What is Bulgarian Yogurt Starter?
A Bulgarian yogurt starter is one that contains both Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. In fact, the L. bulgaricus strain was named for its Bulgarian heritage. These two strains in combination are known to consistently produce viable yogurt. This is why they are present in most every yogurt you’ll find.
The Health of the Bulgarian Prople
Bulgarian style yogurt is one of the oldest yogurts dating back many centuries. It was brought back to the Russia for study in the early 20th century. The motivation for these studies was the longevity of the Bulgarian people. It was determined the regular consumption of Bulgarian yogurt played a part in their long life spans. In particular, the lactobacillus strain was believed to be crucial to human health and digestion. The yogurt was also brought over to the United States in the early 20th century and has been growing in popularity ever since.
A Unique Heirloom Variety
The bacteria in your Bulgarian yogurt starter are so robust that it can be used to make heirloom yogurt. This means that a small amount of yogurt can be used to start a new batch. These bacteria will maintain prober microbial balance when passed from one batch to the next. In contrast, regular yogurt (yogurt with additional strains) can only be used 2 or 3 times before a fresh starter is needed. This is the only yogurt starter I’ve come across that is both heirloom and thermophilic (heat-loving). Usually heirloom starters ferment at room temperature which makes Bulgarian yogurt very unique indeed.
To make Bulgarian yogurt, simply culture 8 to 10 hours at 108 to 113 degrees F. If even more tartness is desired, you can ferment it for 10 to 24 hours. Traditional Bulgarian is allowed to ferment and set then eaten without further stirring.
Like most yogurt that’s been around a long time, it’s traditionally make from full fat animal milk. If you increase the milk fat to around 6 percent, then it makes a great substitute for Greek yogurt.
Bulgarian yogurt is known for its thick texture and tart taste (more tart that regular yogurt). As mentioned earlier, the yogurt is traditionally eaten without further stirring after stirring after it has set. The yogurt will have large curds with some liquid whey where the curds separate. If a creamier texture is desired it can be stirred or lightly whisked.
PS, our Greek page uses the same starter but provides different preparation techniques.