Make Your Own yogurt
Using our Bulgarian yogurt starter culture, you can prepare your own yogurt without the help of an yogurt maker. All you need is milk and a pack or a bottle of our Bulgarian yogurt culture. Everything else you already have at home. For best results, we recommend using whole milk, although you can use low-fat or skim if desired. The instructions below are for half a gallon of milk but you can adjust them for any quantity.
- 1/2 gallon (2 litres) of milk
- 1/4 teaspoon of yogurt starter (that's a little heap of powder on the tip of the teaspoon)
Bring the milk to a gentle boil. The milk should boil in order to kill any existing bacteria in it, which could react with the Lactobacillus Bulgaricus. Milk boils at about 212°F (100°C). Be careful not to burn it, otherwise your yogurt will inherit the burnt taste.
Cool the milk down to 110°F (43°C). The easiest way to test for the right temperature is to dip your pinky finger in the milk - if you can comfortably count to 5 then the milk is just right.
Move the milk to a separate processing container. You can use multiple smaller containers too.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of the starter. Mix well - stir well for about 5 minutes. If you used more than one container, distribute the pack's contents evenly in respect to their volumes.
Cover the container loosely with a lid.
Wrap the container well in a blanket or cover with a tea cozy and let it sleep. Keep out of any draft.
The fermentation process will continue until the milk reaches pH of 4,7. The fresh yogurt will be set in about 5-6 hours (or overnight). If the place is too cold (50F or less), the process may take longer (10-12 hours). In general, leaving the yogurt sit for longer after it is set, will result in a denser and more acidic yogurt. When your yogurt is ready, move it to the fridge (or a cool place) for storage.
Keep the remaining yogurt starter in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.
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Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Thermophilus are not normal inhabitants of the specific micro flora of your gastro intestinal tract. Because of this, they do have a rough ride through your stomach - only about 15% survive wading through the gastric juices - and only about 1% of them reach the colon.
Buffalo milk, however, appears to have some property that allows large numbers of active bacteria to reach the intestinal tract. The buffalo milk version of yogurt is a brilliant white because the milk is low in carotene as the buffalo convert it to Vitamin A. It contains less water than cow's milk so the milk appears thicker and makes a creamier yogurt. Buffalo milk (and the yogurt made from it) contains more fat, lactose, protein and calcium than cow's milk and also produces a stronger tasting yogurt.
By now you probably know that in order to produce a real Bulgarian yogurt, you need to have the right starter. But where do the original Bulgarian yogurt starters come from?
In Bulgaria, it was the custom for each household to make their own yogurt, but as the process became more industrialized, the Bulgarian people felt that their life-enhancing yogurt was deteriorating in flavor. To stop this deterioration, a large number of lactic acid bacteria were isolated from yogurts still being made by people in the different country areas of Bulgaria. Seven starters that contained the "magic" of the original Bulgarian yogurt were used to improve the quality of the yogurt being produced by the dairy industry. The wonderful thing is that some of those original starters such as 5-12, 144-12 and 37-18 are still used for yogurt production today and are available to you too. Buy yogurt starter now!
One of the reasons behind the flavor and health-enhancing aspects of authentic Bulgarian yogurt is that it was originally produced - by using the best old batch as parent for the next generation. Whenever someone in a village needed to make yogurt, they would use the tastiest, most desirable yogurt they could find as a starter. So over the centuries of yogurt making in Bulgaria, our yogurt has been continually selected for the best of qualities.
It is believed that some of the original starters came about through vegetative means when milk was inoculated by the shepherds in the Rhodopi mountains of Bulgaria. They softened the roots of plants such as Christ’s thorn (Paliurus aculeatus) and barberry (Berberis vulgaris Lam) and put the resulting juice in the milk to inoculate it.
Through the centuries of symbiotic interaction between these two wonderful Bulgarian starters - one taken from milk and one taken from plants - a unique taste developed. Many people still believe that true Bulgarian yogurt can only be made through using a starter from Bulgaria. So don't waste your time, get the starter and start making your own Bulgarian yogurt.