The word is derived from Turkish: yoğurt, and is usually related to the verb yoğurmak, "to knead", or "to be curdled or coagulated; to thicken". It may be related to yoğun, meaning thick or dense.
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 tart flavor. Cow's milk is commonly available worldwide, and, as such, ias the milk most commonly used to make yogurt. Milk from water buffalo, goats, ewes, mares, camels, and yaks is also used to produce yogurt where available locally. Milk used may be homogenized or not (milk distributed in many parts of the world is homogenized); both types may be used, with substantially different results.
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.
To produce yogurt, milk is first heated, usually to about 85 °C (185 °F), to denature the milk proteins so that they do not form curds. After heating, the milk is allowed to cool to about 45 °C (113 °F). The bacterial culture is mixed in, and a temperature of 45 °C (113 °F) is maintained for four to twelve hours to allow fermentation.