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Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Culture

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SKU: 5205

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Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Culture

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Our Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Culture is the creamiest of the thermophilic heirloom yogurts. Thick, rich, and mild, this is the closest to commercial “European Style” yogurt. 

  • Each box contains 2 packets of yogurt starter culture.
  • Activate 1 packet using 1 quart pasteurized milk (store 2nd packet in the freezer as a back-up).
  • Cultures at 110ºF using a yogurt maker or other appliance.
  • Suitable for use with pasteurized whole milk and with raw dairy milk or non-dairy milk, with special care.

  • Avoid ultra-pasteurized or UHT milk.

  • Reusable culture: a small amount of each batch can be used to make the next batch and re-cultured from batch to batch indefinitely.

  • Instructions for using this culture are included and may be found here.
  • Having trouble making Bulgarian yogurt? Browse our Yogurt Troubleshooting Articles or contact us for assistance.


Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Instructions and Troubleshooting



  • Organic milk, live active cultures.
  • This product contains no GMO ingredients.


Allergen Information

  • Manufactured in a facility that also processes products containing dairy and soy.
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-GMO


Shipping Information and Shelf-life

Our Bulgarian starter culture is shipped in a barrier-sealed packet as a freeze-dried yogurt culture. The starter keeps:

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 to 4 months
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 9 months unopened
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 12 months unopened


Additional Details About the Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Culture

The mild flavor of Bulgarian Yogurt makes it a great base for dips, dressings, or other recipes using yogurt.  


Actual product may differ from image shown above.

Questions on Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Culture

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  • From Martha at 3/8/2011 11:42 AM
    • Hi, I cultured the starter and it came out very thick. I did my first batch of yogurt and I really liked it. Then I did my second batch and it was pretty thin - kind of like a yogurt drink. So, I threw out that starter and cultured a new starter and it is still thin. What could I be doing wrong? Also, I am not using the raw milk method. Thanks, Martha
    • Thin yogurt can be caused by multiple variables, but here are a few ways to thicken it up.

      1. When you heat up the milk, bring it to 160ºF and hold it there for about 20 minutes before letting it cool down.
      2. Add some cream or half-and-half to the milk to increase the fat content.
      3. Use a little LESS starter yogurt. If you use too much culture, it can run out of food before it finishes culturing.
      4. Check the culturing temperature. Too warm or too cool can affect the thickness of the finished project.
      5. Whisk some milk powder into the heated milk to provide more milk solids.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Marisa at 5/17/2011 7:03 AM
    • In the description it says that goat's milk can be used but the product will be very thin because of the lower fat content. Will the results be similar if I use fat free milk?
    • Yes, a higher fat content will produce a thicker yogurt, and a lower fat content tends to produce a thinner yogurt.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From BIll at 5/25/2011 10:45 AM
    • I want to make Bulgarian yogurt from raw milk, but I have a question about the instructions. When it says that you must use a starter from the mother batch does that mean the first batch of yogurt that you make with your starter? I need to know the answer before I order. Thank You
    • Yes, to activate the culture you must make a pasteurized dairy mother culture, where the milk is heated to 160ºF and cooled to 110ºF, using the freeze dried starter we send you.

      Once this is done, use the mother culture to inoculate the unheated raw milk for a batch of raw milk yogurt.

      To maintain the pasteurized dairy mother culture, use a portion of the previous mother culture (7 days old or less) added to milk that has been heated to 160ºF and cooled to 110ºF. That mother culture is then used to make the next batch of raw milk yogurt, while any remaining "old" mother culture can be discarded.

      See here for more information:
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Andrew at 6/22/2011 12:46 AM
    • How many batches do you find it's OK to make - taking some from one batch and using it to culture the next?

      As you do this, doesn't the bacteria content drift? That is..won't it contain more and more of the bacteria native to the milk? (I'm using raw milk, so there are live bacteria in it, naturally).
    • If you are heating the raw milk to 160ºF and then cooling it, you are effectively pasteurizing it, so the yogurt culture is the dominant (if not only) bacteria, and you can re-culture indefinitely.

      You cannot reculture from a previous batch if you are only heating the raw milk to 110ºF (culturing temperature). Instead, you keep a pasteurized dairy mother culture going, which you make by sterilizing milk so the ambient bacteria in the raw milk does not interfere with the yogurt culture.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Gerd A Zimmermann at 8/7/2011 8:03 PM
    • The starter you sell is good for how many batches to start? Normally I use the culture bacteria each time fresh.
    • To make the Bulgarian yogurt, you will start by using the culture we send you to make a small amount as a "starter" (about a cupful) then use some of that starter to make up to two quarts of yogurt. You can then use some of that yogurt to make a new batch of yogurt, and so on, for as many batches as you want.

