How to make Bulgarian yogurt at home (step-by-step instructions)?

So, you want to make Bulgarian yogurt at home?

Let me give you step-by-step instructions on how to prepare Bulgarian yogurt using our heirloom starter. From the very first time! I’ll show you everything – the necessary equipment, milk selection and tips for making the yogurt.

Let’s get started…

Table of Contents

Part 1: Preparing and disinfecting the equipment

preparing disinfecting equipment

You’ll need the following:

  • Bulgarian yogurt starter (of course);
  • 2 l of milk (this is just an example, use the amount you want);
  • A pot;
  • A spoon;
  • A thermometer;
  • Containers;
  • Jars (one liter jars work best);


Equipment disinfection

Cleanliness is crucial to avoid contamination and ensure a good fermentation process.

The most eco-friendly and safe method is to submerge your equipment in boiling water for at least 5-10 minutes. This will certainly kill all bacteria and microorganisms.

Other effective methods are:

  • Food-grade chemical sanitizers. Star San, bleach solution or specialized dairy equipment sanitizers are a safe bet.
  • Alcohol Wipes. Wipe down equipment with 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes. This should be enough to kill any viruses or bacteria. A convenient method for small items or surfaces.
  • UV Sterilizers. A UV sterilizer designed for kitchen equipment can effectively kill bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms.


Part 2: Choosing a milk

choose milk for bulgarian yogurt

The classic Bulgarian yogurt is made with cow’s milk, but you can use:

  • Sheep’s;
  • Goat’s;
  • Skimmed;
  • Whole;
  • Raw*;
  • Pasteurized;
  • Non-dairy;

The starter also works with vegan milks like almond, cashew, coconut, soya milk etc.

*Note: Raw milk may have residual bacteria that could interfere with the starter. Double the starter amount to ensure its strains dominate.


Part 3: How to make Bulgarian yogurt using the traditional method?

make bulgarian yogurt traditional method

The method requires a bit more time, effort and tools, but it produces the most delicious Bulgarian yogurt.

If for some reason you are not satisfied with the results (keep in mind that the method has its subtleties), try the alternative method below.

The main difference between the methods is the use of the starter. With the traditional method, you pour the starter directly into the container of milk, whereas with the alternative method, you stir the starter into a glass of milk first.

Ok, here’s how to make Bulgarian yogurt at home using the traditional method step by step…


Step 1: Boil the Milk

Pour 2 liters of milk into a large pot. Heat it to 212°F (100°C) and maintain this temperature for 10-30 minutes. Bring the milk to a gentle boil. This kills the bad bacteria and denatures the proteins, ensuring a creamy texture.

Important: Be careful not to burn the milk. Stir the milk frequently to prevent it from forming a skin scorching the milk. Using a double boiler can also prevent burning.


Step 2: Cool the Milk

Remove the saucepan from the heat.

Allow the milk to cool to 110°F (43°C). You can make the yogurt in the same container, but it’s best to transfer it to one-quart/liter mason jars.

40-45°C is the optimal temperature for the yogurt cultures to thrive. It is best to use a thermometer to measure the exact temperature.

Don’t have a thermometer? Dip your pinky finger in the milk. If you hold it comfortably for 5 seconds, the temperature is right.


Step 3: Add the Starter

Add one “Single” pouch (2 L/2 qt) to the 2 liters of cooled milk.

Gently stir until it dissolves. Don’t whisk as it introduces air bubbles which can interfere with incubation! Use fresh starters for optimal results. Older starters (or improperly stored) may not have as many active cultures.


Step 4: Incubate the Yogurt

Cover the container/jar loosely with a lid or a towel. Important: Don’t close them air-tight! It’s best to use a towel because it allows air to penetrate, which speeds up the activation of the yogurt.

Wrap the containers/jars (even underneath) in blankets to maintain a stable temperature. The temperature should ideally remain unchanged at 110°F / 43°C or very slowly decrease over time. Incubation takes about 6-8 hours.

Some tips

  • You can use an oven with just the light on to maintain a warm environment. Some people also use a crockpot on the warm setting.
  • Keep the temperature stable during incubation. If you notice a significant drop, try to add more layers of blankets or towels around the containers.


Step 5: Check if the yogurt is set

The yogurt is set when it separates cleanly from the sides of the container when tilted. It may take longer to set in a colder environment.

The yogurt hasn’t set in 8 hours? Leave it for a few more hours. If it’s not ready yet, the starter cultures may be inactive or the temperature may have been too low.


Step 6: Refrigerate

Let the yogurt chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Cooling the yogurt not only improves the texture but also stops the fermentation process, giving it a better taste.


Step 7: The fun part – try your first homemade Bulgarian yogurt

Store the yogurt in an airtight container to keep it fresh. Keep it in the fridge and use within 3-4 days to ensure the bacteria stays viable.

Note: Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to two weeks.


Part 4: How to make Bulgarian yogurt at home using an alternative method?

If you don’t like the results with the above method, try this one.

The difference is the handling of the starter and separating the milk into jars. With this method, you need to separate 150-200 ml of warm milk in a glass, then dissolve the starter in it.

Apart from the differences above, the steps are almost 1:1 with the traditional method…


Step 1: Warm the milk until it comes to a gentle boil

5-10 minutes at 212°F / 100°C should be sufficient. Again, be very careful not to burn.


Step 2: Take 150-200 ml of the still warm milk into a separate glass

This will cool the milk faster to the ideal 86-90ºF / 30-32ºC. Caution: Wait until the milk in the glass has cooled to 30-32ºC.


Step 3: Leave the remaining milk in the container or divide it into jars

It’s best to use one-liter jars for easy storage in the fridge.


Step 4: Add the starter to the glass of milk

Pour the starter when the milk in the glass has cooled to 86-90ºF/30-32ºC. Stir gently for at least a minute to dissolve the starter thoroughly.


Step 5: Distribute the milk from the glass into the jars

Distribute the milk from the cup (the one with the starter) to the jars, proportionally to their volume. Stir gently. Let the milk with the starter mix well with the milk in the jars.

Again, don’t whisk. Whisking creates bubbles which slow down the incubation.


Step 6: Cover the jars with a blanket/towel and place them in the oven or microwave

The oven and microwave are thermally insulated, which reduces heat loss.

Loosely cover the jars with their lids or a towel. Do not close them tightly, incubation requires air. Cover with and wrap around another blanket or a large towel. Make sure the blankets are covering the jars from all sides to minimize heat loss.

Keep in mind that incubation requires the jars to be warm.


Step 7: Leave overnight (8-10 hours)

The yogurt is ready when it separates from the sides of the jar when you tilt it. If it’s still not ready after 8-10 hours, leave it for another 2-3 hours.


Step 8: Move the jars to the refrigerator for 2-3 hours

Cooling improves taste, thickens and enriches the flavor.


Follow the instructions above and you will always get delicious and creamy homemade Bulgarian yogurt

Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed a crash course on how to make Bulgarian yogurt at home! Our starter is heirloom, so always keep 1-2 bowls of yogurt in your fridge to prepare the next batch without having to order a new starter.

Having trouble preparing or you got questions? Leave a comment below.


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