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Bulgarian Yogurt Starter

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SKU: 5205

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Bulgarian Yogurt Starter

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Our Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Culture is the creamiest of the thermophilic heirloom yogurts. It can be re-cultured indefinitely. Thick, rich, and mild, this is the closest to commercial “European Style” yogurt. 

  • Each box contains 2 packets of yogurt starter
  • 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
  • This culture is also suitable for use with raw dairy milk or non-dairy milk, with special care.
  • The mild flavor of Bulgarian Yogurt makes it a great base for dips, dressings, or other recipes using yogurt.  

Bulgarian Yogurt Starter Instructions and Troubleshooting: 

Ingredients: Organic milk, live active bacteria (L. BulgaricusS. Thermophilus).

This product contains no GMO ingredients.

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


Allergen Information:

Manufactured in a facility that also produces products made with gluten and dairy.

Actual product may differ from image shown above.

Questions on Bulgarian Yogurt Starter

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  • From navywifearmymom at 5/18/2012 1:24 PM
    • In the directions for the Bulgarian Yogurt starter, what is the purpose for letting the yogurt sit out of for 2 hours after incubation before putting it in the refrigerator? I am currently using the Traditional Yogurt starter. Those directions don't say that, and I have normally just taken the containers out of the maker and put them directly in the refrigerator.

    • The cooling down period is safer for the bacteria, as sudden temperature changes will damage it.
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  • From Milena at 5/28/2012 12:55 PM
    • Another comment/suggestion.

      It has been mentioned in some of the comments that people add a bit of non-fat dry powdered milk to thicken their yogurt. This works really well for thickening yogurt made out of fat free milk. I usually add 1-1.5 cups dry powdered milk per 2L of fat free milk (that's roughly 0.5 gallon of milk). It comes out perfect: no need to strain, wash more utensils, etc. In fact, my yogurt ends up so think you can literally empty the container onto a plate, turning it upside down, and it will keep its shape like a custard desert. By the way, you can do great looking deserts that way, adding berries, nuts, drizzling honey on top, etc.)
    • Thank you for sharing your successful tip!
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  • From Betsy at 6/26/2012 3:24 PM
    • Just curious as to why you should not use ultra pastuerized milk?
    • Ultra-pasteurized milk is processed at higher temperatures and pressures than pasteurized milk, and is often too sterile for the yogurt culture to take hold. Additionally, the milk proteins may not coagulate as well due to the extra processing.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Sean at 7/21/2012 4:24 AM
    • Adding to the question about the difference between the Bulgarian and greek yogurts, I was wondering how the different ratios are maintained through the ongoing batches. It would seem that the ratios of the two would drift during the indefinite reculturings.
    • We culture different products at different times to avoid any cross contamination, as well as maintaining sterile conditions.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Cathy at 8/13/2012 4:27 PM
    • How many "packets" of yogurt starter are in one box?
    • Each box contains 2 packets of yogurt starter. Reserve the second packet in your fridge until you are certain your first batch of yogurt has cultured properly. Keep the second packet in the freezer as a back-up in case your original culture needs to be replaced or if you wish to take an extended break from yogurt making.

      One packet of yogurt culture can be used to make unlimited amounts of homemade yogurt as it can be re-cultured by reserving a small amount of yogurt from the current batch to inoculate the next batch of homemade yogurt. With care, this yogurt culture can be used to make homemade yogurt indefinitely.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Spencer at 9/2/2012 4:10 PM
    • My Bulgarian Yogurt Starter hasn't been refrigerated for several weeks. Think the cultures have a chance? They've been sitting at room temperature for over a month (oops).
    • The Bulgarian Yogurt Starter will normally only last 3 to 4 weeks at room temperature. If it has been in a fairly cool place, go ahead and give it a try.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Christine at 12/14/2012 1:04 PM
    • Can I freeze some of the yogurt to use as a future starter? My family is not going through it fast enough right now and I am afraid the yogurt will go bad before I make a new batch.
    • You can freeze the pasteurized dairy mother starter, but it will only stay viable for about 2-3 weeks.
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  • From Kathy at 1/21/2013 12:22 AM
    • Two questions:
      1. Following up on Sean's question regarding Bulgarian vs Greek cultures that contain the same bacteria in different ratios....If, for example, I order Bulgarian starter and perpetuate the culture, couldn't the ratio of bacterial strains in my mother culture drift over time? (The answer posted seemed to pertain to operations in your facility, not what might happen at home.)
      2. Why can't direct-set starters be perpetuated? As far as I know, bacteria will replicate indefinitely as long as the health of the culture is maintained, and proper growth media is supplied (which one is doing, presumably). So what goes wrong? Do some bacterial strains in the mixture outcompete others?
    • It is possible that the bacteria in your yogurt will change, depending on what is in the air in your home or what you have culturing nearby. However, as long as you take care when culturing, re-culture within 7 days, and keep different yogurt varieties and other fermenting foods separate, your yogurt bacteria should remain true.