      If you want to start fresh each time with a new culture, you might want to consider the direct-set style of starter: Traditional Flavor or Mild Flavor. Those are meant to be used fresh each time.

      *Note: There was a packaging change for all orders shipped beginning September 1, 2013. New packaging contains enough starter culture to activate 1 quart of milk.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Kathy at 10/27/2011 1:49 PM
    • Not a question but mostly a comment.
      For those that are ending up with a thin yogurt, My first batch I used cheesecloth and drained half of the whey. Put it back in a bowl and use a hand mixer to make it smooth. The second batch I made I heated to 160, but set over night at 100 more than 8 hours. It was very good.
      The other day about 3 pm I heated a gallon and half of lightly pasturized whole milk to 170 degrees. I let it cool to 110. I used about 1 cup of tempered yogurt from the previous batch mixed it in very well and let it sit in a covered stainless steel pan overnight in the set at 100 degrees. The next morning about 8 am I turned off the heat. about noon,when it was cooled. I drained probably a quart of whey from the yogurt. Since it was lumpy I used the hand blender to make it smooth and pourable but thick. Put up 5 quarts in sterilized jars. Set them in the fridge. It is not sour, not runny, not like thick pudding the way my yogurt maker does, just the way I like.
    • Kathy, thanks so much for sharing your experience with making bulgarian yogurt. I'm glad you found a method that works for you.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Catherine at 11/9/2011 4:25 PM
    • All the cream I find has "carrageenan" in it. Can I still use this to make my yogurt?
    • Carageenan should be fine, as it is just a seaweed thickener. However, do not use ultra-pastuerized cream or milk. Also, if you are trying to perpetuate the culture, use more milk because the culture needs the lactose in order to continue growth. Half-and-half is an excellent choice.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From marcia at 12/5/2011 8:45 AM
    • When ready to add the starter yogurt to the heated and somewhat cooled down milk...what is the ideal temperature of the yogurt starter to be added? Is it room temp. or directly from the refrigerator into the cooled down milk? Thank you so much. Marcia
    • Let the yogurt sit at room temperature while you are preparing the milk. This allows the yogurt starter to warm up, making it easier to thoroughly incorporate into the milk.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From George at 2/9/2012 3:49 PM
    • How is this product different from the "Greek Yogurt Starter"? Looks like they contain the same bacteria.
    • While the Bulgarian and Greek Yogurt Starters do contain the same bacteria strains, the strains are in different ratios, giving each yogurt its own unique flavor.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Milena at 5/16/2012 8:14 PM
    • This is more of a comment, really. For those of you who like a tangier yogurt -- I know I do -- leave it incubating longer than the recommended 6-7 hours (as per the instructions available on this website). I personally leave it for 12: it gets as tangy as the homemade yogurt my grandma used to make, back in Buglaria. Now, you might not like as tangy as I do, so you might to try the yogurt periodically until it reaches the level of tanginess you prefer.

      This is an excellent culture, by the way; the best I have tried so far, and the one I am sticking with.
    • Thank you for your wonderful comments and tips :)
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No

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Customer Reviews

Great starter Review by TJR

This is my first time using a Cultures for Health starter. The first time it never really set even after 12 hours of culturing. I knew not to give up on it so I used some of this culture for a second batch (I used 4 cups of supermarket whole milk and 1/2 cup of powdered goat's milk heated to 180 degrees) and it cultured in 5 hours to a nice thick set (not quite Greek thick) with just a touch of tartness. My kids love it.

(Posted on 11/15/2015)

perfect yogurt Review by Janet

After I made the starter mixture, it turned out perfectly every time. It's mild and delicious, thick and creamy, not at all sour. I make it once a week using whole milk. It's perfect in 6 hours. After it's made, I transfer a small amount to a tiny jar that I've labelled "yogurt starter". That way, we can eat it up and I don't worry amount having sufficient to start the next batch. As to price, that 1 small envelope has made at least a dozen batches and I'm guessing will make many more.

(Posted on 11/12/2015)

Thick, creamy and mild Review by Drew

I have been making yogurt for about 5 years. This is a nice thick creamy yogurt. I like that this one isn't as tart as I don't have to use as much sugar in it.

(Posted on 11/9/2015)

Heirloom Sustainable and Delicious Review by adamf7

We make a gallon of milk into yogurt every week.

This culture is consistent and makes a delicious yogurt.
At 8 hours @ 110 degrees, the taste is tart and creamy. It's not as uniform in texture as a direct set culture, but that's why it's so good! :)

I love that I can make a new complete batch from the small starter batch I reserve each week.

How very awesome!

(Posted on 11/6/2015)

Best yogurt Review by Donna

I really love this yogurt. It is so easy to make and I can use yogurt from batches I have made. I don't have to buy anymore starter. I can just keep using what I make. It is smooth and not too tangy. Very good taste.

