Bulgarian yogurt is possibly the most well known variety of yogurt in the world.
It is a mildly sour-tasting yogurt and has become known to be the best and the healthiest of all dairy products.
The Bulgarians use yogurt to make many dishes it is part of their daily menu and is always present on the table in soups, salads, desserts and garnishes.
Bulgarian yoghurt is made from full fat fresh milk, although low fat versions are now on the market.
Early Origins of Bulgarian Yogurt
It is thought that Yogurt was invented when shepherds put their sheep milk into their lambskin bags which were then carried slung over their bodies. The heat from the shepherds body would cause the milk to ferment and turn into yogurt.
Whatever the truth of the story it cannot be denied that in the days before technology, using body temperature as a guide to making the yogurt fermentation happen could have been used.
In villages, homemade Bulgarian yogurt can be sometimes strained in a cloth, which is hung over a pot for a few hours to reduce the water content.
This yogurt is often richer and creamier with a mild taste because it has a higher fat content.
When the cloth is hung over night the resulting substance is like a cream cheese.
Fortunately for everyone you don't have to live in Bulgaria to still enjoy the Healthy benefits of Bulgarian yogurt. You can now order your culture from Amazon to help get you started, (pun intended) and your home-made yogurt can be twice as nutritious as any you could buy from your local shop, and cheaper!
400 000 tons of Bulgarian yogurt are consumed every year in the country.
How to Make Traditional Bulgarian Yogurt Village Style
Yogurt is added to many Bulgarian dishes.
This recipe was shown to me by my Bulgarian neighbour, and is the local method generally used around the local villages.
However, you may find different variations on making yogurt and many people will use modern yogurt makers and various appliances for testing temperatures and for keeping the liquid warm.
INGREDIENTS & EQUIPMENT
- 1 liters milk.
- Starter culture. (with Lactobacillus Bulgaricus & Streptococcs Thermoophilus) or a shop bought yuogurt.
- Pan for heating the milk.
- 2 x 500 ml glass jars with lids.
- Blankets or bubble wrap in which to keep the jars insulated.
- Heat the milk gently in a pan until it starts to bubble, then remove from heat.
- Allow the milk to cool until warm. (body tempreture)An easy test, is to put your finger into the milk. If you can keep your finger inside for a few seconds without it burning, the milk will be ready for the next step.
- Add 2 or 3 tsp of your Bulgarian starter culture(these should be at room temperature) into each of your jars, then fill the jars with your warm milk and mix well. Place the lids on the jars.
- Wrap the jars in blankets or coats to keep them warm. The idea is to maintain the body temperature liquid for at least 5 hours until the yogurt has begun to set. The time will depend on where you are placing them and how much insulation you have given them. Don't forget the jars, and leave them to over ferment or the yogurt will become more sour.
- After your 5 or 6 hours place your yogurt in the fridge. Your yogurt should last about 10 days.
Bulgarian Yogurt has many Health Benefits
American health experts have proven that Bulgaria’s natural yogurt is a rich source of probiotics, which play a key role in nutrition.
Probiotics are the helpful bacteria in your body that are good for your health, especially your digestive system..
- When you lose "good" bacteria in your body, for example after you have taken antibiotics, probiotics can help replace them.
- They can lower the amount of "bad" bacteria in your system that can cause infections or other problems.
- They can help balance your "good" and "bad" bacteria to keep your body working like it should.
- Health experts have proved that yogurt is extremely beneficial as part of a healthy diet for people of all ages because it contains some anti-cancer and anti-arthritis features as well as many mineral salts and vitamins.
- It is also low in calories too making it an ideal addition to anyone watching their weight.
- Although the human body produces its own probiotics there are not enough to fight some illness and infections. Thus, health experts advise you to eat regular helpings of natural yogurt to combat disease.
According to a report a 16th century French king was cured from an infection by eating Bulgarian yogurt.
If you don't wish to make your yogurt like a local then use modern technology and try the many yogurt recipes
Shop for Yogurt Makers & Yogurt Products
What is Bulgarian Yogurt?
Bulgarian Yogurt within Bulgaria is simply called 'kicelo mlyako' (кисело мляко) which when translated means sour milk.
The difference between sour milk and yogurt is that, sour milk is uncontrolled fermentation and yogurt is controlled fermentation.
Another factor influencing flavor is that Bulgarian yogurt is never sterilized after fermentation. Bulgarian yogurt like any other yogurt in the world, needs bacteria to help the fermentation
Why is Bulgarian Yogurt Special?
Bulgarian yogurt is produced much like any other yogurt in the Balkans, but the wonderful flavour of Bulgarian yogurt is much different and distinct from others . The cows are free to roam the feilds and meadows which are full of herbs and all this helps to produce the flavoursome milk. The two strains of bacteria that is unique to the country give Bulgarian yogurt its magic.
Buzz Fact: Bulgarian yogurt dominates about 60% of the Japanese market
No it is not the name of a roman milkman who used to live in Plovdiv it is in fact the Latin name for one of the strains of bacteria which are unique to Bulgaria and important to the rest of the yogurt making world.
The other strain of bacteria is called 'Streptococcus thermophilus' When you make yogurt you will need a starter bacteria, or a culture. This helps to start the fermentation process by increasing the number of bacteria, which will be all good and healthy for the consumer.
When you have made your yogurt you would normally save some of the batch you have just made to start or culture your next batch of yogurt, however if you are outside of Bulgaria the Lactobacillus Bulgaricus will lose it’s quality taste and texture after a couple of batches.
In Bulgaria however, the bacteria strain can be everlasting, scientist don’t know why this phenonomen should be but it must have something to do with the climate in the regions of Bulgaria.
People who have tasted yogurt from countries all over the world always find that none of them tastes anything like the Bulgarian variety.
This unique bacteria has the natural key ingredient which gives Bulgarian yogurt its wonderful features and taste and is now sold all over the world for yogurt making purposes But thats not all...................
Yogurt Making is Fun
When making your own yogurt there are some variables. It is a cheap way to experient and have a go.
Depending on what time of year and where the local cow goes to eat her grass or hay the flavour will taste a little different.
Try Using full fat milk then try using milk with less fat. Which do you prefer?
The temperature of your room and the length of time when fermenting alters. In summer maybe 4 hours will be enough time and in winter could be sometimes 8 hours.
The age of your culture. Was it fresh or was it a stronger more soury taste.? Try not to use a strong/old yogurt as your starter.
What I look for is a light sour taste even with a hint of lemony sweetness to it. (if that makes sense) if it starts to taste too much like vinegar I dump it and don't use it for my next culture either. Some of my batches are better than others, c'est la vie.
Good Luck and Enjoy.