Bulgarian yogurt is the most popular yogurt in the world and is one of the things that make Bulgarians proud to call themselves Bulgarians; it is their exclusive invention and heritage that goes back many centuries.
Bulgarian yogurt or “Kiselo Mlyako” is undoubtedly the best and healthiest of all dairy products available to consumers today as a mildly sour yoghurt. In the western world it is called Bulgarian yogurt, but in its homeland Bulgaria it is called sour milk. Whatever its name, this wonderful probiotic food has a flawless pedigree – it is said to have been known for at least 4000 years.
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Bulgarian yogurt belongs to the general category of yogurts containing living bacteria. To be considered part of the Bulgarian variety, yogurt must be produced with two specific starter bacteria, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies Bulgaricus (often simply called Lactobacillus bulgaricus) and Streptococcus salivarius subspecies thermophilus (often abbreviated to Streptococcus thermophilus). Most yogurts contain these two because they are such excellent starters, but most “normal” yogurts also contain other good bacteria.
It is the special combination of bacteria that makes up the thickness, acidity, taste and aroma of yoghurt. The uniqueness of Kiselo mlyako lies in the specific climate of the region and the very specific way in which it is prepared – with a combination of both varieties: Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Thermophilus. The Streptococcus Thermophilus bacteria are used first and create the perfect environment for Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, which in turn begins to multiply and slowly converts the milk into yoghurt.
People who have tasted yogurt from countries all over the world find time and again that none of them tastes anything like the Bulgarian variety. Bulgarians fully agree that their yogurt is the best – about 400,000 tons are consumed in the country every year.
How to make Bulgarian yogurt
You will need a package of frozen dried Bulgarian yogurt culture and the recommended amount of milk for this package size. We recommend whole milk, which can be skimmed or low-fat if desired.
- Bring the milk to a gentle boil. Take care not to burn it, otherwise your yogurt will inherit the burned taste.
- Allow the milk to cool to 43°C. The easiest way to test the right temperature is to dip your little finger in the milk – if you can count comfortably up to 5, then the milk is just right.
- Pour the milk into a separate processing container. You can also use several smaller containers.
- Open the package and add its contents to the milk. Mix well – stir well for about 5 minutes. If you have used more than one container, distribute the contents of the package evenly according to its volume.
- Cover the container loosely with a lid.
- Wrap the container well in a blanket or cover it with a tea warmer and let it sleep. Stay away from any draught.
The fermentation process continues until the milk reaches a pH of 4,7. The fresh yogurt is processed in approx. 5-6 hours (or overnight). If the place is too cold (10°C or less), the process may take longer (10-12 hours). In general, the longer residence time of the yogurt after curing results in a denser and more acidic yogurt. When your yogurt is ready, put it in the fridge (or cool place) for storage.