Product Review: Bacillus Bulgaricus Yogurt Starter

Reviewer’s Note: A sample of the product discussed here was provided at no cost in exchange for my honest review.

This sampling experience allowed me to cross one more item off my list of food-related activities I’ve always wanted to attempt but heretofore lacked the resources to do so. Yogurt making has interested me for some time for many reasons, among them being the duality of my opinions about it. I’ve long been of two minds regarding my ability to do it with positive results if ever given the opportunity. It has always looked to me like an activity both simple enough for any attempt of mine to produce an at least passable if not stellar result, yet seemed so nuanced with regard to time, temperature, use of cultures, and so on. It has looked easy, and at the same time, quite easy to fail at, should I find my attention distracted even briefly from any of the multiple issues involved in its preparation. So when I was approached by ecologically-sourced Bacillus Bulgaricus to have a go at making a form of Bulgarian yogurt known as kiselo mlyako in the Flavorful World test kitchen, it was an offer I could not refuse.

I soon received two packets of yogurt starter, along with  a page of instructions that surprised me by being easier to follow than I’d anticipated. The process as detailed was straightforward enough: I was to boil a measured portion of milk to (kill any existing bacteria that might interact with the culture to be added) then after a brief cooling period, transfer it to a sealable jar or container, stir in the culture, and cover the lidded article in a dark, warm place for several hours. This seemed simple enough, and while I can say with honesty that the directions could not possibly have been simpler to follow, I will admit that my first batch of yogurt took a bit longer to set up than indicated. This, I would trace (after a second, more successful attempt) to the fact that I had let my boiled milk cool a bit longer than advised. It still yielded a successful batch, though, as did my second outing, when I succeeded in adding the culture while the milk was warmer. After that, I was off and running.

As for the taste of the yogurt, as overused and unimaginative as I feel the word “unique” is in situations like this, I’ll use it here with the most positive of intentions. The yogurt is mild, and creamy with barely a trace of the overt sourness that people who don’t favor yogurt often point to as justification for their opinion. Here, while there is a certain degree of sourness, it is unobtrusive, present just enough to be pleasant and appreciable. Where some yogurts come off as biting, this yogurt has a velvety quality and faint, milkfat-fed sweetness that makes it seem like a natural go-to item for making yogurt-based sauces, dressings, and dips. While it doesn’t quite approach the nigh-spreadable-with-a-knife thickness of Greek yogurt, its merits cannot be ignored and its taste is exciting for being so unlike any yogurt I’ve tried. Also notable is that this yogurt doesn’t appear to separate as readily as some store-bought yogurts. Two days after making it, I found it required little to no stirring to reconstitute it. This isn’t to say that some eventual settling won’t take place, but I found it to take a good deal longer than most products of its kind.

As a newcomer to yogurt-making, I was both pleasantly surprised and relived to find that this product didn’t just perform exactly as its instructions said it would, but exceeded my expectations in every way related to ease of usage and to the flavor of the finished product. It is as tasty and satisfying eaten as a snack with granola and fruit spooned over it as it is when used as a dip or dressing for salads or grilled kabobs. Anyone reading this who feels as daunted as I once did by the prospect of making yogurt at home should take heart knowing that it is both an attainable goal and a fun activity, made more fun by yogurt’s versatility as far as adapting well to both sweet and savory dishes. Learn more about Bacillus Bulgaricus or try some for yourself by visiting

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[Images: Anthony Beal /]

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