(Posted on 10/31/2015)

Awesome Yogurt! Review by Russ

I bought an Excalibur dehydrator and in looking for more healthier food I stumbled upon this web site. When I discovered how easy making yogurt and cheeses was I ventured forth and bought starter cultures. My first order was for Bulgarian & Greek. I made the first batch of Bulgarian (put the Greek in the freezer) and using the dehydrator to incubate the product it turned out wonderfully delicious. The more batches I kept making the better, creamier, and thicker it got. I do heat the milk to around 180 and hold for about 15 minutes, then quickly cool it down in a cold water bath to 110. I also add a little dried milk too. I took some to work for our employees to try and they loved it too. Now we are even into making our own granola and just loving it. Give it a try, you'll be surprised at how much better it tastes than store bought! Great web site, I've even ordered cultures for buttermilk, etc. 5 stars from me!

(Posted on 10/31/2015)

Very pleased with this starter! Review by themanifestnest

I have been making my own yogurt for quite some time now. I had been using a starter that I received from a class, but it was always inconsistent. I later found out that it was just store bought yogurt, but had no other details. So, I wanted to get something that I could rely on that was high quality. I had also spent some time in Sofia, Bulgaria and enjoyed the yogurt there, which the locals attribute to their large numbers of centenarians. This yogurt exceeded my expectations. It cultured perfectly my first attempt, and my two batches since have been perfect, rich, creamy and delicious. I would highly recommend this product!

(Posted on 10/19/2015)

In one word - YUMMY! Review by Russ

This was my first attempt in 59 years to make homemade yogurt, I don't know why I waited so long! In just several weeks am on my 4th batch and it has been so easy and fun. Took some to work and have made converts out of those who didn't like yogurt. After my initial starter culture, I started experimenting by adding some cream with the milk and also dried milk and keeping it at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes or so has helped thicken it with less whey. It turns out almost the consistency of a thicker pudding. Today I'm going to make another batch (pulling out a little for my next starter) with adding some honey & cocoa to see how that sets up. It may fail, and if it does, I always have back up to start again. I use my excalibur dehydrator for keeping it warm and it does a beautiful job. Have not even gotten to the Greek culture that I also purchased yet so put that in the freezer as we've loved the Bulgarian so far. Looking forward to making cottage cheese, etc. too. Thank you!

(Posted on 10/19/2015)

We love being able to make thick yogurt at home! Review by Pussywillow

After the reviews about having to discard the first batch or two, we were pleasantly surprised to have the very first batch of yogurt come out perfectly and "stand up a spoon in it" thick! It has continued to perform well.

If made quickly (higher temperature milk, removed from heat as son as it thickens), it's very mild--reminded us of sour cream in both taste & texture. If it cultures longer and/or more slowly (lower temperatures), it's more tart.

After researching/trying various methods, I do the following:

Heat 1 quart of milk to 180F (aids thickness of the final product) in a glass bowl in the microwave (takes just over 8 minutes with our microwave)

Pour into another glass bowl to speed cooling and refrigerate for about 20 minutes, until it's 120F (culturing at a higher temperature yields thicker yogurt, as long as you don't exceed 130F, which will kill the culture).

Stir in 1 Tbsp. of yogurt (more is not better!)

Place in yogurt maker, cover it with an upside down glass baking dish (for insulation) & incubate until it gels (usually about 4 hours). This keeps the temperature at about 120F. I'm not sure the extra heat is actually necessary--I may try just insulating the warm cultured milk *without* extra heat, since it takes so long to cool.

Remove from yogurt maker and allow to cool at room temperature for 2 hours (I've also just turned off the yogurt maker & allowed the yogurt to cool in place, which took 6 hours--that batch was more tart).


(Posted on 10/10/2015)

Great culture Review by Sarah

I have been using this Bulgarian culture for over a year now, though I do start a fresh batch every few months. It makes wonderful yogurt. I have learned to be patient with the first batch (sometimes it does not fully set because, as I learned from the really helpful people at customer service, these heirloom yogurts can be slow to wake up). But you just use the first batch as is, and then on the next batch it will surely set. Also, I do not use a yogurt maker, but keep it warm in a covered bowl wrapped with a grain-filled pad that I heat in the microwave, then cover it all with a heavy towel. It usually sets in five hours. Most of the time I use 2% milk, with some organic non-fat milk powder already mixed in to make the yogurt thicker. Be sure to use a good quality milk powder, not the instant granular stuff.

(Posted on 9/28/2015)

Excellent Starter! Review by patchesnposies

This is the best yogurt starter I have ever used. It ferments quickly and never lets me down in taste or consistency. Flavorful and smooth. I have let it drip over night and whipped the thickened yogurt with vanilla to make a yogurt whipped cream (home grown goat's milk)that is to die for.

I plan to use it to make cream pies for the holidays. My six kids love it and I am more than satisfied with the product!

