Types of Yogurt from Around the World
Yogurt has taken the world by storm in the past decades. However, before it started being mass produced in 1917 by Isaac Carasso (founder of Dannon yogurt), yogurt was already popular among many cultures. Before it was mass produced, yogurt was and still is, a staple in many cultures.
The word for yogurt comes from Turkey; it consists, very basically, of milk that’s been curdled and combined with a live culture of bacteria.
No one knows for sure who first discovered yogurt. The theory is that milk that ancient peoples stored in animal stomachs interacted with the good bacteria inside and curdled in the heat; some brave people tried it and liked it, apparently.
Yogurt has spread to almost every continent; one can find commercial or organic yogurt in America, and many different types in other countries. Here are a number of them.
- Iceland and skyr. Skyr is made out of skim milk, and uses about 3-4 times the amount of milk to make the same typical yogurt; it’s drained to make it thick and heavy. It has a lot more protein than most yogurt, and is pretty low-fat. Skyr has been around since the early days of Iceland when the Viking settlers came over and had to adapt to a new environment; it was originally made from sheep’s milk and cow’s milk, but today it’s only made from cow’s milk.
- The Middle East and laban and lebany. Laban and lebany are similar yogurts, but laban is prepared by just curdling with bacteria, and lebany is prepared in a similar way but is also strained. Lebany is said to be thick enough to cut, like a cheese. Laban is more of a drink, and both are great sources of calcium. Well-made laban can contain about 15% of the amount of calcium a person needs in a day; it’s also a much healthier alternative to sugary drinks.
- Greece and greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is made in a similar way to typical yogurt, but the whey (the water in the milk) is strained out. It’s similar to skyr this way. It’s very thick and creamy, and if it’s plain and nonfat, it is low fat and still tastes great. The advantages to Greek yogurt when compared to regular yogurt is that it has twice the protein and less lactose.
- The Balkans and set style yogurt. Set style yogurt, also known as Balkan-style yogurt, is made by putting the warm milk into incubators and never stirring. It is more firm than most yogurts, and is made in separate containers. It’s nutrient-rich, fatty, and less sugary than some forms of yogurt and it’s very popular throughout Eastern Europe. An advantage to it is that, while it’s high in fat, it is low in sodium, and makes a filling snack.
- Switzerland and stirred yogurt. Stirred yogurt, also known as Swiss yogurt, is also incubated, but then it is cooled and stirred. It is often used in desserts and drinks. It’s very creamy and thinner than some of the thicker yogurts already mentioned; however, it also has almost double the sugar and carbohydrates that Greek yogurt has.
- India and lassi and curds. Curds are what yogurt is in India; curds blended together with salt, water, and spices is called lassi. Lassi is a frothy drink that is enjoyed by many Asians, not just those in India. This includes Pakistan and Nepal, though it is called Mahi there. It can be sweet or not, because it can be blended with things like fruit and rose water. It’s a very filling drink, and has all the benefits of regular yogurt, such as improving lactose digestion, having Vitamins A and B, and having protein. If it’s mixed with cinnamon and cardamom, it improves appetite, and is also very good for your brain. Another advantage is that it’s a very cooling drink, perfect for a hot summer.
- India and curd rice. Curd rice is a dish made in India typically using sour curds and combined with rice; the theory is that it was invented to use up yogurt that had been left out too long. It has all the benefits of yogurt and rice combined.
All in all, the world has a lot to offer in terms of yogurt. There are no well-known native yogurts in South America, Australia, or North America, because they didn’t really have dairy animals until recently; some Africans eat yogurt, but it’s not the popular dish it is in Eastern Europe and Asia. Yogurt, however, may have been eaten in North Africa for thousands of years and has been eaten for that time by many different peoples; it will probably be eaten for thousands more.