tastily touring: visiting bulgaria & organic homemade yogurt

appetizers & recipes: organic homemade yogurt

Bulgaria, a Southeastern European country bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south and the Black Sea to the east, is our next stop as we “tour” the world. Bulgaria is one of 7 countries whose borders lie completely within the region known as the Balkan Peninsula.

The Bulgars, a central Asian Turkic tribe and the local Slavic inhabitants merged to form the first Bulgarian state in the 7th century. Bulgaria has been a historical crossroads situated between Europe and Asia. Many civilizations have flowed through the region which was marked by fierce fighting as well as rich cultural history due to the many people who came and went.

In the 7th century Bulgaria emerged as a state to only have to struggle against the Byzantine Empire and then by the 14th century succumb to the rule of the Ottoman Turks. Northern Bulgaria was free from Ottoman rule in 1878 with the remainder of the country gaining its independence in 1908. Unfortunately, after World War II, Bulgaria became a part of the Soviet Union. Upon the fall of communism and the dissipation of the People’s Republic, Bulgaria began moving towards a democratic government and free market economy.

With a population of 7.37 million people, Bulgaria is the 14th largest European country. Most of the population resides in an urban setting and the most commerce and cultural activities are based in or surrounding Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Most Bulgarians are ethnically Bulgarian (84%). The other ethnicities present are Turk and Roma as well as a small percent of others from the Balkan region. The official language is Bulgarian.

Any society that is born in a crossroads is bound to be culturally rich. Bulgaria is just that, culturally rich because of the Thracians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Slavs and Bulgars (to name a few) who have left behind a bit of their cultures that is now woven into the tapestry of Bulgarian culture. Bulgaria is rich in the art, music and literature. Bulgaria is rich in ancient artifacts such as: The Borovo Treasure, discovered while a field was plowed, dates back to the reign of Odrysian King Cotys I (383-359 BCE). There is the Rogozen Treasure dating back to the 5th and 4th century and consisting of over 150 items that are silver or gold plated. And, there is the Vratsa Treasure which is a collection of artifacts from the grave of a Thracian noblewoman. (Check out this site: Vratsa Regional History Museum)

Bulgaria, rich in culture, has, of course, a diverse cuisine. Bulgaria also has a climate that is hospitable for farming and because of its geography a varied of produce can be grown. Bulgarians eat salads regularly as well as hot and cold soups. Most Bulgarian dishes are oven baked, steamed, or in the form of stew. Lyutenitsa is a popular mixture of tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, pepper, parsley and hot peppers. Lyutenista is a dish that will vary from each Balkan country to the next, but can; nonetheless, a variation can be found. Banitsa is a pastry eaten hot or cold for breakfast and it is served with yogurt. Yogurt is another food that is not only commonly eaten in Bulgaria, but high quality yogurt is produced in Bulgaria. Yogurt is not only a staple food in Bulgaria, but throughout the Balkan region.

Yogurt is extremely beneficial to our health and it is the yogurt that is made in the fashion of Bulgarian or that of the Balkan region that is even better than those highly sugary flavored varieties. We, at myFudo, make this healthier form of yogurt a part of our daily breakfast. Eaten with seasonal fruits, honey and/or granola, yogurt is a very healthy way to start off the day.

These healthier, richer yogurts can be a bit expensive at the market and if you eat it every day you might want to try making your own. You do not need special equipment and we found this amazing tutorial that illustrates how easy it is to make your own yogurt:

How to Make Yogurt: A Step by Step Tutorial by Michael W. Reeps

Yogurt

(This recipe was given to us from a friend who got it from a friend. We are unsure of its origin.)
Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ pints of whole milk (organic)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of already made plain yogurt or home-made yogurt from a previous batch, at room temperature. (Mix the yogurt with a little milk for easier incorporation)

Directions

  1. Bring the 2 ¼ pints of milk to just under boiling point and then pour the milk into a glass bowl (Don’t use metal).
  2. Let the milk cool to about 104°F. Pour the already made yogurt into the milk carefully without disturbing the skin that may have formed on the surface of the milk.
  3. Cover with a cloth, place in a warm location for 8 to 12 hours or overnight.
  4. When the yogurt has thickened after 8-12 hours drain the extra liquid and store in the refrigerator.

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25 comments

  • May 31, 2012 at 9:46 am //

    I have been thinking about making my own yogurt at home, especially since I have access to milk from local dairy farm. Thanks for sharing! :)

    • June 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm //

      How wonderful it is to buy from a local farm, I love yogurt (full fat) with fresh figs = )

  • May 31, 2012 at 11:07 am //

    When my children were wee I made them homemade yogurt. Now I am reminded that I should do that again. I think you may be able to put it in a warm crockpot for the 8 – 12 hours. What do you think?

    Thanks!
    Denise@BeBetsy.com

    • June 3, 2012 at 12:11 pm //

      What a great idea Denise!!! I really love full fat yogurt with fresh figs, it’s so delish. We are going to give the crockpot a try, thank you for the tip!

    • June 3, 2012 at 12:11 pm //

      Thank you = )

  • May 31, 2012 at 12:39 pm //

    I’ve thought about making yogurt before so I’m excited to see this! And I love the bowl in your photo, it is beautiful!

    • June 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm //

      Thank you Skye, I love to top mine off with Fresh Fig since it’s a little less on the fruit sugar, it’s really lovely.

  • May 31, 2012 at 11:50 pm //

    I know this is about yogurt, but whenever I see the word Bulgaria I just have to pipe in about Bulgarian Feta. The best feta in the world. Really! GREG

    • June 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm //

      ooooh, Feta, we have never tried Bulgarian Feta before, it must be terrific, I’m going to check around for some.

  • June 1, 2012 at 3:32 am //

    Great post. I used to make this all of the time when my children were home. I put it in the oven overnight to sit with only the oven light on and it did a great job. You have inspired me. I may have to do it again!! Thanks.

    • June 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm //

      What a great idea with the oven light, low on electric costs s well, I really like the idea. One of our favorites is to have it with fresh figs or Aloe, is very good.

  • June 1, 2012 at 3:59 am //

    Oh yum! I’ve always wanted to make yogurt! This looks delicious!

    • June 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm //

      Full fat yogurt is the best! I like mine with fresh figs = )

  • June 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm //

    Whoa, homemade yogurt, i just might give this a go…awesome photo!

    • June 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm //

      Thank you = ) give it a try with fresh figs, BLISS!

  • June 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm //

    This looks gorgeous! So deliciously good!

    • June 3, 2012 at 12:15 pm //

      Thank you Love2Dine = )

  • June 1, 2012 at 10:20 pm //

    Great post! Admittedly, I knew absolutely nothing about Bulgaria ;)

    Fabulous yogurt, darling! I didn’t know it was so easy

  • June 1, 2012 at 11:48 pm //

    How very cool! This could save us tons of money by making it ourselves at home. Thank you for sharing!

  • June 2, 2012 at 2:46 am //

    This looks delicious! I always forget how much I like yogurt, but it has to be really GOOD yogurt. I’ll give this a try!

  • June 2, 2012 at 2:59 am //

    Yogurt has come nice…Lovely click..

  • June 2, 2012 at 3:10 am //

    There’s no comparison to homemade yogurt – yours looks wonderful, love your photos!

  • June 2, 2012 at 3:41 am //

    This is great. I have been making my own buttermilk for a while now and I have been wanting to give yogurt a try as well. Thank you!!!

  • June 2, 2012 at 3:48 am //

    wow….this is great…I would love to try making some! Thanks for sharing!