneously and unintentionally infected through contact with plants, or bacteria may have been transferred via the udder of domestic milk-producing animals.

In ancient Indian records, the combination of yogurt and honey is called "the food of the gods". Persian traditions hold that "Abraham owed his fecundity and longevity to the regular ingestion of yogurt".

The "milk" in the biblical reference to "the land flowing with milk and honey" was actually a fermented yogurt style drink. Yogurt contains far less lactose and lasts longer than "sweet milk", or fresh milk, allowing the Israelites the opportunity to consume the beverage for an extended period of time. The scholar Nachmanides comments on the term "flowing", stating that it is the key word in the sentence. Just as livestock produce higher quantities of milk when they are living in fertile pastures, The Promised Land is a particularly fertile place- one that is symptomatic of the greater good.

The cuisine of ancient Greece included a dairy product known as Oxygala which is believed to have been a form of Greek Yogurt. Galen (AD 129 – c. 200/c. 216) mentioned that Oxygala was consumed with honey, similar to the way thickened Greek yogurt is eaten today.

The oldest writings mentioning yogurt are attributed to Pliny the Elder, who remarked that certain "barbarous nations" knew how "to thicken the milk into a substance with an agreeable acidity". The use of yogurt by medieval Turks is recorded in the books Diwan Lughat al-Turk by Mahmud Kashgari and Kutadgu Bilig by Yusuf Has Hajib written in the 11th century. Both texts mention the word "yogurt" in different sections and describe its use by nomadic Turks. The earliest yogurts were probably spontaneously fermented by wild bacteria in goat skin bags.

Some accounts suggest that Indian emperor Akbar's cooks would flavor yogurt with mustard seeds and cinnamon. Another early account of a European encounter with yogurt occurs in French clinical history: Francis I suffered from a severe diarrhea which no French doctor could cure. His ally Suleiman the Magnificent sent a doctor, who allegedly cured the patient with yogurt. Being grateful, the French king spread around the information about the food which had cured him.

Until the 1900s, yogurt was a staple in diets of people in the Russian Empire (and especially Central Asia and the Caucasus), Western Asia, South Eastern Europe/Balkans, Central Europe, and India. Stamen Grigorov (1878–1945), a Bulgarian student of medicine in Geneva, first examined the microflora of the Bulgarian yogurt. In 1905, he described it as consisting of a spherical and a rod-like lactic acid bacteria. In 1907, the rod-like bacterium was called Bacillus bulgaricus (now Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus). The Russian Nobel laureate and biologist Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov (also known as Élie Metchnikoff), from the Institut Pasteur in Paris, was influenced by Grigorov's work and hypothesized that regular consumption of yogurt was responsible for the unusually long lifespans of Bulgarian peasants. Believing Lactobacillus to be essential for good health, Mechnikov worked to popularize yogurt as a foodstuff throughout Europe.

Isaac Carasso industrialized the production of yogurt. In 1919, Carasso, who was from Ottoman Salonika, started a small yogurt business in Barcelona, Spain, and named the business Danone ("little Daniel") after his son. The brand later expanded to the United States under an Americanized version of the name: Dannon.

Yogurt with added fruit jam was patented in 1933 by the Radlická Mlékárna dairy in Prague.

Yogurt was introduced to the United States in the first decade of the twentieth century, influenced by Élie Metchnikoff's The Prolongation of Life; Optimistic Studies (1908); it was available in tablet form for those with digestive intolerance and for home culturing. It was popularized by John Harvey Kellogg at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where it was used both orally and in enemas, and later by Armenian immigrants Sarkis and Rose Colombosian, who started "Colombo and Sons Creamery" in Andover, Massachusetts in 1929. Colombo Yogurt was originally delivered around New England in a horse-drawn wagon inscribed with the Armenian word "madzoon" which was later changed to "yogurt", the Turkish name of the product, as Turkish was the lingua franca between immigrants of the various Near Eastern ethnicities who were the main consumers at that time. Yogurt's popularity in the United States was enhanced in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was presented as a health food. By the late 20th century, yogurt had become a common American food item and Colombo Yogurt was sold in 1993 to General Mills, which discontinued the brand in 2010.

