Original article published at TasteAtlas.
Often referred to as one of the oldest fermented ingredients in the world, yogurt is produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. This versatile ingredient can vary in texture and consistency, depending on the origin, choice of milk, and techniques involved in its production, but its flavor is usually subtly tangy. The widely accepted belief is that yogurt was discovered by accident when fresh milk was transported in animal skins.
The enzymes present in the skin enabled milk to ferment and curdle, creating yogurt. It is estimated that its discovery dates back to 6000 BC, and though the word stems from Turkish, it was probably invented simultaneously in different places, mainly in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Balkans. Although it was commonly enjoyed in its native regions, at the beginning of the 20th century, it was Bulgaria that placed it on the wider international market when a prominent Bulgarian scientist Stamen Grigorov isolated the bacterium that caused the milk to curdle, naming it Lactobacillus bulgaricus.
His discovery enabled factory and mass production, which led to an easier distribution that was also accompanied by the popular idea which cited yogurt as the key element that ensured longevity and good health among the Bulgarians. Nowadays, yogurt is produced throughout the world, and all its varieties and regional variations, including those with various additions, are now available virtually everywhere in the world. Yogurt is enjoyed as a drink, a condiment, or an accompaniment to various dishes.