Curd or yogurt is a lactic fermentation of milk. It is esteemed for its smoothness, its pleasant and refreshing taste. It is highly versatile and health-promoting and one of the most valuable therapeutic foods.
The milk of cow is generally used in preparing yogurt in Europe and America. In India, buffalo milk is also extensively used. In Russia, the milk of sheep, goat and mare is largely used for the same purpose.
The best and purest milk should always be used for preparing the curd. Before it is curdled, the milk should be boiled for 10 minutes and the temperature of the milk brought down to lukewarm state. Freshly cultured starter should then be added to it and mixed thoroughly with milk. Generally one teaspoonful of starter is sufficient for every 500 ml. of milk.
The quality of curd depends to a great extent on the starter used. The better the seed the sweeter will be the aroma and firmer will be texture of the curd. In hot season the milk curdles easily. But in cold season, it is necessary to cover it with a blanket and keep it in a warm place. It generally takes about six to eight hours for the milk to coagulate in the hot season. In cold weather it takes 12 to 16 hours for it to form a firm mass.
Origin and History
The word yogurt is of Turkish Origin. It is believed that the first curd was made in Turkey. Legend has it that a nomad while traveling through a desert, kept some milk away in a goat-skin bag and hung it across the back of his camel. On opening the bag few hours later, he found that the liquid has been transformed into thick tangy custard. The desert sun and the bacteria inside the bag produced the required condition for the preparation of yogurt.
Curd has played an important part in the diet of nations from time immemorial. It has been regard as a wholesome food in India, Turkey, Egypt, America, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Russia and Central Europe. In Western Europe and America also, it has become very popular during the last few decades.
Curd is a very nourishing food. It is a valuable source of protein, essential vitamins and minerals. It is also rich source of calcium and riboflavin. The protein in curd is more readily digested than the protein in milk. It has been estimated that regular milk is only 32 per cent digested after an hour in the digestive tract, whereas 91 percent of curd is digested within the same period of time. It is, therefore, an ideal diet for those with sensitive digestive systems, particularly young children and elderly persons.
Moisture 89.1% Calcium 149mg
Protein 3.1% Phosphorus 93mg
Fat 4.0% Iron 0.2mg
Minerals 0.8% Vitamin A 102 I.U.
Carbohydrates 3.0% Vitamin C 1 mg
Small amount of Vitamin B Complex
Calorific Value – 60
Natural Benefits and Curative Properties
Although curd has a nutritive content similar to fresh milk, it has extensive special value for therapeutic purposes. During the process of making curd, bacteria convert milk into curd and predigest milk protein. These bacteria then inhibit the growth of hostile or illness-causing bacteria inside the intestinal tract and promote beneficial bacteria needed for digestion. These friendly bacteria facilitate the absorption of minerals and aid in the synthesis of vitamins of B groups. Buttermilk, which has same nutritive and curative value as curd, is prepared by churning curd and adding some water, removing the fat in the form of butter.
Curd is also considered one of the best aids to natural good looks. It supplies the nerves and the skin with healthy ingredients and counteracts the ill-effects of exposure to the scorching sun. The bacteria in curd make the skin soft and glowing. Curd mixed with orange or lemon juice is a good face cleanser. It supplies moisture to the skin and fruit juice provides the essential vitamin C. One tablespoonful of juice should be mixed in one cup of curd. This should be applied to face and neck and allowed to dry for 15 minutes. It should then be wiped of with a soft tissue and washed with water.
A mixture of oatmeal flour and yogurt has been found effective in making the skin fairer and softer. This mixture should be kept on the facial skin for 15 to 20 minutes and then washed off with warm water. For pimples, a paste of curd and Bengal gram flour or besan should be applied on the face and then washed off.
Curd is also considered valuable in conditioning the hair. It makes the hair soft, healthy and strong. Curd should be massaged right into the roots of the hair before being washed off. Dandruff can be removed by massaging one’s hair for half an hour with curd which has been kept in the open for three days.
Apart from the lactic organisms placed in the milk for the purpose of souring it, the acid of sour milk and its lactose content are important curative factors in a number of diseases. Curd brings relief to patients suffering from gastro-intestinal disorders such as chronic constipation and diarrhea.
Orla Jensen of Copenhagen, author of ‘Lactic Acid Bacteria’, observed that yogurt and fermented beverages may be frequently used in case of gastric irritation where other food cannot be retained by stomach. The lactic acid, he says, is completely metabolished to carbon dioxide and water is not excreted in the urine. It also does not have any effect on acid-base balance in the system. It is thus an alkaline food. Besides aiding in the digestion of food, curd decreases dryness and gas in the stomach by helping in secretion of hydrochloric acid, pepsin and rennin.
The germs which give rise to infection and inflammation such as those which cause appendicitis, diarrhea and dysentery, cannot thrive in the presence of lactic acid found in curd and buttermilk. Beneficial results have been achieved by the use of buttermilk in the case of colitis. Buttermilk enemas have been found beneficial in the treatment of colitis, chronic constipation, diarrhea, dysentery, chronic appendicitis and gastric ulcer.
Curd is valuable in the treatment of insomnia. The patient should take plenty of curd and massage it on the head. This will induce sleep.
Curd has been associated with longevity. Prof. Elic Metchnikoff, a noble prize-winning Russian bacteriologist at the Pasteur Institute, believed that premature old age and decay could be prevented by taking sufficient curd in the daily diet. He made an intensive study of the problem of old age in the early 20th century. He came to the conclusion that the body is slowly being poisoned and its resistance weakened by man’s normal diet and that this poisoning process could be arrested and the intestinal tract kept healthy by the constant, regular use of yogurt or some variety of acidophilus milk.
Hepatitis and Jaundice
Excessive liberation of ammonia, which is one of the major causes of coma in hepatitis, can be prevented by liberal use of curd. The lactic acid organisms in the curd counter acts the formation of ammonia. In jaundice, curd or buttermilk sweetened with honey, makes an ideal diet.
Burning in Rectum
Severe burning and intense itching in the rectum, after passing the stools, can be controlled and successfully treated in a couple of days by liberal use of curd and lemon juice with bland diet. Curd makes the stool acidic and alleviates the burning and itching sensations.
The use of curd in the form of buttermilk is highly beneficial in the treatment of obstinate skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema. The application of buttermilk compresses will also be useful in these conditions. Pads of muslin or thin cloth saturated with buttermilk may be applied to broad surface, the compresses may be worn continuously or only at night.
The surface should be properly cleaned when the compress is removed. The compresses are very effective in case of skin inflammation. The intense skin irritation generally disappears quickly after the application of buttermilk compresses.
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