There is an ongoing effort by Byron-Bergen Elementary School to make Yogurt the official snack food of New York State.


Unstirred Turkish Süzme Yoğurt (strained yogurt), with a 10% fat content

Yogurt is nutritionally rich in protein, calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. It has nutritional benefits beyond those of milk. Lactose-intolerant individuals may tolerate yogurt better than other dairy products due to the conversion of lactose to the sugars glucose and galactose, and due to the fermentation of lactose to lactic acid carried out by the bacteria present in the yogurt. Yogurt contains varying amounts of fat. For example, some cows'-milk yogurts contain no fat; others of low fat content have 2% fat, whole-milk yogurt may have 4% fat; some yogurts sold as "Greek-style" may have about 10% fat.

Health effects
Yogurt has been claimed to have many health benefits. There is moderate-quality evidence to support the idea that consumption of dairy products, including yogurt, may reduce the risk of high blood pressure. However, the precise mechanism for this effect is not fully understood.


Tzatziki is a side dish made with yogurt, popular in Greek cuisine, and similar yet thicker than the Turkish Cacik and close to the traditional Bulgarian Milk salad.

Cacık, a Turkish cold appetizer made from yogurt

Tarator is a cold soup made of yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic and sunflower oil (walnuts are sometimes added) and is popular in Bulgaria.

Raita is a condiment made with yogurt and popular in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

Dadiah sold in Bukittinggi Market

Da-hi is a yogurt of the Indian subcontinent, known for its characteristic taste and consistency. The word da-hi seems to be derived from the Sanskrit word dadhi, one of the five elixirs, or panchamrita, often used in Hindu ritual. Dahi also holds cultural symbolism in many homes in the Mithila region of Nepal and Bihar. Yogurt balances the palate across regional cuisines throughout India. In the hot and humid south, yogurt and foods made of yogurt are a staple in order to cool down - yogurt rice is always the last dish of the meal. Also, the primarily vegetarian population of India derives some protein from yogurt (other than lentil and beans). Sweet yogurt (meesti doi or meethi dahi) is common in eastern parts of India, made by fermenting sweetened milk. While cows' milk is considered sacred and is currently the primary ingredient for yogurt, goat and buffalo milk were widely used in the past, and valued for the fat content (see buffalo curd). Butter and cream were made by churning the yogurt/milk.

In India and Pakistan, it is often used in cosmetics mixed with turmeric and honey. Sour yogurt, is also used as a hair conditioner by women in many parts of India and Pakistan. Dahi is also known as Mosaru (Kannada), Thayir (Tamil), Thayiru (Malayalam), doi (Assamese, Bengali), dohi (Oriya), perugu (Telugu), Qәzana a pәәner (Pashto) and Dhahi or Dhaunro (Sindhi).

Raita is a yogurt-based South Asian/Indian condiment, used as a side dish. The yogurt is seasoned with cilantro (coriander), cumin, mint, cayenne pepper, and other herbs and spices. Vegetables such as cucumber and onions are mixed in, and the mixture is served chilled. Raita has a cooling effect on the palate which makes it a good foil for spicy Indian and Pakistani dishes. Raita is sometimes also referred to as dahi.

Dadiah or Dadih is a traditional West Sumatran yogurt made from water buffalo milk, fermented in bamboo tubes.

Yogurt is popular in Nepal, where it is served as both an appetizer and dessert. Locally called dahi, it is a part of the Nepali culture, used in local festivals, marriage ceremonies, parties, religious occasions, family gatherings, and so on. The most famous type of Nepalese yogurt is called juju dhau, originating from the city of Bhaktapur. In Tibet, yak milk (technically dri milk, as the word yak refers to the male animal) is made into yogurt (and butter and cheese) and consumed.

