Questions and Answers
Are your starters heirloom?
Yes they are! Bacillus Bulgaricus starters are all heirloom. Our starters contain freeze-dried live active cultures, which come to live when you make your yogurt and remain alive and active in your yogurt, so you can use your previous batch to make a new batch for as long as you wish. Again and again. When stored properly you can repeat that process to infinity giving you an endless supply of yogurt.
What are the ingredients of your starters?
Bacillus Bulgaricus starters contains live lactic acid bacteria isolated from natural sources in ecologically preserved areas in Bulgaria. Our starters are fully natural and organic with no preservatives, additives, artificial colors or flavors. They contain no GMO ingredients and are soy, nuts, and gluten free. For more details see our product information page.
What bacteria strains are in your starters?
Different starters contain different strains. The packs contain loose powder of freeze-dried live lactic acid bacteria strains required to make each of our products. Our Bulgarian yogurt starter for example contains two strains - lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus in a perfect combination to make the most delicious yogurt. 1 gram of starter contains at least 25 billion colony-forming unit (2.5 x 1010 CFU/g) of lactic acid probiotic bacteria strains (this differs for different products). All our starters come with 100% potency guaranteed and 100% viability guaranteed.
Are your starters vegan?
While our starters contain a small quantity of dried organic skim milk powder (that’s the medium on which the lactic acid bacteria is grown and when it is packaged, part of it ends up in the sachet) and as such they are not vegan, that milk powder gets completely consumed by the bacteria during incubation, which makes the yogurt you make completely vegan, provided that you used non-dairy milk to make it.
Are your starters lactose-free?
Our yogurt starters contain minute quantity of dried organic skim milk powder. It's the medium on which the strains grow and part of it gets packaged together with them. Because of that, the starters are NOT lactose free. However, it is very unlikely that you will be eating the starter directly from the sachet, and it is more likely that you will be using it to make yogurt. When you do this, during fermentation, all the milk powder from the starter is completely consumed by the bacteria. What is more the bacteria gobbles up all the lactose from the milk you used to make your yogurt. As a result, the yogurt you make is completely lactose free. Note, that this depends on the product you are making. Bulgarian yogurt, Greek yogurt, Rose yogurt, and kefir for example are lactose-free yogurts. The sirene and kashkaval you make with dairy-yogurt are NOT lactose free. If you are lactose intolerant or have allergies to lactose, always use precaution and talk to your doctor first before using any products that may contain lactose.
Can I use your starters to make vegan (non-dairy) yogurt?
Yes you can! You can get make soymilk yogurt, coconut yogurt, cashew milk yogurt and basically any type of yogurt using our starters. In fact, with your order you get a FREE yogurt making handbook that contains many dairy and non-dairy yogurt making recipes.
How come you say I shouldn’t use lactose-free milk but it’s OK to use non-dairy milk to make yogurt? It surely has no lactose in it!
Microbiology is a complex science but this comes down to the basic needs of the bacteria -- they needs sugars in order to proliferate, as they feed on them. When you add your starter to regular dairy milk, bacteria from the starter starts feeding on sugars in the milk (lactose) and starts multiplying. So dairy milk is perfectly fine to use. Lactose-free milk is milk that has had the lactose removed from it and us such provides no good food source for the bacteria. So lactose-free milk is going to starve your starter and likely give you pour results. Non-dairy (plant-based) milks have naturally occurring sugars in them and those provide the source of food for the strains. So non-dairy milks are also fine to use.
Is this a room-temperature yogurt starter?
Bulgarian yogurt, Bulgarian yogurt with Rose, Greek yogurt, and Skyr are thermophilic starters, which means that they work better with warm milk. Viili, Filmjolk, Caspian Sea Yogurt are mesophilic starters, which means that they contain cheese cultures and can be made on your counter top at room temperature. To see more details and to get traditional yogurt making instructions as well as our fail proof methods for making yogurt, see here.
How do I store the starters? When do they expire?
Store the packs in the freezer with the exception of the Sourdough Starter pack, that one goes in the fridge. Keep open packs in a Ziploc bag to avoid moisture getting inside. Packs have a shelf life of 2 years. You can read more about that for each product on the product info pages.
How much of the starter should I use?
I purchased a large pack, can I split it and use it several times?
The packs are packaged and labeled with the grams they contain and the volume those grams make when used entirely in one go. The packs are intended for single use, or their contents could be split for multiple use. When you split the pack, take out as much as you need to make your yogurt, then reseal and refreeze the remaining starter for later. Make sure you store the sachets in a way that prevents moisture from getting in, i.e. well closed in a Ziploc bag or wrapped around and fastened with a rubber band. When you split the contents of the pack and use less starter amount to make smaller volumes, keep in mind that you are also reducing the total amount of yogurt that you can make from the pack (read more on that here). Refer to this page to see the gram to Liters (gallons) chart and to find out how much starter to use for different volumes of milk.
Do I need to buy yogurt starter each time I make yogurt?