      Direct-set starters contain different bacteria strains from reusable heirloom starters. The bacteria in each determine the yogurt's characteristics and whether it will re-culture indefinitely or not.
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  • From Penelope at 4/23/2013 8:16 PM
    • Contemplating whether to make my own yogurt, but I am a little confused about one detail: how long can I keep part of the "mother batch" to continue making more yogurt? Will it spoil after 3 weeks, therefore requiring me start from scratch (a new starter kit)?

      Thank you kindly!
    • The mother batch, also known as the pasteurized dairy mother culture, is viable for culturing for about 7 days. So you need to make a pasteurized dairy new mother culture once a week. You don't need to buy more culture, you can keep reculturing what you have.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From ASH at 4/27/2013 11:55 PM
    • I'd like to know how long I can keep the mother batch in the fridge.
    • The mother culture, also known as the pasteurized dairy mother culture, will remain viable for reculturing in the refrigerator for up to one week. It should be edible for approximately a month.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No

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Customer Reviews

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)

If you only make one kind of yogurt, this should be the one! Review by KL Adams

I first tried this Bulgarian yogurt in a microbiology class at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. A series of lectures were on the various microbes that make bread, wine, beer, cheese and yogurt, and our professor brought Bulgarian yogurt samples to class. (She is a big fan of Cultures for Health, btw.) I have been making Bulgarian yogurt by the gallon since then.

It's incredibly versatile and easy to make. This yogurt can be eaten plain with some fruit and granola, whizzed up in a smoothie, used in place of sour cream, or as part of marinades and dressings.

I love it, and look forward to enjoying it for years to come.

(Posted on 8/16/2015)

The best tasting yogurt we've had Review by Horsegeek

We absolutely adore this yogurt. Thick enough to make my husband happy and with a wonderful sweet and smooth taste.

(Posted on 8/10/2015)

great flavor Review by Pamela

Great flavor and excellent customer service

(Posted on 8/7/2015)

Terrible return on investment of time and money Review by CK1

I've been making my own yogurt for a few years & was curious to try the "heirloom" starter. Read the online instructions and the instructions that came with the packet. Got special milk. Used digital thermometer. After 12 hours in the yogurt maker, I had some really nasty whey and the yogurt was like runny cottage cheese. I tried to eat it but both the flavor and texture were so "off" that I tossed it. It was SO bad that I thought my yogurt maker had died. Made another batch (small container of organic yogurt as start; grasped organic pasteurized low fat milk) the way I usually do and it was superb.

Verdict: something that has always felt easy peasy became a major project and then I threw it away.

Note from CFH: Please contact Customer Support for troubleshooting assistance before discarding any cultures. Many cultures can be saved with minor adjustments.

(Posted on 7/12/2015)

good yogurt easy to get going Review by bob

great flavor, gets plenty sour without getting "nasty" even when letting it go 10 hrs +.
6-8hrs is a nice mellow taste.
first batch was good, I've made over a dozen since; all good, different milk defiantly changes the consistency of the finished product; non-fat was a bit runny, but still fine flavor.

(Posted on 7/10/2015)

I have made yougurt for many years - this is the best I have ever made and share , I use raw milk and make a new starter batch each time - tedious but worth it Review by cal

1 gallon of raw milk delivered every week, I make as directed with new starter each week. I have made yogurt for 40-45 years, but this is the best. I make "green juicies" and put in yogurt and fermented veggies 3-4 times week or more if I have time before work, or a snack with banana or raisins and a few drops of stevia or some of the many berries I grow.
I have a small plumbing company and at 73 I work many hours a week

(Posted on 7/4/2015)

Very tastey Review by James

I use this starter to make Indian Shri Khand, it is absolutely delicious.

(Posted on 6/24/2015)

Trial and Error Review by Steve

It took several batches before I was able to get the perfect batch of yogurt. The key for me was heating the milk to between 195 and 210 degrees and keeping it there for at least ten minutes before letting it cool down to 110 degrees. I had to visit with customer support two times, but in both cases I found the reps helpful and very knowledgeable.

(Posted on 6/4/2015)

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