In Northern Iran, Mâst Chekide is a variety of kefir yogurt with a distinct sour taste. It is usually mixed with a pesto-like water and fresh herb purée called delal. Yogurt is a side dish to all Iranian meals. The most popular appetizers are spinach or eggplant borani, Mâst-o-Khiâr with cucumber, spring onions and herbs, and Mâst-Musir with wild shallots. In the summertime, yogurt and ice cubes are mixed together with cucumbers, raisins, salt, pepper and onions and topped with some croutons made of Persian traditional bread and served as a cold soup. Ashe-Mâst is a warm yogurt soup with fresh herbs, spinach and lentils. Even the leftover water extracted when straining yogurt is cooked to make a sour cream sauce called kashk, which is usually used as a topping on soups and stews.

Matsoni is a Georgian yogurt popular in the Caucasus and Russia. It is used in a wide variety of Georgian dishes and is believed to have contributed to the high life expectancy and longevity in the country. Dannon used this theory in their 1978 TV advertisement called In Soviet Georgia where shots of elderly Georgian farmers were interspersed with an off-camera announcer intoning, "In Soviet Georgia, where they eat a lot of yogurt, a lot of people live past 100." Matsoni is also popular in Japan under the name Caspian Sea Yogurt.

Tarator and Cacık are popular cold soups made from yogurt, popular during summertime in Albania, Azerbaijan (known as Dogramac), Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. They are made with ayran, cucumbers, dill, salt, olive oil, and optionally garlic and ground walnuts. Tzatziki in Greece and milk salad in Bulgaria are thick yogurt-based salads similar to tarator.

Khyar w Laban (cucumber and yogurt salad) is a popular dish in Lebanon and Syria. Also, a wide variety of local Lebanese and Syrian dishes are cooked with yogurt like "Kibbi bi Laban", etc.

Rahmjoghurt, a creamy yogurt with much higher fat content (10%) than many yogurts offered in English-speaking countries (Rahm is German for "cream"), is available in Germany and other countries.

Dovga, a yogurt soup cooked with a variety of herbs and rice is popular in Azerbaijan, often served warm in winter or refreshingly cold in summer.

Cream-top yogurt is yogurt made with unhomogenized milk. A layer of cream rises to the top, forming a rich yogurt cream. Cream-top yogurt was first made commercially popular in the United States by Brown Cow of Newfield, New York, bucking the trend toward low- and non-fat yogurts.

Jameed is yogurt which is salted and dried to preserve it. It is popular in Jordan.

Zabadi is the type of yogurt made in Egypt, usually from the milk of the Egyptian water buffalo. It is particularly associated with Ramadan fasting, as it is thought to prevent thirst during all-day fasting.

Sweetened and flavoured yogurt
To offset its natural sourness, yogurt is also sold sweetened, flavoured or in containers with fruit or fruit jam on the bottom. The two styles of yogurt commonly found in the grocery store are set type yogurt and Swiss style yogurt. Set type yogurt is when the yogurt is packaged with the fruit on the bottom of the cup and the yogurt on top. Swiss style yogurt is when the fruit is blended into the yogurt prior to packaging.

Lassi and Moru are common beverages in India. Lassi is milk that is sweetened with sugar commonly, less commonly honey and often combined with fruit pulp to create flavoured lassi. Mango lassi is a western favourite, as is coconut lassi. Consistency can vary widely, with urban and commercial lassis being of uniform texture through being processed, whereas rural and rustic lassi has curds in it, and sometimes has malai (cream) added or removed. Moru is a popular South Indian summer drink, meant to keep drinkers hydrated through the hot and humid summers of the South. It is prepared by considerably thinning down yogurt with water, adding salt (for electrolyte balance) and spices, usually green chilli peppers, asafoetida, curry leaves and mustard.