No. This is a heirloom yogurt starter. With proper care, our yogurt cultures are self perpetuating and can last indefinitely. You simply reserve a small amount of yogurt from a previous batch to make a new batch, saving you lots of money over buying commercial products! However, since the bacteria mutates, we recommended to use fresh starter every time when you notice a change in taste of your new yogurt compared to your previous batch.
When I bake the Sourdough bread that I made with your starter, wouldn’t that kill all the beneficial bacteria in it? How is it healthy then?
There is a difference in how the beneficial bacteria ends up performing its healthy purpose for you when you use it to make yogurt and when you use it to bake bread. In both cases the lactic acid bacteria contributes to fermentation, which is one of its many good features. The difference is in how you use that fermentation. With yogurt, the fermentation happens in the milk – that’s what it turns it into yogurt. Then the beneficial effects of the lactic acid bacteria continue in your gut as you eat that yogurt. With sourdough, the fermentation happens in the dough and contributes to changing the structure of the bread (it modifies the gluten etc.) turning it into sourdough bread. It is true that when you bake the bread you would kill all bacteria in it and no live active bacteria would reach your gut. But in this case, it is the healthier glutinous structure of the transformed bread that goes into your gut and brings on all the beneficial effects of eating sourdough bread -- e.g. it is easier processed by your organism compared to if it were just a regular bread made with dried bakers’ yeast, etc. So the benefits of the first case are a direct result of the actions of the live active lactic acid bacteria, while in the second case they are a result of its prior actions, a byproduct of it, if I may call it that way.
Can the sourdough starter work with gluten free flour such as rice or almond?
Yes, it can! You will need to feed the starter with a gluten free flour and do it more often too, e.g. every 6 hrs. The rest is pretty much the same as explained in the instructions – you are really just swapping flour with GF flour.
Why should I bother buying yogurt starter? There is yogurt in the store!
Making your own yogurt has a lot of benefits - it's healthier, easy, fun, and cheaper. A healthy, self-perpetuating starter culture like the type we have available on our website allows you to make a small one time investment in a starter culture and then all you have to buy is milk or cream. Our starters are among the most affordable on the market. Combined with the fact that you can use them to make yogurt and then use that yogurt to make more yogurt basically indefinitely, that makes them a really economical choice. There is no need to continually buy new yogurt starter.
Yogurt Making FAQs
I get liquid in my yogurt! What's that?
It is called whey and is completely normal to appear during yogurt making. It's water so you can either discard it or keep it and eat it or cook with it. If you are getting too much whey then adjust your temperatures a bit - that may mean you're introducing the bacteria when yogurt is warmer or colder than it should be. It could also mean that your milk is not the fat content it says in the carton.
It didn't work!
Making yogurt is easy. So is making kefir, Skyr, Viili, and all the rest of our wonderful products. Fermenting is a natural process in which lactic acid bacteria ferments milk to create yogurt. So your yogurt will always naturally set under the right conditions. Sometimes you might need some help in order to make the perfect yogurt. Especially if this is your first time making yogurt or if you have used a different type of culture before. Generally, problems with yogurt making come from:
- Using too little culture for your volume of milk,
- Introducing the starter or incubating at temperature that is too high for it (different starters have different incubating temperatures so check their labels),
- Introducing the starter or incubating at temperature hat is too low. Once temperature falls under the minimal recommended temperature, it will take much longer for the yogurt to set,
- Not giving the incubation enough time to finish. Usually, yogurt will set around 6-8 hrs but that depends on other factors in your environment and method too and sometimes it may take longer. Mesophilic yogurts for example make take about 3 days to set when using the traditional tabletop fermentation method.
My yogurt didn’t thicken!
There are several possible reasons why it could have happened. Occasionally, yogurt may take longer to thicken than specified in the instructions. This can happen when the ambient temperature is low for example. It is very important to maintain proper temperature (see the instructions). If this happens, simply let the yogurt stay longer than indicated and this will likely resolve the issue. Simply check the yogurt every two hours or so and place it in the fridge once the culturing process is complete (the yogurt is firm when done).
I use pasteurized milk to make my yogurt. Do I still need to boil it?
Boiling the milk is usually done to kill off any existing bacteria or impurities in the milk. Pasteurized milk has already been treated for that and because of that you do not need to boil it. However, bring the milk close to boiling temperatures denatures the proteins and realigns the fat molecules, which then results in making a superior yogurt. So we recommend to boil it for the taste!
Do I need to use a yogurt making machine?
Generally speaking, yogurt making machines are perfectly fine to use. It really is just an incubator that maintains a fairly constant temperature. So if you have one, use it. And just follow the directions that came with it. The problems with using yogurt making machines come when you need to troubleshoot the process if the yogurt doesn’t turn out as expected. And while they are fairly simple pieces of equipment, they come in all different shapes and makes, so pinpointing the issue is often a difficult task. So our advice for using a machine is – use it if it works for you. The minute you start having problems with your yogurt turning out not as you expect it – go back to the old, faithful and fail proof manual way of making yogurt.
How to make a thicker yogurt?
Add half-and-half to the milk before you heat it up. Half a carton of half-and-half to a gallon milk is the perfect proportion. See this post for more ideas.
