Greek and Bulgarian Instructions
How to Make Greek or Bulgarian Yogurt
*READ INSTRUCTIONS IN THEIR ENTIRETY BEFORE STARTING*
READ RIGHT AWAY AS CULTURE NEEDS TO BE CULTURED ASAP IF IT IS A FRESH AND NOT DRIED CULTURE
Thank you for purchasing from us!
We will help you along the way with any questions you may have regarding your yogurt starter ~ please do not hesitate to email us with any questions or concerns.
For fresh (not dried) culture:
***Please begin culturing as soon as possible, as the yogurt has traveled and needs some food! Upon receipt, store in refrigerator until ready for use. It needs to be cultured within a day of receiving.
***Your culture(s) may smell yeasty or sour from the travel. There also may be separation. Please be assured that this is perfectly fine and normal and does not necessarily indicate what your finished product will be like, nor indicate a spoiled culture.
You have received 2 Tablespoons of yogurt starter. You can use either whole milk or a mixture of milk and cream (at a ratio of 3:1 – 3 parts milk and 1 part cream). Use 2 cups milk or 2 cups of the mixture of cream and milk for your initial batch using the 2 Tablespoons of starter. For the milk, whole milk is going to work best. It is going to make the thickest yogurt. If you want an even richer, thicker yogurt, the milk and cream mixture would be best.
In a saucepan, bring the milk or cream and milk mixture (do NOT add the starter culture to it yet) to the scalding point of 160 degrees, and then cool to 110. You will need a thermometer to keep track of the temperature.
*If using raw cows milk, scald the milk for 3 minutes to help kill bacteria that may try to compete with the culture bacteria, thus contaminating and weakening it.
Pour the mixture into a quart size glass jar and then mix in the yogurt starter very thoroughly. Using plastic utensils is best, not metal. Cover tightly and place in a yogurt maker at 110 degress until set, about 4 to 5 hours (although it could take longer). Remove from yogurt maker after 4 hours and test for setting. Tilt the jar and make sure it is set. It will pull from the sides and yet there may be a thin layer at the top that might move. It will basically be gelled though. It will not be pourable anymore. You will see. If it is not set, keep incubating and check every 30 minutes. After it is set, refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Now it is ready to consume!
DO NOT EVER CONSUME YOUR ENTIRE BATCH OF YOGURT – YOU WILL NEED TO RESERVE SOME AS STARTER FOR YOUR NEXT BATCH, and so on.
*Not recommended for use with soy, goat’s milk, or coconut milk. Although people have had success with goat’s milk, we cannot guarantee the results. It will result in a thinner yogurt for one thing.
*For your next batches, you can now make a quart at a time if you wish. That would be 4 cups milk (or milk and cream mixture), and then 4 Tablespoons of yogurt starter. Then just follow the instructions above, again. You can also make a larger batch using the same ratio.
*Serve plain or with fruit, or sweeten with honey or maple syrup. (Be sure and reserve some yogurt that has not had anything added to it, as you need pure starter to start another batch, each time.)
*Also, it makes an especially rich Crème Fraiche type dessert topping, when made with just heavy whipping cream. When drained slightly (we sell unbleached cheesecloth in our store for this if you are interested), it will produce a creamy mascarpone style cheese.
***For dried yogurt starter, we have sent your starter dried on two cotton balls. This is an ideal easy medium to preserve yogurts. Follow the directions above, but pour just 1 cup milk/cream. Note that the dried starter will make a smaller initial batch than the fresh, but by your second batch you can make a significantly larger amount since you with then have fresh starter to use at the ratio mentioned in the fresh instructions. You want to use a small jar like a pint sized jar, with not a very wide bottom, so that the milk will be deep enough for the cotton ball. Seal tightly and incubate as noted in the instructions above. Your first batch with the dried starter will take much longer – up to 24 hours. Just check every hour after the 6 hour mark for setting. DO NOT REFRIGERATE BEFORE IT IS SET. After refrigerating, discard cotton ball.
*Reculture your yogurts at least once a week to maintain viability. What that means is just make a new batch weekly with your starter to keep it going strong. Yogurts made with part cream will last longer.
***Separation – with any yogurt, if you culture too long, it will separate into curds and whey. You will see liquid whey on the bottom of the jar. That means you cultured too long, so try to avoid that. Remember, you can check for firmness by tilting the jar slightly. You want to refrigerate then, before it separates. If you do culture until separation though, just spoon out 1T. of the thickest part of the yogurt, and begin anew.
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A YOGURT MAKER:
We don’t either!
We have used this method for years. It works great.
Place the sealed jar with your yogurt and milk mixture right on top of a heating pad. Wrap a thick towel around the jar and place a large stock pot on top, upside down. The pot has to completely cover the jar and rest on the pad. Then wrap another thick towel around the bottom of the stock pot, where it meets the pad, just to make sure the heat stays in. We put our heating pad on high, but check your pad regarding temperatures. Ours on high works perfect, and our yogurt is done in 4-5 hours. Be sure and note if your pad has an automatic mode which turns the pad off after so much time has passed. Our does this, for safety reasons, so we have to keep turning it back on. Point being, you need to be home to keep turning it on if yours does this too. There are also other methods for making yogurt without a yogurt maker. Just Google and you will find plenty of ideas.
LONG TERM STORAGE: Do not freeze your yogurt for long term storage. The best way to preserve your culture if you are leaving for more than 10 days (shorter than 10 days, just be sure and make a fresh batch before you leave) is to dry a backup. Just dip a cotton ball in the yogurt and cover completely. Scoop it out and then dry on a plate covered with saran wrap under a cool fan on high. It should be dry in about 10 hours. Store this dried culture in a cool place, in a baggie. The Greek and Bulgarian dried cultures are best stored in the refrigerator. It will store well this way for a good couple of months! Just be sure and follow the DRIED CULTURE instructions above to reconstitute when you are ready, ie use less milk, etc.
Replacement Policy: We will replace any culture that has not proved viable upon receipt to make a successful first culturing per our instructions. If a first batch is successful, this is indication of a viable culture. We are here to help troubleshoot during your culturing if you have any concerns so please email us BEFORE discarding any cultures, as we cannot replace a culture that we have not been able to determine viability through troubleshooting with you. Again, email WHILE you are culturing, as 99% of the time we are able to help with a successful batch, if the cultures are still on hand. Discarding the culture before contacting us for help will nullify the exchange/refund policy. Thanks so much.
Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have along the way.