Large amounts of sugar – or other sweeteners for low-calorie yogurts – are often used in commercial yogurt. Some yogurts contain added starch, pectin (found naturally in fruit), and/or gelatine to create thickness and creaminess artificially at lower cost. Gelatine is a meat or fish product, therefore vegetarians should avoid products containing it. This type of yogurt is also marketed under the name Swiss-style, although it is unrelated to the way yogurt is eaten in Switzerland. Some yogurts, often called "cream line," are made with whole milk which has not been homogenized so the cream rises to the top. Fruit jam is used instead of raw fruit pieces in fruit yogurts to allow storage for weeks.

In the UK, Ireland, France and USA, sweetened, flavoured yogurt is the most popular type, typically sold in single-serving plastic cups. Common flavours include vanilla, honey, and toffee, and fruit such as strawberry, cherry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, mango and peach. In the early twenty-first century yogurt flavours inspired by desserts, such as chocolate or cheesecake, have been available.

There is concern about the health effects of sweetened yogurt. The United Kingdom and the United states recommend different maximum amounts of daily sugar intake but in both nations many sweetened yogurts have too much.

A 150g (5oz) serving of some 0% fat yogurts can contain as much as 20g (0.7oz) of sugar - the equivalent of five teaspoons, says Action on Sugar. That's getting on for half of a woman's daily recommended intake of added sugar, which is 50g (1.7oz). It's 70g (2.5oz) for men.

The American Heart Association recommends that men eat no more than 36 grams of sugar per day, and women no more than 20. One Twinkie makes a big dent in that recommended daily max, packing 19 grams of the sweet stuff, Time reported. Many of the top-selling yogurts have even more.

Consumers wanting sweetened yogurt are advised to choose yogurt sweetened with sugar substitute and check the contents list to avoid corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, honey, or sugar.

Strained yogurt

Use coffee filter to strain yogurt in a home refrigerator

Strained yogurt is yogurt which has been strained through a paper or cloth filter, traditionally made of muslin., to remove the whey, giving a much thicker consistency and a distinctive, slightly tangy taste. Strained yogurt is becoming more popular with those who make yogurt at home, especially if using skim milk which results in a thinner consistency. Once yogurt is made and refrigerated overnight, it is poured in a muslin or cheesecloth bag and hung in the coolest place in the house, with a tub placed underneath to collect the dripping whey. In cold weather a single day (or night) of straining is sufficient. In higher ambient temperatures yogurt will spoil rapidly, therefore it had best be actively squeezed or strained until about a third or more of its initial weight has run off. The remainder is now strained and is refrigerated again.

Labneh is a strained yogurt used for sandwiches popular in Arab countries. Olive oil, cucumber slices, olives, and various green herbs may be added. It can be thickened further and rolled into balls, preserved in olive oil, and fermented for a few more weeks. It is sometimes used with onions, meat, and nuts as a stuffing for a variety of pies or kebbeh balls.

Some types of strained yogurts are boiled in open vats first, so that the liquid content is reduced. The popular East Indian dessert, a variation of traditional dahi called mishti dahi, offers a thicker, more custard-like consistency, and is usually sweeter than western yogurts.

Strained yogurt is also enjoyed in Greece and is the main component of tzatziki (from Turkish "cacık"), a well-known accompaniment to gyros and souvlaki pita sandwiches: it is a yogurt sauce or dip made with the addition of grated cucumber, olive oil, salt and, optionally, mashed garlic.

Srikhand, a popular dessert in India, is made from strained yogurt, saffron, cardamom, nutmeg and sugar and sometimes fruits such as mango or pineapple.

In North America and Britain, strained yogurt is commonly called "Greek yogurt".


