The best yogurt in the world.

A mildly sour tasting yogurt, bulgarian yogurt, It is undoubtedly the best yogurt and the healthiest of the dairy products that can be consumed today. In the rest of the world people know it as Bulgarian yogurt but in its land of origin, Bulgaria, it is called “sour milk”, that is to say: “sour milk”.

yogur búlgaro casero

Homemade Bulgarian Yogurt

The invention of yogurt.

Bulgarians are very proud of their yogurt and tell you that its origin is in the ancient three Traciae from this area who were the discoverers of yogurt, although they did it by accident. Because the Thracian tribes were nomads in their early days, they had to transport the milk inside animal skins, which created an ideal environment for certain bacteria that when reproducing created yogurt. From that chance, the Thracians they learned to produce their yogurt. This yogurt invention is thought to have been more than 4000 years.

Imágenes de los Tracios

Images of the Thracians

Of course many countries make yogurt, However, Bulgaria's contribution to the discovery of this product does not remain in the Thracian era, but closer to our time a Bulgarian scientist was the one who discovered the bacteria that produce yogurt, which of course the Thracians and the rest of Humanity were unknown until that moment. We talk about the year 1905 when Dr. Stamen Grigorov discovered the bacteria that naturally produced yogurt: la Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus bacterium, that from 2014 it was simply renamed Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

The scientist who discovered the bacteria in yogurt.

Stamen Grigorov

Stamen Grigorov

Stamen Grigorov was born in the village of “Studen Izvor”, which is located in the Bulgarian region of “Tran”, in 1878. Since I was a child, Grigorov was very interested in Nature and Science, and his teachers at school were impressed with the ease with which Stamen learned the subjects. So a teacher at his school took him as his assistant. This was a great opportunity for Stamen Grigorov because it gave him access to the professor's laboratory., that he was one of the best equipped of his time, and there he made his great discovery. Early 20th century, Stamen Grigorov aimed to understand and discover the microorganisms that cause milk fermentation., until he finally got it on 1905.

In his homage, in his hometown, that it's called “Cold spring”, there is a curious museum, it is the only yogurt museum in the world, dedicated to Doctor Stamen Grigorov and his discovery. In this link you will find official information about the Bulgarian Yogurt Museum.

History of Bulgarian yogurt.

Around the same time that Stamen Grigorov discovered the yogurt bacteria, on the initiative of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, a study around the world was carried out on the number of centenarians and their proportion in each country. Surprisingly, the result was that the country where the most centennial population lived was Bulgaria. The director of the Pasteur Institute at that time was a Russian emigrant named Ilya Ilyich Mechnikoff. In his book of 1908 “Prolongation of Life”, Mechnikoff established an unequivocal relationship between the longevity of the Bulgarian population and its high consumption of yogurt. Even today if you travel to Bulgaria you will find a considerable population of quite old people who are still fully active and in very good health.

población centenaria de Bulgaria

Centennial population of Bulgaria

This new high demand for Bulgarian yogurt changed the product. The original Bulgarian yogurt was produced at home, usually by women, using measurements based on experience. When factories took control of production, set strict ingredient standards and measures, and the use of “purer procedures” that prevented the proliferation of bacterial microflora found in home-made yogurt. The manufacture of yogurt in regions of the World where the bacteria lactobacillus bulgaricus did not reproduce as well as in Bulgaria, forced manufacturers to use dry fermentation starters and exclusively use cow's milk. However, traditional Bulgarian yogurt was produced with different types of raw milk., tales like buffalo, sheep and also cow, depending on the time of year. We currently associate yogurt with cow's milk, but it was not like that in the beginning…

Within Bulgaria, although many people continued to produce artisan yogurt, the state took control of the dairy industry in 1949 after the arrival of Communism imposed by the great European powers after World War II. Yogurt then became a national icon, something that differentiated and gave Bulgaria prestige to differentiate itself from the rest of the Soviet bloc countries. Bulgarian yogurt became famous and was produced in different factories in Bulgaria, not to mention in homes and even foreign factories that later sold it as Bulgarian when it wasn't, for these reasons the state had to create a standard for “authentic Bulgarian yogurt”. To do it, microbiologists traveled around the country collecting samples of homemade yogurt and experimenting with them to select the best in terms of health and taste. Something that is currently done with many food products but that for that time, mid 20th century, it was something new. once established which was the official Bulgarian yogurt, was patented, promoted in the world and exported from Bulgaria.