Can I use raw milk to make yogurt?
Yes, you can! You can use raw goat, cow, buffalo or sheep's milk to prepare yogurt. Each one will have different taste qualities but as long as you are using our yogurt starter, they will all have the uniqueness of Bulgarian milk. Keep in mind that raw milk will likely have residual bacteria in it so if you are not planning on heating it up, we suggest doubling the amount of starter needed for your volume so you can make sure the strains from the starter dominate the rest.
Can I use goat milk to make yogurt?
Yes, you can use goat, cow, buffalo or sheep's milk to prepare yogurt. Each one will have different taste qualities but as long as you are using our yogurt starter, they will all have the uniqueness of Bulgarian milk. Goat milk however is a bit trickier to master. It makes great yogurt, however it has type of fat molecules and proteins that are a bit harder for the lactic acid bacteria to break down, so if you are using goat milk, then allow for a couple of more hours incubation time. Consider using more starter than recommended as well.
Can I use non-homogenized milk to make yogurt?
Yes. Non-homogenized milk makes wonderful yogurt. The only difference you will see when making yogurt with non-homogenized milk is that the cream will rise to the top of the yogurt just like it does with the milk so the top layer of the yogurt will be more yellow in color. It also makes thinner and blander yogurt in general. UHT milk is ultra-pasteurized and that process usually breaks down the proteins that the lactic bacteria needs in order to produce a nice thick yogurt.
Do I have to use dairy milk?
Up to you! If you'd like to make traditional dairy yogurt then yes. And you can do so much more too! All our starters can be used with non-dairy and vegan milks to make vegan yogurt. We have plenty of vegan yogurt recipes listed in the Yogurt Maker's Handbook, which you get free with your order. You can check for yogurt making recipes on our blog too.
Can I use low fat milk to make yogurt?
Yes, you can. Likely you won't see any difference or you will get a slightly thinner yogurt than the one you make with whole milk. Fat is what makes natural yogurts thick. Keep in mind that often, commercially available low-fat yogurts include thickeners to make them have a thicker consistency.
How do I make flavored yogurt?
There are several options for flavoring homemade yogurt without processed sugar. Be sure to wait until the homemade yogurt making process is completed before adding sweetener or flavorings. This ensures that the bacteria necessary to culture the yogurt is not disturbed. The best tasting sweetener for homemade yogurt is raw honey. Raw honey adds not only a pure sweetness to the yogurt but also has a number of health benefits. If you prefer a fruity flavor try sugar-free jam. Sugar-free jam comes in a number of varieties and is readily available. Just stir a little jam into your finished homemade yogurt. Flavored liquid stevia drops also can be used to add fruity, chocolate or other flavors. Stevia drops are often available at health food stores. Flavor extracts such as vanilla extract can also be used. We recommend using pure flavor extracts versus artificial extracts.
How little of the starter can I use?
All our starters are very strong and all come with a 100% potency guarantee. See this post for information about how much to use for different volumes of milk.
I want to save a cup of yogurt for my next batch, but do not want to make it right away, can I freeze it?
Unfortunately no. Freezing is not the same as dry-freezing (the way the starter is made). When you freeze your yogurt the water in the bacteria expands as it freezes and kills the strains. So when you thaw it later on to use it as a starter, it is likely not going to work because the count of viable strains in it will be very low. Keep your yogurt in the fridge instead, and try to use it within 7-10 days to make new yogurt. If you need to go longer without making yogurt, simply use the starter to make a fresh batch whenever you are ready to start again.
Where can I find some traditional and fail proof methods for making yogurt?
Do you do any bulk discounts?
Yes we do! Please contact us and let us know what would you like to order.
Which countries/states do you ship to?
We ship anywhere in the world! In fact, our customers come from a whooping 103 countries across 6 continents! The culture is durable enough to travel to even the warmest and most remote parts of the world. So buy with confidence!
Which payment methods do you accept?
We accept all major credit and debit cards, and PayPal. You can select your preferred method of payment at checkout.
I don't want to give my card details online. Can I still order?
Yes you can! Contact us and we'll arrange for that.
Are the starters going to be ok during shipping?
Your packs are perfectly safe during transport. The starters are very durable and can travel extended times at ambient (even very warm) temperatures.
Where will my order ship from?
Bacillus Bulgaricus customers come from a whooping 103 countries in the world, spread across 6 continents! For some of those countries we have local distributors that help us ship and deliver orders faster to all clients in those countries. For the rest, we ship orders from the nearest available location.
How long will delivery take?
Normally, most orders received before 2pm ship on the very same day. The rest ship the following day. At the latest, all orders are shipped within five days of receiving the order. Depending on your location, your order will take about 2-4 days to arrive. Some locations might take considerably longer. This entirely depends on the postal service speeds for your country and area.
How secure is shopping in your online shop? Is my data protected?
All transactions made on the our website are secure and are done over a 256-bit SSL secure connection. In addition, we do not store any of your data on our servers -- it is all processed by the credit card processors we use (Stripe and PayPal).