PCC Dairy Yogurt Milk, with live cultures, made from water buffalo's cream milk Philippine Carabao Centre

Ayran. One of the popular beverages in Turkish cuisine

Dugh ("dawghe" in Neo-Aramaic), ayran or dhallë is a yogurt-based, salty drink popular in Iran, Kurdistan Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Macedonia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It is made by mixing yogurt with water and (sometimes) salt. The same drink is known as doogh in Iran and in some parts of Kurdistan; tan in Armenia; laban ayran in Syria and Lebanon; shenina in Iraq and Jordan; laban arbil in Iraq; majjiga (Telugu), majjige (Kannada), and moru (Tamil and Malayalam) in South India; namkeen lassi in Punjab and all over Pakistan. A similar drink, doogh, is popular in the Middle East between Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq; it differs from ayran by the addition of herbs, usually mint, and is sometimes carbonated, commonly with carbonated water.

Borhani (or Burhani) is a spicy yogurt drink popular in Bangladesh and parts of Bengal. It is usually served with kacchi biryani at weddings and special feasts. Key ingredients are yogurt blended with mint leaves (mentha), mustard seeds and black rock salt (Kala Namak). Ground roasted cumin, ground white pepper, green chilli pepper paste and sugar are often added.

Lassi is a yogurt-based beverage originally from the Indian subcontinent that is usually slightly salty or sweet. Lassi is a staple in Punjab. In some parts of the subcontinent, the sweet version may be commercially flavoured with rosewater, mango or other fruit juice to create a very different drink. Salty lassi is usually flavoured with ground, roasted cumin and red chillies; this salty variation may also use buttermilk, and in India is interchangeably called ghol (Bengal), mattha (North India), "majjige" (Karnataka), majjiga (Telangana & Andhra Pradesh), moru (Tamil Nadu and Kerala), Dahi paani Chalha (Odisha), tak (Maharashtra), or chaas (Gujarat). Lassi is very widely drunk in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Mango Lassi is a popular drink at Indian restaurants in US.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia, an unsweetened and unsalted yogurt drink usually called simply jogurt is a popular accompaniment to burek and other baked goods.

Sweetened yogurt drinks are the usual form in Europe (including the UK) and the US, containing fruit and added sweeteners. These are typically called "drinking / drinkable yogurt", such as Yop and BioBest Smoothie.

Also available are "yogurt smoothies", which contain a higher proportion of fruit and are more like smoothies. In Ecuador, yogurt smoothies flavoured with native fruit are served with pan de yuca as a common type of fast food.

Also in Turkey, yogurt-soup or Yayla Çorbası is a popular way of consuming yogurt. The soup is a mix of yogurt, rice, flour and dried mint.


Various manufacturers have endeavoured to produce plant-based substitutes for yogurt, using soy milk, rice milk, nut milks such as almond milk, and coconut milk, for consumers who are unable to tolerate dairy products in any form. Although Lactobacillus strains exist that can produce lactic acid from plant-derived feed stock (e.g. sauerkraut), since plants do not produce lactose, it is not possible to produce genuine yogurt from plant sources with the same bacteria cultures used to convert milk into yogurt.


A commercially available yogurt maker

A homemade yogurt maker

Yogurt is made by inoculating certain bacteria (starter culture), usually Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, into milk. Starter culture may be provided by a pre-packaged powder or an amount of existing yogurt with live bacteria. After inoculation, the milk is incubated at 40 to 46 °C (105 to 115 °F) until firm; the milk is coagulated by bacteria-produced lactic acid.

The milk used to make yogurt contains a higher concentration of solids than normal milk. By increasing the solids content of the milk, a firm, rather than soft, end product results. Addition of nonfat dry milk (NFDM) is the easiest at-home method for doing this.

 Another method is using scalded milk: heating milk near boiling, then letting it cool down to 40 to 46 °C (105 to 115 °F). The process denatures whey proteins, which makes yogurt thicker.

The yogurt making process provides two significant barriers to pathogen growth: (a) heat and (b) acidity (low pH). Both are necessary to ensure a safe product. Acidity alone has been questioned by recent outbreaks of food poisoning by E. coli O157:H7 that is acid-tolerant. E. coli O157:H7 is easily destroyed by pasteurization (heating). Therefore, pasteurized milk is used for making yogurt.

This initial process is the first step in making strained yogurt as mentioned above by eliminating some of the liquid whey.

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