If you’ve ever visited Bulgaria, it won’t take you long to realise how important yogurt is to their health, cuisine and culture. Ask a Bulgarian about their yogurt and you’ll soon be indulging in a conversation in which they’ll proudly convince you that it really is the best in the world due to its magical qualities for taste and longevity. And they’re not wrong.
The popular legend surrounding this distinctive creation is said to originate in Thracian times when a young shepherd, whose flock of goats produced so much milk, didn’t have enough vessels to hold it all. Rather than waste any, he made a sack from a lamb’s skin and poured the milk inside it. On waking the next day, he discovered that the alchemy of fermentation had made yogurt from his own body heat.
The secret for the uniqueness of Bulgarian yogurt belongs to the friendly bacteria of two vital ingredients: Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Thermophilus which produce lactic acid and act as preservatives. In particular, the strains of Lactobacillus Bulgaricus are only native to Bulgaria, and is partially extracted from the leaves of a snowdrop flower which only grows there. Lactobacillus was first named and discovered in 1905 by a Bulgarian doctor, Stamen Grigorov when he first isolated it from other yogurt cultures and discovered it was beneficial for the treatment and prevention of a number of diseases. Specifically, they can combat the common intestinal disease that cause toxins which speed up the aging process.
Today, the old age traditions of yogurt making are still very prevalent and can be made from cow’s, goat’s, buffalo or sheep’s milk. It’s considered a staple food which is used for a variety of soups, starters, desserts and garnishes in Bulgarian cuisine. Whilst the Western world consider it to be a yogurt, Bulgarian’s refer to it as a sour milk: kiselo mlyako or кисело мляко in Cyrillic.
How to Make Traditional Bulgarian Yogurt
Having used the shop-bought yogurt for making traditional Bulgarian dishes such as tarator and banitsa, I thought it was about time I give yogurt making a go. So with the help from my friends at Bacillus Bulgaricus who sent me a starter pack to review, here’s how to make Bulgarian yogurt – without a yogurt maker – and it’s easier than you think!
- You can use any milk you like the taste of and you’ll need 2 litres for this recipe.
- Yogurt Starter Pack (freeze dried)
- Saucepan, ladle, jars, blanket
1. First, you need to boil the milk gently to kill off any bacteria. When it starts to bubble, turn off the heat and let it cool down to 110°F / 43°C. If you don’t have a thermometer, dip your finger in, if you can hold it for 5 seconds, it’s ready.
2. Add 1/4 teaspoon of the starter mix and stir well by hand for 3 to 4 minutes.
3.Transfer the milk into a separate container or jars and cover them.
4. They need to stay at room temperature so wrap them with blankets and leave them for 5 to 6 hours. Note that this can vary depending on how warm they are and if you leave them overnight, you will probably find that they will over-ferment and taste more sour in the morning.
If the yogurt has set OK, start eating away! (I kept a couple of jars for an hour or so longer to make it more thicker). If there’s any left over, store it in the fridge where it should last for about 10 days. It really is that simple to make!
(Click here for a more detailed set of instructions)
Health Benefits of Bulgarian Yogurt
Did you know that Bulgaria is one of the countries with the largest number of people aged 100 years and older? Eating Bulgarian yogurt every day will award you with a range of probiotic and health benefits from all that good bacteria, including:
- Supporting your digestive system
- Flushing out bad bacteria to strengthen your immune system
- Is a natural choice high calcium levels which helps against osteoporosis
- Maintaining a natural balance of intestinal flora and minerals
- Reducing cholesterol levels and protects against heart diseases
- Can help you lose weight and detox your body
- Improving your skin and is a natural remedy for sunburn
More About Bacillus Bulgaricus
Bacillus Bulgaricus is run by Bulgarian, Ivo, and is inspired by his grandmother’s homemade yogurt. After spending many years looking for the perfect yogurt starter, he eventually found it and it’s now sold in more than 60 countries.
If you’d like to purchase a Yogurt Starter Pack and help Travelin2bulgaria at the same time, click in the window below and make your order. It contains quality freeze-dried active bacteria cultures made from natural sources in ecologically preserved areas in Bulgaria, and you can also buy sirene and kashkaval starter packs too.
You’ll also get a FREE copy of The Yogurt-Maker’s Handbook – Recipes for Preparing Dairy and Non-Dairy Yogurts with your order 🙂
Disclaimer: Affiliate Links
This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links. An affiliate link is a link that leads to a shopping page so when you make a purchase from that link, I get a small percentage of commission. I did not get paid for this post but received a product free to review here. I would never lie in a review in order to encourage you to use my affiliate links, a policy I stand by 100%. I understand that some people might be wary of clicking on affiliate links but any earnings I receive goes back to running this blog 🙂