(Posted on 9/23/2015)

Amazing Review by Jen

I just got into culturing by starting with Kefir (which I drink daily) and going into the yogurt realm. This Bulgarian starter is amazingly delicious and easy to culture. My first batch did not thicken super well but that was expected for the starter. The second batch was beautiful and firm. Worked within about 4 hours. I used a nice little yogurt maker and followed the directions verbatim. I recommend this starter for newbies and the taste is just wonderful. Not too tart, creamy and good

(Posted on 9/15/2015)

excelent service, very educational web site, Review by Capt Chuck

the site gives value to the products

(Posted on 9/7/2015)

Great Product - Made Best Homemade yogurt! Review by EMCD

I made yogurt the old school Persian way with temperature testing with my finger :-) Use Organic Whole Milk and it was so rich & creamy!

I am trying it now with Organic 2% to see if there is a big difference.

Will definitely buy this again if I forget to save some yogurt for a starter.

(Posted on 8/27/2015)

Very dissapointing results Review by ottersden

I am very disappointed in this starter and the results I have experienced. I have been making yogurt for a long time and use a Brod and Taylor proofing box as my incubator. I do 1 gallon batches and have never had a batch fail until I began using this starter. Twice now I have had batches made within 1 week of the previous batch fail to set. (This happened on 2 different occasions not from the same starter batch) The batches start off as if they are incubating but never get past being a cloudy soup. No matter how long you let it go (I let one batch go 20 hours just to see) it never goes past that stage. I monitor temperature very closely with a thermapen so I am confident that the starting temp was not too high.

I contacted support and they suggested that I cannot do batches that large and to limit it to 2 Qt batches. I have since experienced the same problem with 2 Qt batches.

When I cultured the second envelope of starter (following the directions exactly) it never set either. I was able to make 1 thin batch from that but subsequent batches failed. I am now out of culture and have switched back to Stony Field yogurt as a starter. I have not had a single batch fail since, even when using previous batches as a starter. My experience sadly with this culture has been a complete bust and a waste of both money and several gallons of milk.

Response from CFH: Heirloom cultures behave differently than store-bought or direct set cultures. Please contact Customer Support and we'd be happy to troubleshoot to ensure your success.

(Posted on 8/26/2015)

Great product. It worked out really nice. Review by Al

Fist time i made yogurt. It worked out great since the first time following the instructions. It has been a month and even though I am using non fat goat milk it is still going strong and getting thicker when I make it every seven days. Great product.

Thank you for your support

(Posted on 8/24/2015)

Works with Lactose-free Milk! Review by Tamara

I've been using this culture for awhile (my favorite) and recently was told I had to go lactose-free for medical reasons. I'm very pleased to report that my culture made the transition to lactose-free milk without a hitch.

(Posted on 8/24/2015)

Bad Results Review by Steve

Carefully followed instructions with no success

Response from CFH: Please contact Customer Support for assistance as often we can save cultures or nudge those that are reluctantly reactivating.

(Posted on 8/23/2015)

Delicious and Cultures in 4 hours Review by cinbun911

I've been making my own yogurt for about 8 months, using store brand yogurt with good results. But, this heirloom starter is amazing. I've used it for over a month and it seems to get stronger with each use. I use it in my Euro Cuisine yogurt maker and it cultures in only 4-5 hours max. It's delicious and easy.

Definitely recommend.

(Posted on 8/22/2015)

Excellent yogurt culture after some experimentation Review by sarinne

I had purchased both the bulgarian yogurt and the direct set yogurt. I started out with the direct set yogurt. It was really good and easy to make. I followed the instructions it turned out great! I tried the same method with the bulgarian yogurt and it did not turn out so well. I experimented for a month and I can finally churn it out consistently. The direct set is definitely easier to start out with.

The first time I made this yogurt, I followed the instructions for activating the yogurt and waited 12 hours and the yogurt was still runny. (My dog ate all the experimental batches)
The culture was fine so I followed the instructions for making yogurt for the second batch and waited 8 hours. It fermented much too long. Again I saved the cultured.

I did more experiments, but I won't bore you with that.

Here's what worked for me:
1. Take mother culture out of refrigerator.
2. Slowly heat 1 to 1.5 qt of pasteurized milk to 170 degrees F. Hold the milk around 170 degrees F for 10 minutes. The total time it takes me to heat the milk is 1/2 hr.
2. Cool to 110-115 degrees.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of mother culture to the milk. Stir.
4. Pour in yogurt maker. Wait 6 hours.
5. Chill in refrigerator.

Note: I am using the cusinart yogurt maker cym-100

This process produces very smooth and thick yogurt (not as thick as straining out the whey to make greek yogurt, but still thick). I hope my instructions help those who have problems making this yogurt.

(Posted on 8/21/2015)

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