Yanik Yogurt (Burnt Yogurt)

Cheeses and Dairy Products - Turkey

Yanik yogurt is a clotted yogurt made with different milks depending on the season. From late February to mid-June it is made with 100% sheep's milk. From mid-June to November, 100% goat's milk is used. Because cow milk is available year-round, pure cow's milk is used as a substitute whenever sheep or goat's milk is not available. However, in terms of taste, yanik yogurt is best when sheep or goat's milk is used.

To make the yogurt, freshly collected raw milk is passed through a fine muslin cloth and transferred into very hot traditional large copper bowls (bakrac in Turkish). When the milk touches the hot copper, the casein in the milk becomes caramelized and creates a burnt flavor. This method is part of a long tradition in the area, because this method allows for longer preservation of the yogurt by killing potentially harmful bacteria. Next, the milk is boiled in these copper bowls, and the cream that has risen to the top is collected. Afterwards, milk is cooled to a temperature of 40 - 50°C and yogurt from a previous batch is added to act as a natural starter. The culturation step is affected by the weather; it takes 2 - 3 hours in summer or 4 - 5 hours in winter until the milk becomes yogurt. When the yogurt is formed, it is left to sit for 8 - 10 hours. After, it is transferred into fine muslin bags with a marble weight placed, to strain out the liquid to achieve the proper consistency. This phase takes 14-15 hours until all liquids in the yogurt have drained and then the final product is ready.

Yanik yogurt is produced in some provinces in the Aegean region of Turkey, mainly in Denizli and its provinces. In this area, there used to be a high population of nomadic Turks (yörük), who invented the yogurt in order to ease transportation and increase the shelf life of the product during their continuous migration. In the Denizli area, seasonal production amounts to 150 -200 tons. A shepherd usually produces an average of 80-100 kg yanik yogurt per week. Today, traditional versions of yanik yogurt mostly consumed in homes, but are also sold at local markets and some natural food shops. Industrial versions can also be found in shops.

Nowadays, many people living in cities consume industrial yogurt because of their longer shelf life and easy taste. Younger generations are not used to yanik yogurt's natural and unique flavor. Hygiene rules and procedures and economic problems are also making it harder for shepherds to raise sheep and continue production.
Other problems include the high costs and low profitability of traditional farming, a loss of knowledge with migration to cities, a lack of organization among producers and lack of governmental or other outside financial support.