Today the Bulgarian state enterprise “LB Bulgaricum” continues to hold this patent exclusively although it sells its use to other distant countries such as Japan and South Korea where Bulgarian yogurt was almost unknown a few years ago. 35 years, now it is extremely popular and they want to make it with the original Bulgarian patent. Nevertheless, because the native Bulgarian bacteria cannot reproduce in other countries due to the microclimate and conditions unique to Bulgaria, these Asian countries are forced to import fermentation starters to create their “version” Bulgarian yogurt.

After the death of the Director of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, Metchnikoff, and the fall of Communism in 1989, Bulgarian yogurt lost a large part of its means of promotion in the world. Its place was taken by other countries such as neighboring Greece which with an effective advertising campaign, that continues today, have led the rest of the world to believe that yogurt has Greek origin when it is not. Which brings us to the next question…

What makes Bulgarian yogurt different from yogurt from other countries?

Although it seems pretentious to say that Bulgarian yogurt is the best yogurt in the world, we are going to give some reasons for such a statement. As we explained above, the bacteria discovered by Doctor Stamen Grigorov that ferments milk into yogurt is found naturally in the Bulgarian environment, allowing the milk left outside to become yogurt on its own without the need for any special treatment.

In addition, the initiators of the fermentation of Bulgarian yogurt are a symbiosis of strains of the bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus that are found in the natural environment of Bulgaria. This makes Bulgarian yogurt different from other yogurts where these two strains are grown separately and there is no symbiosis between them.. Bulgarian yogurt contains at least 100 million Streptococcus thermophilus and 10 million Lactobacillus bulgaricus per gram of yogurt. The number of live bacteria is a strict requirement of the standard set by the Bulgarian original yogurt patent and makes it the healthiest in the world due to its high concentration of these live bacteria, that are very beneficial for our body when we consume yogurt.

bacterias Lactobacillus bulgaricus y Streptococcus thermophilus

Bacterias Lactobacillus bulgaricus (elongated) in symbiosis with Streptococcus thermophilus (oval)

If traditional Bulgarian yogurt is tasted, differences in taste are perceived: it has a slightly sour taste unlike yogurts from other countries where it is customary to give it a more neutral flavor, or even slightly sweet. The texture is gelatinous rather than creamy. People who have tried many yogurts around the world agree that none of them taste equivalent to Bulgarian yogurt. Bulgarians, Of course, love their yogurt as evidenced by the data that for a population of 7 millions of people are consumed around 400.000 tons of yogurt per year. In consumption per person and year, Bulgaria is the largest consumer in Europe with almost 60 kilos / person and year. To have a reference to how high this figure is, we can compare it with that of Spain where they only consume around 10 kg / person and year.

How to make homemade Bulgarian yogurt.

Until 20-30 years many Bulgarians made their own homemade yogurt. It is still done today but generally in rural areas where there is no easy access to supermarkets.. The process they carry out is very simple, they just need 1 oh 2 tablespoons of Bulgarian yogurt they have made previously and put it into a jug of fresh milk that they keep in a warm place in the house, a tablespoon of yogurt is needed for every liter of fresh milk. After a few hours, 3 oh 4, the yogurt will be ready naturally. This yogurt is sour and its shelf life is a few days while industrial yogurt does not have that sour touch and has a longer expiration date.

The milk should be cooked in advance and then let it cool down to 42-45º which is when the yogurt initiator of the fermentation is added. After 3-4 hours it must be chilled in the fridge to stop fermentation. As advice, yogurt should not be allowed to ferment for longer than these 3-4 hours since then it gets too sour

Ways to consume Bulgarian yogurt.

If you travel to Bulgaria you should definitely try Bulgarian yogurt. There are various presentations and recipes that use yogurt in Bulgarian cuisine.. Of course, the main one is packaged yogurt as we know it in Western Europe, but in Bulgaria yogurt is also consumed in other forms: salads (as the “Snezhanka salad”), or in a famous cold yogurt soup with water, garlic and minced cucumber, very refreshing if taken in summer, and in desserts mixed with blackberries or raspberries. It is also taken in the form of a drink: the call “buttermilk” which is yogurt with water and a pinch of salt. This drink is found in any restaurant and grocery store and is the favorite of adults rivaling beer. Ayran is also given anti-hangover qualities which earn it points among consumers who have had excesses with alcohol…

Tarator a base de yogur búlgaro

Soup “Tarator”.

Apart from the Bulgarian yogurt, You can find recipes and curiosities of other typical Bulgarian dishes on our page: traditional bulgarian recipes. And you, What yogurt do you like the most?, sugary, neutral or slightly sour like Bulgarian?. You can leave your comment below…

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